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I curious about what the official rules are for playing doubles table tennis. It seems like every time I play, someone has a different set of rules from what I've played before. For instance, do the partners have to alternate returning the ball? How does serving work? ie., when do you alternate who serves, and to whom does the serve go to?

I hope this makes sense. Thanks.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

This explains it pretty well:

Generally speaking, the main 3 rules that most people playing doubles observe are

  1. the required serve location (to the opposite diagonal section of the table) and
  2. switching sides between service games/servers.
  3. Then of course, you also alternate which player has to hit the ball each time (the sequence of who hits the ball - nobody should hit the ball more than once every 4 hits).
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