Winning someone 11-0 is poorly perceived in table tennis

Why you should avoid winning 11-0

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In table tennis, there are some unwritten rules (or called “etiquette”) that you should know. Such as, winning someone 11-0 is considered bad, low esteem. Why? Many professional players avoid winning the set 11-0. You should do the same! Here are the reasons.

Winning someone 11-0 is good or bad for your feeling? Maybe it’s good for you! But think for your opponent!

The feeling of winning 11-0? Is it like this?
The feeling of winning 11-0? Is it like this?

Mercy point in table tennis

This is not the official rules. This rule is for respect and Fairplay.

Mercy point is when you are up 10-0, and give a mercy point 10-1. You should purposely give away a point when it’s 10-0.

It is a sign of good sportsmanship and respect. Ma long did this against Ovtcharov in Olympics London 2012 (at the minute of 9:38 in the video).


In table tennis, winning someone with the score of 11-0 is bad for the opponent.

The mercy point rule is just one of those unwritten good sportsmanship rules in table tennis. You should hold your finger up, and say sorry for edge balls.

Insult or not?

But some players would feel “insulting” with the mercy point. Here are some of the opinion:

If you “give” someone a point in a competitive match you’re as much saying “you’re not good enough to win a point any other way I’m that much better than you – or you’re that much worse than me. I see it as more of an insult.”

And, they prefer loosing 0-11 than getting the mercy point:

I’d rather lose 11:0 playing someone who played to win every point than lose 11:1 and my only point coming from a shot they threw away. Maybe not so bad if the other person doesn’t play to win the point, only not to lose.

But losing 11-0 is embarrassing to see on anyone’s playing record. Instead of thinking of it as the winning player as being cocky, thinking of it as letting the loser look a little better. The mercy point is to prevent the audience from talking about an 11-0 and laughing. So for me, mercy point is not insulting.

Avoid winning 11-0

At the amateur and club level, it’s OK to win 11-0. Because we are mostly amateur and friendly. Winning 11-0, or 11-1 is the same. It’s OK to win 11-0 at the low level.

But at the high level, and professional level, winning someone 11-0 is “mal vu”, poorly perceived by the player and the public. In the Asian culture, to show respect to the opponent, you should avoid winning 11-0. You should give them the mercy point.

The mercy point is not the “basement rules” in table tennis. This is the unofficial rules at the professional scene. At the amateur level, there are also some “Skunk Rule”: like you win the set at 7-0, or if you lose 11-0 or 10-0, you must perform push-ups or drink two beers.

What to do when you get the mercy point?

The best solution here is to say “thanks” and return the mercy.

In Asian culture (or anywhere else), when you get a “gift” from someone, and if you should return it to the sender as soon as possible. So for example, when you are down 0-10. The opponent gave you the mercy point to get 1-10. The next point, you should return the mercy, and no need to play the point. Accept it, and give them free point to finish the set 1-11.


Here is the final of the Youth Olympics Games 2018. Wang Chuqin has given the “mercy point” to Harimoto Tomokazu. As being lost a game 0-11 is bad in Asian culture, especially at the professional level.

Harimoto Tomokazu also did a very nice action. He returned the mercy to Wang Chuqin. This is the Fairplay action of both players.

How about the come-back?

But there are some exceptions, it’s called “the great comeback” in table tennis. There is some rare situation, that a player made a huge come-back after down 0-10, or 1-10. Watch the video here to understand. (Search “Everything is possible EmRatThich to watch full series).


Give mercy point is great. But making the great comeback is even better!

But in general, making a huge come-back at (0-10) is nearly impossible. So mercy point and “mercy return” is the best Fairplay rule and “etiquette” to follow. Give them respect and get the respect!




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2 years ago

I disagree, I think you show more respect to your opponent if you’re taking every point seriously in a competition.
If you give her/him a mercy and expect to get it back, you take away the chance of s/he coming back from 0-10.

I’m happy LSW gave no mercy at the 2019 WTTC SF and Final, and now that seems to set a precedent.

Rossen Roussinov
Rossen Roussinov
2 years ago

Nothing bad losing 0-11, mercy points are bad. They raise more questions and things get worse.

2 years ago

I feel like the opposite applies for mercy points. At the lower levels it’s true that 11-0 and 11-1 don’t really have that much of a difference, but at the high level players are skilled enough to pull a 10-0 comeback since they’re especially trained in having a strong mentality, like Timo Boll winning from being behind 10-4. LSW won those times 11-0 because it’s simply too risky continuing the match against world class level players. I think the best example and case of a mercy point is when the person who’s behind initiates the point, such as when Ma… Read more »

Gabriel Lee
Gabriel Lee
Reply to  Guest
1 year ago

But at low level competitions there are still records that people can see

Thu hang
Thu hang
2 years ago

Thank you coach for this great advice

2 years ago

thank you I have won with a player 11-0 .but after watching this video I said him sorry and I didn’t lose anyone 11-0

Gabriel Lee
Gabriel Lee
1 year ago

If I loose 11-0 People have a the right to laugh, I’d rather not have the mercy point.

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