Keeping your score in ping pong is very important. It is the only way you can know who won a match. It is important for you to keep your scores the way ITTF has stated. This will help you learn and get used to always keeping your match records correctly and appropriately. The following is a guide that can help you learn how to keep ping pong scores according to the ITTF rules even in the absence of an umpire.

Before starting the match

There are various score keeping things you should settle before commencing the match. You should start by getting a pen and a clean score sheet. Your score keeping should start at the beginning of the match and not after the match. The score sheet is important as it helps you know your table, opponent and whose serving turn it is.

The second thing you should do is to decide on how many rounds the match should take. The rounds need to be odd. This means that you should take an odd number of game rounds. Most matches take five or seven rounds and the winner becomes the one who won the most rounds.

The third thing you should settle is the number of points that should wrap up a single round. In most games, each round is normally wrapped up with 11 points, while longer games get wrapped up with 21 points. A single play constitutes to a gain or a loss of points. For a player to be declared the winner of a single round, he/she has to gain 11/21 points depending on your game points option. The player also has to be leading with no less than 2 points as he/she reaches the target points so as to be declared the round winner. If the leading player has not made a more than 1 point lead on the single round, the game will have to continue in overtime until 2 points lead is attained by one player, who will be declared as the round winner.

The fourth thing you should decide on is who will serve first. You can toss a coin or a colored disc to decide on this. If this alternative is not possible, a ball can be rolled from one side of the table to the other with one player standing on that side. The player on that side will then hold the ball with his/her two hands and keep it under the table while still in them. He/she will then spread the arms while still under the table and carry the ball in one of the spreading hands. The other player will then guess on the side the ball is and if he/she is correct, he/she will serve first, and vice versa. Remember to write on your score sheet, which player serves first.

When playing

The serving rules have to be followed when serving. The score sheet has to begin at 0-0 for both players. Each player is given a chance to serve until two game points are made for the whole game. After the two points, the other player serves and this goes on as a sequence.

Update your score sheet every time any player gains or loses a point. For you to gain a point, your opponent will have done any of the following.

  • Missing your shot that hit his side of the table
  • Making a shot that goes off the table before hitting your table side first
  • Making a shot that never makes it to your side of the table
  • Delivering the ball to your side first before his side when serving

You will lose a point if you do any of the following.

  • Miss a shot that lands on your side of the table
  • Not successfully returning the ball to the other side of the net
  • Make a shot that ends up outside the table without bouncing on the opponent’s side
  • Bounce the ball twice on your side of the table when not serving
  • Moving the table accidentally during a play


The winner is the player who wins more than half of the rounds you intend to go. The rounds (i.e. 5 or 7) are always odd-numbered so as to ease the process of choosing the winner.

Concluding the match

It is important for you to show respect after the match. Shaking hands is common and is used as a sign of respect after the match. You should shake the hand of the opponent, his/her coach and the umpires while sincerely smiling at them. Remember to return the ping pong ball next to or under the net so as to ensure that other players will easily find it. Also, check the scores and ensure that the correct winner is written down. This should be done even if your umpire is not around.


Keeping the scores is always necessary for all ping pong games. This should be a habit to you. The above guide should help you learn how to keep your scores and conclude a match respectfully. Let all the score keeping in any match remain honest and accurate under your watch.

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