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Why 21 and 11 points in table tennis?

What is the point of table tennis? What is the scoring rule in table tennis?

This means that you must keep the ball in play longer than your opponent in order to score any points. Failure to serve well (e.g. tossing the ball up in the air and missing it or failing to hit the ball into the side of the table where it belongs) results in a loss of a point for a player.

Table tennis score rules

Nowadays, table tennis has an 11-point system. Meanwhile, ping pong has a 15-points system. Table tennis and ping pong are different today!

When the score is 0, it should be pronounced as “love”.

The umpire should read the score to the players.

An umpire recently called the score and the server served. An umpire decided to let the game go because the other team claimed they weren’t ready.

When the umpire feels that both players are ready, that’s when the game should be called.

It is up to the opponent, not the server, to ensure that he or she is ready for the serve. The declaration of the score is a clear indication that the players are ready to go.

A player disagreed with my opinion, saying that the score should be announced as soon as a point is scored.

It’s a given that an umpire is responsible for keeping the game moving along at a proper tempo. At the beginning of a game, the umpire should announce the player’s family name/surname and the score.

Umpire is announcing who has won the point
Umpire is announcing who has won the point

The umpire might say, for example, “Ma Long to serve,” “Love all” (or “Zero-Zero”). Either “love” or “zero” can be used to describe the score of 0.

“9-9” or “9-all” can be used to describe a score in which each player or pair has scored the same number of points.

Because of this, the International Rules state that umpires are not supposed to wait until they determine that the players are ready to continue play before calling the score.

But if there is a lot of cheering and someone is retrieving the ball, they can delay it for a few seconds until they are sure both players or pairs will be able to hear what they’ve just said. Following that, the umpire will call the score by stating the number of points scored by the player (or pair) who is scheduled to serve in the following rally, and then the number of points scored by the opponent player (or pair).

To ensure that no points have been scored, the umpire should repeat the current score.

Old score system

Games were scored up to 21 points, with service changing every five points, prior to the year 2001.

Score in a ping pong match: 21 (Old system) and 11 (Nowadays)
Score in a ping pong match: 21 (Old system) and 11 (Nowadays)

Today score system

After 2021, a service change has occurred every two points during the game since then, and the score has gone up to 11. A game is decided by the first player or pair to win by two points after both players (or both couples in doubles) have scored 10.

In the history, table tennis set ends with 21 points. Today table tennis score is 11 points system.
In history, the table tennis set ends with 21 points. Today table tennis score is 11 points system.

Why odd score system?

In table tennis, we need to use the odd score system (21 points, or 11 points). Why do we use 21 points and 11 points in a ping pong match?

Like any sport, you can’t finish the set with an even score like 10 or 20. You need an odd score. Because the even score means “equal”. Of course, you can finish the set in ping pong in 13, 15, 17, 21. But in the beginning, to simplify, people just choose 20+1=21 points. (Old system).

Today, there are in general 10+1=11 points in a table tennis match.

Basic Rules In Table Tennis

In table tennis, the most important rules are serving rules, and playing rules. All of the rallies start with a serve, so knowing a legal serve is crucial. Understanding some examples of illegal serves will also help.

Besides the official table tennis rules, new players should learn the “etiquette rule” in table tennis. Etiquette rules are the unofficial rules that guide you to behave correctly in this sport.

Table tennis serving rules

Table tennis serve (or service) is very important. There are some basic rules for the table tennis serve.

Based on Liu Guoliang’s advice, it takes more than 50% of exchange rallies in table tennis.

Liu Guoliang once said that “Serving is the most important stroke in table tennis”.

Liu Guoliang Serving Demonstration

Watch this video.


Serve is easy to make but difficult to master. That’s the reason that you should always improve your from the fundamental skills to the advanced level.

Many amateur players ask “what are the serving rules in ping pong?”. Well, the rule is very simple. First, you must do a legal serve. Based on the rule of ITTF, a legal service has these criteria:

  • Toss the ball at least 16cm.
  • Don’t throw the ball back, but vertically upward
  • Don’t hide the ball. The opponent must see the contact point.
  • Hit the ball at the falling phase. Don’t throw the ball into your racket. Don’t hit the ball when the ball is on the rise.
You need to throw the ball up in table tennis
You need to throw the ball up in table tennis

Second, after each point, we must change the server. You serve the first 2 points, and then your opponent serves the next two points.

At 10-10, each player serves only 1 point.

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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

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