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.