Mastering Table Tennis Scoring Rules: A Comprehensive Guide

Mastering Table Tennis Scoring Rules: A Comprehensive Guide

7 minutes read
Aug 28th, 2023
Edited by:  Kim

Table tennis, also known as ping pong, is a fast-paced and exciting sport loved by millions worldwide. To truly enjoy and excel in this game, understanding the scoring rules is crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the table tennis or ping pong scoring rules, demystify the concept of deuce, and equip you with the knowledge to become a scoring expert on the table tennis court.


  • Basic Service Rules of Table Tennis
  • How to Win a Point in Table Tennis
  • Table Tennis Scoring Rules
  • Summary

Basic Service Rules of Table Tennis

When you serve, you must toss the ball and hit it with your racket. It has to bounce on your side of the table first, then go over the net, and bounce on your opponent’s side. So, there must be two bounces, one on your side, and the other on your opponent’s side.

After that, if your opponent wants to hit the ball and score, he must hit it going over the net and onto your side (one bounce only onto your side). The same thing goes for you. You will need to hit the ball over the net and onto your opponent’s side. And the game goes on like this until a point is scored.

Please remember this: When you are serving, if the ball hits the net but still goes to the opponent’s side, it’s called a “let”. If this happens, you have to re-serve. This causes no changes to the existing scores. And there’s no limit on the number of “lets” that a server can serve in a row.

There are some other important rules you should know regarding serving and scoring. We’ll explain in a later section when talking about how scoring works in table tennis.

How to Win a Point in Table Tennis

Here are the cases you will get a point in a ping pong game:

1. You hit a shot, the ball bounces on your opponent’s side of the table, and he/she isn’t able to hit it back. You win a point.

2. You hit the ball. It bounces two times on your opponent’s side. If your opponent hits the ball after it has bounced more than once on his/her side, you win a point.

3. You hit the ball. If your opponent hits it when it hasn’t touched his/her side of the table, you win a point. This is known as a volley and it isn’t allowed in table tennis.

4. Your opponent hits the ball. If it doesn’t bounce on the table and goes outside of the table, you win a point.

5. Your opponent hits the ball into the net, and you win a point.

Table Tennis Scoring Rules

A match of ping pong or table tennis consists of a number of games that varies across different competitions. Commonly, a match has 3 to 5 games. To win a game, you have to score 11 points first and be ahead of your opponent with at least 2 points. Scores start at 0-0. How to win a point has been explained in the section above.

For example, the score is 11-9 for you and your opponent respectively. This means you win a game since you reach 11 points first and the point difference is 2 points. Same thing with 11-7. You still win the game since you reach 11 points first and you’re ahead of the other 4 points.

But the score is 11-10. You reach 11 points first. But the point difference is just 1. You have to continue until you get at least 2 points ahead of your opponent. Let’s say you get one more point, making it 12-10, you win. So, don’t be surprised if you see the scores of two players going up to something like 27-26.

When someone wins a game, the two players switch sides. The one who didn’t serve first in the previous game will serve first in this game.

Now, back to the service rule again. There’s something you should know and follow regarding serving and scoring. Each player will serve for two points in a row. This means you keep serving until you get two points. Then, it’s your opponent’s turn to serve until he/she gets two points (then, it’s your turn again to serve). A game keeps going like this until someone wins.

There’s an exception that you should always remember. After being tied 10-10 (which is called “deuce”), service changes at every point instead of every two points. Let’s say, it’s 10-10, you serve and score a point, making it 11-10. It immediately changes to your opponent to serve. If your opponent scores, making it 11-11, it returns to you serving again. The game carries on until there’s a 2-points difference.


That’s all you need to know about the table tennis or ping pong scoring rules. Not too complicated right? You can watch this video for the summary of what we’ve just shared with you in this blog.

Happy Ping Pong!

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