Table tennis is the second most played sport in the world as well as the newest of the world's major sports. Table tennis is also known as ping pong
, but professionals don't like to call it that, except for Chinese players; "ping pong ball" is the official name for the sport in China
Table tennis is played with a very light hollow celluloid
ball. It's about the size of a golf ball, about 40mm circumference
, but much lighter, about 2.7 grams. It's played on what looks like a shrunken tennis court
on a table, about 9 feet
by 5 feet (2.74m by 1.525m), which is about 30 inches (76cm) off the ground. There is also a 6 inch (15.25cm
) high net cutting the court in half. Instead of tennis rackets, each player is given a wooden paddle
covered with rubber
. Almost always you will see the paddles with one side red and the other side black
, the game is played with 2 or 4 players. A player serves the ball by tossing and then hitting it, so that it bounces once on his or her side and then bounces on the opponent's side. The opponent must hit the ball so it bounces back to the other player's side (but doesn't bounce in his or her own). The players alternate hitting the ball back and forth onto the opposite side of the court until one side loses the point. That could happen in a number of ways; the ball bounces twice or more on one side, the player fails to hit the ball after it bounced on their side, the ball bounced on the player's side after hitting it, or having the ball not bounce on the opponent's side after hitting it (unless the opponent hit the ball before it bounced). In any case, the other player gets one point. Every 2 or 5 points, depending on the rules, the next player gets the chance to serve. Typically, a game is played to 11 points, and the winner must win by at least 2 points. Since games are relatively short, many people play a match as a best of 5 or 7 games. Another difference between Table Tennis and Tennis
is that the rules of who can hit the ball in a 4-player doubles are different.
The game itself is pretty simple to play, and takes some practice to master. It is not a strenuous game, but requires some skill due to the smaller court. Skilled people have great reaction times, more precise aiming of the ball, and can put spin on the ball.
Although it's a popular recreational game, it became an Olympic Sport in 1988. Most of the world's best competitive players are from China, but several world champion titles have also gone to Sweden. Some professional players have come from Croatia and Hungary, where the game is popular.
In the 1970s the Chinese invited American table tennis players to a tournament in China. This marked a thawing in relations with the United States that was followed up by a visit by U.S. president Richard Nixon. The media therefore dubbed this visit "Ping Pong Diplomacy".
The early balls used were made out of pure celluloid, which was combustible. Early Table Tennis players had to replace their balls frequently, because if one was hit too hard it could catch fire and vaporize in under a second.
Table tennis also inspired the first commercially successful video game, Pong.
Table tennis seems to have originated in 1880s by British officers in India
or South Africa
. An English man named James Gibb
brought a celluloid
ball from America
around 1900, and apparently came up with the name of ping-pong
. It was registered as a trade name by someone named John Jaques.
The International Table Tennis Federation http://www.ittf.com/
USA Table Tennis http://www.usatt.org/index.shtml
English Table Tennis Association http://www.etta.co.uk/main.htm
Canadian Table Tennis Association (in English) http://184.108.40.206/ewelcome.html