Table Tennis Tournaments
Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Your First Table Tennis Tournament …But Didn’t Know Where To Ask!
By Larry Hodges
General Tournament Information
I’m thinking of entering my first tournament. What do I need to know?
You need to know where the tournament is and the type and format of events held, and how the tournament rating system works. You also need to know about tournament etiquette. You could also probably use a few tips to help you play your best. These and other questions are answered below.
How can I find out when and where tournaments are being held?
What are the fees and requirements to play in a tournament?
All players must either purchase a USATT membership or tournament pass in order to play. Membership information can be found here . You can join USATT at the tournament site or you can join when you complete the tournament entry form. Each tournament will also charge their own fees for each event you enter, these fees vary by tournament.
What types of events are held at tournaments? Are there events where I would be competitive?
There are events for all levels and various ages. You may be eligible for one of the age events, which normally include Under 10, Under 13, Under 16, Under 18 and Under 22 for boys and girls, and Over 40, Over 50 and Over 60 for senior players. You can also enter the Open, if you are very good or very brave. There is also Women’s Singles.
However, for most players in their first tournament, there is a better option. USA Table Tennis (USATT), the national governing body for table tennis, has a national rating system, and all matches in USATT sanctioned tournaments are rated. Most events in tournaments are actually “rating events, ” where players must have a rating under a certain limit to be eligible. For example, in an Under 1400 event, you must be rated 1399 or lower to be eligible.
The best players in the country are around 2700. An average tournament player is in the 1400-1800 range. A beginner is usually in the 200-1000 range. NATT has events starting with Under 800/Novice (which is open to unrated players), and continuing up every 125 to 150 points to Under 2500. Whatever your level, there is an event for you. (More on ratings below.)
What is the format for the various events?
The most common format of tournament events is an initial round robin of 3-5 players, with the winners of each group advancing to single elimination. Some events are single elimination from the start.
What is a “Round Robin”?
A round robin is where a group of players each plays all of the other players in the group. If there are four in the group, each player will play the other three.
What are rating doubles events?
Most tournaments have doubles events with a rating cutoff, such as Under 3200 or Under 4200. This means the two players’ combined ratings must be under the cutoff. Unrated players cannot play in a rating doubles event – another reason to establish a rating!
Are there prizes for winning an event?
The finalists in all events get either a trophy or prize money – see the entry form for each specific event. (In the Open event, there is usually prize money for the final eight or final 16.)
Is there a dress code?
Yes, but it’s pretty lenient. Shirts and shorts (women may wear skirts), with the color not matching the ball’s color. (The entry form for each tournament lists the ball’s color, which is always white or orange.) Most players wear warm-ups (unless it’s hot), but remove them to play. Wear rubber-soled athletic shoes. Some referees won’t allow you to wear a hat.