Table tennis, also called Ping-Pong, is a sport in which two or four on either ends of a table have to hit the ball to the other side of the table using rackets. The players are on either ends of the table divided by a net. The ball must bounce talent one on the player’s side before he or she hits it back to the side of the net. When a players fails to return it back, a point is awarded to the winner.
Table tennis is similar to lawn tennis but is played on a flat table instead of a court. It was invented in England in the early twentieth century and its popularity has spread all around the world, especially USA, China and Japan. The game is governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) which also specifies the rules.
Table tennis is a highly popular game at multi-sport events, especially the Olympics. A research has claimed that a total of 552.3 million viewers were recorded as having watched table tennis events at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. China’s viewership alone reached 372 million viewers while 28 million viewers tuned in from Japan followed by South Korea, USA and India.
Table tennis equipment is quite inexpensive. It consists of a rectangular table 2.7 meters long and 1.5 meters wide. It is matted and dark colored divided into two equal halves. The net is 1.8 meters long and is 15 cm above the table along the length. The ball is a sphere weighing 2.7 grams with a diameter of 49 mm and should be able to bounce 24-26 cm when dropped from a height of 30.5 cm. It is made of celluloid plastic with a matte finish and colored white or orange depending upon the surroundings. The rackets or ‘paddles’ are wooden with rubber on both the sides.
A match consists of the best of any odd numbers of games, each game being won by the player who first reaches 11 points or who, after 10 points each, wins two clear points ahead. A point is given when a player fails to make a valid service, a return or commits an infraction like when the player’s free hand touches the playing surface, the player strikes the ball twice successively or ball is struck with a side of the racket blade whose surface is not covered with rubber.
Table tennis is played either in singles or doubles, both men and women. Mixed doubles in which a man and a woman are on the same side is also a popular category. Play is fast and demands quick reactions. Spinning the ball alters its trajectory and limits an opponent’s options, giving the hitter a great advantage. Finger spin was a technique that once reached a stage in the United States that the experts could produce untakable services and the game became farcical. Some of the common strikes include lob, chop, smash and flip.
This has been an Olympic game since 1988. In recent times, it has been dominated by China both in men’s and women’s categories, who have mastered every possible grip and stroke possible in the game. Notable players include Liu Guoliang, Kong Linghui, Zhang Jike and Ma Long in the men’s category and Deng Yaping, Wang Nan and Ding Ning in the women’s category.