Serving Legally


Service Laws

Below is a pdf which collates the of ITTF service laws, the relevant advice in the match officials handbook and developments from the ITTF Umpires’ and Referees’ Committee.

Service Laws

Serving rules videos

Watch this brilliant video from Olympian Jeff Plumb at Pingskills as he makes the service rules crystal clear.

Some other service rule links that you might find useful:

Alois from Pingskills shows Panda the rules:

eHowSports simple rules:

Greg Letts: Common Questions about the Service Rules for Table Tennis

 Greg Letts: How to Serve Legally

 Examples of illegal serves:


The poet’s push

This week we had the Gerard come
To inspect the way we served.
To examine every aspect,
of rules – to us – absurd.

We put on quite a show for him,
After all, he is The Boss.
We demonstrated and were commended on
Our beautifully practised toss.

But oh! What deviousness was displayed,
For as soon as He had left
We simply went back to our old routines
And of improvement became bereft!!

Is there no way to change our ways?
To really kick our habits?
As Elmer Fudd was wont to say
“you wascally wittle wabbits”!!! ???

I think there is – a splendid way
Simple – not too hard!
We simply make some scarecrows in
The image of “The Gerard”. And

Place them at each table end
Where every player can view,
And contemplate his awful fate
If his service he (she) fails to renew

So come on – let’s try harder
To be fair to our mates.
Help them and encourage them
As courtesy dictates

David O’Dempsey

To which Graham raises the pen:

To be fair I would have to say
That some did improve their play.
And if some servers don’t give a toss
Then that is going to be their loss.


Observations of an Old Man

For many years I practised serve
To gain an advantage over the foe
It gave me pleasure to deceive so many
With spin to them unknown

Many were the complaints that the foe did lodge
Inferring a service infraction –
All were dismissed by the powers above
– I had a legal action

Then, years ago they changed the rules –
Now my ball toss height was too low!!.
The action change didn’t suit my routine
And my serves became mundane and slow … until

I practised hard to get it right
to toss the ball up higher –
straight from the palm 17 cm or more
just as the rules required……(most (or some?) of the time)

I note that as I watch the play
Amongst players in grades high and low
That some observe and train to the rules..
But many in complying are slow!!

Is it fair to play outside the rules
Even if we say “everyone does it”?
Is it fair to be aware of being incorrect
And gain an advantage from it?

Pull your fingers out players from A grade to D!!
Gain the skills your game needs and deserve!
Put time into honing your skills of the game!
Come on – legalise your serve!!!!

David O’Dempsey