Entire body or just ball behind line

Table Tennis Rules

Last updated 7 years ago

James Strom

James Strom Asked 7 years ago

Hi Jeff,

I just watched the video you posted Jan 18, 15 titled "Must Know Service Rules" which left me confused about being behind the line. I always thought it was only necessary that the ball be tossed and hit from behind the table line.

I did not think it was necessary for my body to be behind the line as well.  Your video indicated that the body could be to either side of the table ends but it still had to be behind the end table line.  Which is it?

I'm right handed and sometimes stand at the left side of the table a bit when doing the pendulum serve.  Although the left side of my body (left hip and shoulder) may be past the end line, I always toss the ball vertically from behind the line as well as the contact with my paddle is also made from behind the line.  Is this legal or not?


Jim Strom 

P.S.  We recently had this debate at our table tennis club.  I was very confident on my original position that only the ball and the contact of it needed to be behind the end line.  So I went to PingSkills.com to bring a copy of the service rules only to find more confusion when I saw this recent video. 

There is a previous answer (from Alois) to Tom Foster last updated on 22 Jan 11 at 11:02:56 pm that indicates the body doesn't have to be behind the line which is in conflict with this video.  Has this rule changed in 2014-2015?  It would be helpful to clarify this question and maybe send an attachment to this new video "Must Know Service Rules" which would eliminate any confusion.  

Thanks again for "PingSkills" leading and active role in world of table tennis!  It is so appreciated.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 7 years ago

Hi Jim,

Your body doesn’t need to be behind the end line it is only the ball.  As log as the body isn’t in the area between the ball and the two net posts it is OK.

Sorry about the confusion.  Hopefully they will all believe you now.

Notify me of updates
Add to Favourites
Back to Questions

Thoughts on this question

Dieter Verhofstadt

Dieter Verhofstadt Posted 7 years ago


Are you a left hander?

Your club mates may be adamant on this issue because left handers tend to cause more inadvertently hidden serves due to the relative positions of the players.

Being a right hander, when I'm receiving, I'm standing left of centre. If my opponent is a right hander too, I will have a diagonal perspective on his pendulum serve, as he's serving from the backhand position, so to my right side. If my opponent is a left hander, he'll be to the left side and my perspective on his serve will be mostly down the line. The angle I have on the contact point with a lefty's serve is much narrower than with a righty's.

In our club there are at least two left handed players who are often accused of hiding their serves. There's a right hander with a very similar serve action but he doesn't get quite the amount of ruckus. I'm sure it has to do with relative positions.

If you're not a left hander, then something else is going on. wink


James Strom

James Strom Posted 7 years ago


I am not a left handler.  However, thank you for your response and comments about why they may be upset with my body being over the line possibly trying to further disguise my service.  Honestly, I think they just didn't know the rules and were questioning it.




Become a free member to post a comment about this question.