What Is a Let in Table Tennis?

So before you begin your table tennis journey, you’re still a young padawan and our journey starts with learning some basic terms like Let and serves.

So to start, what exactly is a Let I did some research.

What Is a Let in Table Tennis?

A let is called a point that does not count. This occurs when you serve a ball that bounces on your side and hit the net after, goes over and bounces on the side of the opponent’s table.

The term let can also be referred to as “letting” the ball pass and not count a point and the server is rewarded with another try.

But if the ball hits the net and doesn’t make it to the other side of the table, the opponent is awarded the point.

If you get a “let” during your first serve you get two more which is also commonly called take two or take two more serves.

If you serve a “let” on the second serve you will only get one serve, so hopefully you got “let” on your first serve.

However if that was your second serve and it went out, regardless if it touched the net or not you have lost that serve.

Another form of Let is when there is outside interference like ball from another table rolls into your play area.

How Many Let Serves Are Allowed in Table Tennis

So the next logical question is how many let serves are allowed before you lose a point, there is no rule that says you lose a point when you serve a let, so you are allowed to serve as many let as you like as it is always a let.

Which contradicts the above statements, but let me explain.

There is a misconception is that only one “let” is allowed per player, this is entirely false as you can serve as many “let” as possible, the limited “let” pertains to amateur or house rules, which a lot of people believe to be correct, understandable so given that there are other players who wants to play as well.

Imagine if you are given unlimited let for amateur play, I for one is no expert in table tennis and it would really bogged down the experience know that I’m getting let almost every serve.


And looking at amateur plays with unlimited “let” is a grueling undertaking, you can check the official handbook for table tennis here.

So another question we would like to answer is

Can You Lose on a Serve in Ping Pong

To put it simply, yes you can lose on a serve all that’s needed is for the server to fail to put the ball into play.

So to summarize, you will lose a point if any of this is accomplished.

  1. Tossing the ball in the air but unable to hit it.
  2. The place you hit the ball is wrong, as you are only allowed to hit the ball behind the table and its extension
  3. You did not toss the ball high enough 16cm or vertical 25 degree.
  4. Hitting the ball while it is ascending.
  5. You hit the ball but it landed elsewhere.
  6. You hit the ball but did not reach the other side (opponent side)

But this might be different from table tennis as for ping pong it is anything goes especially if amateur is in play as for table tennis you know that there are a host of specific rules in play.

If you playing against a friend or just goofing around you should not worry too much, also you can bet that not anyone of you if familiar with the rules of table tennis and for the most part, you and your friend won’t be abiding any of these rules.

You just want to hit the ball back and forth and not too bother by any rules. They are too bothersome or too picky for a basement game.

Illegal Ping Pong Serves

So what exactly is an illegal serve? There are a number of illegal serves in the game but here are the most common ones.

  1. Hidden Serve
  2. Throw in and No toss serve
  3. Quick serve (bad manner)
  4. Time Abused Serve
  5. In the table serve.
  6. The server doesn’t keep the ball in the open palm
  7. The server spins the ball towards the servers body

Illegal serves are prevalent among amateur players because illegal serves gives many advantages.

  1. They can win the point directly
  2. Regaining the lead in critical moments
  3. Or just for laughs.

Professional players also occasionally do some tricky serves mostly the hidden serve.

What Are Legal Serves

So after discussing what illegal serves are we should follow up by what are legal serves in table tennis.

It is important they we are familiar with this as illegal serves feel bad and dirty towards other players who wants to abide by the rules.

To name a few here are some examples according the the official table tennis / ping pong rules.

  1. The ball must rest on an open palm.
  2. It must be tossed up at least 6 inches and struck
  3. Ball should bounce first of servers side, then the opponent
  4. Server must serve from behind the table baseline and above table height
  5. A serve can be short or long and can bounce multiple times on opponent side
  6. The opponent must return the server after one bounce or risk losing a point.

What is a Volley in Table Tennis?

In table tennis volley refers to a particular serve which means intentional or unintentionally touching or hitting the ball before it even bounced of the table or goes outside of play.

before 1990’s volleying deducts a point to the server but the rules were changed and it now depends on the situation according to the official rules volleying is under the obstruction rule.

So to answer the question can you volley in table tennis? the answer is a maybe, if you have read the statements above It will depend on the situation.

Tips to Improve Serving

There are a number of ways in order for you to avoid let serves or improve your serving in general.

If your a beginner chances are you don’t grasp how to proper ang legally serve, you just want to hit the ball and make sure it goes to the other side.

I know because that’s what I do before (lol)

Practice and invest time in your table tennis skills, you will only improve with enough time and eventually you will notice that you are improving in this aspect of the game.

Study how to serve properly or legally even if your just playing with friends, starting the right way and know the basic of serving will not only benefit you playing with friends but also if you decide to play in local table tennis circuit around your city.

Speaking of table tennis circuit around your city, try joining clubs to aim for better competition, don’t just settle with competing with friends who have no aspiration to improve their skills it may be that you’re just playing basement games or in a frat party.

If you are passionate with the sport you need to find better opponents to test you skill upon.

Playing with high level players gives you insights and some of them will give you tips they learned through constant practice and repetition.

You will learn new tactics, strategy not only on how to serve but to think about the game, high level players have different psyche in approaching their craft.

And the last thing is give it time and be patient, not all things comes easily if you are as passionate about the game just as anybody who plays on a high level then you will realize they put in time, sweat and maybe tears to get to where they want to be, just like how we go through about life.