How to Keep Score in Ping Pong (6 Simple Steps)

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Are you trying to figure out how to keep score in ping pong? Then you've come to the right place. We've broken down the process into 6 easy steps that you can follow.

just scoring in a game of ping pong

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Check the Match

Before starting a game of ping pong you need to make sure that you know if the match is going to be the best of five or seven games. While any odd number of games can be used to create a match, these are the most commonly used. Note on the score sheet how many games will be played, as well as which player will serve first.

Start at 0-0

Both players start the game with 0 points and then is given a chance to serve until there are two points scored for the game. After these points are scored, then the other player serves and the two players take turns.

Players need to reach 11 points to win the game, but if both players have the same score or are one point apart, then the game continues. Ping pong games will continue to be played until there is a two point margin between the players once one player has reached 11 points.

Players earn points every time the ball is put into play, not just when they are in charge of serving. This can be a difficult rule for some players, especially those used to playing volleyball, to remember.

Additionally, the edges of the table are considered a part of the surface for playing and scoring, but the sides are not.

How to Gain a Point

There are a few ways to gain a point when playing ping pong. When an opponent does the following things, then you will earn a point:

  • Misses a shot that landed on their side of the table
  • Doesn’t allow the ball to hit their side of the table first when serving
  • Hits a shot that doesn’t make it across the table
  • Hits a shot that goes over the table without landing on the table
  • The opponent touches the playing surface with their free hand
  • The opponent strikes the ball with a paddle blade that is not covered in rubber
  • The opponent strikes the ball twice before it comes over the net, either twice with the paddle or once with the hand and then once with the paddle

Check out this helpful video if you're more of a visual learner

How to Lose a Point

In addition to gaining points, you can also lose points when playing ping pong. It is easy to lose points when you do one of the following:

  • Move the table during play
  • Bounce the ball two times on your side if you’re not serving
  • Not return the ball to the other side of your net
  • Miss a shot that hits your side of the table
  • Make a shot that lands off of the table without first hitting the opponent’s side

Point Values

It’s easy to accidentally forget who is supposed to be serving during a game, but checking the point values is a great way to remember whose turn it is. Since players switch turns serving every time two points are scored, it’s easy to keep track.

Once the score is past 10-all, then it’s significantly easier to remember who is supposed to be serving. The original server at the start of the game will always serve when the points are equal, such as 10-all, 11-all, or 12-all, but when the scores are different, then the player who originally received will serve.

Winning the Match

The player who wins more than half of all games played during the match is the overall winner. This means that out of five games, a player must win three to win. Out of seven games, the player must win five to win the entire match. Since matches can vary with how many games they contain, players must pay attention to how many games must be won to take the whole match.

When you understand the rules of ping pong and how to score in this game, then you will be able to better enjoy playing. No matter if you keep score on paper or use an electronic scorer, you will find that this fun game is even more enjoyable when you play with a real score.