Table tennis is a sport where two or four players hit a small, hollow ball back and forth across a table with rackets. This is a fast game and it demands quick reactions from the players. Also known as ping pong, table tennis is a game controlled by the International Table tennis Federation or the ITTF. It has been declared an Olympic sport since 1988 and is included in four events.
Table tennis originally came from England. Upper class Victorians in the 1880s wanted to play tennis indoors after dinner. They decided to use everyday objects like a pile of books for a net or a champagne cork for a ball, to play an indoor kind of tennis game. Eventually, table tennis evolved into what it is today, using a hard table with a net strung across the middle, and with a small, light and hollow ball tossed by rackets. Early rackets were made of parchment stretched across a frame. The sound that it made when the ball was hit gave the game its other name: Ping Pong.
International rules of table tennis specify that the ball should be 2.7g, 40mm diameter. Rules even indicate that the ball shall bounce a height of 23 cm if dropped from 30cm above. This measurement was introduced after the 2000 Olympic Games. The table surface is layered with smooth low-friction coating and measures 9 ft x 5 ft and 30 inches high. Rackets are made of wood laminated with rubber on one or two sides.
To start the game, players usually flip a coin to decide who goes first.
- The game starts with a player serving the ball. When serving, the umpire and opponent should have a clear view of the ball. The player must hit the ball from the baseline and let the ball bounce in the middle of his half of the table and reach the half of his opponent's table. The opponent must hit back the ball if the serve is good.
- When returning the ball, players should let the ball bounce on his side, and hit it across to the other half of the table and bounce there.
- When hitting the ball, it should first bounce on your side then pass over or around the net until it reaches the opponent's half of the table.
- Points are awarded to the opponent once a player makes a mistake.
- Players get to serve the ball after every two points.
- Players serve the ball alternately every 2 points until one player reaches 11 points with at least a 2-point lead or until both players have 10 points each. Once both players reach 10 points, the players serve the ball alternately until one player gets a 2-point advantage.
- After a set, players trade places. In their fifth or seventh game, players' trade places every time a player scores 5 points.
- When a player reaches 21 points, service alternates every 5 points. The game continues until a player leads by 2 points.
Table tennis is an indoor sport that is visually inspiring because of the speed of the game and the agility of the players. Singles or doubles, this is a sport that requires more than a little practice to win.