Introduction to Table Tennis

Table tennis, or ping pong as the recreational game is called, is a popular sport enjoyed worldwide.

Table tennis is played between two players (singles) and four players (doubles). Players stand on either side of a green rectangular table and hit a special lightweight ball back and forth using small rackets or paddles.

The smash, with the ball capable of reaching a speed of 120km/h, is one of the most spectacular shots, but equally important is the ability to spin and to defend. Attacking shots include the loop drive and the flip. Defensive shots include the slice, lob, block and chop.

Play is fast and table tennis demands quick reaction times and speed. A skilled player can use spin to make the ball's bounce difficult to predict or return with confidence. Spin combined with speed makes table tennis an exciting sport to watch and to play.


Commercial ping pong sets were on sale at the turn of the 20th century, in both Britain and the US, where the celluloid ball and the modern rubberised bat were invented.

An unofficial world championship was held in 1902. In 1921 the Table Tennis Association was founded in England, and the International Table Tennis Federation followed in 1926. London hosted the first official world championship in 1927.

In the 1950s, bats that used a rubber sheet combined with an underlying sponge layer changed the game dramatically, introducing greater spin and speed. The use of specialised speed glues increased the spin and speed even further, resulting in rule changes being introduced designed to slow the game down.

Towards the end of 2000, the International Table Tennis Federation instituted several new rules to make the game more spectator-friendly.

The traditional 38cm ball was increased in size to 40cm and the scoring system was changed from a 21 to an 11 point system, with the best of five or seven sets.

Table tennis was introduced to the Asian Games in Tokyo in 1958 and to the Olympic Games in 1988. Singles, doubles and mixed doubles will all be played at the 15th Asian Games.


A game begins when one player serves the ball to the other, ensuring that the ball hits the table on both the server and the receiver's side. If the ball hits the net and falls back into the server's side, then the receiver wins the point. If it hits the net and rolls into the receiver's side, then a "let" is played.

If the service is "good," then the opponent must return the ball before it bounces a second time. Serves alternate every two points until a player wins with a two-point lead.

Should each player reach 10 points, a "deuce" game, with players alternating serve comes into effect until one player builds up a two-point lead.

In doubles, service alternates every two points between sides, but also rotates between players on the same team so that no team has an unfair advantage.

After each game, players switch sides of the table and in the deciding "match" game, players switch sides when the first player scores five points, regardless of whose turn it is to serve. In competition play, matches are typically best of five or seven games.