A Serve Hit the Ping Pong Net: Is It a Let?

Table Tennis Basics: A Let Serve

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When a serve hits the ping pong net and goes over it, you may be wondering if the play is legit. Is this what's known as a "let" serve? 

Nope. If the serve hits the table tennis net and goes over, it is actually a fault. A let would be if it hits the net and hits the other side of the table as well. 

According to the Laws of Table Tennis - Section 2.9:

2.9 A Let
2.9.1 The rally shall be a let if in service the ball, in passing over or around the net assembly, touches it, provided the service is otherwise good or the ball is obstructed by the receiver or his partner;

For the service to be otherwise good, it must comply with all the other requirements for a good service, including Law 2.6.3: 

2.6.3 As the ball is falling the server shall strike it so that it touches first his court and then, after passing over or around the net assembly, touches directly the receiver's court; in doubles, the ball shall touch successively the right half court of server and receiver.

So as you can see, if the serve hits the net, it must then touch the receiver's court in order to be a let. If it misses the receiver's court, it is a point for the receiver.

More Ping Pong Rules to Know

With this question out of the way, it's a good idea to brush up on a few other rules pertaining to serves in ping-pong.

  1. You have to toss the ball upward at least 6 inches. (Rule 2.06.02)
    You must reach the required height from your toss. It's 6 inches -- no exceptions.
  2. You must hit the ball as it is on its way down. (Rule 2.06.02)
    You may only hit the ball on its way down, not as it goes up as a result of your initial toss. It's important to note that the ball doesn’t have to drop all the way down to the point where you tossed it, but it has to be falling when you hit it. 
  3. Your toss must be “near vertically upward," not heavily sideways or backward.(Rule 2.06.02)
    Some players throw the serve ball backward to get a better underspin, but it's not the best practice. Keep your toss vertical with as little horizontal movement as possible. 
  4. The entire serve has to begin behind the endline and above the table surface. (Rule 2.06.04)
    You may see some ping-pong players starting the toss with the ball already inside the table. Others will hit it when it's over the table. Not cool! The entire serve must start behind the endline. The ball height also has to be above the surface of the table. 
  5. Don't try to hide the ball during a serve. (Rules 2.06.04 and 2.06.05)
    You used to be able to dangle your free arm in front of the ball to disguise the ball so the opponent couldn't see it, but that's a rule of the past. You must not mask the ball with your body or arm, ensuring that your opponent can clearly see the ball during the entire serving process.