Ping Pong Doubles Rules: How to Win the Game?

Ping pong can be a fun and enjoyable game whether you are playing one-on-one or playing a game of doubles. Here you will find special rules that apply to a game of doubles in ping pong before you start a game.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 31, 2023
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Ping pong is a fun recreational game that can also be enjoyed as a competitive sport. You can play one-on-one with another player, or you can choose to play doubles. Different rules apply when you are playing with two people on each team. If you are interested in serious competitive play, it’s important that you learn about the ping pong doubles rules before you start to play.

What Are the Rules?

What Are the Rules

In doubles, you should alternate hitting the ball with your partner.

Learning the rules for playing table tennis with four players can help improve your overall experience with this recreational sport. You are sure to have more fun playing with a group of friends and family members during a family reunion or holiday get-together.

We know that the rules for playing doubles table tennis with a game of ping pong Trusted Source ‘Ping-pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World’ by Nicholas Griffin - The Washington Post Table tennis is now a “living fossil,” a sport “your dad plays.” So who’s winning after all? or table tennis can be confusing. That is why we put together this helpful guide. Please read over the rules and our tips for getting points and winning a doubles game of table tennis. We hope that this information will help you improve your game and make playing table tennis or ping pong much more enjoyable.


The ping pong doubles serving rules can be very complex. Before you get started, you will need to decide who serves first. There are many ways this can be determined. The most common ways are flipping a coin or volley. To volley, you simply toss the ball in the air and play it until one team scores. If your team scores, then it is your turn to serve. However, when you volley, the ball must be hit at least three times in the match before you can score.

In a game of doubles, the serve must go in a diagonal direction. It must go from the server’s right-hand side over to the receiver’s right-hand side. Serving the ball in this manner prevents you from getting the opposing player confused before they even have a chance to hit the ball.

The actual serve is exactly the same as it is when you are playing a one-on-one game of ping pong or table tennis. The only difference is that instead of allowing the ball to bounce anywhere on the table, the ball must only bounce on the right half portion of the table for the server and the receiver. The serve still alternates after every two points between the teams. However, it also alternates between players who are on the same team.

Play Order

Another key difference for ping pong doubles rules is the order that the players must play in. When playing doubles in ping pong or table tennis, the server will first serve the ball, then the receiver will make a return. The server’s partner will then make a return, and the receiver’s partner will make a return, and after that, each player in turn in that same sequence will return the ball.

When it comes to the order of play, you will need to follow the right sequence for both serving and receiving if you want to comply with the table tennis and ping pong rules for doubles.

If you have two teams with players A&B and X&Y, Player A will serve the ball to Player X. That player will return the ball. Then Player B will need to play the next shot, which leads to Player Y playing the following shot. The same sequence will need to be repeated, A, X, B, Y, until the point is made.

Players have the option to stand wherever they want while playing a game of doubles, and they can play their shots from any position they like. The only restriction is when serving the ball, the ball will need to be behind the server’s end line. This rule is the same for a game of one-on-one.

Service Change

When serving the ball, either every two or five points scored, you will need to switch serves between the teams. If you are playing doubles, its common to play up to 21 points however, you can also play up to 15 as well for a shorter game.

Ends Change

The player or team that started at one end in the game will start at the opposing end in the second game of the math. And in the last game of the match, the players to team will change ends whenever one person or pair scores five points.

Special Rules

Ping pong and table tennis can be excellent recreational sports for individuals who are in wheelchairs. However, the rules for doubles in table tennis for these players are slightly different.

The official rules state that when at least one player in a game of doubles is in a wheelchair due to a handicap, the server must first do service, and the receiver will then make a return, but after that, either player of the disabled play is able to make the returns.

Also, if the opposing doubles pair is made up of at least one player in a wheelchair, any part of the wheelchair or a foot of the standing player crosses the extension of the centerline of the table will cause them to lose the point.

How to Get Points

How to Get Points

A game shall be won by the player or pair first scoring 21 points unless both players or pairs score 20 points, when the game shall be won by the first player or pair subsequently gaining a lead of 2 points.

