Table Tennis is a very popular sport and has over 300 million active club members worldwide. It can be played either by two players or as a “doubles” match with two players per side. The players play to rules similar to Lawn Tennis and, with the exception of the serve, must allow the ball to bounce just once on their side of the net before returning the shot.
Speeds can be amazing and have been recorded at up to 70 mph or 112 km/h. The ball is also played with varying degrees of spin to make the return shot more difficult. A point is won when the ball is not returned by the opponent. The winner is the first to reach 11 with 2 points clear. Players serve alternately every two points, with the exception being 10 – 10 (or deuce) when they alternate every serve. The game continues like this until a two point lead is achieved and the match won.
Table Tennis Equipment
1. Table Tennis Tables
Table tennis is played on a table tennis table measuring 9ft by 5ft that is 30 inches high (274cm x 152.5cm x 76cm high). The table is made of a hard flat and smooth surface usually either Blue or Green in color. The table is divided in the middle by the net and is supported by sturdy legs for stability. The most popular table tennis tables are able to fold for easy storage.
2. Table Tennis Racquets
Modern table tennis racquets (also called bats or paddles) are normally made of wood. They are covered with a thin layer rubber that can have dimples facing either inward or outward to suit the style of the player. Often this rubber has a layer of foam between it and the wooden surface; this can increase the levels of spin achieved by the player. This spin is very important in the modern game as speeds have been reduced to help television viewers to follow the action.
3. Table Tennis Balls
Table Tennis Balls are generally 40mm in diameter (although 44mm balls are finding favor). The balls are made of celluloid and are hollow and very light weight. Balls with a 3 star rating are generally the best quality.
History of Table Tennis
Table Tennis was first regulated in 1926 by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). In 1988 table tennis was recognized as an Olympic Sport. In 2008 the categories were revised into men’s singles, women’s singles and team doubles.
There has recently been a revival of the classic “hard bat” style of play that existed before the foam sandwich type of Table Tennis Bat became popular. This style of play harks back to the 1940s to 1960s where players reject pure speed and put much more emphasis on spinning the ball to outwit your opponent. These players rely on a much more strategic style of table tennis requiring skillful maneuvering prior to a successful attack.
As you can see there are many ways to enjoy the sport of table tennis or “Ping Pong” as it is sometimes referred to. Both skill and speed are required to reach the top levels of the sport. However there are many small clubs around the world that cater for players of all ages and abilities and all will encourage new players to have a go. Table Tennis can be a fun way to improve anyone’s general fitness levels and to meet new people-why not give it a try!