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Illegal Serves in Table Tennis

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When playing in table tennis tournaments, you will often be up against illegal serves.  With the right actions and attitude, you can easily diffuse the problem and play a fair table tennis match.  Here are the steps of action that I would recommend.

1. Observe the problem.  Preferably in a match prior to your match, try to watch your opponent for possible illegal serves.

2. Try to decide if he is getting some advantage.  Tossing the ball 5” instead of 6” doesn’t really give an advantage.  However, if he is spinning the ball with his fingers, hiding the contact, or throwing the ball into his table tennis racket, then he is probably getting an unfair advantage.

3. If he is getting an unfair advantage, then politely state the problem to him and ask if he could serve correctly because it is bothering you.

4. If he refuses to change, then go ask for an umpire from the tournament desk.  If an umpire is available, your request will be granted.

5. Thank the umpire for his assistance and briefly explain the situation.

6. After the umpire is in charge of the match, don’t argue or dispute with him.  Accept the fact that he will be an un-biased opinion and will judge each of the serves fairly.

7. After the table tennis match has concluded, shake hands with your opponent and the umpire.  Regardless of what happened during the match, be prepared to shake off the match and prepare for your next opponent.

Samson Dubina

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  • Jena Newgarden
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