The word table tennis and ping pong are used synonymously. But is Table Tennis (TT) Ping Pong or is Ping Pong (PP) table tennis? Let’s find out whether these words mean the same or different sports.
To have a clear picture of the two words, we need to have a look at the history of the sport. The ITTF website explains that table tennis began in 1887 and gained popularity in the 1890s and was given various names.
Ping pong belonged to a sports company by John Jaques & Son who encouraged the use of the name ping pong, leading to the creation of the Ping-Pong Association days after The Table Tennis Association was created.
Later in 1926, the name Table Tennis was trademarked by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Though the modern name is table tennis, the name ping pong is widely used in the USA where it was highly promoted.
The Difference between Ping Pong and Table Tennis
PP and TT are almost one and the same game. No major differences exist. The main difference between ping pong and table tennis is that table tennis is more competitive and serious than ping pong. People compete in clubs, leagues, tournaments, and cup competitions all over the world. Similarly, table tennis is recognized in world championships as a competitive game.
Ping pong on the other hand, though played like table tennis, is played in a social or informal way. Though this difference may be disagreeable, the term ping pong is often used when playing for recreation rather than career purposes. Due to trademark issues, the ITTF adopted the use of Table tennis to refer to the sport.
The second difference is in service. When playing table tennis, the ball is thrown from an open hand more than 6 inches upward. It hits the table’s baseline from behind. However, in the less formal ping pong games, the ball may hit directly from the hand or after a bounce on the TT table.
In respect to scoring, TT games reach up to 11 points and players serve twice a time. In ping-pong games, they follow the conventional 21-point format, and each player serves five times in an alternating manner.
Another difference between the two is found the type of equipment used. In TT, various equipment such as pins in and out rubber are used. You can use any type of TT equipment such as a customized paddle. However, in ping pong, you only use a single type of equipment. That is blue sandpaper bats. In other words, every player in ping pong uses similar equipment.
The playing style in the two sports is also different. The sandpaper used in ping pong offers slow to medium spin and speed. But, TT allows a faster pace as well as increased spin. TT has both OFF and DEF playing styles while PP can allow both styles in one game.
So, is Ping Pong and Table Tennis different?
Yes, they are different in terms of playing style, game speed, scoring, service, and equipment. However, without detailed knowledge of the rules, you cannot differentiate between the two sports. The manner of playing is similar. That is why a person can use the name ping pong to mean table tennis and vice versa.