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The Complete History of Ping Pong

The game of ping pong is played by millions worldwide, it has truly become an international sport with a number of the large federations and an official world championship that dates back to 1926.

Despite its fairly simplistic nature, ping pong didn’t actually begin as the game we know today. Before ping pong, as we play it today was invented, it had to go through a few different iterations with names such as whiff-whaff and gossima.

From the name to its early equipment, it can be interesting to know exactly where ping pong’s roots actually lie. This article will explain all.

What country invented ping pong?

JOOLA Inside 15With its simple rules, basic equipment, and fast-paced nature, people of different backgrounds are easily drawn to this interesting sport. Many even seek to purchase their own tables to practice their shots or simply enjoy the game with their family and friends at home. You may check out the best tables that emerged from our review of the products on the market today.

But what country holds the distinction of being ping pong’s birthplace?

Given their dominance of the sport, many people actually believe the invention of ping pong came about in Asian countries, which makes sense.

However, when you think about it, the country of origin should be fairly obvious given that ping pong is based on another vastly popular sport.

That sport, of course, is lawn tennis. Lawn tennis was gaining huge popularity in England during the late 1800s.

This led to the first table top versions being invented by board game manufacturers in the 1880s. While some of these games did feature the name “table tennis”, they weren’t anything like the game you are familiar with.

The early table top versions of a tennis game made use of cards, dice, tiddlywinks and even balloons – a far cry from the actual sport of ping pong.

In 1890, David Foster filed the first patent for an actual table tennis game. His game made use of rackets that had strings and a cloth-covered ball.

So, Englishman David Foster can be attributed as the inventor of the first true table tennis game. However, he did not invent ping pong.

Ping pong was still invented in England but it was not by David Foster.

Who invented ping pong?

Ping pong and table tennis are now used interchangeably to describe the same game but it didn’t start out this way.

After the invention of David Foster’s table tennis game, others came along with their own spin on the game.

In 1891, game makers John Jaques & Son registered a table tennis variant call “gossima”. Gossima was similar to table tennis but made use of slightly different equipment.

Bats were used instead of strung rackets and the ball was made of cork.

In actual fact, neither Foster’s table tennis or Jaques gossima were a great success. The real breakthrough came when celluloid balls were introduced.

The trouble with cork and rubber balls was the former hardly bounced and the latter bounced too much, which didn’t make for a great game. The celluloid balls solved that problem when they were introduced in 1900.

1900 was also the year when Jaques & son invented the game called ping pong and trademarked its name.

Why is ping pong also called table tennis today?

David foster’s original table tennis game is actually very different from Jaque’s ping pong game and vastly different from today’s version of the game. So, how did ping pong and table tennis become the same thing?

It began in 1900 with the trademarking of the name ping pong by Jaques & Son. Other versions of ping pong were being invented that made use of equipment from different manufacturers.

By the 1920s, ping pong was extremely popular and many tournaments were being organized. The issue arose when the trademark was enforced by Jaques & Son, who threatened legal action against any tournament organizer that used the name ping pong without using Jaque’s equipment.

As a result, an alternative name needed to be coined so that the game could be played and enjoyed on a larger scale. The name table tennis was chosen.

Therefore, table tennis and ping pong are now used interchangeably but ping pong is actually a brand name and registered trademark.

Important Table Tennis/Ping Pong Dates

The invention process of the more familiar ping pong game has taken us up to the 1920s. As we already discussed, this was when ping pong and now table tennis really started to gain popularity.

Here are some key dates and events throughout the history of ping pong:

1926 – Formation of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and the first standardized set of rules.

This was also the year of the very first table tennis world championships, which was held in London. Hungary dominated the competition with Roland Jacobi and Maria Mednyanszky winning the male and female gold medals respectively.

1933 – Formation of the United Stated Table Tennis federation, which is now called USA Table Tennis.

1937 – 3 major rule changes were put in place.

A 20-minute time limit was put on the length of each game. This was a result of many matches lasting longer and longer due to more defensive play styles.

The net height was also lowered to 6 inches from 6.75 inches. This was done to encourage some more attacking play in an effort to make more exciting matches.

Finger spin serving was also banned in this year. Finger spin serving is the act of spinning the ball as you toss it up before a serve, which enables you to gain an advantage from the extra spin being imparted on the ball itself.

The rules now state that the ball must begin on the flat palm of the server’s hand.

1952 – The introduction of sponge rackets. During this year’s world championships, a Japanese player, Hiroji Satoh won using a racket that featured a layer of sponge between the hard surface and the outer rubber.

The sponge layer enhances both speed and spin, which has since made it the choice for all of the top players.

1988 – Table tennis becomes an Olympic sport.

