Para Table Tennis

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Para table tennis is a parasports which follows the rules set by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). The usual table tennis rules are in effect with slight modifications for wheelchair athletes. Athletes from disability groups can take part. Athletes receive classifications between 1-11. Classes 1-5 are for those in wheelchairs and classes 6-10 for those who have disabilities that allow them to play standing. Within those groups, the higher classification means the more function the athlete has. Class 11 is defined for players with an intellectual disability.

History of the Sport:

In 2007, the governance for para table tennis was transferred from the International Paralympic Committee to the ITTF.[6] In February 2008, the ITTF announced several rules changes after an ITTF Executive Meeting in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China with regards to a player’s eligibility to play for a new association. The new ruling was to encourage associations to develop their own players.

Rules – How to Play the Sport:

The roles of classification are to determine eligibility to compete for athletes with disability and to group athletes equitably for competition purposes. Athletes are grouped by reference to functional ability, resulting from their impairment.

Sitting classes

  • Class 1:
    No sitting balance with severe reduction of function in the playing arm.
  • Class 2:
    No sitting balance with reduction of function in the playing arm.
  • Class 3:
    No sitting balance, although the upper part of the trunk may show activity.
    Normal arms, although some slight motor losses can be found in the playing hand without significant effect on table tennis skills.
    The non-playing arm keeps the trunk in position.
  • Class 4:
    Existing sitting balance although not optimal because of non-existing anchorage (stabilisation) of the pelvis.
  • Class 5:
    Normal function of trunk muscles.

Standing classes

  • Class 6:
    Severe impairments of legs and arms.
  • Class 7:
    Very severe impairments of legs (poor static and dynamic balance), or
    severe to moderate impairments of playing arm, or
    combination of arms and legs impairments less severe than in class 6.
  • Class 8:
    Moderate impairments of the legs, or
    moderate impairments of playing arm (considering that elbow and shoulder control is very important), or
    moderate cerebral palsy, hemiplegia or diplegia with good playing arm.
  • Class 9:
    Mild impairments of the leg(s), or
    mild impairments of playing arm, or
    severe impairments of non-playing arm, or
    mild cerebral palsy with hemiparesis or monoplegia.
  • Class 10:
    Very mild impairments in legs, or
    very mild impairment of playing arm, or
    severe to moderate impairment of non-playing arm, or
    moderate impairment of the trunk.
  • Class 11:
    For players with an intellectual disability.

There are no exceptions to the laws of table tennis for standing players with a disability. All players play according to the laws and regulations of the ITTF. The umpire may relax the requirements for a correct service if the compliance is prevented by physical disability.

If the receiver is in wheelchair, the service shall be a let under the following circumstances:

  1. After touching the receiver’s court, the ball returns in the direction of the net.
  2. The ball comes to rest on the receiver’s court.
  3. In singles, the ball leaves the receiver’s court after touching it by either of its sidelines.

If the receiver strikes the ball before it crosses a sideline or takes a second bounce on his or her side of the playing surface, the service is considered good and no let is called.

When two players who are in wheelchairs are a pair playing doubles, the server shall first make a service, the receiver shall then make a return but thereafter either player of the disabled pair may make returns. However, no part of a player’s wheelchair shall protrude beyond the imaginary extension of the center line of the table. If it does, the umpire shall award the point to the opposing pair.

Limb positions
If both players or pairs are in a wheelchair, the player or the pair score a point if:

  1. the opponent does not maintain a minimum contact with the seat or cushion(s), with the back of the thigh, when the ball is struck.
  2. the opponent touches the table with either hand before striking the ball.
  3. the opponent’s footrest or foot touches the floor during play.

Wheelchairs must have at least two large wheels and one small wheel. If the wheels on the player’s wheelchair become dislodged and the wheelchair has no more than two wheels, then the rally must be stopped immediately and a point awarded to their opponent.

The height of one or maximum two cushions is limited to 15 cm in playing conditions with no other addition to the wheelchair. In team and class events, no part of the body above the knees may be attached to the chair as this could improve balance.

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