What is a Skunk in Ping Pong?

The International Table Tennis Federation publishes a book of official rules, which are updated frequently. Now, anybody who thinks they’ll find a reference to a skunk in the ITTF rule book would be mistaken. Although the rules cover every aspect of the ping pong game, the skunk rule applies only to casual games.

What are the official rules of ending a table tennis game?

According to ITTF rules, the first player to reach 11 points is the winner — unless both players stand on scores of 10 points. When that happens, the game will continue until one player or team of two gains a 2-point lead. Other circumstances that might bring a premature end to a table tennis game include an injury that prevents a player from continuing or disqualification after gross violations of the official rules.

What is a Skunk in Ping Pong?

Did you know that USA Table Tennis, the governing body of official table tennis in the United States, has published a book of home basement ping pong rules for casual players? The skunk rule is a tongue-in-the-cheek sort of rule. It is used to let a losing player off easy without being embarrassed.

When does the skunk rule apply?

While pro ping pong games go up to 11 points, casual games often continue until one side or player reaches a score of 21. According to USATT, the player whose score is far ahead, like 7-10, 15-2 or 21-3, could skunk the opponent. That means the game ends, and the skunkee is saved from embarrassment.

Why would one play such a mismatched game?

One way to improve one’s ping pong skills is to play against stronger players. However, it is never a good idea to shoot too high and end up being skunked every time before any lessons can be learned.

Is there any punishment for a skunkee?

In the USATT book of basement rules, there is mention of adding salt to the wounds. Skunkees may be ordered to do several push-ups and/or drink some beers.

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Riley Draper

Avid table tennis player, world traveler, and content creator. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn.