Pong pong and table tennis are often used interchangeably but are not the same sport. If you had called table tennis ping pong in 2011, you would have been right. However, a lot has changed since then. This article aims to clear every misconception regarding the ping pong vs table tennis topic.
Table tennis was invented in the 1880s as an indoor version of lawn tennis that people could play during the winters. At that point, ping pong was simply an informal American name for the game. However, these days it refers to a slightly modified version of this sport. Follow through as we discuss the differences between the two games.
The difference between table tennis and ping pong is mostly in the mode of play and the rules. Many professional players refer to the game as table tennis, while casual players use the name ping pong. We’ll explain the difference between ping pong and table tennis below.
Table tennis equipment differs from the equipment used in ping pong. The former uses various types of equipment, such as the rackets covered with pips-in and pip-out rubber. Also, you are allowed to use different types of table tennis rackets in table tennis. However, in ping pong, all players use the same equipment – sandpaper bats.
There are some notable differences in the rules of ping pong and those of table tennis. Table tennis is played to 11 points with the best of 7 games.
Ping pong is played to 15 points in the best of 3 sets. However, the semi-finals and final games are played to the best of 5 sets. Furthermore, ping pong games are played with a sudden death point at 14 all and a double point ball is played once on the service.
Note: The double point option gives 2 points to the serving player if won but only 1 point to the receiving player.
There’s a considerable difference in the service of these two games. Table tennis players must throw the ball at least 6 inches (15.24 cm) in the air from an open hand and hit it from behind the table’s baseline. Ping pong service rules are much more lenient. As the games are much less formal, you can hit services straight out of hand or after a bounce on the table.
A table tennis game used to be played to 21 points but the rules have been revised and a set is now played to only 11 points. You have two serves, your opponent has two serves and the game continues to alternate in this manner.
Ping pong is played to 15 points with players alternating after five serves each. A player wins a point when the opponent cannot hit the ball with a racket over the net and onto the other side of the table.
Read about the best ping pong tables here.
Even though ping pong game and table tennis are played similarly, they have different styles of play. The former is played with a sandpaper bat, allowing you to play medium to slow speed shots and medium spin.
On the other hand, pros playing table tennis do it at a faster pace with more spin on the ball. Furthermore, you can choose between an offensive and defensive playing style in table tennis. Ping pong allows you to mix both styles in a game.
Ping pong strategy differs from table tennis as ping pong rackets only generate moderate spin. The “loop”, the most famous shot in table tennis, is ineffective in ping pong as the ball mostly lands off the table. This is because ping pong bats do not have the rubber and sponge that allow people to create this shot.
Ping pong players rely on attacking shots with less topspin. You’ll find most players using the backspin instead of topspin.
As table tennis and ping pong have different rules and equipment, there are separate competitions for these two sports. Table tennis is an official Olympic sport, while ping pong isn’t. However, both games have their own world championships.
The table tennis world championship organized by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is held every two years. On the other hand, The Ping Pong Association has its world championship yearly.
Are you looking for a ping pong paddle for your games? Find the best options in our review.
In addition to regular single and double matches, other variations of ping pong have originated. A prime example of this is Rundlauf, also known as round-the-table ping pong. In this form of the game, multiple players can play simultaneously. Players are split into two teams.
The first member of one team serves the ball, then each player takes turns at the end of the table, hitting the ball before moving to the back of the queue. A team that loses a point loses a player. Table tennis, however, doesn’t have a group form of the game where more than 4 players can play at the same time.
Ping Pong Vs Table Tennis Comparison Chart
History Of Ping Pong Vs Table Tennis
Even though table tennis and ping pong sport are now regarded as different types of sport, they started off as exactly the same game. Ping pong was invented in the 1880s in Victorian England. The sport was invented so that people could play an indoor game when they couldn’t play lawn tennis in the winter.
As the sport gained popularity, companies started making table tennis equipment, with each brand naming its set differently. J. Jaques & Son Ltd, an English company, trademarked the name ping pong.
The Official Separation Of The Terms
The official separation of the terms table tennis and ping pong happened in 2011 when the Ping Pong World Championship was established. Before then, the table tennis association already had its own championship. Both tournaments have different rules and play styles.
Why Is Table Tennis Called Ping Pong?
Table tennis is called ping pong because they used to mean the same thing. The name ping pong came into play due to the sound the ball made when bouncing on ping pong tables. In addition to ping pong, players have created several other names for the sport, some of which you’ll see below.
Other Terms For Table Tennis
- Whiff Whaff
- Indoor Tennis
- Parlor Tennis
Are Ping Pong And Table Tennis The Same Sport?
No, ping pong and table tennis are not the same sport. Ping pong is governed by different rules and uses slightly different equipment. The former also has its own championship – the World Championship of Ping Pong. Table tennis also has its championship – the World Table Tennis Championship.
Who Is The World Champion Of Ping Pong?
The world champion of ping pong is Andrew Baggaley. Baggaley defeated Alexander Flemming 3 – 2 in 2020 to win the championship in 2020. With the win, he overcame Maxim Shmyrev’s record of three championships to become a four-time champion.
Who Is The World Champion Of Table Tennis?
The world champion of table tennis is Fan Zhendong. The Chinese table tennis player won the last edition of the tournament which took place in 2021. What’s more, the last 8 editions of the World Table Tennis Championship have been won by Chinese players.
Here is the list of the last 10 Table Tennis Championship winners:
Table Tennis Champion Vs Ping Pong Champion
Wouldn’t it be exciting to see a table tennis champion go up against a ping pong champion? Well, this already happened in 2017. 2011 and 2013 table tennis champion Zhang Jike went up against the 2017 ping pong champion Yan Weihao in a friendly game. The duo played the game using a sandpaper ping pong paddle.
This video shows the two players in a friendly game of Table Tennis Hardbat, which Weihao seemed to be winning. However, that is to be expected as the ping pong master was playing with more familiar equipment.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, ping pong and table tennis are not the same game. Ping pong simply used to be another name for table tennis until 2011 when the World Championship of Ping Pong was created. These days it is regarded as a separate sport. The games have significantly different rules and are played with different types of equipment.
It is called table tennis by most people playing on a professional level and ping pong by many playing as amateurs. This is because table tennis has stricter rules and is recognized as an Olympic sport. Despite these two being different sports, most non-professionals continue to use the two terms interchangeably. However, professional table tennis players prefer calling it table tennis.
The name ping pong was changed to table tennis because “ping pong” was trademarked by J. Jaques & Son Ltd and the Parker Brothers in England and the United States respectively. These companies used the trademarked name in their products, preventing associations and other companies from using the term “ping pong” and they eventually settled for the term “table tennis”.
Table tennis is also called table tennis in the USA. The sport was formerly called “ping pong” as an informal name, but everything has changed since 2011. As ping pong was introduced as a standalone sport, it is no longer just an informal way of referring to table tennis. However, people still use other names such as “Whiff Whaff” and “Parlor Tennis” to refer to the sport.
It is called ping pong and not table tennis because the two names now refer to a different sport. Ping pong has its own championship – the World Championship of Ping Pong, which is held yearly in London. Table tennis also has its championship, which is held every two years and it is an Olympic sport.
Now, you have all the answers to your questions regarding ping pong vs table tennis. Even though many people don’t know the difference between the two sports, the difference in playing style and equipment differentiates them. However, if you are a professional player, you don’t have to worry too much about the name. Instead, focus on enjoying the game.