The International Tables Tennis Federation (ITFF) sets the of­fi­cial rule­set for ping pong, The Laws of Table Tennis”. I mod­i­fied their 2019 hand­book by re­mov­ing rules for dou­bles and hand­i­capped-player matches, and by re­word­ing rules for clar­ity.

  1. Definitions

    1. A rally is the pe­riod dur­ing which the ball is in play.
    2. The ball is in play from the be­gin­ning of the serve un­til the rally is de­cided as a let or a point.
    3. A let is a rally where the re­sult is not scored.
    4. A point is a rally where the re­sult is scored.
    5. The racket hand is the hand car­ry­ing the racket.
    6. The free hand is the hand not car­ry­ing the racket; the free arm is the arm of the free hand.
    7. A player strikes the ball if they touch it in play with their racket (held in the hand), or with their racket hand down to the wrist.
    8. A player ob­structs the ball if they, or any­thing they wear or carry, touch it in play when it is above or trav­el­ling to­wards the play­ing sur­face, not hav­ing touched their court since last be­ing struck by their op­po­nent.
    9. The server is the player due to strike the ball first in a rally.
    10. The re­ceiver is the player due to strike the ball sec­ond in a rally.
    11. The end lines are the lines on each end of the table. They ex­tend in­def­i­nitely in both di­rec­tions.
  2. The Service

    1. Service shall start with the ball rest­ing on the open palm of the server’s sta­tion­ary free hand.
    2. The server shall toss the ball near ver­ti­cally up­wards, with­out im­part­ing spin, so that it rises at least 6 inches and then falls with­out touch­ing any­thing be­fore be­ing struck.
    3. As the ball is falling the server shall strike it so that it touches first their court and then di­rectly touches the re­ceiver’s court.
    4. From the start of ser­vice un­til it is struck, the ball shall be above the table and be­hind the server’s end line, and it shall not be hid­den from the re­ceiver by the server.
  3. The Return

    1. The ball, hav­ing been served or re­turned, shall be struck so that it touches the op­po­nen­t’s court, ei­ther di­rectly or af­ter touch­ing the net as­sem­bly.
  4. The Order of Play

    1. The server shall first make a ser­vice, the re­ceiver shall then make a re­turn and there­after server and re­ceiver al­ter­nately shall each make a re­turn.
  5. A Let

    1. The rally shall be a let:
      1. if in ser­vice the ball touches the net as­sem­bly, pro­vided the ser­vice is oth­er­wise cor­rect;
      2. if the ser­vice is de­liv­ered when the re­ceiv­ing player is not ready, pro­vided that the re­ceiver does not at­tempt to strike the ball;
      3. if a dis­tur­bance out­side the con­trol of the player in­ter­rupts play.
  6. A Point

    1. Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point
      1. if the op­po­nent fails to make a cor­rect ser­vice;
      2. if the op­po­nent fails to make a cor­rect re­turn;
      3. if, af­ter they have made a ser­vice or a re­turn, the ball touches any­thing other than the net as­sem­bly be­fore be­ing struck by the op­po­nent;
      4. if the ball passes over their court or be­yond their end line with­out touch­ing their court, af­ter be­ing struck by the op­po­nent;
      5. if the ball, af­ter be­ing struck by the op­po­nent, passes through the net or be­tween the net and the net post or be­tween the net and play­ing sur­face;
      6. if the op­po­nent ob­structs the ball;
      7. if the op­po­nent de­lib­er­ately strikes the ball twice in suc­ces­sion;
      8. if the op­po­nent, or any­thing the op­po­nent wears or car­ries, moves the play­ing sur­face;
      9. if the op­po­nent, or any­thing the op­po­nent wears or car­ries, touches the net as­sem­bly;
      10. if the op­po­nen­t’s free hand touches the play­ing sur­face.
  7. A Game

    1. The first player to score 11 points wins the game, un­less both play­ers score 10 points, when the first player to next gain a lead of 2 points wins the game.
  8. A Match

    1. A match shall con­sist of the best of any odd num­ber of games.
  9. The Order of Serving, Receiving, and Ends

    1. The right to choose the ini­tial or­der of serv­ing, re­ceiv­ing and ends shall be de­cided ran­domly and the win­ner may choose to serve or to re­ceive first or to start at a par­tic­u­lar end.
    2. When one player has cho­sen to serve or to re­ceive first or to start at a par­tic­u­lar end, the other player shall have the other choice. 
    3. After each 2 points have been scored the re­ceiv­ing player shall be­come the serv­ing player and so on un­til the end of the game, un­less both play­ers score 10 points, when the se­quences of serv­ing and re­ceiv­ing shall be the same but each player shall serve for only 1 point in turn.
    4. The player serv­ing first in a game shall re­ceive first in the next game of the match.
    5. The player start­ing at one end in a game shall start at the other end in the next game of the match and in the last pos­si­ble game of a match the play­ers shall change ends when one player scores 5 points.
  10. Out of Order of Serving, Receiving, or Ends

    1. If a player serves or re­ceives out of turn, in­ter­rupt play as soon as the er­ror is dis­cov­ered and con­tinue with the cor­rect player serv­ing.
    2. If the play­ers have not changed ends when they should have, in­ter­rupt play to switch ends and con­tinue.
    3. All points scored be­fore the dis­cov­ery of an er­ror still count.