Ping Pong Game Preparation

Before starting a game of Ping-Pong it is worth remembering that whilst Ping-Pong is played in a relatively small area it does require a certain amount of physical exertion. Warming up and stretching is, therefore, essential to avoid potential injury.

Also make sure there is adequate lighting and enough room around the table to move freely.

Starting a game or Ping Pong

Service is usually decided with a coin toss or with a player hiding the ball in one of his/her hands and asking his/her opponent to guess which hand hides the concealed ball. The ‘winner’ of each of either of these random decider
is given the option of either serving first or asking his/her opponent to serve first and choosing which end of the table to play from.

Service in a game

In game play, the player who is serving commences the point. Standing at his/her end of the table and holding the ball in one hand (above table height) and the bat in the other, the player must toss the ball vertically in the air (without spin and at least 16cm) before hitting the ball causing it to bounce once in his/her half of the table and again in his/her opponent’s half of the table. If the ball strikes the net and does not hit the opponent’s half of the table then a fault is called and the opponent is awarded a point. If, however, the ball strikes the net and goes onto hit the opponent’s side of the table then ‘let’ is called and the service must be retaken. A player may commit any number of lets without penalty or his/her opponent being awarded any points. If the service is ‘good’ then the opponent must return the ball before it bounces on his/her side of the table a second time.

How to Score in Ping Pong

- Points are awarded to an opponent in the event of any of the following errors:
- Allowing the ball to bounce twice on his/her own side of the table
- Failing to hit the ball after it has bounced on his/her own side of the table
- Causing the ball to bounce on his/her own side of the table (except in a service shot where this is required)
- Hitting the ball before it as bounce on his/her own side of the table
- Double hitting the ball during one shot with the bat and/or the hand below the wrist
- Allowing the ball to strike anything other than the racket
- Causing the ball not to bounce in the opponent’s half in a return shot
- Touching or moving the playing surface with one’s free hand
- Failing to make a good serve
- Making an illegal serve (for example, by not tossing the ball at least 16cm into the air before the bat makes contact)

Ping Pong Play, the alternation of service

Service alternates between players every two points regardless of which player has won those points. Play continues until a player reaches 11 points with a clear 2-point lead, in which event the lead scoring player wins, or until both players reach 10 points each, in which case a tiebreaker is played. In a tiebreaker situation play continues with service alternating after each point until one player reaches a 2-point advantage.

In doubles play service alternates between sides and also between each player on either side. After two points have been played the receiving player becomes the server and the serving player’s partner becomes the receiver.

Series of games

Matches are usually played as the best of five or seven games with players switching sides every game. In the event of a fifth or seventh deciding game players will switch sides when the first player scores five points, regardless of whose turn it is to serve.

The Variations of the game of Ping Pong

In recreational games players may decide to relax the rules adopting a ‘volleyball’ style system of scoring and play. This may include such allowances such as allowing the ‘let’ serve, not requiring the server to bounce the ball on his/her half of the table during a serve and allowing volleying to make the game easier and encourage longer rallies. Common recreational scoring systems include playing best of three games with points ranging from first to 15 to 30.

Ping Pong Doubles play

In addition to the more common two-player version of the game, Ping-Pong can also be played with four players with two players on each side. In doubles all the standard Ping-Pong rule apply with just a few exceptions. A line is painted lengthways down the centre of the table that divides the table into four areas to facilitate the doubles service rule in which a serve must first bounce in the serving side’s right-hand table area before bouncing again in the opponents’ right-hand table area (far-left area for the server). After a serve play continues with the further requirement that players must alternate hitting the ball.

Ten Beginner Level Attributes for Table Tennis

Mistakes – beginners make the most mistakes, especially unforced errors. Their level of consistency is low.
Points – most points are won from an opponent’s unforced mistakes, instead of being won by pressuring a mistake from the opponent. Beginners who play safe and try to avoid errors will tend to defeat beginners who attempt to play attacking strokes, due to the amount of mistakes their opponents make.
Strokes – beginners often make poor stroke choices, attempting strokes with a low percentage of success, when better options are available.
Strengths/Weaknesses – beginner players tend to have more weaknesses in their ping-pong game than strengths.
Footwork – new players often move too much or too little. They reach for balls instead of taking a small step, and move too far and get too close to balls that are far away.
Spin – in the beginning level game spin is a magical and frustrating element. Beginners have problems using spin and adapting to an opponent’s spin.
Tactics – are limited at best. Most of the player’s focus is on himself and successfully playing strokes, rather than on what his opponent is doing. Beginners also have difficulty executing tactics successfully due to lack of consistency in their strokes.
Fitness – the level of play is less dynamic than advanced levels, so fitness plays much less of a role.
Rallies vs Serve/Serve Return – beginners tend to view the rallying strokes as the most important, and prefer to train these strokes over serve and serve return, which are viewed simply as ways of starting the point.
Equipment – interestingly, equipment is one area where beginners are often closer to advanced players than intermediate players. To a beginner, just about all of the blades and rubbers are much faster and spinier than they are used to, so a beginner player is usually happy to use what other players recommend, instead of obsessing about their equipment.

Ten Intermediate Level Attributes for Table Tennis

Mistakes – the number of unforced errors is less, but still significant. Intermediate players will also make more mistakes under pressure than advanced players.
Points – the ratio between winning points by forcing mistakes and from an opponent’s unforced errors becomes more even. An intermediate player who plays a safe game, taking few risks and making few mistakes, and only attacking easy balls, will rise quickly from beginner status towards the top of the intermediate level players. More aggressive players who take more risks and attack more often will rise less quickly in general, improving in level as their attacking consistency gets better.
Strokes – intermediate players will make better stroke choices, choosing the correct stroke most of the time. Their ball placement is still not so good though.
Strengths/Weaknesses – this is much more even at intermediate level. Most intermediate players will have a couple of strengths and a couple of weak points in their game.
Footwork – improves as the intermediate player learns the importance of balance and recovery in allowing multiple attacks. Footwork is faster and used more often, but the player is not always as good at knowing where he should be moving to in order to best prepare for his next stroke.
Spin – intermediate players have got past the frustrating period, and can now apply and adapt to most spin variations. They will still struggle with unusual serves or players that can use good deception when applying spin.
Tactics – are getting better, as the player needs to concentrate less on his own strokes, and can now spend more time focusing on his opponent. There can be a tendency to try to copy tactics from high level players that the intermediate player does not have the ability to consistently execute. As the player continues to improve, the ability to plan tactics, then adapt his tactics as required during matches also improves.
Fitness – will become more important over the course of a day, if several matches are played, as fatigue builds up. Often the player will be much worse in standard at the end of the day, as his body tires and mental focus slips.
Rallies vs Serve/Serve Return – intermediate players recognize the importance of serve and serve return. They just aren’t generally willing to due the necessary training to improve it! Those that do work on their serves clearly stand out from the rest at this level. Most of the intermediate player’s time is spent training the flashy rally strokes, such as power loops and smashes. The short game is often neglected.
Equipment – there is a tendency to obsess about equipment at intermediate level. Since training time is often limited due to other commitments, players often look for improvement by trying to find the perfect blade and rubber combination.

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