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Table Tennis Basics

First published: 1998; Revised: May 2020


Many people know ping-pong. It's the game that is usually played in the basement with an opponent, with plastic paddles in hand that made the distinctive noises when a ball was struck. A fun game it was, sort of like playing T-ball with huge yellow plastic bats or nerf football. But like those two familiar games, ping-pong also has a real sport behind it.

Table Tennis can be classified as a major sport worldwide, with millions of participants, major tournaments (with its own superstars), and many other things that make a sport truly a class of its own.

As a sport that emphasizes endurance and reflexes above simple size and strength, people of all ages and genders can play on an equal field. The equipment can be had for a reasonable price, and the sport is played indoors so year-round competition and practice is possible. A game requires only two players at the least, and typically lasts around 30 minutes, enabling quick matches during breaks, etc.

Table tennis truly is a sport for the masses, and its widespread adoption around the world is a testament for its versatility. The United States has been lagging behind Europe and Asia in per capita participation of table tennis as a sport. With enough enthusiasm and support, however, this intense and exciting sport can succeed beside the old mainstays.

The true origin of Table Tennis is largely unknown, although forms of the sport have been documented as early as the late 1800s in England. The sport started becoming popular around the world in the early 1900s. During this time, the official name of the sport was changed from Ping-Pong™ to table tennis. This was due to copyright conflicts with Parker Brothers, who owned the rights to the name and game of Ping-Pong™. The International Table Tennis Federation and United States Table Tennis Association(later changed to United States Association of Table Tennis) were formed at about this time. These organizations would go on to become the primary ruling bodies of table tennis.

Table tennis has evolved significantly since its surprise birth upon the sporting world, acquiring many revisions of rules and seeing an evolution of equipment as technology and playing styles changed. Such refinement only serves as evidence that table tennis is indeed a full-fledged sport, comparable to any of the other classics we behold with reverence.


The information in this section has been kindly contributed by the Thinkquest Team.