How to Play Ping Pong: The Beginner Guide

Table tennis, or more commonly referred to as ping pong, is a fun and exciting game to play with friends. If you are not of a competitive mind, then you can pass the time, and if you want to get serious, you can do that too.

However, everybody needs to start somewhere, and that is where this article comes into play.In this guide, we will teach you the basics of this game to help you get into shape to play with your friends. So, without any delay, let us jump in.

First thing first, we need to know how this game works and how to play it. The following section of the article will show you how to play ping pong the simplest way possible.

Find A Partner

Table tennis is not a single-player game. So, the best way to learn the game is to play with someone who is around the same level as you or just a bit better. That way, you can have fun while learning and get better day by day. There is also a game mode known as doubles where you have to play two vs. two.

But if you are a complete beginner and do not have decent hand-eye coordination, you might be better off practicing against a wall. It would help you get familiar with the paddle and its movements until you are comfortable playing against a human opponent.

Paddle Grip

Next, you need to understand the proper way to hold the ping pong paddle. There are two ways to approach this; one is known as the pen hold, and the other one is called the shake hand grip.

The names of the grips are quite self-explanatory. With the pen hold, you need to hold the paddle as if it was a pen. And with the shake hand grip, you hold the paddle like you are shaking hands.

Remember to hold the paddles lightly regardless of your gripping choice. That way, you will be able to move your wrist freely. Additionally, gripping it too tightly will make you use your arms for the force, which will result in inaccurate serve and hits.

Decide Who Serves

Once you are comfortable with the gripping techniques, let us move on to serving. In competitive matches, it is decided with luck, whether by flipping a coin or drawing straws. The winner of the lot gets to choose the serve while the loser chooses the side of the table.

In recreational games, however, you can decide it with your friend. You can choose to flip a coin or anything else to determine who serves first. Just make sure you do not start a fight over it.


When you serve, the first thing you need to know is that the ball must hit your side of the table first before making its way to the opponent’s side. You also need to toss the ball a minimum of 6 inches before making contact with the paddle. If you are playing one vs. one, you can serve on any side of the opponent’s table.

For doubles, you need to aim towards the person standing cross-court from you. If while serving the ball hits the net, it is counted as a “let.” This means that you need to repeat the serve with no points scored or deducted. There is no deduction of points for lets in competitive table tennis.

Returning the Ball

After the serve, the game has essentially started. Then your opponent must return the ball towards your side of the court after making it bounce once on his side. If he misses the ball or fails to deliver the ball, he loses a point. Additionally, if the ball bounces twice on his side, it also deducts a point.

However, if he hits the net but the ball still continues towards your side, you need to return it. Hitting the net does not mean a deduction of point as long as the ball stays in play. In that situation, if you miss it or fail to return, you lose a point.

Score System

The scoring system in a game of table tennis is not that complicated to understand. Regardless of who the server is, you can score a point in every round. Firstly, you can score a point if your opponent’s hit misses your side of the table and falls to the floor, or hits the wrong half of the court while serving in a double’s match.

Secondly, if you cannot return the ball properly, your opponent will win a point. Making any body contact with the ball or touching the ball multiple times with the paddle will result in loss of a point. And finally, you lose a point if you move the table or catch the ball with your hand in the middle of the game.

Win Condition

The win condition for a game of table tennis is to be ahead of your opponent by two points in the final score point. In competitive rules, the final score point is 11 points where the serve alternates after every two points. However, for recreational games, it can be 21 or 15, depending on how long you want to play.

If the scores are tied at 10 for competitive games, the server keeps alternating after every two points. At a tie position, it is known as a deuce, and one person has to score two consecutive points to win the match.

Final Thoughts

If you are not one to consider playing ping pong professionally, it could be a fun way to spend the time with your friends. It does take some amount of skill and a lot of practice to master. But the final result is rewarding enough to make everything worth it.

We hope our guide on how to play ping pong could help pique your interest in this game. So, take out your paddle, head to the court, and start playing.

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