Publication Details

Triples in Table Tennis: a Promising New Team Competition Sport – Introduction and First Findings. Proc 10th ITTF Sports Science Congress, Zagreb: 444-462.


A new form of table tennis is presented, with teams of three players playing each other. Apart from recreational applications it is seen as the ultimate test of combined team strength in team competitions, where presently teams never face each other as a team. With 3-player teams now competing in the 2008 Olympics, the new game presents a timely and relevant new table tennis possibility.

Some salient points from a comprehensive textbook on “Table Tennis Triples”, covering the rationale for the new game, its equipment, rules, game plans, umpiring, and possible integration into existing table tennis events [1] are presented. A general introduction to Triples and its rationale is given, focusing on its theoretical basis and rules. Some first evaluation trials are discussed, as is the possible integration of Triples into existing events.

The basic change from conventional table tennis is that Triples is played preferably, but not exclusively, on a circular table, and that net height increases towards the table periphery. Consistent with recent rule changes in table tennis, and apart from its novelty, the Triples game offers major benefits. Compared to the conventional game these include the whole team playing at once, a larger table playing area, increases in ‘baseline length’ and player movement space, and a greater range of shot directions and lengths.

Triples is based on a clearly structured game plan. Its basic rules are those of conventional table tennis, accompanied by some new features firstly necessitated by the simultaneous interaction of three players, but secondly also designed to progressively increase player, spectator and media excitement and appeal.

All aspects of the new game were successfully tested in trials with prototype equipment, using top pennant competition players. Players overwhelmingly accepted all rules, and felt comfortable in their new team roles, suggesting that the team-oriented Triples game has major potential.