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Do You Have To Serve Diagonally In Table Tennis?

Do You Have To Serve Diagonally in Table Tennis?
A player serves the ball during a table tennis match.
Singles MatchIn a singles table tennis match, you do not have to serve the ball diagonally. You are free to serve on any part of the table as long as the ball touches the servers side of the table first.
Doubles MatchIn a doubles table tennis match, you must serve diagonally at the start of the match.

In Table Tennis, the serve is the action in which the game begins. One player puts the ball in motion on the table for their opponent to respond by returning the ball with their paddle. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has restructured the serving rules for Table Tennis many times since the game's conception to ensure fair play between the competitors.

There are no rules stating that the ball must be served diagonally (from one side of the center dividing line to the other) in a single match. However, the ball must be served diagonally in a doubles match (a match between two teams of two players each).

Table Tennis Serving

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What are the serving rules in Table Tennis?

The serving rules for Table Tennis are very simple. Let's run through them quickly!

  • The server must serve from behind the baseline (the back line of the table) and above the table height.
  • The ball must bounce on the servers side of the table once after the serve before bouncing on the opponent's side.
  • When the ball hits the net on the serve (called a let serve), a reserve is initiated. There is no restraint to the number of times a serve is allowed.
  • The receiving player must return the ball after one bounce on their side of the table or a point is awarded to the server.


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