Many, especially senior citizens nowadays mistake the two sports the same thing.
The reason behind this was that the two terms were used interchangeably for ages before it officially came to an end back in 2011.
That year, the birth of the World Championship of Ping Pong marked the separation of it with table tennis.
A new set of rules were adopted that year to make the difference more clearly.
So “Are table tennis and ping pong the same?” – A big NO. Scroll down to see all the differences.
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Differences Between Table Tennis And Ping Pong
Names and the backstories
Ping pong was originally used for the two. However, to avoid trademark issues, ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) ended up choosing table tennis as the official name for the game.
The pronunciation of the word “Ping pong” sounds somehow childish as its core.
That’s why many table tennis professional players do not like to be referred to as “Pinpongers”.
Play in group
A game for more than 4 people to join? It only exists in Ping Pong and we do not have a similar thing in table tennis!
Rundlauf – the “round the table” ping pong group game originated in Germany.
To put it simply, each team of from 5 to even 8 players stay in a queue and take the turn to hit the ball and come back to the queue again.
This kind of game requires discipline and team spirit, which are the well-known fortes of Germans.
This piece of information will help you a lot when you are trying to clarify on your friends’ queries of “is ping pong the same as table tennis?” or “is table tennis and ping pong the same?”
Types of equipment to play
Are table tennis balls the same as ping pong balls? Look a lot similar, but the balls are not at the same size.
Tennis balls are smaller than ping pong balls a little bit.
Here is the official size of the two:
- Ping pong ball: 3.7mm in diameter
- Table tennis ball: 3.4mm diameter
Ping pong paddle types are quite limited compared with table tennis:
- Ping pong paddle: Standard sandpaper
- Table tennis: Pip-ins, pip-outs and a wide array of blades are applied
As mentioned above, the Ping Pong World Championship aka PPWC was first held in Las Vegas.
Up to the end of 2019, players from England and Russia won 3 times each.
Surprisingly, Chinese players became champions at PPWC “only” twice!
The annual Table Tennis World Championship is more competitive.
China dominates the game with 8 winning years! The only not Chinese champion was the 2011 Austrian winner.
In an attempt to thoroughly respond to the questions of “is table tennis and ping pong the same thing?” from your curious friend who is not satisfied with the above-mentioned facts, let’s dig in the rules to make your argument solid!
Following the table tennis rule, a serving player is required to throw the ball upwards at least six inches and that person must stand behind the baseline to hit that very first ball of the game.
In Ping Pong, it is not a must. You can stroke the ball in whatever style you like that suits you best.
Ping pong players usually hit it out of hand since this serving technique does not require many skills and is easy to practice.
Table tennis plays the best of 7, 11 points each game. On the other hand, Ping Pong is the best of 3, 15 points each. The final point is different as well:
- Ping pong: One game finishes as one player reaches 15 first. Examples: 15-14, 15-5, 15-1 and alike
- Table tennis: A game ends at one player scores 11 points? Not sure! He/she must score 11 with the difference of at least 2 points. Examples: 11-7, 11-1, 12-10 (11-10 is not a winning score yet!)
Style of play
Ping Pong is much more flexible to play than table tennis. Players can switch from defensive to offensive style the moments he wants.
Table tennis players choose their style of playing and normally keep it on for the rest of their career or in a match, to say the least.
Common offensive techniques:
Smash: The forehand smash is used when the opponent strikes the ball a little bit higher than normal. Players usually put lots of power in a smash which makes it a killer hit.
Drive: This is one of the four attacking strokes creating little topspins. New learners need to master this technique first before moving on to the higher level forehand topspins.
Spin: This technique is very powerful and not an easy one! For a better understanding, take a look at the spin description:
No spin: Hit the ball with your racket forward at 90°angle forward
Spin: Brush the ball with your racket at a different than 90°angle
The spin hits make it extremely hard to guess the exact ball movements and it’s a favorite technique to surprise your opponent.
Common defensive techniques:
Block: A simple return to control an attacking shot. Put a bit more force and it becomes an aggressive block.
Chop: A hit that creates underspin for the ball. If you hit the ball when it is still over the table, it is a push, not a chop yet. Stand back and hit the ball out of the table, it’s the definition of a chop.
So, now you know how to reply to someone asking “Are table tennis and ping pong the same?”, don’t you?
It is interesting to know further about the two popular sports which many players boast to be the second favorite sports after soccer?
I hope this guide provides you enough information to tell the two apart.
If the askers are still in wonder and this post does not satisfy him enough, ask him out for a match or two to see the difference.
Thank you wholeheartedly for reading thus far!