What is a Let in Table Tennis?

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  • Post last modified:September 7, 2023
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“Let”, a frequently used term in table tennis, is called to interrupt play. All rules regarding “Let” are governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). The situation of “Let” may happen during serve or rally. An umpire or a player may call it. All related information of these specific rules has been explained in a simplified approach to provide a clear picture of this common term in table tennis.

Let in Table Tennis

Signaling of let by an umpire

There may be many situations when this rule can be implemented. Umpires try to catch the attention of players by hand signaling (Rising hand above head) and also by shouting the word, “Let”.

Example 1

Let serve in table tennis

It is the most frequent and common occurrence of “Let”. Rule says that the rally shall be a let

If in service the ball touches the net assembly, provided the service is otherwise correct or the ball is obstructed by the receiver or his or her partner


The explanation is simple. After serving, if the ball touches the net and bounces to the other side of the table, that is a “Let” in service. That means the service is not considered and the server has to serve again.

The important thing to remember is that the service must be legal, i.e. it must follow all the official serving rules and regulations.

Example 2

The receiver or pair is not ready while the service is being delivered. At this time, the umpire may call “Let” to interrupt the play. The receiver may also call “Let” to take more time before the server gets into action. This is also a common scenario that has been laid in rule

if the service is delivered when the receiving player or pair is not ready, provided that neither the receiver nor his or her partner attempts to strike the ball


Other Situations

In tournaments, matches are played on many tables separated by barriers. If any player gets disturbed during a rally due to the incoming rolling ball from other tables, the umpire may call “Let” to halt the rally and the point is played again. This is a major drawback of small arenas where a number of matches are played at a time.

Let, i.e. the interruption of play may also occur due to the following reasons which are rare in a match.

  • If any of the players are unable to make the right shot due to the disturbance which is beyond his control.
  • If a game goes longer than 10 minutes and the score is less than 18 points, the Expedite system comes into play with a new set of rules.
  • If there is an error in the order of serving or receiving, the chances of which are higher in doubles.
  • If the umpire warns a player due to the violation of service rules, like hiding the ball while serving, he may call “Let” to postpone the rally.

How Many Let Serves are Allowed in Table Tennis?

In rule no. 2.9, there is no guideline on this matter. So it is very clear that there is no limitation on the number of let serves. If the service is correct and follows all the serving rules and regulations, you can deliver any number of let services.

Related Topic: “Scoring in Table Tennis: How to Score in a Game

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