How to Play Ping Pong with Doubles

by Barbara Dunlap

In ping pong, the rules vary somewhat between singles and doubles. The main difference with doubles is that you have to communicate well with a partner. Part of this consists of giving and receiving signals about actions such as serves, and another part includes playing to both partners' strengths. Here are some tips on working together to play your best game of ping pong doubles.

Learn the rules of ping pong doubles (see Resources below). Essentially, this involves the rotation of play that starts with the first serve. A player on Team A serves; the player diagonally across on Team B returns the serve; the server's partner on Team A plays next; and the receiver's partner on Team B follows. This order of hitting continues throughout the play.

Treat serving as a whole new ballgame in ping pong doubles. You serve diagonally to the right side of your opponents' court, which cuts down on the element of surprise you can achieve with your serve. In serving, as in other areas of doubles play, the best way to succeed is to practice, practice, practice.

Use oral, hand or finger signals when you or your partner serve to let the other one know what to expect. For instance, how long the serve will be and what kind of spin it will have. That helps the non-serving partner anticipate the return and prepare the third hit of the game.

Consider your partner's strengths and weaknesses, and expect the same courtesy. For example, if your partner doesn't handle sharp angles well, try to keep play at the center of the table.

Use space wisely, which again involves mutual respect. It takes practice to get out of the way during your partner's turn and then get ready for your own play.

Tip

  • If you're the stronger player, resist the temptation to show off. You might win more points, but you could damage your partnership, which will harm your doubles game in the long run.

About the Author

Barbara Dunlap is a freelance writer in Oregon. She was a garden editor at "The San Francisco Chronicle" and she currently specializes in travel and active lifestyle topics like golf and fitness. She received a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has been a Knight Foundation Fellow.