1996 – The International table tennis federation forms its’ pro-tour to bring the world’s best players together in competition by offering superior organization and greater prize money.

2000 – Ball size changed from 38mm to 40mm in an effort to slightly decrease the speed of the game.

2001 – Scoring system changed. The winning total for a game was reduced from 21 points to 11 points. This was mainly done to make each game more exciting since each point would now be much more crucial.

2014 – Introduction of plastic balls. The plastic balls were starting to be promoted by the ITTF in 2011 as an alternative to the celluloid balls. The raw materials of the celluloid balls were deemed to be hazardous to health so they will eventually be replaced by balls made of plastic.

As of 2014, all ITTF have been using plastic balls and the celluloid balls are being phased out completely.

There it is – the rich history of the entertaining and exciting game of ping pong.

For now, the story continues. No one knows the evolution that awaits the sport, but one thing is certain: it will continue to be a favorite of many people for generations to come.

How to Get Better at Ping Pong

Choose the right racket

It makes sense that the first place to start if you want to get better at ping pong is with your racket.

Getting a racket that suits your individual preferences and style of play should be top of the list for anybody that wants to improve their game.

Before buying your own racket, you need to know the rules for racket specifications. The official rules actually state that the racket can be of any size or shape, but it must be made of 85% natural wood, flat and rigid.

Generally, rackets are around 6 inches across and 10 inches long including the handle. These are the preferred dimensions for most players.

Now that you are aware of rules, you can get on to choosing your own racket.

There are a lot of individual choices to be made when it comes to selecting your racket. So, it is very difficult for us to tell you exactly which type of racket you should buy.

However, here are a few guidelines that you can use for a starting point.

Select a handle that is comfortable in your hand. Being able to hold the racket without putting unnecessary strain on your hand is important. The handle should also provide sufficient grip.

Once you are happy with a handle that suits you, there are two more big choices to make. What type of rubber is best and what thickness sponge to choose.

When deciding upon these two factors, you should keep your own style of play in mind.

For example, defensive players will want to choose a rubber type that reduces spin. On the other hand, offensive players will want one that provides enough “stick” to increase the amount of spin you can put on the ball.

The same goes for sponge thickness. A thicker sponge encourages the ball to spring off of the front of the racket more. This is advantageous for offensive players.

Now, here is your homework: think about your play style and pick a racket that will make the most of your style.

To complete your equipment, you may also consider buying your own ping pong table. We reviewed many products and this post enumerates the best ping pong tables that you can find on the market.

Master your serve

After getting your hands on the perfect racket, you need to put it to good use if you want to become a better player.

Let us begin where the game itself starts: with the serve.

When you are serving, you have total control over the ball. It’s the only time in the game where your opponent can’t directly influence what kind of shot you play.

Therefore, it makes sense to take full advantage of the opportunity by producing the best serve you possibly can.

Here are three quick tips that you can start using to better your service game:

  1. Learn to serve well from the forehand and backhand. This will stand you in good stead against a variety of opposition. Each opponent you face will be different and have varying strengths and weaknesses. By training yourself to serve with both a forehand and a backhand, you can instantly switch it up to attack the opposition’s weakness.
  2. Keep the ball low to the net. A higher ball over the net is easier to see and easier to attack. Practice keeping your ball as low as possible to make things difficult for the opposing player.
  3. Be unpredictable.You should learn as many different types of serve as you can and rotate through them during a game. Constantly varying the serve makes it very hard for your opponent to plan an effective return.

Learn everything you can about spin

Topspin, backspin, sidespin, you need to study them all. You don’t only need to know how to play shots with different spin, you need to know exactly what kind of effect each spin type has on play.

Putting a spin on the ball isn’t just effective for placing the ball on different areas of the table. Putting a spin on the ball also changes the way the ball bounces off of your opponent’s racket.

If you are able to learn how different spin directions work and how to perform the shots, you can force the opposition to hit the ball exactly where you want it.

To get you started, here are some examples of how the ball bounces off of a racket as a result of different spin directions:

  • Spinning the ball to the right makes it go to your opponents left. The opposite is true for left-spin.
  • Backspin forces the ball downwards after striking your opponents paddle. The hope here is that it will hit the net.
  • Finally, topspin can cause the opposition to hit the ball higher and long.

Armed with that information, you can go and work on all kinds of spin shots to dictate the play. Putting two directions of spin on the ball is possible when you get the hang of it.

Develop your strategies

It isn’t wise to go into a game and just wing it. You should have a number of different pre-planned strategies at your disposal.

Of course, you won’t know exactly which ones to use until the match has begun. You must get good at studying your opponents and learning their style as quickly as possible.

