HISTORY OF TABLE TENNIS – origin of the ping pong game

Table tennisalso known as Ping-Pong, is a ball game that shares similar principles with the lawn tennis game. While the table used to play this game is flat, it is also divided into two equal portions.

The equal portions of the ping pong table are separated by a net placed at its width in the middle.

The game aims to strike the ball in a way that it passes over the net and hits your opponent’s part of the table. This happens in a way that your opponent would be unable to get to it or send it back. The lightweight ball is able to move back and forth over the net through the aid of bats used by the players. This game can be recognized in most countries all over the world. This is because it is a very organized and competitive game.

table tennis origin - who invented table tennis?

Like other sports that we know of, table tennis started as a parlor game. It was free to anyone who could lay hands on a table, bats, and ball.

The game started in the late 1800s. This was a time when the players of lawn tennis had to learn to play indoors during the winter period.

Ping-Pong as a name was regarded as the trademark name for table tennis. The English firm J. Jaques and son invented the name “Ping-Pong” towards the end of the 1800s. This later became trademarked in the United States by a board game company, the Parker brothers.

table-tennis-history infographic

As early as 1901, tournaments started holding with about 300 players. The Ping-Pong Association which was formed then later became The Table Tennis Association in 1922.

In 1902, a university professor took the game back to Japan, where his university students got introduced to it.

After that, a salesman who went by the name Edward Shires took it to the people of Budapest. In Britain, table tennis was already starting to spread outside the middle-class structures of London.

On April 24, 1927, the English Table Tennis Association was created. It was chaired and directed by Ivor Montague, who was the son of Lord Ewatthling.

At the time, The English Table Tennis Association had drawn members from about 19 leagues.

The association now has around 75,000 registered players. The first world championships took place in the year 1927 and Dr. Jacobi, a Hungarian won it.

It is quite noteworthy that the Hungarians completely dominated the game throughout the thirties. Victor Barna led the legendary team, as many also attested to his inspiration and skill.

The new bats, as introduced by the Japanese, helped the ball to move around amazingly.

About The ITTF

The International Table Tennis Federation (1) currently encompasses about 226 member associations. The official rules for table tennis are in the ITTF handbook.

Since 1988, Table tennis has become recognized as an Olympic sport with different event categories. In 1921, the Table Tennis Association was officially formed. The International Table Tennis Federation, which serves as the governing body for the game (ITTF) was also founded in 1926.

This federation legislated in order to gain control over the new development. It seemed like some players were being equipped with an unfair advantage.

The founding members of the federation were Hungary, England, India, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Wales, and Czechoslovakia. They had over 165 national associations who were members by the mid-1990s.

The first world championships took place in London in the year 1926. From that point until 1939, players from central Europe dominated the game. Hungary won the men’s team event nine times, while Czechoslovakia also won it two times.

Around the mid-1950s Asia became referred to as the home and training ground of champions.

Since that time, Japan or China have won the men’s team event, as the same could be said about the women’s event. Although North Korea in a lesser way also became a world force. The first World Cup took place in 1980. The $12,500 first prize was won by Guo Yuehua from China.

Image credits: www.independent.ng

Development of the Game

The popularity of table tennis in the 1930s waned in the Soviet Union because of some reasons. These reasons are; military sports and teams became more popularized.

There was a theory developed that the game had some adverse health effects. Finger spin as a technique especially in the United States reached a point where the masters in it could come up with services.

These services could not be responded to, and the game became somewhat unequal. In 1937, finger spin as a technique of playing table tennis became banned.

Early in the 1950s, some ping pong paddles used a rubber sheet added with a sponge layer, and this dramatically affected the game. These were taken by the sports goods manufacturer S.W. Hancock Ltd to Britain. Speed glue helped to increase the spin and even add further to the speed. This, in turn, led to changes in the equipment which reduced the pace of the game.

For the spectator, interest lies primarily in watching a player with the ability to defeat another player by a well cut out strategy.

Increasing the pace of the game, reducing the speed, changing the direction of the ball, and adopting drop shots across the net when the opponent is not in position are some of the basic tactics that can be used to carry out the planned strategies.

Slow gameplay was so dominant at one time that, in the 1936 world championships in Prague, over an hour was required to make the decision on a single point. The play is now reduced.

If a game does not finish after it has begun for 15 minutes, the remaining part of that game and the games yet to be played would be played under the Expedite System.

