Last Updated on May 7, 2022 by Sorin Petroj
Is there a difference between table tennis and ping pong?
Of course, there are several reasons. This article will discover all the doubts and differences between these two concepts.
In the beginning, let’s discover that earlier, it was just a difference in the name with the same sport. Today, however, there is a huge difference even though many people equate these two terms.
The huge difference between table tennis and ping pong
The first and most important thing is that it is not the same sport. It is very similar, but today there are several things regarding the rules of the game and equipment.
Another thing is the difference in competitions and recognition by the Olympic Committee. Before we describe all the differences in more detail, take a look at the table below, which indicates the difference between table tennis and ping pong in brief.
Spinning on hits
Different types of rackets
Olympics, World Cup, World Championship
Only World Championship
Toss the ball at least 15cm
No tossing ball rule
Before they became two separate sports, there were only two different names for the same sport.
Table tennis was invented in 1880, and after that, as it gained increasing popularity, more and more companies produced equipment for this sport. Each brand named its equipment differently, such as table tennis, ping pong, whiff waff, and pim-pam.
The Parker brothers registered the trademark in 1900. However, the “Ping Pong Association” and the “Table Tennis Association” later merged at that earlier stage.
Read more about the history of table tennis on our page History of table tennis. Secondly, you can find beautiful and interesting articles on Feedspot. We will now discuss the essential differences between table tennis and ping pong.
1. Trademark Name
According to the International Table Tennis Federation ITTF, table tennis has existed since 1887.
However, when the sport began to reach great popularity, various names were patented and protected. “Ping Pong” belonged to the English sports company John Jaques & Son, which became the market leader in 1920. After that, the players used their trademark name, and after the formation of the table tennis association, the Ping Pong Association was founded very quickly.
On the American continent, the company Parker Brothers acquired the rights to the name “Ping Pong” and thus received a trademark. However, they needed an alternative name to organize the tournament, and for the clubs, it was decided to use “Table Tennis.”
You can read the true story of the development and popularity of this beautiful sport in the book with over 400 photos and information: Ping Pong Fever (The Madness That Swept 1902 America) by the author Steve Grant. The Ping Pong World Championship was introduced in 2011, and since then, these have been two completely separate sports.
2. Olympic Games
Firstly, table tennis is highly competitive and reaches the level at which the best players in the world play.
It became an Olympic sport in 1988 and has been held at every Olympics ever since today. So, many competitions are held, and there are leagues in almost every country in the world. Look at the Olympic gold medal winners in table tennis from 1988 to the present day.
- 1988 Seoul: Yoo Nam-kyu (South Korea)
- 1992 Barcelona: Jan-Ove Waldner (Sweden)
- 1996 Atlanta: Liu Guoliang (China)
- 2000 Sidney: Kong Linghui (China)
- 2004 Athens: Ryu Seung-min (South Korea)
- 2008 Beijing: Ma Lin (China)
- 2012 London: Zhang Jike (China)
- 2016 Rio de Janeiro: Ma Long (China)
- 1988 Seoul: Chen Jing (China)
- 1992 Barcelona: Deng Yaping (China)
- 1996 Atlanta: Deng Yaping (China)
- 2000 Sidney: Wang Nan (China)
- 2004 Athens: Zhang Yining (China)
- 2008 Beijing: Zhang Yining (China)
- 2012 London: Li Xiaoxia (China)
- 2016 Rio de Janeiro: Ding Ning (China)
On the other hand, ping pong is not recognized as an Olympic sport. However, there are many national and league competitions for more serious players.
The rules in ping pong are less strict, which is why many people equate this term with the hobby of playing. However, that is not true because, since 2011, the World Championship has been held, especially in ping pong.
Although it is not an Olympic sport and there are differences in the rules, this tournament has become famous in the world and is held every year. These are the ping pong champions from 2011 until today.
- 2011 Palms Casino Resort, Las Vegas: Maxim Shmyrev (Russia)
- 2013 Alexandra Palace, London: Maxim Shmyrev (Russia)
- 2014 Alexandra Palace, London: Maxim Shmyrev (Russia)
- 2015 Alexandra Palace, London: Andrew Baggaley (England)
- 2016 Alexandra Palace, London: Andrew Baggaley (England)
- 2017 Alexandra Palace, London: Yan Weihao (China)
- 2018 Alexandra Palace, London: Wang Shibo (China)
- 2019 Alexandra Palace, London: Andrew Baggaley (England)
- 2020 Alexandra Palace, London: Andrew Baggaley (England)
3. The Rules difference between table tennis and ping pong
Firstly, the fundamental difference is in the service, namely, in table tennis, you have to throw the ball at least 6 inches up from an open hand with an open fist and without hiding the ball. To hide the ball, we talk about hitting the ball with the racket, and you have to remove the other hand.