Once you have discovered patterns in their play, their strengths and their weaknesses, you can deploy the correct strategy.

It takes time to hone these game reading skills and reading the game is only half the battle. Once you have read your opponent, you need to be able to think on your feet to choose the best strategy for that moment.

Again, strategic play like this requires a lot of practice and game time.

Deploy the correct tactics

To execute a strategy, you need to learn various tactics that you can insert into your strategies.

We have put together a quick list of three basic tactics that you should incorporate into your playing strategies when the appropriate situation arises.

  1. Keep your opponent moving.

    Challenge your opponents agility by placing shots to all different areas of the table and at various lengths. Put your opponent on the backfoot by forcing them to be quick on their feet and even quicker in their mind.

    This tactic can really pay off later in a tight game. Constantly being on the move is a real challenge of fitness and as players get tired, both physically and mentally, mistakes start to creep into their game.

  2. Vary your shots.

    We spoke about this in the serving section, and the same applies to general play.

    Become proficient with as many different shot types as you can. Continuously switch your shot selection around.

    It is all about giving your opponent a feeling of uncertainty. Being unpredictable achieves that by never letting the opposing player settle and getting into their comfort zone.

    The advantage in ping pong really does go to the player that can dictate the play most.

  3. Force your opponent to play every shot possible.

    This one is all about being consistent and making as few mistakes as possible. It sounds kind of obvious but a great deal of practice is needed for it.

    By becoming an all-around solid shot maker that rarely makes mistakes, you will win a lot of matches.

    If you don’t make errors that give points away for free, your opponent has to produce higher quality shots and earn those points from you. This, in turn, will force your opposition to make many more mistakes and hand you the victory.

    Of course, this tactic is much easier said than done. The only way to achieve such levels of skill is to practice so much that your shots become second nature to you.

Don’t neglect your fitness and agility

It is quite easy for newer players to ignore the role that fitness plays in ping pong.

The actual distance covered to reach the ball is rarely very far. So, it’s easy to disregard the importance of being fit.

However, ping pong is a physically taxing sport. Short, sharp and fast movements will really take it out of you over the course of a match.

As we discussed earlier, tiredness causes mistakes.

Get in the gym or out on the track and perform fitness drills that mimic the duration of points in ping pong. Interval style training, where you combine short sprint periods with short rest periods will work wonders.

The sprint periods mimic the fast action during play and the rest periods mimic the pauses between points.

On top of fitness work, agility drills can also boost your performance on the table.

Being agile gives you a greater chance of reaching even the best-placed shots.

You will find yourself returning more of your opponent’s balls and forcing them into a lot more errors as a result.

Be sure to plan some time in your regimen for 2-3 fitness and agility sessions each week. You should feel and see the benefits in just a couple of weeks, as long as you stick to the plan.

That brings us nicely on to the last point for becoming a better ping pong player: having a plan for improvement and sticking to it.

You can use all of the tips and methods outlined in this article but you really need to have a plan for each of them. A set amount of time each week should be allocated for working on a particular skill set or area of your game.

For example, you should be assigning time for fitness, time to work on your serve and time for practice matches.

Once that plan is made, stick to it for long enough to see the results. You can analyze it and adjust it as needed over time but you should always have some kind of structure and plan in place.

As the famous Benjamin Franklin quote goes, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

With that in mind, use the tips shared here to put your own plan in place now and prepare yourself to win a whole lot more ping pong games in the future.

How to Serve in Ping Pong

How do you win at ping pong?

With a stunning smash, aggressive slice or perfectly placed speed drive?

Nope, you master the serve.

Of course, all of the shot types are important to learn. Having as many different tools in your arsenal as possible gives you more chance of being effective against various opponents.

However, if you can’t serve, you won’t get the chance to show off any of your other shots.

The serve is vital in table tennis. It is the only time that you have complete control of a point. You have absolute control over where the ball goes, how high it goes and how fast it gets there.

You get the chance to put your opposition on the defensive right away and the very best players master their serve to take full advantage of the opportunity.

A ping pong table at home gives you more opportunity to work on your serve and other ping pong shots. From the numerous tables available on the market, our assessment led us to the cream of the crop. Click here for more details on the top 5 table tennis tables today.

Rules for a Legal Serve

Before you can start to think about service techniques or trying different tactics to outwit your opponent, you must perform a legal serve to get play underway.

Serving in ping pong isn’t quite a simple as hitting the ball over the net. There are a few rules that you, as the server, must follow.

The ball begins by resting on the palm of your open hand.

You must then toss the ball vertically into the air. The ball needs to reach a height of at least six inches above its starting point before you strike it.

After the ball is struck, it needs to bounce on your own side of the net once before bouncing on your opponent’s side.

