One of the most important pieces of equipment when playing table tennis is probably the table itself. While this sport used to be played on dining tables using books as nets, in our modern age, this sport has turned into a game with precision equipment governed by the International Table Tennis Federation, or ITTF for short. In this article, I will go over the ITTF laws and regulations governing the use of table tennis tables in competitions.
Table Tennis Table Dimensions
The playing surface or the upper surface of a table tennis table shall be rectangular with length being 2.74 meters (plus or minus .005 meters) and width being 1.525 meters ( plus or minus .003 meters ). The table should lie horizontally .76 meters ( plus or minus .003 meters) above the floor. The ITTF actually allows the playing surface to have a diagonal corner to corner warping of no more than 3 millimeters.
Composition Of The Table
For general use, the playing surface can be of any material such as wood, composite wood, or metals (for outdoor use). While the choice of material can be determined by the manufacturer, the table must yield an uniform bounce of 23 – 26 centimeters when a standard table tennis ball is dropped from a height of 30 centimeters. The average bounce difference in a table should be less than 5 millimeters.
The vertical sides of the tabletop are not included in the playing surface. Please note that for official competitions, only tables made from wood or wood derivatives are allowed, that is, concrete tables are not approved for international play.
All About The Surface
The playing surface must be matt and uniformly dark in color. ITTF only approves tables that are blue or green in color. Because about 8% of Caucasian males are green/red color blind, the ITTF officially prefers blue tables over green ones. The surface pigment used should also not shed onto the ball during game play.
White 2 millimeter side lines are drawn along 4 sides of the table, including both the 2.74 meter ( side lines ) and 1.525 meter ( end lines ) edges. You should not be able to feel the lines when running your hands along the table surface.
A vertical net running parallel with the end lines divide the table tennis table into two equal halves or courts. Each court is divided into equal halves by a white, 3 millimeter center line running parallel with the side lines.
A gap of no more than 10 millimeters is allowed between the center line and the end line. A gap of no more than 50 millimeters is allowed between the center line and the net.
ITTF Tournament Tables
For official competitions, the table tennis table is selected from brands and types approved by the ITTF only. The undercarriage of the table cannot be white, fluorescent, or any color that will reflect light upwards. Only the ITTF logo can be printed on a table’s undercarriage and no other.
The playing area shall not contain any fluorescent or luminescent colors.
Tables made for use by players on wheelchairs should have end legs indented by 40 centimeters compared to 15 centimeters for standard tables.