What Is Inside A Ping Pong Ball

What Is Inside A Ping Pong Ball

Last modified: October 15, 2023

As an experienced player and fan of the game of ping pong, today I thought we might explore a question that I’ve been asked more than once: “what’s inside a ping pong ball?” If you’ve ever been curiously watching a spinning ping pong ball as it sails across the table, you’ve likely wondered the same thing. So let’s take a closer look.

A Peek Into the Ping Pong Ball

The ping pong ball, also known as a table tennis ball, may seem like a simple piece of equipment at first, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Understanding how it’s constructed and what it consists of can, in fact, improve your game play.


Have you ever wondered what ping pong balls are made out of? They are made from a lightweight plastic, specifically celluloid or increasingly, from a material known as ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). This gives the balls their lightness and bounce, which, in turn, make the high-speed rallies and precision shots of ping pong possible.

Size and Weight

A standard ping pong ball measures around 40mm in diameter and weighs about 2.7g. This ensures the perfect balance between size and weight, making the balls not too heavy for rapid play, yet not so light that they’re overly affected by air resistance.


Believe it or not, the humble ping pong ball is made from two separate hemispheres that are fused together. Seamless ping pong balls are becoming more popular as they provide a more steady and accurate flight path. All official balls must be white or orange, and have a matte finish. This enhances their visibility and reduces the glare from overhead lights.

The Physics of a Ping Pong Ball

Believe it or not, there’s an element of physics involved in how a ping pong ball behaves during a game. So, let’s take a closer look at what’s happening when that little white ball goes flying across the table.


The material of the ping pong ball and the air contained within it are what make it bounce. When a ping pong ball hits the table, it compresses, and then the air inside quickly helps it rebound back to its original shape. This provides the bounce that’s so essential to the game of ping pong.


It’s in the realm of spin where a ping pong game can get very interesting. Depending on how a player contacts the ball with the paddle, it can start to spin in various directions. This can greatly affect the flight path and bounce of the ball, adding a layer of strategy to the game.


A ping pong ball can fly across the table at surprising speeds. A great deal of the speed comes from the force of the player’s hit, but the lightweight, aerodynamic nature of the ball also contributes to its speedy flight.

The Evolution of the Ping Pong Ball

The game of ping pong has been around for several decades, and in that time, the humble ping pong ball has seen some changes. Let’s see how it has evolved over time.

The Early Days

Initially, ping pong balls were large, solid objects made from rubber. They were quickly replaced by hollow celluloid balls, which provided a better bounce and playing experience.

40mm Revolution

In the year 2000, the International Table Tennis Federation decided to increase the size of the ball from 38mm to 40mm. This change was aimed at slowing down the game and making it more spectator-friendly. This increased sized is now standard for all ping pong balls.

The Plastic Era

In more recent years, there’s been another change in the material. Celluloid, somewhat flammable and difficult to manufacture, is gradually being replaced by plastic (typically ABS) balls. The new plastic balls offer similar playing characteristics but are safer and more environmentally friendly.

In Conclusion

So, there you have it! There’s a lot more to a ping pong ball than might first appear. Its construction, material, and the air inside all work in harmony to create its unique bounce, spin, and speed. And as the game continues to evolve, who knows what the future holds for this humble, but essential, piece of sporting equipment.

Additional Ping-Pong Resources:
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