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Note: If you have been playing by any of the rules on this list, then you haven't been playing by the real table tennis rules. Got more of these basement rules to add to the list? Send 'em to the Basement Ump

Quick Reference
The Table The Net The Ball The Racket
Equipment Definitions Definitions The Order of Play Service
A Good Return In Play A Let A Point
A GameA Match Choice of EndsPlaying Conditions
Point Penalty SystemThe Change of Service Out of Order of Serving, Receiving or Ends The Expedite System
Advice to Players During Play Clothing - The Dress Code Disabled Competition Advertisements
Point Penalty System Match Officials Doping Betting


1.1 The left side of the table is for ping pong. The right side is for model making, homework, sandwiches, beer, changing diapers, etc.

1.2 The table can be of any size as long as the dimensions of the right side are large enough to to make the table suitable for the activities listed in 1.1.


2.1 In the event there is no net available for the table, one may be constructed out of close by miscellaneous items such as beer cans, books, or paper towels strung together by rubber bands.


3.1 Thirty year old one star balls are the best, especially after all brand name printing on the ball surface has worn away.

3.1.2 It is O.K to use a ball of any color, however, a ball color that matches your shirt is the best choice to use to help disguise your shots.

3.2 In a tournament, if you win the match, the ball becomes your property.

3.2.1 If a ball from another table rolls under your table during your match, it also becomes your property.


4.1 Sandpaper rackets are legal.

4.2 Using a racket's bare wood surface to strike the ball is also completely legal.

4.3 Any color rubber covering for a racket is legal.

4.3.1 The two color rule isn't really a fair rule so it's OK to use one color on both sides of the racket. This tactic is highly recommended if you use a combination racket consisting of "funny rubbers" in order to deceive your opponent. This is also known as the s_jan rule.

4.4 Equipment Definitions:

4.5 "Junk rubber" refers to any inverted type of sponge rubber combination such as Sriver.


5.1 "Warm ups" don't exist. Before playing a real scored match, players should play points, moving the ball around the table, smashing as much as possible to end the points quickly and certainly not hitting consecutive forehands or backhands etc.


6.1 To determine who serves, whoever finishes chugging a beer first spins the paddle and whoever it points closest to is deemed the server.

6.1.2 If the above method is unsatisfactory, (e.g., no beer is available), use the rock/paper/scissors method.

6.2 In doubles, balls may be hit by either partner at will, in any order. It is recommended that partners shout at each other: "MINE!", "YOURS!", "LEAVE IT!" etc (like tennis).


7.1 The server must bounce the ball on their side of the table with their free hand and then hit it with the paddle.

7.2 The ball must bounce once on the server's side of the table and only once on your opponent's. If it bounces twice on your opponent's side, he's awarded the point.

7.2.1 The ball must cross the end line and must not cross the edge lines on the service.

7.3 Serves spun by holding the ball against the paddle and releasing with the hand are completely legal.

7.3.1 Serves with your hand & body leaning way into the table way past inside the endline (close to the net)are also legal.

7.4 The serve must be delivered from alternating sides of the center line (like tennis).

7.4.1 The serve must always be delivered diagonally from the right court to the right handed opponent's forehand.

7.4.2 The serve must always be delivered diagonally from the left court to the right handed opponent's backhand.

7.4.3 In doubles, when the ball having been served lands on the white line dividing the receiver's side of the playing surface, the rally ends, and the point is won by the pair which wins the subsequent fist-fight.

7.5 When the score reaches 20, the player who trails serves until deuce is reached or the game is lost.

7.6 If the server serves two consecutive let serves, the point is awarded to the receiver.


8.1 Returning the ball with a volley (before it hits the table on your side) at any time during play is a good shot (like tennis).

8.2 The ball must always cross the net (no around the net shots).

8.3 At any time, it is legal to hold on to the table with your non racquet hand for better balance.

8.4 When smashing, it is legal place your non racquet hand on the table for more power.

8.5 Shots off of the walls and ceilings are an effective strategy to employ.

8.6 If you accidentally drop your racket, you can throw it at the ball or use any available object (like your shoe) to make a good return.

