Difference Between Table Tennis and Ping Pong

Published on June 24, 2021 Last Updated on October 25, 2021 by Sorin Petroj

Is there a difference between table tennis and ping pong?

Of course, there are several reasons. In this article, we 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 biggest differences 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.


Table Tennis

Ping Pong




Olympic sport



Set points



Spinning on hits



Different types of rackets



World Tournaments

Olympics, World Cup, World Championship

Only World Championship

Serve Rules

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 set of equipment differently, such as table tennis, ping pong, whiff waff, pim-pam.

The Parker brothers registered the trademark in 1900. However, at that earlier stage, the “Ping Pong Association” and the “Table Tennis Association” later merged.

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 important differences between table tennis and ping pong that exist today.

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 wonderful 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.

Ping pong fever book by steve grant 1902


2. Olympic Games

Table Tennis

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 winners of the Olympic gold medal in table tennis from 1988 to the present day.

Men’s singles:

  • 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)

Women’s singles:

  • 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)

If we talk about teams, China is the most successful country in Olympic table tennis with 53 medals (28 gold, 17 silver, and 8 bronze). The year 2008 peaked when China won medals in the men’s and women’s competitions without precedent and won gold as a team in both competitions.

Ping Pong

On the other hand, ping pong is not recognized as an Olympic sport. However, there are many competitions, both national and league, 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)

The latest title was won by Alexander Flemming from Germany, beating Andrew Baggaley 3-0 in the final. See the latest information about this competition at the site Worldpingpongmasters.

3. The Rules difference between table tennis and ping pong

Firstly, the basic 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 so that you can throw the ball less, and you can hide the service.

Properly service at the table with two players

Secondly, scoring also makes a big difference in the sense that 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 next 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 interesting. This thing in table tennis does not exist where each point counts one.

The final was decided by one point: 3:2 in sets and 15:14 in points was the result.

Scoring Flemming Baggaley final win 15 14 in points

Moreover, similarities still exist in large numbers. For example, when you hit the edge of the table, 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

two rackets comparison from ebay

Table Tennis

Players can customize the paddles in a very large 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.

Ping Pong

All players use the same type of paddle, and that 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 a quick effect in stroke the ball. Otherwise, such rackets do not have rubbers on both sides, and that also affects the game.

For example, spins cannot have such a rotation as rubbers, and services cannot be as inconvenient as table tennis. Essentially, this means that 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.

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 every year in England at the Alexandra Palace London.

Secondly, many people today 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 different 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

world cup table tennis arena with more spectators

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 like fun when someone says “let’s play ping pong” to you. While when someone says I’m going to “table tennis” training, it sounds pretty like someone is training seriously. That is the difference at the moment because people conclude by their name how serious something is.

On this occasion, I will tell you that both names are serious for sports. And it takes a lot of effort and works for everyone to achieve a result.

World Championship in Ping Pong

world championship ping pong alexander palace london

In general, you need 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.”

In any case, that is the beauty of this sport because it can be played for fun, with friends, 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 their movements that they have already perfected.

This happens because in ping pong, players use different rackets than in table tennis, and completely different 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 harder than ping pong because you have a lot more variations and possibilities.

Secondly, it plays much faster, and you have to practice a lot 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 players who are experienced to win in ping pong, but they also need a lot of time to get used to the game’s new rhythm and certain rotations that occur with such rackets.


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