What’s the Difference Between Table Tennis and Ping Pong?

Table Tennis and Ping Pong

It’s a fair question and one that we believe that more people ask themselves than they care to admit.  Are “pong pong” and “table tennis” synonymous?  If not, then where is the difference?

The simple answer is this:  They are the same dang thing.

Many people tend to think that “table tennis” is the more serious, competitive nature of the sport while “ping pong” is a game that’s played in rec centers, basement and garages. Or that there is some difference somewhere in equipment, accessories, playing style and technique.

“Say, what’s going on here?” some of you are asking in frustration.  Others are simply like, “Who cares?  Pong anyone?”.  Let’s not leave it at that, though.  Let’s dive in a little bit and look at some back story.

History of Table Tennis Across the Pond to England

The International Table Tennis Federation (IFTT) says that the term “table tennis” first appeared on dice and board game made by J.H. Singer in NY in 1887.  So, the term and reference has been around since at least then and probably earlier.

Here’s where things get confusing:  In the 1890’s the game started getting popular and many companies sought out, and were granted trademarks and patented.  One of the strongest of those companies was John Jaques & Son who called their version of the game “Ping Pong”.  They became the market leader and would only allow their trademarked name to be used.  AAaah, capitalism!

Fast forward a decade or so and “The Table Tennis Association” (TTA) and “The Ping Pong Association”(PPA) were formed within a week of each other.  Then they merged and changed names.  Eventually they went back to the “TTA” but then was gone in 1904.  (Seriously, when did these guys and gals have time to knock a ball back and forth with all the name changes?)

Modern and American

The American rights to the game were eventually sold to gaming behemoth Parker Brothers.  And, of course, throughout the underworld of Ping Pong tournaments, anyone using the term “Ping Pong” without express written consent were threatened with legal action.  So, in a big “up yours” to Parker Brothers, the people simply went and used “table tennis” when they didn’t want to be bothered.

In 1926, the IFTT was formed, and the modern game has been known as such since.

The term “Ping Pong” is still ingrained in people’s minds and synonymous with the game/sport of table tennis.  Incidentally, Escalade Sports is the current owner of the federal trademark, Ping Pong.

Why Table Tennis?

Does it have contact and dirt like baseball or football?  Nope.

It doesn’t take brawn.  It doesn’t take running a 4/40.  Pros don’t make gajillions.

We don’t care.

What ping pong doesn’t require in brawn, it DOES require in lightning sharp mental and physical reflexes.

It is the sport the drives ultra-athletes crazy.  It’s a sport that the greatest NFL player could get his butt whooped against a 70 year old grandmother.  AWESOME!

It makes both your mind and body act and feel younger.  Don’t believe us?  That’s okay.  But, the New York Times agrees.

You may have read a lot of articles on the health benefits of walking, swimming, etc etc…but did you know there’s awesome benefits to playing pong as wel?

Top Ping Pong Playing Health Benefits

Edge Yourself a Sharp Mind

You can probably guess that table tennis helps to grow and stimulate hand-eye coordination, concentration, and reflex time.  It’s pretty evident just by watching even the most leisurely of matches.

One study even says that playing ping pong helped performance in other sports such as dancing, weightlifting, and gymnastics. !

Cardio?  For Realz!

Are you laughing right now?  Guffawing at the notion that ping pong can actually work the body out?  It does.

Quick footwork, fast reflexes, and core upper body movements are exactly what athletes who look for better fast-twitch muscle movement are looking for.

You’ll be huffing and puffing from a good game of pong and you can burn up 500 calories an hour. FYI…that’s more than is burned playing video games.  Just saying…

Table tennis is awesome because so many people of different ages and abilities can play and reap these rewards.

Friendships and Togetherness

Ping pong is unique in that it can bring people all ages, sizes, shapes and backgrounds together.  You can enjoy the game at home for a family fun night or get a nice little competition going in neighborhood/community rec centers.

Ping pong is particularly popular in college dorms, frat houses, and military barracks because of the sort of tight bonds and camaraderie the game forms between groups of people.

Whether it’s purely social and fun, semi-competitive, or a full-blown tournament, the game will bring people close.

Basic Table Tennis Rules

Here  but we’ve provide a quick look, too:

Ignore the center line when playing singles.


  • Best 3 out of 5 is how it’s done.  You can go 4/7 or 5/9, too.  First player to 11 points wins but must win by 2 points.
  • If a ball is in play then a point counts.  Not like volleyball where a point is only awarded by a ball put in play by the server.
  • Table edges towards players are legal. Not the sides.

Flow of the match

  • Each player serves twice and then switches.  However, if it ever comes to a score of 10 to 10, then single serves follow.
  • Players switch sides after each game.
  • In the final game of the series, players switch when either player reaches 5 points.

Legal Serves Guidelines

  • Serving starts with the ball resting still in an open palms.
  • Tossed at least 6 inches in air and served so that it bounces on the server’s side first then the opponent’s.
  • If legal otherwise but the ball touches the net, it is then considered a let serve and the play is not scored. 


  • Paddles should have a red and a black side. If you’re first ping pond paddle  (Remember, these are official rules).  Go crazy with paddles if you’re just having fun.
  • Orange or white balls that that are 40mm in size.
  • Table dimensions: 2.74 meters long by 1.525m wide by 0.76 m high (About 9 feet long and 5 feet wide and 2.5 feet high.
  • The ball should be either orange or white and 40 mm in size. The table should be 2.74 meters long, 1.525 m wide, and 0.76 m high.

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