Table Tennis Etiquette Every Player Should Know

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When you’re in a table tennis tournament, one thing that people don’t think to worry about is catching up on their knowledge of your basic table tennis etiquette. There are quite a few of these unspoken rules. Just like any other professionally played sport you want to make sure that you act kind and courteous to your opponents and the other players around you. Here are 5 of the most important rules every player should follow.

#1 Score Announcing

It’s a common misconception to think that not announcing the score before every serve is illegal. In the end people should continue to think this way because announcing the score can help to avoid many disputes.

In professional tournaments you usually have an umpire that will announce the score to both players and to bystanders. However, because there is typically more than one game going on at a time the supply of umpires can run out. When this happens the duty should always go to the players.

#2 Celebrating

During a game, it is customary for a player to celebrate a good play. You should always practice good sportsmanship when doing so. Don’t rub it in by making your celebrations loud and distracting to other players.

In today’s world of sports, celebrating too much can give a team a foul and this topic is disputed in the world of table tennis. It’s not polite to celebrate when your opponent makes a mistake or when you win the round with “luck”. This refers to edging (hitting the ball right on the edge of the table) or net shots.

When you make an edge or a net shot, it’s customary to hold up you index finger as a way of apologizing to your opponent. You acknowledge that you wouldn’t have been able to make such a hit as well. Celebrating rules also go for spectators

#3 Obey The Rules

Not following the rules will get you a foul but a lot of the times the umpire is unable to notice small things like the very specific rules on serving. Another thing that often happens is their inability to spot if a ball is an edge ball. Only the player who was on the side of the edge ball would know. If the ball was an edge ball you need to be honest. Don’t lie for a point.

When a dispute occurs because your opponent doesn’t think your call was correct, try to discuss it with your opponent before bringing in the umpire. You guys aren’t enemies and if you anger each other it will affect the game play. If you can’t work it out together then you may bring the umpire in.

If there is a debate about a hit, spectators are not allowed to give their opinion. They are there to watch the game and not participate in it. Leave the disputes for the players and the umpires to deal with.

#4 Don’t Be Rude

Being rude towards others refers to your opponent as well as players in other courts. One way a player can be rude to their opponent is by touching their paddles. Before any game each player must check the other player’s paddle to make sure it is up to regulation standards. You can touch the handle of the paddle but don’t touch the rubber. Your hand oils can contaminate the rubber.

Another thing that people do before a game is warm up with their opponents. This is not a part of the game! The purpose of a warm up is to get used to hitting the ball in this environment with your person. Don’t try to win by slamming the ball on their side and doing trick shots. Let them get used to the ball and then during the game you can do these shots.

When you’re bringing your stuff into the playing field, the only thing that you should really bring is a towel and that needs to stay near the umpire’s chair. Water bottles and other items can be tripped over or spilled. After every 6 turns, players are allowed a break to wipe their hands and get a drink.

You should also be kind to the other players around you. This means not being too loud and staying out of their area when they’re playing. If your ball goes into another court, the umpire will sometimes have extras that you can use.

Moving behind players of another court can be considered a distraction and the players will have to replay the round. Either that or you will get hit or harmed in some way. There have been many instances when player have been smacked in the face with paddles or tripped over by a player. Wait until the round is done and then you can move into their area.

#5 Serving

As mentioned before, you should always make sure that you’re following all of the serving guidelines specified by the league you’re playing for. Specifically, make sure that your ball is visible to your opponent at all times. This is a rules but it can be hard for the umpire to determine if it’s being followed.

Another thing you should make sure that you’re doing is waiting for a period of time before you serve. When you announce the score yourself your opponent can kind of determine when you plan on serving. Make sure to wait a decent amount of time rather than rushing into it when your opponent isn’t ready for the ball.

Before you do serve, it’s proper for players to inspect the ball for cracks and to wipe off any liquids or materials from it. Cracks will severely affect the trajectory of the ball and a wet ball can make the weight of the ball uneven or sticky. If you’re ball isn’t in good shape the umpire should have extra balls for you to use.

Related Questions:

Can You Hit a Table Tennis Ball Before it Bounces?

In the official rules of table tennis you cannot hit the ball before it bounces. If you fail to do this than the point goes to your opponent.

What is the Skunk Rule in Table Tennis?

The skunk rule is an informal rule that is reference to the mercy rule. A skunk win is when a player wins by a landslide (20-4, or 11-1). Speaking of etiquette, it’s common for players to reward a mercy point to their opponents. However, the skunk rule isn’t a rule used in tournament style games. Often times people who do practice the skunk rule will make the loser do push-ups, drink alcohol, or some other humiliating act.

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