Is It Called Ping Pong Or Table Tennis

Is It Called Ping Pong Or Table Tennis

Last modified: October 12, 2023

Welcome to my world where ping pong balls fly across green tables and each connection with the paddle sounds like a musical note to my ears. Now, one might wonder, what I am talking about? Is it ping pong or is it called table tennis? This has been an ongoing debate among players, spectators, and enthusiasts. Today, let’s explore this age-old question and find out what’s what!

Understanding the Game

First off, to understand the difference or lack thereof, we need to understand the game. It’s a racquet sport involving quick wrist flicks and agile footwork. Sounds familiar? Was I talking about ping pong or table tennis? You see why it’s confusing!

The Basics

Played on a table divided by a net, the primary aim is to hit the ball in such a way that your opponent cannot make a valid return. The incredible speed and precision required make it a really intense game. The game can be played by two or four players who take turns in hitting a lightweight, hollow ball covered in white, matte, or orange matte finish back and forth across the table.

Scoring System

In both ping pong and table tennis, a match typically comprises an odd number of games, and a player needs to win a majority of them to emerge victorious. The first player to 11 points wins a game; however, you must win by at least a two-point margin.

The Equipment

Both games use a small, round bat, comprised of wooden blades covered by rubber. The table, divided by a net, is green and measures 9 feet by 4.5 feet. But here’s a catch, in table tennis, players often switch rubbers and blades according to strategic needs while in ping pong, players stick to sand-paper bats.

Ping Pong vs Table Tennis: The Debate

Is there any difference between ping pong and table tennis? Well, it’s complicated. To the uninitiated, they might look the same. So, let’s dive a bit deeper and see what sets these two apart.

The History

The game originated in England in the 18th century where it was known as ‘whiff-whaff’. Over the years, the names ping pong and table tennis were used interchangeably. But in 1901, a British manufacturer registered ping pong as a trademark, and since then there have been distinctions.

The Rules

Despite their similarities, small rule differences exist. In ping pong, the serve must be from an open hand, with the ball tossed at least six inches into the air. Additionally, the ball must first bounce on the server’s side and then the opponent’s. In table tennis, there are very specific rules about spinning and the height of the serve.

Sporting Recognition

At a competitive level, the game is referred to as table tennis, and it is recognized as an Olympic sport since 1988. Ping pong, on the other hand, refers to the game played recreationally and is usually less formal.

The Final Verdict

So, what’s the final say? Is it called ping pong or table tennis?

It’s a Matter of Choice

At the end of the day, whether you choose to call the game ping pong or table tennis may really just come down to personal preference. While sports bodies recognize the game as table tennis, ping pong remains an equally popular name, particularly for casual play.

Local Vs International Use

The usage also varies by geography. In Asia and Europe, table tennis is the more common term, while in the United States, ping pong is frequently used, particularly amongst recreational players.

Game Style

Finally, table tennis is often used when describing the game played professionally or in a competitive setting, while ping pong may be used for the same game played casually or recreationally.


In conclusion, whether you choose to refer to this incredibly agile sport as ping pong or table tennis could vary based on regional vernacular, the level of play, or simply personal preference. Regardless, be sure to enjoy the rally, watch the spin, and may your serve always be hard to return!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
Table Tennis Girl is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program that helps website admins earn advertising fees by linking to We only earn a commission if you purchase an item from The prices on Amazon do not change (either way) if you reach them via our links.