In the singles game, the line in the middle of the table has no meaning. The ball can bounce anywhere on the table.

If the ball touches the net on its way to your opponent’s side of the table, a “let serve” is called. For a let serve to be called, everything else about the serve must be legal.

From a let serve, there is no score and the serve is retaken.

How to Serve in Ping Pong

Now that you know the rules of a legal serve, you can work on performing a serve that gives you control of the point.

If you are a complete beginner, you will need to practice striking the ball so it bounces legally on both sides of the table.

To do this, forget about the six-inch ball height rule and simply practice dropping the ball onto your racket. Perform a “push” style shot as you drop the ball and practice getting the ball over the net and bouncing on both sides.

Once you are familiar with the feeling of striking the ball over the net and having it make contact with your and your opponent’s side of the table, you can begin practicing a proper serve.

Here are the steps to a legal serve:

  • Rest the ball on your open palm so that it can be seen by your opponent at all times. This stops you gaining an unfair advantage by deceiving your opponent with the ball.
  • Toss the ball as vertically as possible and make sure it rises at least six inches in the air. A shorter toss up is recommended for beginners.
  • Keep your eye on the ball, allow it to drop before striking it with your racket. Remember, it must bounce on your own side of the table before going over the net.
  • Immediately prepare yourself for your opponent’s service return.

Ping Pong Serving Tips

Here is our quick list of serving tips to keep you in control of every point that you serve from.

  • Vary your type of serve. Changing up the angles, types, and amount of spin on your serve is a sure-fire way to keep your opponent on the backfoot. As soon as you become predictable in your serve, you lose the all-important advantage of being in control.
  • Master both sides of the racket.Usually, a player will be more comfortable serving with either their forehand or backhand. However, to fully take advantage of different opponent’s weaknesses and play styles, you need to be able to serve from either side.
  • Keep the ball low to the net. Balls that are low to the net are harder to attack than a ball played high. Get your ball as close to the top of the net as you possibly can.
  • Don’t give your serve away.An effective server will be able to start a huge number of different type serves from the same body position. Wait until the very last moments to make your position changes.Changing the way you approach the ball for different serves gives the opposition hints as to what serve you are performing. You want to keep them guessing.
  • Look for return patterns.Watch how your opponent is returning different kinds of serve. Once you are able to recognize and remember patterns in the return game of your opposition, it becomes much easier to anticipate and plan for your next shot.
  • Eliminate follow through.This is an advanced technique that most of the pros use and should only be employed when you become confident with your serve. A big follow-through on your serve gives your opponent some clues to the type of spin that you have put on the ball.By quickly pulling your racket back after the point of contact, you don’t give away as many hints.

The final, possibly most important, tip for this entire article is to practice, practice and practice some more. The key to achieving mastery in any endeavor is to be consistent and persistent.

It takes thousands of repetitions of a task for it to become second-nature. If you want a perfect serve to become second-nature to you, you’re going to have to put in the groundwork.

Ping Pong vs Table Tennis

Ping Pong vs Table Tennis

Ping Pong vs Table TennisYou might be wondering, what is the difference between table tennis and ping-pong?

If you’ve been around ping-pong, excuse me, table tennis, players will know that most beginners don’t care about the name, while the more advanced players might fight to the death about what’s correct.

However, who’s truly right here?

According to the International Table Tennis Federation there is the right answer.

I think it probably just what it is simply based on their name. They’re called the International Table Tennis Federation for reason.

However, is it wrong to call table tennis ping-pong, or can use them interchangeably without any issues?

For that, we have to look at history.

Where did the names come from?

The ITTF website states that the first mention of the phrase table tennis appeared on board and dice game in 1887.

However, the real game of table tennis wasn’t invented up until the 1890s, when many manufacturers trademarked and use different names.

There were two companies on both sides of the ocean: John Jaques & Son, and the Parker Brothers.

They both trademarked the name ping-pong, and since they were the market leaders on the respective sides of the ocean, many people started calling the game ping pong.

In fact, the companies threatened legal action against anyone who used the name ping-pong and didn’t refer to their equipment or to the game of table tennis using their equipment.

People wanted a different name for the sport, and table tennis was chosen.

Since then the official name for the game has been table tennis, but it is not wrong to refer to the game is ping-pong.

The rules are the same, the equipment is the same, and everything else is the same.

The only difference is how mad people will get when you call it ping-pong instead of table tennis.

It’s a bit silly honestly. Why not simply enjoy the game and let people call it what they will as long as they play by the same rules as you?

However, if you want to be technically correct and use the same term as the official table tennis Association, and call it table tennis and not ping-pong.

The funniest thing is, ping-pong is still a registered trademark in the USA which is currently owned by Escalade sports.