What is Table Tennis?

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 By Martin Hughes
 Owner and Editor

Table Tennis

What is Table Tennis?

Table Tennis (read why it's not called Ping Pong here) is an Olympic Sport which is played indoors - although it can be played outdoors as a recreational sport.


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Origins of table tennis

The origins of table tennis go back to the 1880s when game makers tried to emulate the popularity of Lawn Tennis by developing indoor versions of the game.

The modern game of table tennis started in the early 1900s in Europe.


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Table tennis table

Table tennis is played on a hard table measuring...

9 feet (2.74m) long,
5 feet (1.525m) wide and
2 feet 6 inches (76cm) high

... and the net is

6 feet (1.83m) long and
6 inches (15.25 cm) high


Size dimensions of a table tennis table

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The game

The game is played by two players (singles) or four players (doubles) who hit a 40mm diameter ball made of celluloid or plastic, back and forth over (or around) the net, using table tennis rackets made of wood covered with pimpled rubber.

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The object of the game

The object of the game is to score 11 points before your opponent.

If the score becomes tied at 10 points each, the first player or pair to establish a two point lead will win.

A match consists of winning the best of any odd number of games - usually 3, 5 or 7 games.

Players hit the ball back and forth over the net and must only allow a ball played towards them to bounce once on their side of the table and must return it so that it bounces on the opposite side.

Points are scored when a player fails to return the ball in accordance with the rules of table tennis.

A point commences with a player serving in accordance with the official table tennis rules.

Each player has two serves.

After each two points have been scored, the receiving player or pair becomes the serving player or pair, and so on until the end of the game, unless both players or pairs have scored 10 points.

If the score is tied at 10 points each, each player shall serve for only 1 point in turn.

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It's all about spin

A skillful player can impart different spins onto the ball, which alters its' trajectory and limits their opponent's chances of returning the ball.

The game can be very fast and requires quick reactions.

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If you're going to be playing table tennis, it's useful to know some table tennis terminology.

A rally is the period during which the ball is in play. (The ball is in play from the moment a player intentionally starts his service, until the rally is decided as a let or a point).

A let is a rally of which the result is not scored.

A point is a rally of which the result is scored.

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International Table Tennis Federation

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), founded in 1926, controls the sport of table tennis.

The ITTF headquarters are located in Switzerland.

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Chinese table tennis players

The chinese table tennis players currently dominate the world game, although table tennis is also very popular in Europe.



If you're looking for more information about what is table tennis, be sure to check out the rest of my web site.

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For more information about the history of table tennis, take a look at my other articles...

General history of table tennis

Significant events in the history of table tennis

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How this site is financed

AllAboutTableTennis.com (AATT) is completely free to use.

However, it's run by one person only (Martin Hughes) and has high running costs that need to be paid for.

This web site receives thousands of visitors every day and therefore, to keep it completely free to use, advertising and affiliate links appear on this web site.

However, these adverts and affiliate links do not influence the advice and recommendations given on this web site.

My intention has always been to give you the best possible information, advice and recommendations, based on my 50+ years involvement in the sport.


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They do not cost you anything to use, and any products you choose to buy will not cost you any more than if you went directly to that web site.

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