IDTTL -- Table Tennis Umpires

Table Tennis Umpires

The ETTA National Umpires and Referees Committee are trying to recruit Local and County Umpires, encouraging Local Leagues and Premier Clubs to qualify just one person over a two year period.

The latest info can be found in I want to be an umpire.pdf

Listed below are the notes prepared by the ETTA that canbe downloaded in a PDF file from the above site. The PDF file also includes a test paper that budding Local Umpires can complete in their own time (and on their own!) and submit to the ETTA. Successful entries would then sit a practical to complete their qualification test.

These notes are basically the laws of Table Tennis but in finer detail. They make good reading, and the Questions will make even the more experienced player think twice - i.e. At what point in a game does the umpire call deuce?

Issue 6 - August 2003

An umpire must have a thorough knowledge of the rules governing play and the ability to apply them promptly and correctly. Table tennis rules consist of the Laws and the Regulations for International Competitions. The laws apply to all matches but the regulations apply only to certain competitions, such as open tournaments and National County Championships. The following notes cover the laws, basic match procedure and presentation, and give details of umpiring qualifications.

The table may be made of any material which gives a bounce of about 23cm to a ball dropped on to it from a height of 30cm, but it is usually of wood.
It may be of any uniform dark colour, but it is normally green or blue.
For doubles, the centre line is regarded as part of the right half-court and the end line is regarded as extending indefinitely in both directions.
The playing surface includes the top edges of the table but not the sides of the table top below the edges.
The ends of the net must be as close as possible to the net post and the bottom must be as close as possible to the playing surface.
The net may be of any colour, but it is usually green or blue with a white top.
Before a match its height and tension should be checked with a net gauge.
The racket may be of any size, shape or weight.
Its blade must be flat, rigid and of even thickness and made mainly of wood, but may include thin layers of other materials such as carbon fibre.
A side of the blade used for striking the ball must be covered with pimpled rubber up to 2mm thick or sandwich rubber up to 4mm thick; the permitted thickness includes any adhesive layer.
A side of the blade not used for striking the ball may be left uncovered or covered with any material.
The surface of one side of the blade must be bright red and the other black, whether or not they are covered.
Before using a racket a player must allow the umpire and the opponent(s) to examine it.

The racket hand is the hand carrying the racket and the free hand is the hand not carrying the racket.
If the racket is dropped, the hand that was holding it is no longer the racket hand.
To strike the ball is to touch it with the racket, held in the racket hand, or with the racket hand below the wrist.
The ball cannot be struck with the empty hand if the racket is dropped, but it is legal to strike the ball with the hand while it is holding the racket.
The server is the player due to strike the ball first in a rally and the receiver is the player due to strike the ball second.
A rally is the period for which the ball is in play.
No point can be scored if the ball is not in play.
A rally whose result is not scored is a let; a rally whose result is scored is a point.
The ball is in play from the last moment before it is intentionally projected in service until the rally is decided as a point or a let; a point can be scored only when the ball is in play.
It is not automatically out of play if it goes out of the playing area or above the lights.
Over or around the net means anywhere other than between the net and the net post or between the net and the playing surface. If the ball, after bouncing on the correct court, spins back over the net it may be struck directly down on to the playing surface.
A player obstructs the ball if he or she, or anything he or she wears or carries, touches it when it is above or moving towards the playing surface and has not passed beyond his or her end line or touched his or her court since last being struck by the opposing player.
Anything that a player wears or carries includes anything that was being worn or carried at the start of the rally.

At the start of service the ball must rest freely on the palm of the server. s free hand, which must be stationary, behind the server's end line and above the level of the playing surface.
The ball must then be projected so that it rises, near vertically, at least 16cm after leaving the server. s hand and must not be struck until it is falling.
It must then touch the server's court, pass over or around the net and touch the receiver's court; in doubles, it must touch the server's right half-court and then the receiver's right half-court.
From the start of service until the ball is struck, it must not be hidden from the receiver by the server or the server. s doubles partner, or by anything they wear or carry; as soon as the ball has been projected the server's free arm must be removed from the area between his or her body and the net.
It is the responsibility of the player to serve so that the umpire can see that the service is legal.
An umpire who suspects that a service is illegal but is not sure may call 'let' and warn the player or pair once without awarding a point; if later in the match a service by that player or by his or her doubles partner is again doubtful, for any reason, a point must be awarded to the receiver.
No warning may be given if a service is clearly illegal.
The service law may be relaxed for a player who cannot comply owing to physical disability.
In a good return the ball must be struck so that it touches the opponent's court, directly, or after touching the net assembly; if it touches anything else, the return is not good.

The rally is a let if in an otherwise good service the ball touches the net assembly or is obstructed a player serves when the receiver is not ready, provided no attempt is made to return the ball a player is prevented from making a good service or a good return by something outside his or her control it is interrupted by the umpire
The umpire may interrupt a rally to correct an error in the order of serving, receiving or ends to introduce the expedite system
to warn a player for a service of doubtful legality because playing conditions are disturbed in a way which may affect the outcome of the rally
Unless the rally is a let, a player scores a point if the opposing player fails to make a good service or a good return
obstructs the ball strikes the ball twice successively strikes the ball with a side of the racket which is not covered with one of the specified materials or anything that player wears or carries, moves the table or touches the net touches the playing surface with the free hand in doubles, strikes the ball out of proper sequence, except in serving or receiving
Unless the rally is a let a player scores a point if the ball after he or she has served or returned it, touches anything other than the net assembly before being struck by the opposing player passes beyond his or her end line without touching his or her court since last being struck by the opposing player

A game is won by the first player or pair to score 11 points or, if the score is 10-10, by the first player or pair thereafter to gain a lead of 2 points.
A match consists of the best of any odd number of games, usually 5 or 7.

