Table tennis (ping pong) is a worldwide phenomenon that is both entertaining to watch and difficult to master. All it takes is paddle control and genuine nerve to participate in this fantastic sport for people of all ages.
Whether you’re used to a few simple ping pong games or a professional table and setup (check out how much space is needed for playing ping pong!), there’s probably more to table tennis than you think. There are probably quite a few ping pong facts you are unaware of! It’s a well-known sport with a long history, so it’s bound to have some hidden gems of information.
Continue reading if you want to broaden your knowledge. We’ve compiled a list of fascinating facts about table tennis that will make you it even more!
Table Tennis Is a True Ancient Sport
Table tennis rules date back over a century. That’s because the International Table Tennis Federation, or ITTF, was founded in 1926. Interestingly, the association’s first members were England, Austria, Wales, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, India, and Sweden. The ITTF rules are similar to a game constitution and still exist today.
It’s Been in the Olympics Since the Late 1980s
Table tennis has only recently become an official Olympic sport. Ping pong was first included as a sport in the Summer Olympics in 1988 when they were held in Seoul, South Korea.
It has been a big part of later events ever since!
It Is Thought to Have Surfaced During the Victorian Era
Table tennis began as a Victorian parlor game in the United Kingdom. However, it is also believed that the game originated in India as a popular game among military officers.
It’s a Huge Success in the East
While there are ping pong players from all over the world, China dominates the top world prizes. A glance at trophy statistics for the past 20 years reveals that a non-Chinese victory is likely to be extremely rare!
Have you ever wondered how fast a ping pong ball can move? A fast player or expert is thought to slap a ball from across the table faster than 100 miles per hour on average. To return the shot, you’re going to need some serious reaction time!
It Has Surpassed Traditional Tennis in Popularity
While you might not believe it, ping pong is the world’s most popular racquet-based sport. It’s also the second-most popular sport globally, with millions of people attending tournaments each year. Anyone can learn ping pong!
It’s Also Much Faster Than a Typical Tennis Set
The average ping pong match between experienced players is estimated to last up to 30 minutes.
Once Banned For “Hurting” Vision
The Soviet Union once prohibited anyone in the country from playing table tennis. This was all for health reasons, as officials believed playing table tennis could harm your eyes. Fortunately, they repealed the ban in 1950.
Different Names for the Same Game
Table tennis has been dubbed a variety of names over the years. It has not always been tagged its official tournament name of table tennis and is frequently referred to as ping pong. Not only is ping pong a trademarked alternative name from the early twentieth century, but the sport was originally known as whiff whaff!
However, there are some lesser-known names. Some believe that whiff whaff was the first name for this popular sport, but others believe that gossima is the correct one.
Regardless, it wasn’t until the game was rebranded as ping pong that the sport became the one we all love and know. The rest, as they say, is history!
Ping Pong Balls Can Be Slowed Down by Glue
Speed glue exists – table tennis balls can travel at blisteringly fast speeds, so speed glue and other inventions have emerged as ways of helping slow down the game over the years! Only the elite can keep up with the ball’s natural speed!
The Method of Manufacturing Table Tennis Balls Has Changed
Ping pong balls used to be almost entirely made of celluloid. However, they are mostly made of plastic in this day and age.
Those Racquets Have a Lot of Rubber on Them
Table tennis rackets, of course, are made of rubber. However, there are currently more than 1,600 various types of rubber used in the manufacture of racquets. There is also a substantial deviation in the spotting and dimpling on a racquet, as this can affect how the ball is delivered and bounces back and forth.
The rubber patterns on the ping pong racquet serve a purpose other than decoration, and certain patterns allow players to control their hits in specific ways. One type of rubber is never the same as another. There are many different options for customizing your game, ranging from bumped to lined, soft to hard.
Could Potentially Resolve Political Upheaval
In the early 1970s, China, a dominant force in table tennis, extended a diplomatic hand to the West, inviting players from nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom to play a few friendly game sessions. This is thought to have evolved into “ping pong diplomacy!” It was later revealed that this was a diplomatic plan for Chinese leaders, not an impromptu invitation!
Trademarks Resulted in a Name Change
After the trademarking of “ping pong” in 1901, “table tennis” became popular. As Parker Brothers trademarked the term and enforced it through the 102, associations and clubs began referring to themselves as table tennis clubs instead!
Table Tennis Influenced Peacemaking
During the Cold War, table tennis was instrumental in bridging the icy divides between the United States and China.
In the World Table Tennis Championships in 1971, two players from opposing countries were courteous. Instead of being suspicious of each other, they exchanged gifts.
As a result of this interaction, Chinese Chairman Mao extended an invitation to the United States table tennis team. He offered them a trip to China at no cost.
After many years of suspicion, ties between China and the U.S. were mended. It’s all because of table tennis.
These ping pong facts inspire, from setting world records to forging international bonds. Remember these facts the next time you grab a racquet to help you improve your game.
Feel secure in the knowledge that you’re playing a game with a global audience and the potential to do incredible things!