Coach Samson Dubina US National Team Coach 4x USATT Coach of the Year

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Your First Tournament

11 Things You Should Know BEFORE Playing Your First Tournament

NEW Coaching Article by Samson Dubina!!!
The Top 11 Things You Need to Know Before You Play Your First USATT Tournament

  1. Legal Equipment:

You must bring your own legal racket that is USATT or ITTF approved. At tournaments there are no loaner paddles available. We would recommend checking out: for the best equipment known to man. Other suggested equipment to bring is: tournament balls, table tennis shoes, water bottle, snacks, a notebook and backup racket.

  1. Official Rules:

Games are to 11 points. Two serves each. If the score is 10-10, it is called deuce and you need to win by 2 points. At deuce it is one serve each. At the end of the game you change sides. In-between games you have a 1 minute rest to drink some water, talk to your coach and take a break.

  1. Legal Serve:

The ball needs to be in the palm of your hand. Throw it up at least 6 inches. Hit the ball on the way down. Make the first bounce hit your side and the second hit the opponents side without touching the net. If the ball hits the net and does not hit the opponents side, it is the opponents point. If the ball touches the net and hits the opponents side its called a let, which means a replay. You have unlimited lets.

  1. A Let:

A let is anytime the play is stopped and it is a replay. If a ball comes into your court during the point, you can raise your hand and call a let and the play stops and then you replay the point. Also, if the playing conditions are altered (for example a barrier falls down) either player is allowed to call let and then the point is replayed.

  1. Table Tennis Etiquette:

When walking to your table use the aisle ways instead of cutting through the courts. If your ball goes into another court, wait until their point finishes before retrieving your ball. When you get a “lucky” shot such as an edge ball or net dribbler, raise your hand or say sorry as etiquette that you got a lucky point. Before starting the match make sure you use the bathroom and have a full water bottle because you can’t leave the court during your match. The server is responsible to say the score before serving and you say the servers score first. Make sure your opponent is ready before you serve.

  1. Warming Up:

For a warm up you should try to arrive one hour before the start time of your first event. Sometimes it is difficult to find a warm up partner so try to arrange to find a warm up partner before the tournament. Keep in mind that there may not be many tables to warm up on, so your warm up on the table might be quite limited, but you can always do physical warm up with stretching and jogging and mental warm up reminding yourself of your strengths.

  1. Rated Events:

If you enter a rated event, you cannot advance from the round robin event in your first tournament. You can advance from open events and age events.

  1. Receiving Advice:

During the course of a match you are actually legally allowed to get advice from one designated coach between points. You are also entitled to one time out for 60 seconds once during the course of the match and a 60 second break between games.

  1. Getting to the Table:

When you first arrive at the table for a match, greet your opponent, shake his hand, inspect his racket, allow him to inspect your racket and begin your 2 minute warm up which includes one minute of controlled forehands and one minute of controlled backhands. To determine who serves first, hide the ball under the table and ask your opponent to guess which hand the ball is in. If he guesses right, he can choose to serve first or to receive first or his preference on which side of the table he wants to be on first.

  1. Handling Controversy:

If you have any disagreements, go to the referee station and ask for clarification on the rules or ask for an umpire to be sent to your table.

  1. Conclusion of the Match:

At the end of the match shake hands with your opponent and if you won the match you are responsible for recording the score.

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