Distracting opponent in game

Table Tennis Rules

Last updated 11 months ago

hevind kumar

hevind kumar Asked 9 years ago

hey, i was just wondering if it is wrong to distract an opponent in game.? 

situation example,

**Me accidentally giving a high ball.

 Me: SH*T! SMASH!!

**Opponent got distracted, and misses the ball.

i tried looking in the rules, but i can't find. 

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 9 years ago

Hi Hevind,

Yes it is illegal to distract the opponent during a point. 

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Thoughts on this question

Pawel Walczuk

Pawel Walczuk Posted 3 years ago

Hi Alois, can you point me to the exact paragraph in the official rules of the game?

I had a similar situation twice this season and I did not know how to react. My opponent played a high ball and when I was about to smash it he did a jumping jack sort of move. For sure it is disturbing and I was sure it was illegal too but to argue next time I would like to have a paragraph at hand. All in all I am a lawyer. ;-)




Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 years ago

Hi Paul,

I have been to the source, Graeme Ireland, who is one of the leading authorities of rules the ITTF.

This is his reply which you can copy and show to your opponents.

There is nothing specific about “distracting” an opponent, however it is covered under misbehaviour - Players and coaches or other advisers shall refrain from behaviour that may unfairly affect an opponent…. In an official competition the opponent would most probably get a yellow card for misbehaviour. The rally would be declared a let in terms of if failure to make a service or a return or otherwise to comply with the Laws is due to a disturbance outside the control of the player.

Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 3 years ago

A let? Really? I've always thought that the rule was that if you are speaking during a point, no matter what the outcome is, the point had to be granted to your opponent. I sometimes shout something (unintentionnaly of course) when I hit a desperate defense shot at the end of a disputed point, and I'm convinced that my ball is going out, but actually it doesn't. If this happens I give my opponent the point, no matter what. If this is only punished by a yellow card and results in a point replay, from a costs/benefits point of view, one could do it intentionnaly when he sees that he's about to lose a critical point, like a matchball.

Pawel Walczuk

Pawel Walczuk Posted 2 years ago

Thank you Alois, I thought it was this article to apply. As regards Jean's comment I think there is a nuance: it is a let 'if failure to return is due to a disturbance outside the control of the player'. Jumping jacks are well inside the control so in my opinion it should not be a let but a point to the disturbed opponent. When it comes to shouting, well, one may do it unintentionally but it is impossible to prove. ;-)



Jean Balthazar

Jean Balthazar Posted 2 years ago

That would make more sense indeed Paul. The wording doesn't make it really clear: "The rally would be declared a let in terms of if failure to make a service or a return or otherwise to comply with the Laws is due to a disturbance outside the control of the player." Who is "the player" ? If "the player" misses because his opponent voluntarily disturbed him, it's outside of "the player's" control, but he should get the point, not have to replay it. If "the player" is the offending disturber, the sentence doesn't make sense. It would be much easier to say that if a player fails to continue a rally because of something that is outside the control of both players, it's a let, and if it is because of something that was in the control of his opponent, the opponent loses the point (and gets a yellow card).

gavin bedford

gavin bedford Posted 2 years ago

Hi Alois,

I was looking this up because while receiving a serve recently I was on the back foot and half stumbled into the table making a stomp, a bit like many servers do to hide things like pimples and antispin rubber or to conceal a spinny serve. So this would make these serves subject to the above, and subjective in their decision to replay or concede the point, as the actions are within the servers control. The server in my case was upset that I had 1) moved as he served and 2) made a stomp noise with the coming in to get the short serve. I could see he was going to serve short so the movement was before he had hit the ball, I admit, but the stomp action was involuntary. However, if the  action is tolerated in the server, is it frowned on when receiving? regards Gavin

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 2 years ago

Hi Gavin,

I wouldn't think this would be frowned upon when receiving.  Quite within the rules... Unless you did it incessantly and deliberately to distract your opponent (subjective).

Rick Streitfeld

Rick Streitfeld Posted 11 months ago

What about if someone constantly twirls his paddle. I’ve been playing a guy who twirls his paddle constantly as he is ready to serve and other times throughout play. Just very distracting because he’s good at it and twirls very quickly. Is that legal? 

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 11 months ago

Hi Rick,

That is legal.  Players will switch between sides if they have different rubbers on either side.

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