After this, if the other receiver could return the service and the following strokes coming from the server, then the server loses the point. The service is not the same after each point. Between 1950 and 1955, at the World Championships, Angelica Rozeanu Adelstein from Romania won six Women’s Singles titles in a row.

In the 1970s, table tennis players realized that when bicycle tire repair glue was used to put rubber on a blade. The blade in an unusual way increased the speed and spin that could be realized. Apart from the games played between individual players, pairs are also allowed to play table tennis. Singles and doubles can also take part in international competitions, just like the Olympic Games.

Olympics Debut and Changes to the Game

Table tennis became introduced to Olympic sports in 1988 (2). After the 2000 Olympics that held in Sydney, the International Table Tennis Federation made several changes. The changes helped in making table tennis a more televised sport.

The balls being used which were 38 mm were replaced by 40 mm balls in the year 2000. This 40 mm ball that was introduced when the 2000 Summer Olympics ended however led to some controversies at that time.

The Chinese National Team suggested that efforts were barely being made to give non-Chinese players an edge and a higher chance of winning.

They also claimed this was because the newly introduced ball had a slower speed a 38 mm table tennis ball was faster and had spins more than the newly introduced 40 mm ball then. During that time, a lot of Chinese players preferred making smashes and playing with fast attacks.

China as a country won four Olympic gold medals, taking three silvers and one bronze in the year 2000 as well. The rules state that the ball will be allowed to go up 24–26 cm when released from a height of 30.5 cm onto a steel block that is considered standard.

This will, in turn, give it a coefficient of restitution of 0.89 to 0.92. Balls are no longer made of celluloid but now have their major constituents as a polymer in 2015.

They have white or orange as their colors now, with a matte finish. The color of the ball is designed according to the color of the table and its surroundings.

For instance, it is easier to see a white ball on a yellow or blue table, but it is not exactly the same case when it is on a grey table.

A star rating is often used by manufacturers to indicate the quality of the ball. This usually ranges from one to three, with of course three being the highest grade. As this process is not standardized for all manufacturers, a ball may only be used in an official competition.

This is after the International Table Tennis Federation has approved it. (the approval of the International Table Tennis Federation can be expressly seen on the ball printed).

This further increased the air resistance the ball had and this, in turn, slowed down the game effectively. Later on, the International Table Tennis Federation reduced the point scoring system from 21 to 11, and the serve rotation which was formerly five points became two.

Tennis Table Today

The Commonwealth games have also started holding since 2002. In 2005, the International Table Tennis Federation made a declaration. The declaration was that doubles table tennis was only allowed to take place as a part of the team events during the 2008 Olympics.

Table tennis regulations allowed for different surfaces on the two sides of the racket. The different types of surfaces provided the players with different degree levels of spin or speed. On rare occasions, they nullified spin.

For instance, a player could have a rubber that offers so much spin on one side of the bat, and another one that does not exactly offer a spin on the other.

By flipping the bat while play is going on, there are different types of returns that can be realized.

In order for a player to learn how to differentiate the rubber being used by his opposing number, the international rules state that one side must be red color. The other side has to be black as well.

The player can also decide to check out their opponent’s bat before they start a match. This is done to identify the color and type of rubber being used. In spite of the fast play and fast exchanges, a player can mark out what side of the bat should hit the ball.

The rules currently state that, unless destroyed during gameplay, at no time during a match can the racket be substituted for another.

The International Table Tennis Federation also made a change in the rules guiding service to ensure that a player does not hide the ball during service.

This is done in order to increase the length of rallies and to make a reduction in the server’s advantage, and this was effective in 2002.

For the opponent to realize service is holding, the ball has to be tossed in the air for a minimum of 16 cm.

The ITTF also stated that after July 2014, all events had to be played with an improved poly material ball. This was done to ensure that the games became more exciting and fast paced.

In 2002, Table Tennis became a Commonwealth game at Manchester, England. In 2007, the International Table Tennis Federation withdrew its endorsement from all table tennis glues due to a health incident that involved a user of speed glue in Japan.

Table tennis can be played with just one player at each side of the table, or you could also go with two players at each end.

The two players may be both women and both men or one of each sex. Worldwide, the women’s game’s organizational structure can be well compared to the men’s with no room for the disparity.

Women take part in world championships alongside other events. Apart from the fact that Table Tennis is known as a fully organized game, it is also extremely popular as a recreational sport.


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