That’s because the opponent is able to see what the service is like. This rule is not strict in ping pong to throw the ball less, and you can hide the service.
Secondly, scoring also makes a big difference because, in table tennis, each set counts to 11. However, if 10:10 is the result, each player has one serve and needs to win by two points. Thus, the result can reach 20:18, for example, until there is a difference of two points for one of the players.
In ping pong, the sets are counted up to 15, and with the result of 14:14, the following point who wins, that player wins the set.
Thirdly, each player is entitled to one “double-ball” in each match. They can use it at any time, provided they serve. This means that they can use a double point once, which will bring them many advantages over the opponent, making the game even more enjoyable.
This thing in table tennis does not exist where each point counts as one.
The final was decided by one point: 3:2 in sets and 15:14 in points.
Moreover, similarities still exist in large numbers. For example, when you hit the table’s edge, the same points count in table tennis and ping pong. When the let is happening, the rules are the same, with the size of the tables and the number of sets for winning. You can see the basic rules on our Table Tennis Rules page.
4. The Equipment difference between table tennis and ping pong
Just look at the difference between these two rackets. It affects the game and the competition itself very, very much.
Table Tennis Racket vs. Ping Pong Racket
Players can customize the paddles in an extensive selection. There are a lot of blades and rubbers on the market, and everyone has the right to make their racket according to their own needs.
So, for example, attackers will use fast table tennis blades with fast rubbers, while defensive ones can stick rubbers on slower rackets and those with more ball control.
There are, of course, rules regarding dimensions. Still, there is also a wide selection of table tennis paddles that can be used and accepted by the International Table Tennis Federation ITTF.
All players use the same type of paddle, which is 5-ply sandpaper. This is good for the audience in some cases because it slows down the game a lot.
That’s why ping pong fans can enjoy following every move because there isn’t that much of an immediate effect in stroking the ball. Otherwise, such rackets do not have rubbers on both sides, which also affects the game.
For example, spins cannot have such a rotation as rubbers, and services cannot be as inconvenient as table tennis. Essentially, the ping pong rallies are longer and involve more craft and skill. Regardless of the physical and technical readiness of the players, it is impossible to report shots with so much power due to the nature of the racket. Today, many players are using ping pong robots to improve their skills.
5. Name: Difference or similarity?
Firstly, since it used to be two different names for the same sport, we will now discover the differences and doubts about the name. The International Table Tennis Federation ITTF organizes Table Tennis tournaments. Ping Pong tournaments are organized in England at the Alexandra Palace London every year.
Secondly, today, many know that these are two different sports but still use the same name. The reason for that is the popularity of the name of this sport in other parts of the world. In Europe, people use the name table tennis mostly, while in America, they use ping pong.
World Cup in Table Tennis
We have used both names in our articles, and we think that is fine considering the visitors from all over the world. That is why we made an article in which we published all the differences and doubts so that all fans of this sport would be informed about the differences between these two concepts.
Besides, it usually sounds fun when someone says “let’s play ping pong” to you. When someone says I’m going to “table tennis” training, it sounds like someone is training seriously. That is the difference at the moment because people conclude by their name how serious something is.
I will tell you that both names are serious for sports on this occasion. And it takes a lot of effort and works for everyone to achieve a result.
World Championship in Ping Pong
It would be best to dedicate much more seriously to table tennis than ping pong to reach a certain level. We hope that the difference we talked about is much clearer now.
In Chinese, for example, table tennis is pronounced as “ping pong” or “ping pang Qiu,” which means ping pong ball. It is written in Chinese as “乒乓球.”
This sport’s beauty is because it can be played for fun, with friends and family, and played professionally in competitions. Everyone can choose how they want to understand the seriousness of this beautiful sport.
Frequently Asked Questions about Table Tennis and Ping Pong
1. What came first?
Table tennis is much more popular as a sport and includes all World competitions, while ping pong has only the World Championship competition. But in answer to the question, we will tell you that ping pong was first created years ago.
2. Can table tennis players play ping pong?
Of course, they can. There are a lot of players who play in ping pong tournaments and are otherwise professional in table tennis. Here, however, it should be emphasized that due to different rackets, certain players do not want to play ping pong tournaments in order not to spoil the concept and the movements that they have already perfected.
This happens because players use different rackets in ping pong than in table tennis, and various movements are performed to switch the ball to what they want. This way, you can later spoil the movement you use when playing table tennis with fast rackets.
3. Is table tennis harder than ping pong?
Firstly, table tennis is more complex than ping pong because you have many more variations and possibilities.
Secondly, it plays much faster, and you have to practice more on the footwork. Due to the difference in rackets in table tennis, the balls return from the opponent much faster and with more rotation, so you have to practice your reflexes and racket management skills.
In conclusion, it is easier for experienced players to win in ping pong, but they also need time to get used to the game’s new rhythm and specific rotations that occur with such rackets.