Ping pong, more popularly known as table tennis, is a sport where two or four players play by hitting a hollow celluloid ball back and forth to each other with the use of paddles, also called rackets, or bats. Ping pong is included as an Olympic sport and played in a manner which is very similar to lawn tennis. A ping pong game is done on a table which is divided horizontally by a net.
In the game, a player or players must allow the ball that was hit towards them with only a single bounce on their side of the table, and must return the ball by hitting it back so that it bounces on the opponent’s table side. Playing ping pong is fast and must be done with quick reactions.
Ping pong is a very popular game in East Asia and while it is only one of the newest among the major sports played in most parts of the world, it is considered as one of the most popular sports in terms of player numbers.
The sport of ping pong is officially called Ping Pang Qiu in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. It is called Takkyu in Japan, and Tak-ku in Korea.
Ping pong, or table tennis, originated in England, where it used to be an after dinner recreation for the upper class Victorians in the 1880s. In 1901, it gained an increased popularity when table tennis tournaments were organized. Books about the sport were written and in 1902, an unofficial world championship was held. The increasing acceptance of the sport became more evident when the Table Tennis Association was formed in England in 1921, and was followed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in 1926. The first official world championship in table tennis was held in London in 1927, and in 1988, ping pong officially became an Olympic sport when it was included in the Olympics.
Like other sports, playing ping pong requires a number of equipment, which include a ball, a table and rackets.
A ping pong ball measures 40mm in diameter and weighs 2.7 grams. It is made of a hollow celluloid, with matte finish, and is usually white or colored orange, depending on the color of the table and its surroundings. Contrary to the common concept that a ping pong ball is hollow, it is not, but is pressurized with a certain type of gas.
The table used in the sport measures 9 feet long, 5 feet wide and 30 inches high. It is usually made from masonite or from a similar material, covered with low-friction coating for a smooth finish. Horizontally placed on the table is a high net, measuring six inches, to divide the playing surface into two sides.
Players use wooden rackets, also known as paddles or bats, which are covered with rubber on one or both sides. The cover of ping pong paddles maybe a “pimpled rubber”, or a sponge layer. Playing ping pong with a “naked” or uncovered paddle is illegal and has been disapproved by the ITTF.
Apart from Asia and Europe, table tennis is now gaining popularity in the United States. Although China remains to get most world titles in competitions, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Sweden and Taiwan also have competent players.
A Grand Slam award is given to a ping pong player who gets a gold medal in the Olympics, in the World Championship Title and in the World Cup of Table Tennis.