Difference Between Singles And Doubles In Table Tennis

Table tennis, also affectionately known as Ping Pong worldwide, has been household entertainment for years, an international sport, and a holiday favorite since the dawn of time. Is there a difference between singles and doubles table tennis?

Singles and doubles table tennis differ due to the number of players, serving rules, and total points played. In singles table tennis, two players are required, whereas, in doubles, four players are. Singles table tennis is played to 11 points, whereas doubles are played to either 15 or 21 points.

Table tennis is a fun, active, and enticing game enjoyed by many across the globe. The rules for doubles and singles table tennis differ and can be confusing to newbies and old hands alike since the rule book changed in 2001. If you are interested in table tennis but aren’t sure of the rules when playing singles or doubles matches, read on to find out more!

Major Differences Between Singles And Double Table Tennis

Singles and doubles table tennis differ due to differences in rules. Listed, you will see the differences.

Singles Table TennisDoubles Table Tennis
Two players.Four players.
Serve from anywhere to anywhere on the table.Serve diagonally from your right half to your opponent’s right half of the table.
Play each ball on your side of the table.Play every 2nd ball on your side of the table.
Score till 11.Score till 15 or 21.
Alternate serving, a player will serve every 2nd serve.A player will serve every 4th serve.
Player serves every serve on their side of the table.Team players switch sides on their side of the table after the team serves twice.
The player hits all the balls on their own courtside.Alternate hitting the ball in rally no matter where the ball is on their courtside.
Individual sport.Team sport.
Play each ball on your own side A to B, B to A.The specific order of play AB vs. CD will play A to C and C to A, B to D, and D to B.
No changeover.Changeover after one team has achieved 5 points.
Shorter game.Longer game.
Simpler game.More complex game.

Singles Table Tennis Rules

Singles table tennis is a game for two. It is fast-paced, interactive, and a great workout. It is important to learn the following rules to play a friendly or competitive singles table tennis game.

Equipment Needed For Singles Table Tennis

Table tennis does need specific equipment. To play singles, you will need:

  1. Two paddles. Paddles must be made of about 85% wood, at least. With both sides covered in a layer of rubber.
  2. At least one Table Tennis ball. Made from celluloid with a diameter of 40mm and weight of 2.7g
  3. A Table Tennis table. A table tennis table stands 2.5ft high, is 9ft long, is 5ft wide, and looks like a mini tennis court on the surface.
  4. A Table Tennis net. The net is made from nylon, measuring 6inches from the top of the net to the table’s surface.

General Rules For Singles Table Tennis

Generally speaking, the rules for singles table tennis are more straightforward than those for doubles. Listed below are the basic rules you need to know to play a fun game of table tennis.

Singles Table Tennis Serving Rules

Serving in a singles table tennis game is the simplest of the two types of games.

  • Players can serve from anywhere on their side of the court.
  • The serve can bounce anywhere on the opponent’s side of the court.
  • Service alternates every 2 points.

Keeping Score For Singles Table Tennis

While playing singles table tennis, the players need to adhere to the scoring system. Listed below, you will find the main rules regarding scoring.

  • A singles table tennis match is played till 11 points.
  • To win a singles table tennis game, you need a 2-point lead. E.g., 11-9.
  • The game will continue until a 2-point lead has been established. E.g., 15-13.
  • The last player who plays the ball wins the point if the other player misses the ball.
  • Each play is worth one point.
  • A game usually consists of the best two out of three matches. If a serve doesn’t cross the net, it is the opponent’s point.
  • If the ball bounces twice on your end of the court, it is the opponent’s point.
  • The opponent’s point is if a player touches or moves the table.
  • In case of a deuce (10-10), the match will continue until a player achieves a 2-point lead, deciding the winner.

Tips To Win At Singles Table Tennis

Being nifty, thinking on your feet, and having a strategy seem the best way to win a singles table tennis game. These tips and tricks should help:

  • Make sure to launch strong attacks.
  • Get the ball to the other side of the net as soon as it has touched your courtside.
  • Play around the net.

Doubles Table Tennis Rules

Doubles table tennis is fast-paced, competitive, and exciting. You must play your opponent and communicate with your partner simultaneously. It is a dynamic, intriguing game with interesting rules.

Equipment Needed For Doubles Table Tennis

The essential equipment is similar to the equipment needed for singles table tennis except for some extra paddles.

  1. Four paddles.  
  2. You need one to two Table Tennis balls.
  3. A standard Table Tennis table.
  4. A Table Tennis net.

General Rules For Doubles Table Tennis

Doubles table tennis is more complicated than singles table tennis and has more rules to remember when playing.

Doubles Table Tennis Serving Rules

Serves are in a specific order when playing doubles table tennis and have a particular set of rules.

  • Players will serve and receive to only one opponent.
  • After the 2 points are played, team members will swap roles and sides on the court, then start playing the other opponent for the following 2 points.

Keeping Score For Doubles Table Tennis

Keeping score for doubles table tennis can get complicated since the teams and players rotate and rally to serve and receive. It makes for a competitive and engaging game. These are the rules involved:

  • When playing doubles table tennis, you can play to 15 or 21 points.
  • The team reaching the score limit with a 2-point lead will win.
  • The game will continue until a 2-point lead has been established.
  • Each play earns one point.
  • If a team cannot return a serve, the opposing team scores.
  • Teammates must alternate returning the hits. If a player hits the ball twice, it is the opposing team’s point.
  • The opponents score if a player returns the hit and the ball does not bounce off or touch the other team’s side of the table.
  • If the ball hits a team’s side twice, it is the opposing team’s point.
  • If a team’s serve does not cross the net, it is the opponents’ point.
  • The opponents score if a team member touches the court on their side or moves the table.
  • The game is won by the best two out of three matches. In case of a tied score, the match continues until a 2-point lead is reached, securing the victory.

Tips To Win At Doubles Table Tennis

The key to winning a doubles table tennis game seems to be wit and communication.

  • Try to move out of your teammate’s way ahead of time.
  • Try to stick to the middle of the table to move from one side to the other since you will alternate returning the ball.
  • Communicate with your partner using signs or keywords.
  • The better player on the team should launch severe attacks to help the weaker team member receive easier return balls.


Table tennis, sometimes better known as Ping Pong, is fun, engaging, and active and can be played by 2 or 4 players. The differences between playing singles and doubles are now familiar to you. Good luck with your games.


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