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What is The Difference Between Ping Pong and Table Tennis?


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 they are of 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.

Difference Between Ping Pong and Table Tennis
Difference Between Ping Pong and Table Tennis

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.

Why is Table Tennis Called Ping Pong?

Table tennis was invented in 1885 and was manufactured in London beginning in 1891 under the name Gossima, by the games company Jaques. They tried both cork balls and rubber balls, but the game was unsatisfactory and sold poorly.

Finally, in 1900, members of a London club introduced a celluloid ball to Gossima and found it very effective. Using the long-handled racquets with sheepskin striking surfaces, the sound of the ball bounding off these “drumheads” sounded like Ping and Pong, depending on the tightness of the sheepskin.

Jaques quickly renamed their game “Gossima or Ping Pong”. Within months, they changed the name to “Ping Pong or Gossima”, and soon just Ping Pong. The game with the funny name became an absolute craze in 1901–02 in the UK and then in America and around the world.

ping pong fever
ping pong fever

To know more about this, you can buy this book with the title “Ping Pong Fever: The Madness That Swept 1902 America” from Amazon.

The Difference between Ping Pong and Table Tennis

Ping pong and table tennis 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 table tennis 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 pips 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.

It is easy to see ping pong as nothing more than a game that is mere back-and-forth action. Families have been playing different table tennis for centuries, but have played simple classic games. Few know of the serious, professional table tennis game, full of professional sports bodies like table tennis federations and international rules.

what is ping pong
what is ping pong

The more you get into ping pong the more you understand how interesting the game can truly be. International table tennis matches bring plenty of intrigue to the sport as people watch both singles and doubles matches at the world championship or at the Olympics. Taking the time to completely understand the game will help you better appreciate the games you see on television.

The Rules of Ping Pong

The International rules of ping pong are fairly straightforward, making it easy for novice players to play in a more serious and competitive way. The basic rules of the game state the players must not let the ball touch twice on their own side and must return the ball after one single bounce on their own side.

If a player fails to defend against a smash or hit on their side of the table, they have lost that singular point of the game. When starting a game or starting a point, the serve must first bounce on the server’s side before bouncing on the opponent’s side.

As far as scoring for the game is concerned, matches are the best three out of five games. A player wins when they have reached 11 points; the winner must win by 2 points to end the game. The scoring is known as rally scoring. This means that anyone can score on a point, no matter the player who served.

Have you ever noticed the single line going through the middle of the table? This line is not important to any form of men’s singles or women’s singles matches and should be disregarded.

The Strategy of Ping Pong

The strategy of ping pong relies heavily on the idea of table tennis – hence the “table tennis” alias of ping pong. Players use offensive strokes to try to move their opponent from left to right. Players will smash the ball in an attempt to force players far away from the back of the table.

The game can be most interesting when both table tennis players are far back from the table. The game also relies heavily on spin as players attempt to put varying levels of spin on the ball.

Too much spin can backfire, but the right amount of spin can catch the other player off guard. Players who attempt to play with no spin are often overwhelmed by the play of their opponent.

There are team events, doubles game events, and exhibition events. There is professional ping pong for both men and women. International rules are used for major events. Ping pong continues to gather interest in Asia and around the world as people are captivated by the highest levels of play.

Related post:
Paralympic For Table Tennis Athletes

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