Table Tennis vs Ping Pong – Is there any difference?


Table Tennis vs Ping PongThere has been a constant debate about Table Tennis VS Ping Pong. But is there really any difference between the two? If you browse through the net, you’ll read a lot of info and comments about how these sports are different or similar. You might also get confused like some people that I know. In this article let us try to enumerate if there is any difference between these two?

Table Tennis VS Ping Pong

The answer to the posted question above— YES AND NO!

IT’S A YES! Historically speaking Table Tennis and Ping Pong were the same sports. Back then, the concept of Table Tennis VS Ping Pong was not an issue. However, as time flies these two developed into two / separate sports.

The game table tennis exists since the 1880’s; it started as a parlor game in England played by almost everyone, who had access to a paddle, a ball, and a table. It had evolved into an indoor game when lawn tennis players adapted their game to be played indoors during winter season. Since table tennis is a modification of lawn tennis, it’s no surprise they share similar principles.

It was originally called as Ping Pong.  In 1901, John Jacques registered Ping Pong as a trade name in England.  Then, it was sold to Parker Brothers – an American Company. Due to legal issues, the name Ping Pong is no longer used in England. Ping Pong is now replaced by the name Table Tennis. Since that time Parker Brothers gained rights to the name Ping Pong, the modern game is known to be Table Tennis.

Let’s do the comparison:

a. Rule

There is a significant difference in required points for winning a match.

Table tennis plays best of 11 points in seven games. While Ping Pong plays best 15 in 3 games. This scoring is applicable except it is semi-finals or the finals, wherein it’s best of 5. There is a sudden death point at 14 all and a double point played once on the serve.

A special double – point ball can be used once every match, when serving. If won, this gives the serving player 2 points and 1 point to the receiving player. The ball is white instead of the usual orange color.

b. Equipment

Paddle: There is a standard paddle for the game of Ping Pong. It is a sandpaper paddle, which is used by all Ping Pong players. Well, it’s another case in table tennis, where players have customized paddle. Moreover, paddles for table tennis should have a red and a black side.

The sandpaper paddles last longer than paddles for table tennis.

Ball:  Another difference between these two sports is the size of the ball.  The Ping Pong ball is larger in diameter as compared to a tennis ball.

Table Tennis – 3.4 mm in diameter

Ping Pong – 3.7 mm

In table tennis, the table should be 2.74 meters long, 1.525 m wide and 0.76 m high.

c. Scoring:

For Ping Pong – 21 up scoring For Table

Tennis: Players score up to 11 points. Players take 2 serves at a time.

d. Serving

During a service in table tennis, the ball is needed to be thrown 6 in. up from an open palm. Players have to hit the ball from the baseline (behind the end of the table).

In Ping Pong, players do not need to throw the ball six inches high during a service. They are also allowed to drop the ball on the table as the game starts. If a serve touches the net, it is termed as let serve. Let serves are not given any point and are reserved.

e. Playing with doubles

In table tennis playing doubles serving follows a correct order. For instance, if we take teams as A and B, the order of serving will be A1, B1, A2, B2, A1 and repeat.

Ping Pong does not follow a definite standard/ order during service.

f. Spin, Hit, and Footwork

Players in table tennis depend largely on their footwork to help them reach and spin properly. The word spin is for this game, while hit is for Ping Pong

In a table tennis match, players spin their ball in a variety of ways. This is done in order to deceive or make their hits difficult to predict by the opponent.

Spin is to table tennis as hit is to Ping Pong. Players in Ping Pong use a sandpaper paddle. This equipment is not designed to spin a ball. Traditionally, Ping Pong is known for hitting rather than spinning the ball. Another difference is relying more on hand and eye coordination than using much of footwork.

g. Playing Styles

In table tennis players use either defensive or offensive style in a match. While in Ping Pong, players can use these playing styles simultaneously in a game.

h. Competition

As an Olympic sport, table tennis can be highly competitive /can reach a higher level of competition. Regularly, leagues happen for table tennis, while Ping Pong is considered as a hobby sport or as a recreational activity. Rules tend to be less strict as compared to table tennis.

In a nutshell, since 2011 Table Tennis and Ping Pong are two different games.

  • The words Table Tennis and Ping Pong had been used interchangeably. However, due to legal disputes – the word Ping Pong was replaced by table tennis.
  • It is a term which is still used in some parts of the globe, particularly in the United States.
  • Table Tennis is an international sport being played in the Olympics.
  • The game of Ping Pong is often considered by many as a hobby, rather than competitive sports.
  • Equipment such as the ball and paddle vary with these two games.
  • Ping Pong involves various serves and matches. Rules are more flexible compared to table tennis.
  • Table Tennis uses a variety of paddles.

Whichever game you choose, remember that patience, stamina, and agility are essentials in winning a match!

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