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Brief Table Tennis History That May Interests You

Do you know the history of table tennis or how this game was invented? Most people believe the world’s most played sport as soccer, but what’s number two?
Believe it or not, with well over 30 million registered competitive players worldwide, table tennis (or ping pong) makes a solid case for the runner up. That astounding number does not include all the countless more that play casually in their basements, garages, or game rooms.

ping pong history
ping pong history

Learn Table Tennis History

In sports and entertainment, different types of sports were introduced for people to learn and be entertained. Among these sports is table tennis. However, it is also known in other countries by a different name. Among these names is ping pong.

Do you know anything about the history of table tennis? If you do not, it is what you are going to learn. 


Table tennis originated in England. It was introduced at the end of the 19th Century. Table tennis first emerged as a parlor game in England, though it was not exactly an entirely new concept.

After dinner, people came face to face when some Victorians from the upper-middle-class decided to have their dinner tables turned into miniature versions of lawn tennis’ playing field.

Playing the sport required the use of an endless list of everyday objects. Books meant for reading served as the net. The lids of those empty cigar boxes served as the rackets. After a while, parchment paper was stretched and used around the table’s frame.

As for the balls, they used yarns of string, rubber balls, and champagne corks.

Tennis and badminton had been popular lawn games since medieval times, so this game was a part of the public consciousness. Though no single individual receives credit for the “invention” of table tennis, most historians agree that it spread after someone improvised a miniature version of the full-scale lawn game when inclement weather kept tennis players indoors.

Name Game

Flim-flam, whiff-whaff, and gossima were all early names for table tennis in table tennis history until John Jacques introduced the game to the English masses with the appealing name of Ping Pong. This catchy name, which imitated the ball’s sounds striking the table and the calfskin paddles, helped the game soar to popularity.

In 1901, Parker Brothers acquired the trademark of Ping Pong. It led to the widespread distribution of the game across Europe in the early twentieth century. All this time, the game still held the status of a pastime activity rather than a sport.

The Celluloid Ball

As the century progressed, table tennis also underwent several refinements. One of those things included the players using the celluloid balls.

An Englishman, James Gibb, discovered balls during his trip to the US in 1901. Afterward, he proved that these balls were perfect for playing the sport, the players immediately adapted the use of celluloid balls.”

In 1903, the lids of cigar boxes and parchment paper were replaced by E.C Goode with pimpled rubber to be applied on light wooden ‘blades’ that served as rackets.

In 1936, after the world championship held in Prague in which 2 defensive players took more than an hour to complete the contest, a decision was made to lower the net to make the game’s pace faster. 

During the time, the sport’s popularity spread to other countries in Europe and the United States. Table tennis was introduced in Asian countries by the British Army, who held posts there. 

In 1901, the unofficial world championship was held. Later in 1927, the first official world championship took place in London, conducted by ITTF. The federation was founded in 1926 in Berlin by several countries, including England, Austria, India, Germany, Wales, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, and Czechoslovakia.

Just a Fad?

The public gradually tired of ping pong over the next few years as it spread across the European continent, and it appeared Ping Pong would be but a fad. But in the early 1920s, Ping Pong enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in England under its former name, table tennis.

Shortly after that, organizations of players formed across Europe and Asia, where the game had also grown quickly. These organizations established standardized rules and equipment, and before long, table tennis looked much more like a bona fide sport than just a leisurely parlor game.

diplomacy ping pong

The World Stage

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was founded in 1926, and they crowned their first World Champion one year later. Throughout the next half a century, table tennis underwent rules changes and equipment standardization just like any other major sport.
The intense international competition level finally earned table tennis a place in the Olympic Games in 1988 as players continually challenged each other’s physical fitness and mental concentration.

Today and Tomorrow

Thanks to athletes and the dedication of the ITTF, table tennis has seen an increase in both participation and popularity throughout table tennis history.
Ping Pong, table tennis, flim-flam, or gossamer. You can call it whatever you like as long as you also call it one of the world’s most popular sports.
Even though it looks like Asian countries like Korea and China dominate table tennis, it was not always been the case. Back in the 1950s up to the early 1960s, it seemed that European players were without competition.
In 1952, the foam rubber paddle was introduced by Horoi Satoh, a Japanese player. Because of this, it improved the pace of the game, even the spinning of the ball. Soon after, it did not take long before Japan was declared as the winner.
A few years later, China also won, which lasted until the early 1980s. China’s domination was eventually subdued when the sport entered the 1988 Olympic Games.