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Why Do Table Tennis Players Rub The Table?

Watching a fast-paced game of table tennis can be exciting but also possibly confusing sometimes. If you’ve ever seen a table tennis player walk up the side of the table and rub their hand on it in front of the net, you may be wondering why. 

Table tennis players rub the table for a few reasons. They may need to remove the sweat from their racket hand or use the break to refocus or catch their breath. Some players rub the table because of superstition, and others don’t think about it and do it out of habit.

There are various reasons table tennis players may rub the table now and then or even between every point. If you’re confused about the reason behind it, or you’re not sure there are any, you’ve come to the right place. This article includes all you need to know about why table tennis players rub the table.

Reasons Players Rub The Table In Table Tennis

You may have seen players rubbing their racket hands on the table. You may also have noticed that it is typically the same spot every time. Although the action may seem silly, there is logic behind this action. There are a few reasons players rub their racket hands on the table, some of which are strategic, while others are out of necessity.

Players’ Hands Sweat During Matches

Table tennis is one of the fastest sports in the world. In professional games, players can hit the ball two or three times a second. In that short period, players swing their arms and often shoot from side to side to reach the ball.

The fast, high-intensity motions and movements would cause even the fittest athletes to break a sweat. This is the original reason players started wiping their hands on the table.

Table tennis players play high-speed points without a break and work up a sweat, including on their hands. Holding the racket and controlling it precisely with their hand muscles can cause their hands to sweat. If a player’s hand is sweaty, they could risk losing their grip on their racket and losing the point.

In official table tennis matches, the rules only allow players to dry off with a towel after every six points. This may not seem like a long gap, but after a few games, they’ll constantly be sweating due to the exercise.

Players will rub their hands right in front of the net on the edge of the table to dry their hands. While it may not do as good a job as a towel, rubbing the table helps remove most of the sweat that has accumulated on their hands.

There’s also a reason that players all rub their hands over the same spot on the table. The spot is used because of the low probability of the ball landing there. If players wipe their hands off in the middle of their playing area, it might affect how the ball bounces and cost them points.

Rubbing The Table Is An In-Game Ritual

In many sports, players are superstitious, believing that specific actions have meaning and will affect the outcome of the game. For some players, it may be bouncing the ball a few extra times or walking away before starting a point.

Other players believe that rubbing that spot on the table will affect their game favorably. That’s why you’ll often see players rub the table before the match starts or before a point. Rubbing the table to adhere to their superstition relieves some of the players’ mental pressure.

Because of some players’ superstitions, performing their ritualistic table rub helps to ease some of the tension they feel during the match. It increases their confidence in the outcome of the match and lets them play with fewer worries and distractions.

Players Rub The Table To Regain Focus

Players often pause to rub the table to refocus their minds and strategize. Pausing to rub the table can help players reset and regain concentration for the point ahead. It lets them start again with renewed focus and often calms their state of mind.

Players need to keep calm, especially in a high-speed game like extreme ping pong and ligapro table tennis. It doesn’t have to be rubbing the table, but the pause is what allows them to reset and raise their focus.

This is useful after a challenging point or when distractions have occurred. 

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Allows Players To Catch Their Breath

Many may not believe table tennis to be a physically taxing sport, but at the professional level, they’d be wrong. The repetitive fast-paced movements and motions of swinging the ball require a high fitness level, and players can get out of breath after a particularly long rally.

Rubbing the table gives players a chance to catch their breath before the next point. Trying to outpace an opponent while you’re out of breath is pretty difficult, so players do their best to ensure they aren’t out of breath before each point. If the opponent tires them out, they won’t be able to keep up, which could cost them the match.

Players Rub The Table Out Of Habit

Rubbing the table between points is a common practice among table tennis players because of its advantages. Because of this, it has become so ingrained in some players to the point where they rub the table out of habit rather than because they need a physical respite or to refocus.

That said, habits make people feel comfortable, and table tennis players are the same. Some players are so used to pausing to rub the table that they do it unconsciously between points. Performing this habit helps players to relax and can raise their mood.


Table tennis players often walk to the net and rub the table during games, and you may have wondered why. There are a few reasons they do this. Players may wipe the sweat from their racket hand on the table, or they may use the pause to regain focus and catch their breath. Some players do it for no other reason than out of habit. For others, it is a ritual they perform between points.


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