What Do The Stars On Ping Pong Balls Mean

What Do The Stars On Ping Pong Balls Mean

Last modified: October 14, 2023

Welcome to our little corner of the web where we dive deep into the fascinations of table tennis, popularly known as ping pong. Whether you are new to the game or a seasoned pro, there’s always an intriguing fact or two to learn. Today, we tackle one question that has stirred a surprising amount of curiosity: What do the stars on ping pong balls mean?

Decoding the Stars: A Stamp of Quality

Often, you’ll find one, two or three stars marked on ping pong balls. Let’s cut to the chase. The star rating on a ping pong ball signifies its quality and suitability for different levels of play.

The One Star Ball

One-star balls tend to be the beginners’ best friends. They offer low costs and reasonable longevity, perfect for players just finding their footing in the game. Interestingly, they’re also the go-to balls for amusement-arcade table tennis machines and casual play. Be advised, though, their low cost comes with a bit of a downside. Expect some irregular bounce and less spin control, as they aren’t as robustly constructed as their higher-star counterparts.

The Two Star Ball

As with many things, the middle ground offers a blend – a two-star ping pong ball merges the affordability of a one-star with the higher performance closer to a three-star. They’re solid choices for club practice sessions and serious amateurs polishing their chops before taking the big leap.

The Three Star Ball

Finally, we reach the virtuoso: the three-star ping pong ball. Regarded as the highest quality, these balls are for competitive play, adhering to the strict standards of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Whether you’re a pro player or someone who takes their ping pong very seriously, the three-star balls are for you. They deliver consistent bounce, spin, and speed, giving you that reliable performance you need to up your game.

Understanding the Material Composition

Now that we’ve decoded the stars, let’s delve a bit into what makes these balls different in the first place: The materials they are made of.


This was the traditional material used for manufacturing ping pong balls for many years. While it did a fair job, it was flammable, hazardous, and less environmentally friendly, prompting the table tennis world to look for alternatives.


Around 2014, most manufacturers switched to plastic, also known as poly balls. Not only are they safer, but they also provide a playing experience quite close to their celluloid counterparts. Some professionals claim a slightly different bounce and sound, but for most players, the transition is relatively smooth.


More recently, manufacturers have turned to Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) for ping pong balls, especially those of the three-star variety. ABS balls are even more durable than regular plastic balls, providing an excellent experience for competitive players.

The Importance of Proper Storage

One final and often overlooked topic we’d like to touch on is the storage of these ping pong balls. No matter the star rating or material, proper storage is key to their longevity.

Avoid High Temperatures

Heat, in particular, is a no-no when it comes to storing ping pong balls. High temperature can warp their shape, causing irregular bounce and movement.

Keep Them Out of Direct Sunlight

Just like heat, direct sunlight can also damage ping pong balls. Keep them stored in a cool, dark place to avoid any discoloration or design deterioration.

Store Them in Their Original Packaging

If you can, store your ping pong balls in their original packaging. This prevents them from getting squished and maintains their round shape.

Wrapping Up: More than Just a Game

So there you have it. The stars on ping pong balls, indeed, signify much more than meets the eye. Not just symbols, but markers of quality, purpose, and standard—proving that even something as simplistically beautiful as ping pong has intricacies worth exploring. So, the next time you’re about to serve, take a moment to consider the star beneath your paddle. Happy playing!

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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