What Ping Pong Balls Are Used In The Olympics
Last modified: October 17, 2023
For anyone not deeply involved in the table tennis community, it’s easy to assume that all ping pong balls are created equal. However, the truth is far from it. Specifically, when it comes to the Olympics, the balls used are of a different caliber. In this post, we’re going to delve a little deeper into the world of Olympic ping pong balls.
The Brands of Ping Pong Balls
The International Table Tennis Federation, which is the governing body responsible for all international table tennis competitions, including the Olympics, has specific requirements for the balls used in official matches. They maintain a list of approved ping pong ball manufacturers.
DHS: The Official Ball of the Olympics
The brand currently chosen for the sport is DHS, which stands for Double Happiness Sports. The DHS 40+ is the official table tennis ball used in all ITTF competitions, including the Olympics. Rooted in China, DHS has been producing high-quality table tennis equipment for decades and has earned its place as an industry leader.
Butterfly: The Fan Favorite
Despite DHS being the official chosen ball for ITTF competitions, Butterfly is a beloved favorite among players. Famous for their high-quality and durable ping pong balls, Butterfly offers multiple selections under the highest specifications set by ITTF, though they are not the official Olympic ball.
STIGA: The Competitive Alternative
Another major player in the game of ping pong is STIGA. Like Butterfly, STIGA is not an official Olympic ball, but their products are used widely in competitive ping pong play. STIGA’s balls deliver great speed, spin, and durability, making them a competitive alternative to DHS.
The Specifications of Olympic Ping Pong Balls
The International Table Tennis Federation has a detailed list of standards that an Olympic ping pong ball must adhere to. These specifications are crucial in ensuring the fairness and uniformity of the game.
Size and Weight
A regulation ping pong ball must have a diameter of 40mm and must weigh 2.7 grams. These dimensions are important as they allow for a balanced and fair game, where the ball is able to bounce consistently on the table, and can be manipulated by players with great accuracy.
The balls used in the Olympics are made of plastic, specifically polyethylene. Prior to 2015, ping pong balls were made of celluloid. However, due to the flammable nature and environmental concerns of celluloid, balls are now made of plastic.
Official Olympic ping pong balls are either white or orange, depending on the color of the playing surface. This to ensure they contrast properly against the table and are easily visible to the player and spectator.
Are They Different from Regular Ping Pong Balls?
Ping pong balls used in recreational play and those used in the Olympics undeniably share some similarities. But there are definitely some distinct differences between the types of balls used in these two scenarios.
The most notable difference lies in the quality. Balls used in the Olympics are subjected to strict quality control measures which are laid down by the ITTF. These measures lead to balls that offer consistent bounce, size, weight, and roundness.
The quality specification difference between a recreational ball and an Olympic ball can lead to a stark difference in their prices. Needless to say, balls that are made to meet the standards by the ITTF are generally far more expensive.
The purpose for which the balls are used also creates a significant difference. Recreational balls are typically less consistent and durable because they are commonly used for casual play, whereas Olympic balls are meticulously crafted to suit the professional players and high stakes, high-intensity matches.
While there are countless options available when it comes to ping pong balls, the choices narrow down considerably when the specifications of the Olympics come into play. Not all balls are created equal, and the DHS 40+ is currently the king of the court, holding its place as the official ball of the Olympics. Nonetheless, understanding the differences and specifications of Olympic ping pong balls can greatly enhance your understanding and appreciation of the game. So, the next time you watch an Olympic table tennis match, you’ll know just what’s flying across the table!