Can you touch the table in table tennis?

If you are very new to table tennis, you may ask why would I touch the table. Here may be some examples, while you stroke a ball very near to the table, your paddle or finger may touch the table, when you are far to the table, a short ball comes and you run to the table and hit the table with your leg, etc. The point is: what happens now? Can you touch the table in table tennis or not? The rally ends, or continues?

Can you touch the table in table tennis? Your free hand, that does not hold the racket, can not touch the playing surface of the table. However, If your hand that holds the racket or racket itself or your clothes or your leg, touches the table, the rally continues unless you move the table. 

Even if the answer seems satisfying most of the questions in mind. There may be many cases for touching the table in table tennis. Here are some cases you may need to take a look.

What if you did not move the table?

Ok, you did and touched the table, but you did not move the table. By your hand, or leg, or paddle… So what? Is it still your opponent’s point?

Can you touch the table in table tennis2
  • If your free hand touches the playing surface(top of the table) of the table during the rally, even if you do not move the table, it is your opponent's point, if it is not a let,
  • If your free hand touches outside the playing surface, the sides of the table, legs of the table, under the table, etc., during the rally, AND you do not move the table, the rally continues, if it is not a let,
  • If you move the playing surface, because you hit by the leg, by the racket, etc. during the rally, it is your opponent's point, if it is not a let,
  • If you touch the net assembly during the rally, it is your opponent's point, if it is not a let,

Do not forget, these rules apply only when the ball is in play. For example, if the ball bounced 2 times on the opponent’s side or there is a let, etc. the ball is not in play. So the rally already ended. No penalty.

Let me exaggerate the case a little:

  • Can you touch the table with your elbow? Yes, if you do not move it. Even if it is your free hand's elbow.
  • Can you touch the table with your head? Yes, if you do not move it.
  • Can you get your knee on the table? Yes, if you do not move it.
  • Can you touch the table with your hand with the racket? Yes, if you do not move it.
  • Can you touch the playing surface with your free hand? No.
  • What if you switch your blade to your free hand during the rally? You can, and your hand with blade and your free hand change from that moment. And the rules apply the same.
  • What if the table did not move but, playing surface moved? No. When I say "the table" in fact it means "playing surface".

Free Hand & Playing Surface

Moving Table

Touching Net

Related ITTF Rule & Regulations

All the explanations I made above are coming from related rules & regulations of the ITTF, that can be found in the ITTF Handbook of 2019. Below you can find the related 3 rules that structures in which situations and how you can touch the table in table tennis.

Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point(2.10 A Point):
2.10.1.9 If an opponent, or anything an opponent wears or carries, moves the playing surface,
2.10.1.10 If an opponent, or anything an opponent wears or carries, touches the net assembly,
2.10.1.11 If an opponent’s free hand touches the playing surface.