Below is the Time-out rule from the ITTF Regulations for International competition.
The interesting aspects are that the time-out does not have to last for the full one minute. If the person calling the time-out is ready before the one minute is up the time-out is complete. So the person calling the timeout has control.
The other interesting aspect is that in an individual match either the player or their adviser can call the time-out. The player has the final say here as to whether the time-out goes ahead. There have been conflicts as to the time-out. Read PingSkill’s related Blog on Timeouts .
I think the rules has added another dimension to the tactics of table tennis. It does however go further away from the idea of two players competing head to head against each other and adds another distraction to that personal battle.
A player or pair may claim one time-out period of up to 1 minute during an individual match.
In an individual event the request for a time-out may be made by the player or pair or by the designated adviser; in a team event it may be made by the player or pair or by the team captain.
If a player or pair and an adviser or captain disagree whether a time-out is to be taken, the final decision shall be made by the player or pair in an individual event and by the captain in a team event.
The request for a time-out, which can be made only between rallies in a game, shall be indicated by making a “T” sign with the hands.
On receiving a valid request for a time-out the umpire shall suspend play and shall hold up a white card with the hand on the side of the player or pair who requested it; the white card or another appropriate marker shall be placed on the court of that player or pair.
The white card or marker shall be removed and play resumed as soon as the player or pair making the request is ready to continue or at the end of 1 minute, whichever is the sooner.
If a valid request for a time-out is made simultaneously by or on behalf of both players or pairs, play will resume when both players or pairs are ready or at the end of 1 minute, whichever is the sooner, and neither player or pair shall be entitled to another time-out during that individual match.