The simple answer is yes, you can use your hand in table tennis. However, there are some rules and regulations that you need to be aware of before doing so.
If you’re simply using your hand to hit the ball back and forth with a friend or family member, then there aren’t any major rules that you need to worry about. However, if you’re playing in an organized game or tournament, then there are some specific rules that you need to follow.
According to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the official governing body for the sport of table tennis, “the ball shall be propelled with the bat by a stroke from below the level of the playing surface.” In other words, you’re not allowed to throw the ball up and hit it with your hand.
Can You Use Your Hand in Table Tennis?
Yes! You’re allowed to use your hand in table tennis, but not with your free hand. If the ball accidentally hits your finger while stroking, that’s completely legal. Note that if it manages to hit both the racket and your hand, it’s a “double hit” and the point is lost.
Can You Hit the Ball with Your Hand in Table Tennis?
Yes! You’re allowed to hit the ball with your hand in table tennis. The only time this would not be allowed is if you were serving, which must be done with a bat.
We recommend you don’t though, as no spin can be generated when hitting it with your hand…
What Happens When the Ball Hits Your Finger?
Generally, this will just make it a really bad shot, often resulting in hitting the net. However, as long as you don’t hit the ball twice in succession (a “double hit”), it’s a legal shot.
Some players have developed a technique called the “finger spin” where they use their fingers to impart spin on the ball. This is generally only used when serving, as it’s very difficult to do during regular play.
If you’re just starting out, we recommend not worrying about this and focusing on developing your basic strokes first. You can always add the finger spin later on once you’ve mastered the basics!
Can You Have Your Hand on the Table During a Point?
No. Many beginners plant their free hand on the table at all times. Not only is this really bad for your mobility, it is also not allowed. Touching the table during a point is against the rules and immediately gives your opponent the point.
This may seem contradictory because when you watch it on TV, you see the pros touching the table all the time? Yes, but never when the ball is alive. We have actually written an entire blog post about it which you can read here.
What Happens When You Hit the Ball With Your Free Hand?
If you hit the ball with your free hand, the point gets conceded to the opposing player. It doesn’t matter whether it was intentional or not – if the ball hits your free hand, the point is awarded to the other player.
Can You Hit the Ball With Your Hand When Serving?
No! You’re not allowed to hit the ball with your hand when serving in table tennis. If you throw the ball up and hit it with your hand, it’s a fault and the point is awarded to the other player.
Can You Use Your Free Hand in Table Tennis?
No. Using your free hand to hit the ball in table tennis is not allowed and automatically loses you the point. However, you are allowed to switch the bat to the other hand. You are also allowed to hit the ball with the hand your racket is in, as long as it only bounces once.
The rules in table tennis may seem daunting at first, but I assure you they’ll come very natural once you’ve played for a while. Many of the rules are just obvious, and after a while you will understand if it’s allowed or not without actually knowing the rulebook.
You can use your hand in table tennis, but there are certain rules that also go against this. Generally though, if you don’t play in a competition, go ahead and use your free hand! It can really be a fun time if both you and the other player agrees upon it. What hand will he hit with next?
*The header picture in this article is taken from here!
I have been in the table tennis sphere for over 10 years. I started playing when I was young, playing tournaments and competitions all over the country. Then my during my young adult years I stopped playing, to later pick it up when I grew older.
Over the years I’ve loved testing new gear, I’d say that’s one of the things that kept me interested in the sport. Long pips, short pips, speed glue on slow blades, heck, I’ve tried it all! That’s why I accepted the spot as the head writer on this blog, to inform all you asking those questions!