Question Corner: Can You Touch The Table In Table Tennis?

Tennis is a sport with great appeal and it turned into one of the Olympic sports. Overall, the game rules seem pretty simple yet enough to protect players and ensure the game’s fairness. Whether you’re playing in the expertizing arena, your home field, or an entertainment center, all players need to follow a similar set of regulations.

Nevertheless, in that set of rules, does it involve touching the ping pong with your hands? Can you touch the table in table tennis? Is there a penalty for such touching? You will have the answer right here.

Turning into an expert in playing tennis sounds great!

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Can You Touch The Table In Table Tennis?

Is Table Touch Not Allowed During A Point In Table Tennis? The answer is both yes and no. Ping Pong possesses a clear and detailed set of touching regulations when you are competing: whether you are allowed to touch the tennis table while playing or not depends entirely on what you touch (Playing hand, freehand, or touch position like the middle of the table, outside/inside the playing surface, or the net). We will discuss this issue in detail in the next section.

What Happens If You Touch The Ping Pong?

Playing Hand

As long as your impacts do not move the table surface, there is no penalty for touching the ping pong with the hand keeping the racket. This is similar to the case of touching the table by your clothes, body, or even your racket. There is no penalty for touching the table.

Free Hand

If we say the other arm (not holding the racquet), it is a free hand. In ping pong rules, you are not allowed to touch the table with your free hand while playing. Otherwise, you will lose a point to your opponent. The ITTF Handbook informs that the rules for free hands as follows: ‘’Rule If your free hand touches the playing surface, your opponent will score one point at once (unless the rally is allowed).’’

Besides, there is only one case in which a player’s free hands is allowed to touch the table – the point ends moment, as well:

  • The ball touches anything other than your opponent’s net or racket.
  • Your opponent scores a point.
  • A let is called.

Switching Hands

Some tennis players are quite special, for instance, the ambidextrous players. They will switch from hand to hand continuously when playing ping pong. The rules for this case are pretty tricky, so they must focus on switching rules as soon as they switch their hands.

What If You Touch The Playing Surface’s Outside?

We want to highlight that the tennis-playing surface does not include the table’s vertical sides, including under the table and the table legs, as in rule 2.1.2: bear in mind that the playing surface must not consist of the tabletop’s vertical edges.

If your free hand touches any surface or area that is not the playing surface and does not cause the table to move, the game continues.

What Happens If You Touch The Net?

Grid is an easy place to worry. During play, once players touch the net, they will lose a point immediately. According to law, if an opponent or anything he carries or wears touches the tennis net, he will lose one point.

Can You Touch The Table In Table Tennis

The carelessness of touching table tennis may make your opponent score the points.

How About Moving The Table/Playing Surface?

One final issue that also leads to penalties related to touching the tennis table while playing is that you cause the table to move.

While playing, if you touch on the table with playing hands or clothes or rackets, it does not matter if the playing surface remains in the same place. However, once the umpire detects that the playing surface has shifted after your touch, you will be penalized immediately – your opponent will win one point.

Again, as mentioned above, if your free hand touches the table, you are penalized whether or not the table moves.

You’d better thoroughly understand Table Tennis’s rules.

Further Reading:

Can You Hit Your Ping Pong Bat on the Table? – LiveAbout

Table Tennis Rules | Recreational Services


So, can you touch the table in table tennis? The answer is both yes and no. As the aforementioned explanations say, there are cases in which you can touch ping pong without being fined, yet in other situations, you could lose points. Hence, let’s refer to our guideline thoroughly again to avoid unexpected penalties.

As long as you don’t teleport yourself, you can touch the tennis table with anything but your free hand. Take control of the freehand while playing to avoid unexpected points loss situations.