Just like when you are playing a game of singles in table tennis or ping pong, the winner of the game is the first person to reach 11 points. There should be a gap that is at least two points between the opponents at the end of the game. Therefore if the score is at 10-10, the game will go into an extra round until one player or team takes over the lead of two points.

How to Win Doubles Game

There are a few things you and your partner can do to improve your table tennis or ping pong game. When playing doubles, there are specific strategies and secrets all players need to know to perform at their very best. By considering the following tips, you can start to enjoy more victories whenever you play doubles at ping pong or table tennis.

Choose the Perfect Partner

Sometimes two players will immediately click and work very well together. And other times, there may be some struggles along the way. Its important to remember that even the most unique combination of players can produce an excellent doubles team for ping pong or table tennis. Their success does not just rely on each team members playing style but also on their level combination and how well they are able to communicate with one another. A team made up of two expert players could end up being the worst team, while a pair with a top player and a beginner could be the winners.

You can use any combination of players, and the outcome will not always be predictable. One of the best combinations when playing doubles in ping pong is to choose a lefty and a righty player. When a pair is made up of one left-handed and one right-handed player, they have the advantage of not having to cover a great distance to leave room for their partner to play. And the entire table is always open to them.

A lefty and righty team can move slightly to the back and side, and the partner can access the entire table. Then they have the option to step back as their partner comes in to play.

Use Basic Serves

Anytime you are playing a doubles game of table tennis, it is important that you keep your serves simple. Before attempting an advanced serve, be sure that your partner is aware of the change, otherwise, they will have a difficult time choosing their third ball attack.

The placement of the serve is the most critical thing. When you are serving the ball to a right-handed player, you should serve it as close to the middle line as you can. This will pull the player to the table and leave no space for their partner to step in.

Anytime you are serving to a left-handed player, you will not have the same advantage. Therefore you should keep your focus on serving them from the tables edge and getting out of your partner’s path quickly. This will ensure they will have more time to anticipate the ball’s return.

Attempt to Attack First

It is essential that your team attacks first when playing doubles since it can be more difficult to react to an incoming attack than when you are playing singles. A strong serve into a tricky area of the table will typically lead to your team winning that point.

Whenever you are serving, be sure to serve the ball in a way that makes it easy for your partner to attack. This means you will have to communicate the serve using a hand signal or other method, then quickly stepping out of the way, so your partner has enough room to cover the table and send their attack.

When you are receiving, the main thing to keep in mind is you should try to attack the serve if possible. If you cant, be sure to return the ball in a way that stops the other team from attacking or in a way that forces them to provide a soft attack.

Anytime your partner is serving the ball, you need to concentrate on what returns are likely from the opposing team. You can determine this based on their serve. Once you know you will need to prepare, you will need to place yourself in a good position.

Whenever your partner is receiving the ball, you will have some extra time before you need to make contact with the ball. Just dont take too much time to decide on what your next move will be.

Rules for a Ping Pong Table Setup

The rules for table tennis Trusted Source Table tennis: It might be time to take it up again - The Washington Post At least five full-time centers have sprung up in the Washington area in the past few years, a clear indication that table tennis is on the rise in these parts. state that for a game of doubles, each court must be divided into two equal half-courts using a white center line that is 3mm wide. The line must run parallel to the sidelines, and the centerline indicates the split between each right half-court of the ping pong table.

This means that to play doubles correctly, you will need to have a table that features a centerline marked on it that is 3mm wide. If the ball ever touches that center line during a serve in a game of doubles, the service is considered to be “in”.

Final Thoughts

Playing doubles in a game of ping pong or table tennis can be very exciting and enjoyable. Many people prefer to play a game one-on-one. While it is important to understand all the rules and learn more about strategies that will help you and your partner win the game, it is equally important to have fun and make the most out of your time with other players.

Understanding ping pong doubles rules can be confusing if you are new to the game. But once you learn the basics of it, you should be able to remember the basics easily and play a round or two of doubles without any issues.


‘Ping-pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World’ by Nicholas Griffin - The Washington Post
Table tennis is now a “living fossil,” a sport “your dad plays.” So who’s winning after all?
Table tennis: It might be time to take it up again - The Washington Post
At least five full-time centers have sprung up in the Washington area in the past few years, a clear indication that table tennis is on the rise in these parts.
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