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Most of you have played table tennis at some time or other. Most of you have enjoyed your playing! Because it is played indoors and requires relatively little equipment, it is an ideal recreation for everyone. Although it has many similarities with tennis (mainly in the rules), the comparison ends there. The lightness of the ball, the small area of the table, and the time of the response make it a game of great delicacy requiring great agility, lightning responses and of course a high level of physical fitness.
Table tennis is played on thick wooden or composite wood, plastic and even metal varieties table. The surface of the table should have a matt finish and it is usually dark green or blue. The table is 274 cm in length, 152.5 cm in width, and 76 cm in height. The table is divided by the net into two courts. The net is 15.25 cm height and extends 15.25 cm beyond each side of the table.
The racket consists of two parts: the rubbers and the blade. There are a lot of different kinds of rubbers and blades. There are offensive, all-round and defensive ones. The player style will dictate the kind of racket to use.
A game is won by the first player or pair (in doubles play) to score 11 points, unless the score reaches 10-10 in which case the player or the pair needs two clear points more than the other in order to win the game. A match consists of the best of three games or in big tournaments, like World & European Championships, the best of five games or best of seven.
You lose a point when:
- You fail to make a good serve.
- You fail to return the ball from the opponent.
- You hit the ball before it has bounced on your side.
- The ball bounces twice on your side.
- In some special occasions when you execute the serve.
A good return is a single hit of the ball by the racket hand below the wrist, after it has bounced on the player's side of the table, so that the ball returns directly on the opponent's side. Of course the ball is permitted to hit the net during the return. However if the ball hits the net during the serve, the serve is executed again.
Order of serving
The server changes every 2 points. This continues until the player wins the game. After the end of the game the opponents change sides and the player who served first in the previous game, serves first in the next. In doubles the rules of serving and changing ends are the same as in singles except that the serve is executed from the right hand side. Each 2 points the server changes corner with his partner so that the other will be ready to receive the opponent's serve. In doubles play the ball is returned in a strict sequence. The server serves and then his partner receives the ball from the opponent and so on.
Because of its deceptive simplicity most of the people who have played table tennis tend to take it lightly. However excellence requires a mastery of a variety of factors. For example there are a variety of technical strokes and spins which make the game more exciting but more difficult to play. The best way to learn how this fascinating game is played is to start with a qualified coach in a table tennis club. You can find more about clubs and national table tennis federations in ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation).
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