In table tennis, the serve changes after every 5 serves. But I don't understand that rule.
If A wins a rally, A get 1 point. After that, if B wins a rally, B get 1 point. Now, who should do the next serving, A or B?
I don't understand what "after every 5 serves" means.


2 Answers 2


First of all, your statement of the rule is not correct. From Pongworld (emphasis added):

After each 2 points have been scored the receiving player or pair shall become the serving player or pair and so on until the end of the game, unless both players or pairs score 10 points or the expedite system is in operation, when the sequences of serving and receiving shall be the same but each player shall serve for only 1 point in turn.

This is a very different specification from even "every two serves", much less from "every five serves ".

A serve which leads to a rally in which no point is scored (i.e. a let) would not be counted under the official rules, while it would be counted under your specification.

Quite simply, the winner of the point and the number of serves made are both irrelevant. It is the number of points won since service last changed (or when serving first, since the match started) which matters. Whether it was A twice, B twice, each once or that there were fifty lets in between, the serve won't change until two points are scored.

This makes it easy to determine when service will change. Simply add the scores of both players. If the total is odd, the same player serves again. If it is even, the other player serves the next rally.

The exception is during expedited serve, where service changes after every point.

  • I'm sorry. I am using and asking about the old system. Jul 26, 2016 at 5:09
  • @BillyHalim According to the ITTF history, it was never "after five serves" - the limiting factor has always been points, and changed from five to two, over fifteen years ago.
    – Nij
    Jul 26, 2016 at 5:17
  • But I'm still confused with the rule. If A got 0 and B got 2. Who will be the next server ? Jul 26, 2016 at 5:19
  • Whoever was not serving already. That's what "the receiv[er] shall become the serv[er]" means...
    – Nij
    Jul 26, 2016 at 5:20
  • So if A is the first server and now he get 2 points (B get 0 point). So the next server is B ? And the serve is not depend on the "who wins the rally" right ? Jul 26, 2016 at 5:25

The confusion is because of rule changes introduced after the 2000 Sydney olympics. The serve now changes after 2 points. Previously the served changed after 5 points. Also, a game is now first to 11 points not 21.

  • 1
    Welcome to Sports SE, please reference your answer to the direct source. Dec 11, 2017 at 10:49

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