Can You Volley in Ping Pong? And If So, When?

Volleying is not allowed in ping-pong. The ball must hit the table before you can attempt a return. You can only volley if the ball has cleared the length of the table, but by that time, the point is already yours.

That said, there is one specific scenario where you might want to volley the ball, but I’ll get on to that later. In this post, I explain everything there is to know about volleying in table tennis — which rules ban it, why banning it is the right call, and a common volleying mistake players make.

Volley Rules in Table Tennis

a ping pong ball must hit the table before you can hit it

A volley is a shot in which the receiver strikes the ball before it makes contact with the playing surface. In some sports, it would go back and forth without touching the table. While volleys are legal in some racket sports, they aren’t in others, like ping-pong.

Volleys are illegal in ping pong because the rules require the ball to touch your side of the table before you make contact with it.

There are a few rules that tell us this:

  • Rule 2.5.8: A player obstructs the ball if he or she, or anything he or she wears or carries, touches it in play when it is above or traveling towards the playing surface, not having touched his or her court since last being struck by his or her opponent.”
  • Rule 2.10 + Unless the rally is a let, a player shall score a point… if an opponent obstructs the ball.”

The first cited rule, 2.5.8, defines an obstruction as striking the ball as it is above or traveling to the table. Essentially, this means preventing the ball from making contact with the table.

As for rules 2.10 and, they tell us what constitutes the scoring of a point, and any obstruction of the ball is included in this criteria.

However, it’s not just volleying it with your racket that you need to be concerned with. It’s a volley of any nature.

This means contacting the ball with your non-playing arm or clothing before it bounces constitutes ping pong volleying.

Read More: Ping Pong Doubles Rules Explained


When Can You Volley in Ping Pong?

It might surprise you that some volleys are allowed in table tennis, yet these don’t provide any competitive advantage.

These volleys relate to when the ball has already cleared the table length and will land out. In such a situation, you can volley the ball without being penalized. However, there is no reason to try to play the ball as you have already won the point.

You may, however, just want to catch the ball to ensure the smooth flow of play. Usually, though, you won’t be able to react in time, so don’t expect to be able to volley this type of way regularly.

Why Does the Ball Have to Bounce in Table Tennis?


While volleying works well in other racket sports, it would ruin table tennis. Volleys are far too strong and easy to execute.

Try to compare it to tennis. In tennis, volleys tend to be strong only next to the net, but getting to the net is very difficult, so there’s risk. In table tennis, players stand much closer to the net, making volleys too easy.

Another reason it’s good that volleys are illegal is because it would kill off many styles of play. Lobbers and choppers would become extinct overnight! Both chops and lobs leave the ball in the air for a long time. This would allow players to charge forward and strike the ball before it crossed the net!

Read More: Table Tennis vs. Ping Pong: Is There a Difference?

A Common Volleying Mistake

While most players are well versed in volleying rules, there is one circumstance where I find people misinterpret the rules. This relates to volleying the ball above the table where the initial shot goes out.

One might expect such a volley to be legal, as the ball would not contact the table if the volley had not occurred. However, this is not the case.

  • Rule 2.5.8 states that obstructing a ball traveling toward the table and striking it while it is above the table is illegal.

In reality, this type of volleying rarely happens because it requires you to leave your racket above the table for your opponent to hit the ball into (even though it is not their intent). Such an action doesn’t happen much as players return to the ready position after striking the ball.

The last time it happened to me, I reached for a short push, and my opponent wildly struck the ball, giving me no time to get my racket out of the way. I sure was annoyed!

If you enjoyed this write-up, I recommend checking out my Beginner’s Guide to Table Tennis and my Guide to Ping Pong Rules.


Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Ball Have to Bounce in Ping Pong?

In ping-pong, you have to let the ball bounce. If you strike the ball before allowing it to do so, you are obstructing it, which will result in a point loss.

Can You Hit a Ping Pong Ball Before It Bounces if It Is Going Out?

If the ball is going to miss the table and instead bounce on the floor, you can volley it to catch it. However, you must do so after clearing the table length to prove it is going out.

Freelance writer. Table tennis enthusiast. Lover of all things online. When I’m not working on my loop game I’m probably binge-watching some fantasy show.