Since the invention of the game, the International Table Tennis Federation has been trying to perfect the rules of serving. While serving was once just a way to start a match, it has evolved into an opportunity for players to strike the ball and earn a point.
The official rules of table tennis state that the first serve of every game should be decided at random. This can be decided in a drawing or flipping a coin. It's important that this choice is random to avoid any claims of giving one player an advantage over another. In recreational table tennis, the umpire of the match will sometimes hold the ball behind his or her back or under the table and ask the players to guess which hand it's in.
Many people think that the winner of this drawing automatically serves first. However, the winner is given a choice. They can:
If they opt to serve first, their opponent gets to choose the side of the table they prefer to start at. Likewise, if they choose a side of the table, the other player is then allowed to decide whether to serve or receive the ball first.