Sports Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for participants in team and individual sport activities. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've read in somebody's comment in another question:

USA Table Tennis rules: 2.5.7 A player strikes the ball if s/he touches it in play with his/her racket, held in the hand, or with his/her racket hand below the wrist. 2.5.8 A player obstructs the ball if s/he, or anything s/he wears or carries, touches it in play when it is above or traveling towards the playing surface, not having touched his/her court since last being struck by the opponent.

Does that mean that I can use my hand to hit the ball? But only my racket hand? Does that mean that when you miss the ball with the racket, but actually hits it with a finger or something it's still a valid play? Does that tell me that it's illegal to hit the ball with my free hand?

Please, don't base your answers on the interpretation of that snippet alone, maybe there are varations of this rule on other countries, for instance.

share|improve this question
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Yes, you can use your hand to hit the ball, but only if it is your racket hand and below the wrist. A quote of the rules state:

It is considered legal to hit the ball with your fingers, or with your racket hand below the wrist, or even any part of the bat.(Law 2.5.7) This means that you could quite legally return the ball by:

  1. hitting it with the back of your racket hand;
  2. hitting it with the edge of the bat, instead of the rubber;
  3. hitting it with the handle of the bat.

A proviso includes - Your hand is only your racket hand if it is holding the racket, so this means you can't drop your bat and then hit the ball with your hand, because your hand is no longer your racket hand

It is illegal to hit the ball with your free hand.

There is a good summary of the rules here.

share|improve this answer
Thank you very much! – Spidey Feb 7 '14 at 16:45
Close. It's illegal to strike the ball with the side of the racket: 2.10.1 - Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point [..] if an opponent strikes the ball with a side of the racket blade whose surface does not comply with the requirements of 2.4.3, 2.4.4 and 2.4.5. Sections 2.4.3-2.4.5 describe the rubber surfaces of the racket. – Molomby Mar 27 '15 at 12:09

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.