What Is Difference Between Ping Pong And Table Tennis

What Is Difference Between Ping Pong And Table Tennis

Last modified: October 15, 2023

If you’ve ever thought about the difference between ping pong and table tennis, you’re not alone. It’s a common question that bounces around the minds of enthusiasts and beginners alike. These two terms are used interchangeably quite often but believe it or not, there are some subtle and perhaps surprising differences between the two. Let’s dive into those differences and shed some light on this fun and exciting world of rapid-fire rallies.

The Origins and Terminology

Ping Pong and table tennis have the same beginnings. They both started as after-dinner games played by upper-class English families in the 19th century, and they both use small paddles and lightweight balls. But, where the differences start to emerge is in the names themselves.

Table Tennis

Table tennis became the official name of the sport when it was adopted by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) in the early 20th century. Table tennis was even recognized as an Olympic sport in 1988. It denotes a more serious, competitive approach to the game.

Ping Pong

Ping Pong, on the other hand, was a term coined because of the sound the ball made bouncing back and forth on the table and paddles. It echoes an informal, recreational aspect of the game. It’s a trademarked term that’s specifically used by particular companies for the recreational versions of the sports equipment.

Which is Correct?

In essence, both terms are correct. You can use either term depending on the context or setting, how seriously you’re playing, and the equipment you’re using.

The Equipment Differences

While it may seem that the equipment for both sports is the same, here’s where another distinct difference shows up.

Table Tennis Paddles

Table tennis paddles, also called bats or rackets, have a red and a black side. The different color on each side indicates a different type of rubber, allowing the player to switch between different spins, speeds, and control during a match.

Ping Pong Paddles

Ping pong paddles are generally the same on both sides, with either sandpaper or a pimpled rubber surface. This results in less spin and speed variation and makes it more suitable for a casual game.


Official table tennis balls are usually made of higher quality material offering consistent bounce, while ping pong balls might not meet the exact standards and can vary in quality.

The Rule Differences

Yes, the rules for both games are quite similar, but there are a few differences to keep in mind.

Service Rules

In table tennis, players must throw the ball up at least 16cm when serving, and it has to hit the server’s side before going over the net. In ping pong, there are no specific rules regarding how to serve.

Scoring Rules

Games in ping pong generally go up to 21 points while table tennis matches typically go up to 11 points.

Equipment Rules

The aforementioned equipment regulations are usually enforced in table tennis, while ping pong has a much more relaxed approach.


So, there you have it. Ping pong and table tennis are fundamentally similar, yet their differences lie in the details. Whether you favor the casual fun of ping pong or the competitive thrill of table tennis, both games certainly offer a blend of physical activity, strategy, and endless enjoyment. Now, armed with this newfound knowledge, you might see these beloved pastimes slightly differently next time you pick up a paddle. So, are you ready to ace your next game?

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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