Do you know the history behind the name of tabletop tennis or ping pong? Most people think that the reference to the same thing, and while they have been used interchangeably, there are some historical differences that you can find between the two. However, it’s still the same sport. In addition, many table tennis players don’t view themselves as “ping pong” players. There have been multiple discussions about this topic online and in a recent interview with Rolling Stones when Olympics table tennis player Ariel Hsing explained why table tennis takes more strength than just a round of ping pong.
History of Ping Pong and Table Tennis
The age of table tennis beginning in the late 1880s. It was a sport that many found endearing. It grew in popularity throughout the early 1900s, and in 1926, there were different leagues playing ping pong professionally. However, many did not realize that the name was trademarked, which would cause issues for the sport if it were to use the name. However, it is still used in the community loosely by those who play it just for fun.
The naming rights were acquired by Parker Brothers in 1901, just as people were beginning to form different leagues. The company threatened to sue “Ping-Pong Association” which was also formed in 1901 in Asia. Parker Brothers still promoted the use of ping-pong as table tennis also grew in popularity, which is why it is still popularly referenced by that name in the USA. However, in other countries, it is referred to as table tennis.
Today’s players do not refer to the sport like ping pong. Table tennis is the preferred way to talk about the sport if you are serious about being a player. Ping pong has also been associated with frivolous play instead of the more serious aspects of the gameplay that players must face. There are also a number of strict rules that table tennis players must adhere to in order to play the game correctly.
In addition, the equipment such as the table and paddles are much more regulated in table tennis. If you are playing table tennis, then you will most likely have an official table that is sized perfectly according to the rules of ITTF. Ping pong tables can be any size because they are not officially recognized by the federation.
There are also different championships and tournaments for each sport. There is the World Championship of Ping Pong, which is played every year in England. However, there is also the World Table Tennis Championship that is held under ITTF. There are also different scoring methods, equipment, paddles, serving rules, and other differences that make the two entirely separate as far as players are concerned.
Equipment Differences in Ping Pong and Table Tennis
Most people don’t realize that ping pong is not the proper way to refer to the sport. In fact, most people don’t even think twice about searching for ping pong equipment when they are thinking about adding a table to their homes. This is because the sport used to have the same name interchangeable until the ITTF made the guidelines official in the early 1900s.
The table sizes are very different, but this is mostly due to the official use of the phrase table tennis in reference to official guidelines. Manufacturers that make “table tennis tables” want to adhere to the sizing that is officially recognized by the ITTF for competitive play. This means that the table must be as follows:
- Standard 9 feet by 5 feet table that is 2.5 feet high
- Fits into a standard playing area of 19 feet by 11 feet
- The table must be made of materials that create a 23 cm high bounce when the ball is dropped from a height of 30 cm
- The table must also be a uniform color with four, stark white lines that are 2 cm in width
- The white lines must divide the table equally in half
- The net must be 15.25 cm above the playing table and also must divide the table into equal halves
These dimensions and markings are standard for table tennis, but it’s not so for ping pong, which was trademarked by Parker Brothers early on. Ping pong table doesn’t have any standard dimensions, but they generally try to follow the same sizing as the official table tennis game. However, some tables are made smaller in order to fit into homes or because they are played by kids instead.
Playing Ping Pong vs Table Tennis
There are also some different rules for the types of equipment that you can play with. For example, ping pong table does not have an official size or material used for the game. In fact, you can pick up any ping pong handle for a rather cheap $5 at a toy store. That is not the case with table tennis.
Professional table tennis players buy paddles that are typically made from rubber and have custom markings. These paddles run over $80 in most cases and are made specifically to hit the table tennis ball to get the most speed and leverage.
Different Moves, Different Tennis Game
There are different rules for playing table tennis as well. Table tennis players are best of 11 points in 7 games. However, ping pong plays 15 points best of 3 games, except for the semi-finals and the final which is the best of five games. There are also sudden death point matches that require 14 all and use a double point ball that is played once on the server.
The special double point ball that can only be used once per match when serving gives 2 points to the serving player if that player wins the match. It also gives 1 point to the receiving player. This ball is marked as white instead of orange. To win table tennis, you must score at least 11 points with a difference of 2 points officially. However, the score ends at 15 no matter what in ping pong. You can end at 15-14 and win without having to have a two-point difference.
There are also differences in playing styles for each type. Ping pong players typically use sandpaper which creates a slower speed and spin. Table tennis is made to be a faster game overall, and the faster you hit the ball with a higher amount of spin, the more guarantees there are that you will win. There are also offensive and defensive playing styles in table tennis. However, ping pong players typically mix up their playing styles.
The main difference between the two is that players really want a customized paddle in table tennis. These customized paddles have different materials and blades that must meet a certain material quality, but in general, they are all different according to what the table tennis player wants. Ping pong table players just use the standard sandpaper paddle.
Who Would Win: Ping Pong Player or Table Tennis?
While the playing styles and equipment are slightly different, it comes down to what paddle would be used to play the deciding match. There have been some interesting matches in the past between table tennis and ping pong champions.