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How to Play Table Tennis: A Beginners Guide 

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Table tennis is a sport that’s played globally, but it’s also one of the most challenging. It requires quick reflexes and an eye for strategy, not hand-eye coordination. We’ll walk you through some essential tips on how to play table tennis—from what equipment you need to know about the rules of this game.

What Equipment Do You Need?

You’ll need a few pieces of equipment to play table tennis: a paddle, ball and preferably a table. 

Table Tennis Paddles

There are many different types of paddles in the world. Some are made of wood, others are made of carbon fiber, and others are made of plastic. The kind you choose will depend on your playing style and comfort level with the paddle itself.

If you’re new to table tennis, then you’ll probably want a paddle that is lighter than those used by seasoned players so that your swing doesn’t feel too heavy when learning how to play table tennis for the first time.

Table Tennis Balls 

The table tennis ball is an essential piece of equipment in the game. It’s made of celluloid and filled with air, so it’s hollow inside. It comes in a variety of colors, sizes, and materials.

The standard size for a table tennis ball is 40 mm. This makes it slightly smaller than a golf ball but much larger than a golf tee. The best ones have no seams or imperfections on the surface, and they’re made from durable material that won’t break too easily during play.

Table Tennis Tables

There are many different types of table tennis tables available for purchase. The first type, which is the most common, is the wooden table tennis table. This type of table will usually have a net that must be installed before play can begin. These models are also foldable, so they can be easily stored away when not used. 

The second most popular type of table tennis table is one made out of metal. This material may either be solid or hollowed out and filled with plastic resin to make it lighter weight while maintaining durability as well as sturdiness in windy conditions. These tables have nets installed, but they do not fold quickly or compactly like their wooden counterparts. 

How to Hold the Bat

To hold your paddle, ensure that your dominant hand is on the handle and your non-dominant hand is on top. Your non-dominant hand should be curled around the edge of the bat with your fingers facing away from you. Ensure no fingers touch the table when striking; this will keep you from accidentally damaging or marking up an expensive new ping pong table!

The thumb on a properly gripped paddle faces backward toward you, not forwards like in other sports such as baseball or golf.

Learn the Basic Rules

Learning the basic rules of table tennis is essential to play a good game. The following are some of the rules.

Games are Played to 11 Points 

A point is awarded to the player who wins a rally. Players change ends after every 6 points, and the game continues until the total number of games played reaches 11.

Alternate Serves Every Two Points 

Another strategy is to alternate serves every two points. This means that you and your opponent each get to serve twice, then switch roles for the following two points, and so on until the end of the game. This method also means that whoever wins a rally gets to choose.

Toss the Ball Straight up When Tossing 

You should always toss the ball straight up when you are serving. If you don’t, it will be hard for your opponent to get ready, and they might miss their return shot.

The Ball Can Land anywhere in Singles 

The rule is simple: you must land the ball on your side of the table within the playing surface. You can set it up anywhere in singles.

If the server hits a serve that lands on their side of the table but does not remain within their playing surface, it is considered out and should be called by an official without hesitation.

Learn the Fundamental Shots

You can think of table tennis as a game that revolves around four primary skills: pushing, blocking and driving, and smashing 


To push the ball, you must use your paddle. Your hands hold the paddle in such a way that they can touch the table and the ball at the same time. You may need to adjust your grip on the paddle if it doesn’t feel comfortable or natural. Once set up, place one side of your blade on top of the ball and hit it with another part of your blade. The idea is to strike an area between 1? 4 inch (0.6 cm) and 1? 2 inch (1 cm) away from where your edge touches the surface of your opponent’s table. This will give you more control over where exactly you aim when pushing back their shot!


Blocking is the most basic form of defense in table tennis. To block, use your paddle to hit the ball back toward your opponent. You can stop with either a forehand or backhand stroke. Barring from the middle or center of your racket is not recommended because it makes you vulnerable to chops and pushes. Instead, try blocking from either side of your racket’s head. This will give you greater control over where the ball goes and how hard it comes off your paddle.


To drive the ball, you’ll use the middle of your paddle. When you strike it, the ball should sail off in a straight line. You can also drive with the top and bottom of your paddle and its back or front. Just be careful not to hit too hard!


Smashing is a powerful shot that sends the ball over the net. To smash, you need to hit your opponent’s shot with topspin, using a high trajectory and racket head movement upwards. This can be done by moving into position while they’re playing their strokes or immediately after they hit one of their shots.

The best way to think about smashing is that it’s like an aggressive follow-through on an attacking stroke. You want to move into position for this type of shot as quickly as possible so you don’t miss out on any opportunities to win points!


Table tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world and with good reason. It’s easy to learn, fun to play, and inexpensive compared to other table games like pool. It can be played at any age level and with any number of players – from two against two up until singles matches!

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