8.7 In order to increase the chances of winning the point, it is advisable to grab the table with your free hand and move it out of the way of the opponent's incoming return


9.1 When serving, the ball is not in play until the server makes contact with the ball.

9.1.1 It is legal to catch the ball as long as you don't hit it and reserve with no penalty (like tennis).

9.2 All beers must be positioned within easy reach to enable play to be continuous

10. A LET

10.1 A "let" may be called at any time - especially when a player feels he is in danger of losing the point.

10.2 The first "let" serve counts as a "fault" ...if it happens again then it is a "double fault" and loss of point (like in tennis).

10.3 In a tournament, if player from another table runs across your court and calls "let", he loses a point in his match.

10.4 In a tournament, if player from another table runs across your court and calls "let" for a second time he loses his match and is defaulted out of the tournament.


11.1 During a rally, if a player volleys or touches the ball after it crosses his endline of the table but before it hits the floor, the opponent is awarded the point (this used to be an official rule - no kidding!).

11.2 You can only win points on your own serves (like racquetball).

11.3 When serving, you don't lose the point if you don't make contact.

11.4 When serving, if the ball never hits the table (flies completely over, under, or around the table) then the serve is as though it never occurred with no "fault" or loss of point.

11.5 If the server's ball hits the center line, it is the opponent's point.

11.6 At game point you cannot lose the game on your own serve.

11.7 At game point you cannot win the game on your opponent's serve.

11.8 If you make an edge ball, the opponent gains a point.

11.9 If the score between A and B is 20:19 and B fails to make a good service or a good return, he/she shall lose a point (as USATT rule # 11 dictates). That is, a point is subtracted and now the score is 20:18, and the game continues.

12. A GAME

12.1 Scores of 7-0, 11-1, 15-2, and 21-3 are game winning "skunks". As if being "skunked" isn't bad enough, the skunkee may also be required to perform push ups or drink two beers.

12.2 The loser of a game is required to drink a beer. In the event of a "skunk" the loser must drink two beers.


13.1 The loser of the previous game determines how many games will constitute a match.


14.1 Whoever gets to the table first and calls "dibs" chooses which side he will start from.

14.1.1 If players can not agree who got to the table first the choice of ends and the right to serve is decided by lot in such a way that the winner can choose to serve or to receive. If he/she asks the opponent to serve first, then he/she can decide which end he/she wants to play for the duration of the match.

14.2 Whoever wins the initial rally after the number of hits equals the spelling out of "P" "I" "N" "G" is the designated server. Really, I'm not kidding.


15.1 After each game, the player who wins decides which side he prefers to play on, unless rule 14.1.1 applies.


16.1 In doubles, players must take their turns serving in a clockwise rotation order.

16.2 In doubles, players take their turns serving in an anti clockwise (counter clockwise) rotation order.

16.3 In doubles, one player per team is "designated server" per game, and must serve after every 5 points. In the next game, the other player becomes the team's designated server.


17.1  In the event it is discovered at any time during the match that a serve has been delivered out of order, the following procedure shall apply:
a) If the offending player detects the out of order serve, he shall declare the violation with a formal declaration of "My BAD?"
b) If the non offending player detects the out of order serve, he shall declare the violation with a formal declaration beginning with, "Hey, Whuzzup," followed by a series of profanities descriptive of the offending player's character, species of parentage, probable familial genetic exchanges, and such other epithets as as he shall deem in his good judgment to be applicable to his opponent; followed by the required phrase "WE NEED TO GO BACK."
c) At this point the offending player and the non offending player shall compare their memories of the history of the game to determine at what score the play should resume.  If both players agree on the score at which play departed from the rules, play shall resume from the agreed upon score.
d) If disagreement exists between the two players, the resumption of play shall be as follows:
    1)  If spectators are present, their collective opinion shall determine the score at resumption of play.  Collective opinion shall be determined using either numerical methods (who has the most homeys?) or an assessment of the balance of firepower among armed spectators.
   2)  If no spectators are present, the non offending player must choose between the Exit or Sudden Death options to resolve the winner of the game.  In the Exit option, the non offending player must immediately leave the tournament.  Selection of this option is indicated by turning his back on his opponent while simultaneously raising both hands with the middle finger extended, and all other fingers tucked closely into the palm.  The Sudden Death option is indicated by the non offending player ballistically launching himself across the table at the offending player.  In the launching phase of this option, the non offending player must only contact his side of the table once before clearing the net.  After clearing the net, he must touch the opponent's side of the table only once before contacting the offending players body.  The winner of the game shall be determined by the only conscious person at the end of the exchange.


