Hand or Finger Foul

Table Tennis Rules

Last updated 6 years ago

Santosh More

Santosh More Asked 7 years ago

If the ball touches to my hand or finger while playing the shot is it a foul?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 7 years ago

Hi Santosh,

Up to your wrist is considered as part of the racket.  So if it hits your finger or hand it is still a good hit.  As long as you hit it with the one swing even if it hits your finger and your racket then it is still a good hit. 


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Thoughts on this question

Jonathan Huynh

Jonathan Huynh Posted 7 years ago

cool, so could i purposly let the ball hit my finger to get an unexpected attack?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Yes, but it is very difficult to then hit it only once.  Against a good opponent you will get the ball smashed away.


Stefan Arak

Stefan Arak Posted 7 years ago

When you say 'one swing' that means 'one motion' and not 'one contact' right? So if the ball hits the paddle twice in extremely quick succession in the same swing, is that legal, or is the double hit illegal?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

It says it is OK for the ball to hit twice as long as it is not intentional.  This would be considered to be not trying to hit the ball cleanly so would probably be a point against you.


Vijay Madge

Vijay Madge Posted 7 years ago

In our days that is 40/50 years ago we were taught that if the ball hit the finger in stead of the bat it was a foul under all circumstances. So better avoid getting hit on the fingers/knuckles. We still play that way.


azhar bhabha

azhar bhabha Posted 7 years ago

that is an outdated rule. lot of oldies in my club also try to play with that rule n also other obsolete rules such as the racket cant hit the table etc etc.... gotta keep up with the times else ul have to play with the 38mm ball :)


Vijay Madge

Vijay Madge Posted 7 years ago

By all means. Do keep up with the times but at least make sure first that times have indeed changed. And that is for the cognoscenti like Alois and Jeff to tell and not mere club-players. The tricky part as Alois explains is to decide whether it is 'intentional' or otherwise. And let us remember that in life anything old is not necessarily outdated, in fact there are areas where 'old is gold' such as manners and etiquettes for insatnce!


Fareed Sundarani

Fareed Sundarani Posted 7 years ago

Hello alois, good info on the rule...can you plz assist me to get the link for downloading an official updated rule book in PDF for Table tennis.


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Hi Fareed,

Here is a link you can use:

http://www.ittf.com/stories/full_story.asp?title=%3E%3E%20Regulations


Stefan Arak

Stefan Arak Posted 7 years ago

But Vijay- remember that Alois was responding to my question about double hits when he talked about intention. Intention does not come into it when you hit it with your finger or hand, in fact you could try to do it on purpose every shot and it would still be legal.


AmekunRaiane Rivadeneira

AmekunRaiane Rivadeneira Posted 7 years ago

dont try blocking a smash using the back of your hand

cuz it hurts hahahahahahha xD

i blocked it by accident 


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Good advice AmekunRaiane! :)


Vijay Madge

Vijay Madge Posted 7 years ago

My dear Stephan, true Alois was responding to your question but the site does welcome and has a provision for others to comment. And anyway I was not responding  to your question. What struck and amused me in Alois's explanation was the phrase ' intentional'. Intentionality is a tricky thing to determine. In our field of literary criticism and theory we abandoned the criterion of 'the intention of the poet' long ago. For the intention of the poet is neither available nor desirable. Similarly in sports, too, intention of the player is a complicated thing. But unlike in lit.crit in sports there are imperious umpires and it is they and not the players who decide the intentionality or otherwise of a stroke. Maybe after the injustice doled out to Ding Ning I have become too cautious and hence my comment that it is better to avoid getting hit on the fingers/knuckles for there is no knowing as to how the umpire will look at it.


Stefan Arak

Stefan Arak Posted 7 years ago

I understand that Vijay, I was just commenting to avoid confusion for anyone else reading this thread of comments- intention does not come into play if the ball strikes the knuckles or fingers of your racket hand; I understand that you already know this but it wasn't for your benefit. 

As for the rest of your post, I was also quite surprised by the answer that intention is the deciding factor in whether or not a double hit is legal or illegal, for taking account the 'mens rea' of a participant in a sport is quite uncommon, normally rules are strict liability (if you'll excuse the legal references). For example, in tennis the rule is that a double hit is allowed provided it was part of the same swinging motion, thus discounting an umpire's ability to exercise discretion in the matter- his only judgment is whether the ball did indeed hit twice, and whether or not it was one swing. These are matters of fact, not matters of opinion (although that is not to say that an umpire cannot be incorrect in deciding matters of fact).

So yes it's rare that an umpire will impute intention onto a player, but in the case of this rule it's irrelevant, regardless of your feelings for the Ding Ning incident; if an umpire 'looks at' the ball hitting your knuckles and awards the point incorrectly, that's no different to him misunderstanding any other rule, and he won't last long as an umpire; it's a matter of fact, not a matter of judgment. Did the ball hit the knuckles of the racket hand? If so, it's legal. If the umpire makes a mistake in this case it's unfortunate but no different to him incorrectly ruling that a ball hit the side when it actually hit the edge.


Jeff Plumb

Jeff Plumb from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

It is difficult to determine what a players intention was. I prefer rules that don't rely on this. In Australian Rules Football, if a player kicks the ball out deliberately then it is a free kick to the opposition. Most of the time the umpires decide it was not intentional when the player kicks the ball out but every now and then they award a free kick and it is always a contentious decision.

It's much better to stick with facts in my opinion.


Vijay Madge

Vijay Madge Posted 7 years ago

Precisely, Stefan and Jeff. Intention is a complicated matter and hence nobody should have arbitrary, discretionary powers to interpret. I was taking a purely theoretical stand because in Alois's explanation the clause 'as long as it is not intentional' appeared. As you say,Jeff, let's  all stick to facts, Sir! Stick to facts!


azhar bhabha

azhar bhabha Posted 7 years ago

mr.vijay, i you found my comment about the 38 mm ball offensive, then i apologize. my entire comment was in jest and meant in light spirit. that said, i think it has pretty much been established as fact by one and all, that hitting the ball with the finger or knuckles is indeed allowed. all i meant by my comment is that i am aware that folks your age are used to the old rule, where it wasnt allowed, and that i have been made aware by cogniscenti myself so wat u r hearing from me will be no different to what they will tell you.


Cristh Garrido

Cristh Garrido Posted 7 years ago

Hi Alois, if i'm blocking and the ball hit in my finger and the ball goes over the net, is still a good stroke???


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 7 years ago

Yes it is a good shot.  Anything up to your wrist is considered part of the bat.  Even if it hits your finger and then your rubber on the same shot it is OK.  This rules was changed recently so there may still be some confusion about it still.


ganesh burra

ganesh burra Posted 6 years ago

Is wearing a glove allowed in TT while playing. Also can we shuffle the bat in other hand in between and hit the ball.(Possible with short balls)


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 6 years ago

Hi Ganesh,

You are allowed to wear a glove. I don't know what the rule would be if the ball hits the glove though?  My initial thought would be that it would not be allowed as the rule only talks about the hand up to the wrist.  This would leave it open to players putting other things onto the gloves.



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