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 in other countries, for instance.

1 Answer 1


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.

  • 2
    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, 2015 at 12:09

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