18.1 At any time in the match, a player may shout out "HURRY UP" if his opponent is taking too long.

18.2 "Fast serving" your opponent before he is ready is also encouraged in order to speed up the game.


19.1 It is totally legal to grunt, groan, or cough strategically during play. This tends to rattle the opponent if done enough. Also, one can yell "Let!", and when the opponent stops, he can continue with "…'s go!"  You can defend this move by claiming you were only encouraging the opponent with a heartfelt "Let's go!", and besides, you can't really FORCE the opponent to stop mid-stroke, so there is certainly no foul.

19.2 When there is plenty of time during the shot (ie a high bouncer) in which to apologetically point to something or someone in the room as if a distraction has occurred, then you can smash the return while the opponent looks away. Simply explain that you thought there was something, but it was nothing, and since you didn't officially say "Let", the opponent has no argument.

19.3 Certain natural bodily function noises can effectively distract an opponent, and can be prepared beforehand by the consumption of certain foods and beverages, but these must be used cautiously, as they may, uh, backfire on the user as well.


20.1 In a tournament, if you are caught wearing "slacks" you shall be taken aside and made to put on warm up pants. The legality of warm up pants in match play is at the discretion of the umpire (see real table tennis rules), so you risk being defaulted out of the tournament.

20.2 Black socks and no shoes, or worn-out shoes and no socks, and cut-offs with reversed baseball cap are the recommended ping-pong attire.


21.1 Your rule here!


21.2 If you are a wheelchair player weighing over 500 lbs, you should replace your wheelchair at least every 3-4 months. Professionals of this stature usually replace their wheelchairs weekly.


21.3 Your rule here!


22.1 Flooring should be unsealed concrete with randomly distributed cracks and craters. Slick vinyl or crumbling linoleum is also acceptable.

22.2 Walls may be unsealed concrete, block, 1970's or earlier imitation wood paneling, preferably of the same color as the color of the ball.

22.3 The ideal basement temperature for playing conditions should be either less than 20 degrees or more than 90 degrees.

22.4  The playing area shall be surrounded by a physical barrier to prevent loss of the table tennis ball.  This barrier shall consist of all items stored in the basement, rearranged so that they line all four walls of the basement and allow room for play.  Typical elements of this playing area boundary consist of items such as unused furniture and weight sets, unsheathed machetes, numerous fishing rods with dangling treble hooks, landscaping equipment, woodworking equipment with defective blade guards, discarded automobile parts, piles of empty beer cans, and other items that would be typically found in a basement environment.  These items shall be arranged in a random pile against the walls, with a high fractal dimension, with the most harmful and sharpest items in the forefront of the arrangement.
a)  If at any time a struck ball does not rebound from this barrier but in fact penetrates it, the player on the same side of the table as the penetrated barrier shall attempt to retrieve the ball; unless the other player had attempted a slam and missed the table; in which case the receiving player shall declare, "Hey, you hit it you get it."
b)  If the attempt to retrieve the ball lasts more than 5 minutes, an immediate inventory of balls shall be made.  If any balls are available, play shall resume using a new ball.
c)  If no balls are available, play shall stop while both players insinuate their bodies into the barrier on both sides to find a ball.  Once a ball is found, play shall continue.
d)  If during the performance of the ball hunt, any player shall find the "honey pot," that unique spot deep in the barrier that magically attracts and hides balls (look under the lawnmower), he shall be awarded an amount of points equal to the number of balls in the honey pot.

22.5  If the height of the ceiling of the basement is less than nine feet from the floor, a legally struck ball that contacts the ceiling; and thereafter strikes the opponents side of the table, shall remain in play as a legal return.  This return shall be termed a "reflected lob."

