Does the Ping Pong Ball Have to Hit the Table?

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Does the Ping Pong Ball have to Hit the Table?

If you didn’t know much about it, you might think all Ping Pong entails is hitting a ball back and forth. Most people don’t get to know the game well enough to know that it actually has a sophisticated set of rules.

Because of that, beginners often have some confusion about how it’s supposed to be played. One of the most common questions is, does the Ping Pong ball have to hit the table?

In this quick post, we’ll examine the rules and explain the concept of volleying to you.

Does the Ping Pong Ball Have to Hit the Table?

We’ll start by answering the question right away. Yes, the Ping Pong ball has to hit your side of the table before you can hit it back.

In the International Table Tennis Federation’s handbook, this is covered under rule 2.5.8, which states the following:

 A player obstructs the ball if he or she, or anything he or she wears or carries, touches it in play when it is above or travelling towards the playing surface, not having touched his or her court since last being struck by his or her opponent.

This means that hitting the ball before it has touched your side of the table is called obstruction. Another term for hitting the ball before it hits the table is volleying.

Volleying is permitted in tennis, but not so much in Ping Pong. Generally, if you volley the ball in Ping Pong, your opponent gets a point.

Read Also: Is Ping Pong Played to 11 or 21?

The Exception to the Rule

With that in mind, there are exceptions implied by the rule we mentioned. Like with all things, the rules in Ping Pong aren’t all black and white matters.

You will not lose a point by volleying if the ball wasn’t going to hit your side of the table in the first place. If your opponent has sent the ball flying in a random direction, there’s no reason why you couldn’t hit it.

Your opponent was already going to lose the point, anyway, since they have to hit the table.

Wrap Up

Rules without any possible exceptions are extremely rare. The rules of Ping Pong are the same. There are almost always situations where doing a normally forbidden action would be acceptable.

Although the rules stipulate that the ball has to hit your side before you can return it, this isn’t always the case. As we mentioned above, returning a ball that wasn’t going to hit your side of the table in the first place will not cost you a point.

Want to learn more about Ping Pong? We’ve discussed why Ping Pong is good for your brain and why Ping Pong is called Ping Pong before.

Otherwise, if you feel like you’re ready to invest in the game, the best place to start is by finding a good table. We’ve found a few great wooden tables here or aluminum tables here.