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What is a let serve in table tennis?

What is a let serve in table tennis?

A serve is a let if the ball hits the net but bounces on the opponent’s side of the table (which means it needs to be replayed).

If the ball hits the net but does not cross the table, the receiver gets a point.

Let serve is called on non-counting points. This is a ‘let’ and does not count when you serve a ball that hits your net but continues over to your opponent’s side of the table.

Umpire has interupted the game and said let
Umpire has interrupted the game and said let

A let also occurs when an external occurrence interferes with the match (eg. a ball from the next court rolls into your playing area).

What happens if there is a dispute about the let serve?

Because it’s rather difficult to see if the serve is “let” or not. The decision is based on the “honor system”. The players will be honest about it. The umpire sometimes can’t decide who is right. But normally, it’s better to replay the point.

Dispute between Ovtcharov with another player about the let
Dispute between Ovtcharov with another player about the let

ITTF Official rule about the “let” serve

Definition of the let:

Based on ITTF’s official handbook, a let is a rally of which the result is not scored. (Rule 2.5.3).

official ITTF rule about the let in table tennis
official ITTF rule about the let in table tennis

How is the let is called out by the umpire in table tennis?

2.9 A LET 


2.9.1 The rally shall be a let: 

  • if in service the ball touches the net assembly, provided the service is otherwise correct or the ball is obstructed by the receiver or his or her partner; 
  • if the service is delivered when the receiving player or pair is not ready, provided that neither the receiver nor his or her partner attempts to strike the ball; 
  • if failure to make a service or a return or otherwise to comply with the Laws is due to a disturbance outside the control of the player; 
  • if play is interrupted by the umpire or assistant umpire; 
  • if the receiver is in a wheelchair owing to a physical disability and in service the ball, provided that the service is otherwise correct, 
  • after touching the receiver’s court returns in the direction of the net; 
  • comes to rest on the receiver’s court; 
  • in singles leaves the receiver’s court after touching it by either of its sidelines. 


2.9.2 Play may be interrupted 

  • to correct an error in the order of serving, receiving or ends; 
  • to introduce the expedite system;
  • to warn or penalize a player or adviser; 
  • because the conditions of play are disturbed in a way that could affect the outcome of the rally.

How many let serve is allowed in table tennis?

Is there a limit to the number of times a table tennis serve can be repeated? 

there is no limit of the let call in table tennis
there is no limit of the let call in table tennis

The simple answer is that there is no limit to the number of times you can replay the service after it has been touched the net. According to Rule 2.09, it is a let “if the ball contacts the net assembly and you will serve again.” There is no limit on the number of lets in table tennis.

No, you may repeat the serve as many times as you like.

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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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