Club Rules

OPEN PLAY: A play­ing ses­sion usu­al­ly begins with a warm up, fol­lowed by a 11-point ‘Best of 5’ match. If two play­ers elect to prac­tice instead of play­ing a match, they must play a match if chal­lenged.

HOW TO CHALLENGE: If all tables are occu­pied, the new­ly arrived play­er can chal­lenge or stake their claim to play by plac­ing their pad­dle next to the cho­sen table. By the same token, a play­er who is cur­rent­ly play­ing at a table can­not chal­lenge to play at anoth­er table at the same time.

TWO MATCH RULE: If you have played two or more match­es at the same table, it is sug­gest­ed that you vacate the table if there is a chal­lenge.

DOUBLES: If the club is crowd­ed, it is strong­ly rec­om­mend­ed to play dou­bles (two peo­ple on each side). Dou­bles is also a great way to play a slight­ly slow­er game and learn many dif­fer­ent styles.

Rules of play

We have 7 excel­lent But­ter­fly tables. The tables have num­bers on them from 1 to 7. The num­ber 1 table is to the far right as you walk in the door. Num­ber 5 is clos­est to the door to the far left. Num­ber 7 is the only hor­i­zon­tal­ly placed table and the one at the back and mid­dle.

To repeat, tables 5 and 6 are usu­al­ly reserved for coach­ing between 5 to 8. If no coach­ing is tak­ing place, the tables are open for play until/if coach­ing begins.

How our “challenge system” works

Any­one is allowed to chal­lenge on any table in the club where match­es are being played.

Chal­lenge” just means telling the play­ers on the table that you want to play next. If peo­ple are wait­ing ahead of you, you become next in line. Or you can ask oth­er tables if a “line” of play­ers is already wait­ing for that table. Some of the tables have lit­tle racks near the floor for putting your pad­dle as a way to keep your place in line. First pad­dle is first chal­lenger, sec­ond is the sec­ond and so on. If there’s no rack on the table you wish to chal­lenge or you don’t want to put your pad­dle in the rack, then you need to keep track of who is chal­leng­ing the table. It’s easy.

If some­one chal­lenges the table two play­ers are prac­tic­ing on, then the two play­ers need to start play­ing a match with­in a few min­utes. Be con­sid­er­ate to each oth­er. If you need to warm up a lit­tle longer, that’s fine but keep it rea­son­ably short. Chal­lengers are free to remind play­ers warm ups shouldn’t run on too long. As a relat­ed fac­toid, in pro­fes­sion­al table ten­nis com­pe­ti­tion, the offi­cial warm up time is two min­utes. We try to keep warm ups to 5 min­utes.

If dou­bles are being played, find a part­ner and chal­lenge to play dou­bles or wait until the match is over and see if peo­ple want to play sin­gles on that table. Often one dou­bles part­ner has to leave and a dou­bles table becomes a sin­gles table.


There is a spe­cial rule on table 1. If a per­son keeps win­ning they can stay up and keep play­ing on that table as long as they want. It doesn’t mat­ter how many peo­ple are chal­leng­ing the table. Table 1 is where our best play­ers usu­al­ly play so we call it a “winner’s table,” i.e. the win­ner stands if they want.

All the rest of the tables, 2 through 7 fol­low a dif­fer­ent and impor­tant club rule – the “two match wins” rule. Please under­stand, remem­ber and fol­low this rule. When there are play­ers wait­ing to play and those wait­ing play­ers have said that they are chal­leng­ing tables, the rule is that play­ers cur­rent­ly play­ing on that table may stay up on the tables for two (2) con­sec­u­tive match wins.

After that play­er has won 2 match­es, they must leave the table and the los­er of that sec­ond match must leave the table too. That means that 2 play­ers that are chal­leng­ing get to play on the table, while the 2 peo­ple who were just play­ing leave the table.

So, please remem­ber, you can win 2 match­es and then you have to leave that table. It’s fine to re-chal­lenge the table or chal­lenge anoth­er table.

If no one who is wait­ing to play is chal­leng­ing a table, it’s fine to ignore this rule. But if peo­ple are chal­leng­ing, then play­ers must fol­low the rule. Chal­lengers should remind play­ers that they can only win two match­es and then must sur­ren­der the table to the “next 2 play­ers.” In this way, more peo­ple play soon­er and no one has to wait too long. Many clubs fol­low this exact rule and it works well in a small club like ours. But only if play­ers abide by it.

Also, this rule is an equal­iz­er when there are experts and begin­ners try­ing to get on tables. If two “experts” are on a table and let’s say that “three begin­ners” want to get on that table, the begin­ners all chal­lenge that table. Once one of the experts has won two match­es, the table now changes to hav­ing “begin­ners” on it. Of course the experts can do the same thing.

Relat­ed to this rule is that it is not allowed to play on one table and chal­lenge on anoth­er table UNLESS there is no one wait­ing in line for the 2 tables affect­ed.

Sum­ming up, the “chal­lenge sys­tem” and the club’s 7 tables help make it so you don’t wait too long to get on a table — even if you get to the club when coach­ing is tak­ing place. Be sure to ask the play­ers on a table the sta­tus of their match and how many peo­ple are chal­leng­ing. That’s the only way to know what the sta­tus is. Try to ask in between points, nev­er dur­ing a ral­ly.

Offi­cial and detailed table ten­nis rules.