Illegal Serves in Table Tennis

Illegal Serves in Table Tennis

When playing in table tennis tournaments, you will often be up against players who do illegal serves, whether on purpose or accidentally.  With the right actions and attitude, you can easily diffuse the problem and play a fair table tennis match.  Here are the steps of action that I would recommend.

1. Observe the problem.  Preferably in a match prior to your match, try to watch your opponent for possible illegal serves.

2. Try to decide if he is getting some advantage.  Tossing the ball slightly higher by 1 inch does not really make a difference.  However, if he is spinning the ball with his fingers, hiding the contact, or throwing the ball into his table tennis racket, then he is probably doing something illegal.

3. If he is getting an unfair advantage or doing something illegal, then politely state the problem to him and ask if he could serve correctly because it is bothering you.

4. If he refuses to change, then go ask for an umpire from the tournament desk.  If an umpire is available, your request will be granted and the umpire will head over to your table.

5. Thank the umpire for his assistance and briefly explain the situation. The umpire will then judge his serves fairly and will be unbiased in his judgement. Do not argue or fight with the umpire if he does not think the same way you do.

6. After the table tennis match has concluded, shake hands with your opponent and the umpire.  Regardless of what happened during the match, be prepared to shake off the match and prepare for your next opponent.

Recommended books

Table tennis tactics for thinkers

Learn table tennis tactics from USATT Certified National Coach and Hall of Famer Larry Hodges. Includes tactics against different styles, grips, and surfaces as well as tactical and strategic thinking. The book opens with this: “Tactics isn’t about finding complex strategies to defeat an opponent. Tactics is about sifting through all the zillions of possible tactics and finding a few simple ones that work.” The book then explores the tactical and strategic development needed to have the specific tactical tools needed in any given match – your “tactical toolbox.

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