The winner of the toss may choose to serve or to receive first, or to start at a particular end.
When one player or pair has chosen to serve or receive first, or has chosen an end, the opposing player or pair may make the other choice. In doubles, the pair serving first in each game may choose which of them will serve and, in the first game, the receiving pairmay then choose which of them will receive. In subsequent games, when the first server has been chosen, the first receiver must be the player from whom he or she received in the previous game.
The player or pair serving first in a game always receive first in the next game, whether or not expedite is in operation.
Players or pairs serve in turn for 2 points, unless both players or pairs have scored 10 points or expedite is in operation, when they serve in turn for 1 point until the end of the game.
In the last possible game of a doubles match, the receiving pair must change their order of receiving when first a pair has scored 5 points.
Players or pairs change ends after each game and, in the last possible game of a match, when first a player or pair has scored 5 points.
When an error is discovered in the order of serving, receiving or ends, play is stopped and the error is corrected; any points scored before the error is discovered remain unchanged.

Unless both players or pairs have scored at least 9 points, expedite comes into operation after 10 minutes' play in a game or earlier at the request of both players or pairs.
If expedite is introduced in a game, all subsequent games of the match are played under expedite.
If the ball is in play when the time limit is reached, the next service is made by the player who served in the rally that was interrupted; if the ball is not in play when the time limit is reached, the next service is made by the player who received in the previous rally.
If the receiving player or pair returns the service and the next 12 returns made by the serving player or pair, the receiver scores a point.

A point must always be scored for a breach of the laws, whether or not the umpire believes that it was unintentional or that the player gained no advantage.
There is no provision in table tennis for . playing a let. where the umpire is uncertain what happened, and he or she must make a decision based on the best available evidence. The more promptly and confidently the decision is made, the less likely it is to be questioned.
A decision that the umpire is certain is correct should not be changed simply because a player questions it, especially if to do so would benefit that player. If, however, both players or pairs think the umpire was wrong and he or she is not quite sure, it is better not to insist on maintaining the original decision. No change may be made after another rally has begun.
For edge balls, the direction of the ball after its contact with the table can help to decide whether it hit the top edge or the side of the table top.

The umpire should be 2-3m from the side of the table, in line with the net. If a raised chair is not provided it is better to stand for doubles, but it should not be necessary to do so for singles.
At the start of a match, the name of the first server and, in doubles, that of the first receiver, should be noted on the score card. If A/B are playing X/Y in doubles, the only possible orders of serving are A>X>B>Y>A>. . and A>Y>B>X>A> .
The score should be called as soon as possible after the ball goes out of play. The number of points scored by the next server is called first, then the number scored by the next receiver - eg . 5-4".

The score must not be called in a way which suggests partiality towards one player or pair, but slight emphasis may be placed on the number which has changed.
At the start of a game the first server should be named - eg . Smith to serve, love-all. . At any subsequent change of service the umpire should point to, but not name, the next server.
If the ball in service touches the net the umpire should raise an arm or point to the net to show that he or she has noticed, but 'let', or the new score, should not be called until it is seen whether the service is otherwise good. If in doubt, it is always better to assume that the ball touched.
If the conditions of play are disturbed, the umpire should call 'let' immediately and not wait to see if the players have been affected. If the disturbance occurs just as the ball is going out of play, the umpire must decide whether or not it affected the outcome of the rally.
When calling a let, the umpire should raise one arm in the air. After calling a let, the umpire should repeat the previous score to make it clear that no point has been awarded - eg . Let, 5- 4".
The umpire should not call:
'fault', unless a point has been awarded for a reason which is not obvious or which does not automatically stop play
'change service' or 'change ends' unless players fail to do so when a change is due
'deuce' at the score 10-10; this term does not exist in table tennis
If a point is awarded for a reason which is not obvious, or if a player asks why it was awarded, the umpire should give a brief explanation. When a service fault has been called it may be easiest to explain by demonstration which requirement was not met.
When expedite is in operation, a stroke counter is appointed and he or she should call out the number of each return stroke as the ball is struck. If the receiving player or pair makes 13 good returns, the umpire should call 'stop', if necessary, and award the point.

The umpire's first responsibility is to ensure a fair result to the match, but he or she is responsible also for presenting it to spectators in the best possible way.
The umpire should be dressed neatly and should look alert and interested in the match at which he or she is officiating.
The playing area should be kept as clear as possible. Players should not be allowed to hang towels over surrounds nor to bring bags and track suits into the playing area.
Umpires also should not bring bulky bags or other items with them into the playing area.
The progress of play should be controlled with authority but without officiousness, so as to earn the confidence and respect of players and spectators.
The best umpire is the one that is not noticed, because he or she controls matches so efficiently and unobtrusively that players and spectators can give their whole attention to the match.

The Level 1, or Local Umpire (LU), qualification is primarily for those who wish to umpire at club, league and county closed competitions. Candidates first take a written test on the laws and scoring, which they answer in their own time, using any reference books they choose.
Those who pass the written test then undergo a short practical test and, if successful, they receive an official certificate.
Level 2 is the County Umpire (CU) qualification, for which the written test covers also the Regulations for International Competitions.
The CU practical test also is more demanding and candidates have to umpire several matches while being watched by experienced observers.
To qualify as a CU the candidate must pass both the LU and CU written tests, but they can be taken together.
Those who are successful are registered by the National Umpires and Referees Committee and issued with a lapel badge.
A CU may officiate at British League and National County Championships matches and at all but the final rounds of open tournaments.