22.6  If, due to foundation settlement, the basement is equipped with metallic jacked pillars designed to keep the living room out of the basement; and a legally struck ball contacts one of these pillars to the side of the table; and after striking the pillar rebounds and strikes the opponent's side of the table, then it shall remain in play as a legal return.  This return shall be termed a "indirect drive."


23.1 Advertising is a very important part of Table Tennis... what player could play well without a Heineken tee-shirt? As such, an International committee has been assembled to take charge of all advertising - the Committee Registering Advertising Placements (CRAP) will be responsible for all advertising. Anyone who wishes to serve on this CRAP committee will be of impeccable character and:

23.1.1 will be willing to take bribes on a regular basis.

23.1.2 have enough spare time to take any free trips abroad offered by any sponsors

23.1.3 be familiar with the products which will enhance the image of table tennis worldwide e.g. Beer, Pizza, Potato Chips, etc


24.1 Conduct which warrants imposition of the point penalty system shall include:

24.1.1 Delay of game (i.e., excessive sweating deliberately taking too long to buy beer, falling asleep during games. wearing inappropriate clothing see rule 20 )

24.1.2 Damage to equipment (intentional damage to the table, net, or other tournament or personal equipment except when pertaining to rule 8.7).

24.1.3 Conduct offensive to opponents, officials, or spectators (i.e., audible or visible obscene language or gestures which are not directed to the next player or official who has been delegated to buy the beer pizza etc etc loud outbursts, or remarks which could disrupt any other player or spectators enjoyment of aforementioned beer, pizza etc or deliberately throwing a racquet if it spills any beer or beverage being consumed during play). In evaluating "loud outbursts", the umpire shall consider the total situation. This rule is intended to discourage competitive enthusiasm, particularly that displayed in a championship final when it is hoped that all players will be far too drunk to concentrate on anything else but hitting the ball..

24.1.4 Not accepting coaching during a game. any player who is such a smart ass that he does not need coaching deserves to lose some points. The umpire shall display a yellow card or throw anything that comes to hand ( remembering not to breach rule 24.1.3 If the adviser does becomes too much of a pain in the butt he will be formally warned and immediately sent for more beer pizza etc(at his own expense)

24.2 Penalties will be imposed as follows for each match:

24.2.1 First offence : Warning. The umpire will formally notify the player that he is in a penalty point situation by holding up a yellow card or throwing something . The player can protest but of course will be completely ignored. A warning given to one player of a doubles pair shall apply to both players during the remainder of the match unless player bribes the umpire or buys the beer.

24.2.2 Second offence : Loss of 1 point. The player can protest but of course will be completely ignored. The umpire will notify the player by holding up a yellow card and a red card together then throw something heavy, he may also send a messenger to the nearest off-licence( liquor store) to expect an order in the next 20 min

24.2.3 Third offence : Loss of 2 points. and must immediately buy everyone a beer and pizza.

24.2.4 Fourth offence : The umpire will refer the matter to the referee, who will then decide to hang,draw and quarter said player or electrocute depending on nationality of offender ( using any money found on the body to pay for beer pizza.

24.2.5 After the imposition of a point or game penalty, the next server will be that player who is still able to stand after drinking aforementioned beer.

24.3 The referee will still have the authority to default a player from the match, ban him from the basement for any gross misconduct i.e. not buying beer, pizza, waking neighbors children (you don't want them hanging about when you are enjoying yourself ) or causing the police to be called (they drink far too much beer) etc


25.1 An OFFICIAL match official is a person authorized to annoy, at will, players by butting in anytime he/she does not like something you do.

25.1.1 A better choice is anyone is anyone who happens to be around at the time, be he a player waiting for winners, or your little sister. The match official's opinion always overrides any rule and the match official always has the final say on whether something is legal or not.

25.2 If a doubles team has 3 players, one may be selected as an official.


26.1 With the exception of of smoking during play, there shall be no doping before or during play in any basement competition. For the purpose of these regulations, doping is defined by such behavior as inhaling too much glue, drinking too many beers, or excessively smelling your opponent's feet.


27.1 Basement ping pong players are not allowed to bet more than one six pack on any one match.

27.2 Only hardbat players with initials M.R. are allowed to bet $5000 on a match.

USA Table Tennis - Putting a New Spin on an Old Favorite!