A table-tennis table is 9 ft (2.7 m) long and 5 ft (1.5 m) wide, and 2.5 ft (76 cm) above the ground. The net is 6 in. (15.2 cm) high and stretches 6 ft (1.8 m) across the table so that it overlaps the edges 6 inches on each side. The table-tennis paddle may be any size, shape, or weight, with a continuous flat blade of even thickness. At least 85% of the rigid blade must be made of wood. An adhesive layer within the blade can be reinforced with fibrous material or compressed paper but cannot be thicker than 0.01 in (0.25 mm). The table tennis ball has a diameter of (40mm) . The ball is made of celluloid or similar plastic material and can be white or yellow with a matte surface.
A Spectators Guide to the Olympic Sport of Table Tennis
It's not difficult for spectators to appreciate the grace, agility and
dynamic power of the tournament level table tennis player. What you
are seeing is the product of endless hours of physical training and tens
of thousands of balls hit in practice drills.
You are probably already familiar with the rules of the game if you
have played "Ping-Pong" in your basement. To quickly review: The
game starts with a coin toss, the winner having the choice of serving or
receiving. Service alternates in groups of five until one of the players
wins the game at 11 points, unless the score reaches 10-10, a deuce
game, and players then alternate serves until one of them wins by two
The equipment used by the tournament players differs greatly from that
used by the recreational player. The tournament players gives
considerable thought in selecting the type of wood for the blade (also
known as paddle) and choosing from hundreds of different types of
rubber. Some players use a "combination racket" having a very spinny
rubber on one side and a slick or "anti-spin" rubber on the other. When
you see a player flipping his racket he is going back and forth between
the spinny side and the slick side in an effort to confuse his opponent.
Occasionally you will see a player make what appears to be a very
simple and easily avoided error. That player has been the victim of his
opponent's deception. With this advantage of different rubber, the
International Table Tennis Federation established a rule a few years ago
in which all rackets should have one side of red rubber and one side of
black rubber. Before the start of the match it is common for the players
to present their rackets to each other for inspection so that they know
what kind of spin effect is produced from each of the rubber surfaces.
Top players will tell you that there are only three ways to win a point -
speed, spin, and placement- but in the course of a game there are a
multitude of ways to get into a position of winning that point.
Spin is often the most difficult part of the game for a player to cope
with. In a fraction of a second the player must judge not only the ball's
velocity and where it will land, but also whether it has topspin or
under-spin combined with the infinite degrees of side spin possible. As
a spectator you can sometimes tell what the spin is by closely watching
the ball A ball with topspin will stay low and kick towards an
opponent. A ball with underspin tends to slow down a bit and bounce
Spin is also the primary ingredient in the service game. Players spend a
great deal of time finding ways to generate spin in their serves and
almost as much time in devising ways to disguise it. Occasionally you
will see a player hit what seems to be an easy serve into the net or off
the table. The server disguised the real spin so well that neither his
opponent or you could tell what it was.
Another aspect of the game is sometimes difficult to appreciate is the
mental intensity, the depth of concentration, required of these athletes.
The table tennis player is in the position of having to actively think
about strategy and at the same time let his body instinctively react to the
hall. A nifty piece of mental gymnastics.
USA Table Tennis - Fact Sheet
USA Table Tennis (USATT) is a member of the International Table Tennis Federation
and is a Group A member of the United States Olympic Committee. Established in
1933, USATT is the National Governing Body for the sport of table tennis in America.
Headquartered at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado,
USATT develops the sport and its athletes at the local and regional levels, produces
televised tournaments, and prepares teams for national and international evens including
National and World Championships, the Pan American Games and the Olympics.
USA Table Tennis has more than 7,000 sanctioned players and a national network of
approximately 300 affiliated clubs. These clubs conduct sanctioned tournaments, league
play, and educational activities. USATT also assists a variety of organizations and evens
such as the AAU/USA Junior Olympics, National Senior Olympics, State Games,
American Wheelchair Table Tennis Association, and Association of College Unions
Table Tennis Background
Table Tennis is the second most popular sport in the world next to soccer.
In 1992, more Americans played table tennis (19.8 million) than baseball (14.8
million), skiing (13.8 million), or football (11.4 million).
Table Tennis can be enjoyed by almost anyone. It's an all-weather sport that is
inexpensive to play, excellent for hand/eye coordination, adaptable for people
with disabilities, and is great exercise for people from eight to eighty.
Table Tennis Athletes
Many top athletes train up to six hours a day. Zhenshi Li, U.S. National Team
Coach, has athletes run, spring, cycle, jump rope, weight train, and play
baskeball and soccor for physical conditioning.
A group of elite Swedith table tennis athletes was in the upper 5 percent of their
age group in terms of aerobic activity.
A well-played 30-minute recreational game burns about 150 calories for a
150-pound person, the equivalent of a brisk 27-minute walk or 32 minutes of
Top U.S. players train by using a fully-programmable computerized robot made
by SITCO USA of Portland, Oregon, that mimics the playing styles of the
world's top athletes.
Sweden, China, and Korea are currently world powers in table tennis. The
U.S. men's team is ranked 20th, and the women's team is reanked 14th.
Table Tennis History
"Flim-Flam," "gossima," and "Ping-Pong" are names of early versions of the
modern sport of table tennis.
Early racquets were made of materials suck as cork, vellum, cardboad, and
wood and covered with cloth, leather, or sandpaper
The racquet (also called a bat or blade) may be of any size, shape, or weight. Its
surface must be dark colored with one side usually being red and the other
black. The racquet may be covered with pimpled rubber of total thickness of 2
mm or a "sandwhich" consisting of a layer of cellular rubber surface by having
either inward or outward pimples with thickness not exceeding 4mm.
Early verisons of table tennis were sometimes played with champagne corks or
light-knitted web balls.
International Table Tennis Facts
Table tennis was banned in the Soviet Union from around 1930 to 1950
allegedly because it was harmful to the eyes.
The 1971 USA Table Tennis delegation to the People's Repuclic of China
created front page news as "Ping Pong Diplomacy." The trip not only created
greater awareness for the sport, but helped pave the way for improved
diplomatic relations between the United States and China.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was founded in 1926 in
Berlin with Austria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary,
India, Sweden and Wales as members. USA Table Tennis became a member of
the ITTF in 1933.
In 1996, Olympic Table Tennis was televised on every other country in the
WORLD except the USA. Many USATT members were outraged by this,
calling local television companies in efforts to get at least some of the Olympic
Table Tennis events televised, but they had no success.
FUN FACTS SOURCES: American Sports Data (1992); The Olympic Fact Book, Visible Ink Press,
1992; and USATT Media Guide, USA Table Tennis, 1992.