difference between ping pong and table tennis

Difference Between Ping Pong and Table Tennis

Most people think that table tennis and ping pong are the same thing and have two different names. We can’t blame them for thinking so because they truly are similar to what it seems with a ball, two bats, and a very similar table with a net.

In fact, before 2011, ping pong and table tennis were considered to be the same game because they have significant similarities.

Although they are similar in some ways, there is a difference between ping pong and table tennis regarding their rules, moves, and bats. So, let’s dive into the details of ping pong vs. table tennis.


What is Table Tennis?

table tennis

Table tennis is a world-famous sport played on a table with a net in the middle, hand paddles, and balls made of plastic or celluloid, which have a diameter of 3.4 mm.

It is so popular that it is one of the major Olympic sports and is considered a highly competitive sport. This sport was invented around the 1880s in Victorian England when people could not play regular tennis in the winter due to icy weather.

The game includes a lot of hand-eye coordination and a lot of footwork to play well. Also, it is a very fast-paced game.

In this game, the ball spins a lot, and that is a crucial factor, along with hitting the ball properly.

The spinning makes it difficult for the opponents to judge how the ball would move. Players are allowed to use their customized hard paddle while playing this sport to their comfort.

The scoring of table tennis matches is out of 11 points, and the servers are switched after a player serves twice. While serving, the table tennis player needs to keep the ball 6 inches away and above the palm.


What is Ping Pong?

ping pong

In the earlier years, Ping Pong was just used as another name for table tennis, but more differences have been created between the sports in recent years.

This game is played with hard paddles that have sandpaper on them, a table with a net in the middle, and a plastic ball that has a diameter of 3.7 mm.

Although Ping Pong is played in sporting events, it is much less competitive than table tennis.

Most people play ping pong as a recreational activity or hobby, and it can be seen set up in many offices and apartments. Also, the rules of ping pong are not quite strict and are flexible.

In addition to all that, Ping Pong is not a very fast game and does not involve much footwork. It is all about hand-eye coordination.

In this game, the ball does not spin because the sandpaper of the bat just hits the ball and does not make it spin; this also means the paddle lasts longer.

Players need to use a standard sandpaper paddle in Ping Pong and cannot use any customized paddles.

There are not many rules when it comes to serving; players can serve as they do in table tennis, or they can even bounce the ball and then hit it.

Ping pong has two scoring formats: you can either use the 11-point format or a 21-point format. Each player is given 5 alternate serves in a 21-point game.

You may also read the differences between Indoor and Outdoor Pickleballs.


Ping Pong vs. Table Tennis

ping pong vs. table tennis

It is a very common misconception that ping pong and table tennis are the same because they appear similar.

Most people do not know the separate rules of these two sports, and so just go about using the two terms interchangeably. Table tennis is a much more formal and competitive sport than ping pong.

In fact, some people say that ping pong is a relaxed version of table tennis for hobbyists. However, that is not entirely true because these games also have different rules.

A significant difference between table tennis and ping pong is that the ball spins a lot in table tennis and is an important element, whereas the ball is just hit in ping pong.


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Comparison Table Between Table Tennis and Ping Pong:

Parameter of Comparison Table Tennis Ping Pong
Origin Invented in the 1880s in Victorian England Used as a synonym for table tennis from the early 20th century
Types of Paddles Players may use their customized paddles Players must use standard sandpaper paddles
Flexibility of Rules Strict rules must be followed Rules are flexible and may be changed
Level of Competitiveness Very fast and competitive sport, and it is also an Olympic sport Less competitive sport, and even though it is played in some sporting events, it is not an Olympic sport
Points 11 points per match Either 11-point format or 21-point format
Serving There is only one way players can serve, with the ball 6 inches out and above the palm Players can serve as they do in table tennis, or they can drop and hit the ball
The spinning of the ball The ball spins The ball does not spin


Key Takeaways

1. Table tennis was found around the 1880s in Victorian England. Ping pong is another synonym for table tennis starting from the earlier 20th century, but it is now its own game.

2. The ball spinning is an integral part of table tennis, whereas, in ping pong, the ball is just hit.

3. Players can use their customized paddles in table tennis, but they have to use a standard sandpaper paddle in ping pong.

4. Footwork along with hand-eye coordination is much necessary to achieve spin and power in table tennis. Meanwhile, ping pong does not require the player to do a lot of footwork.

5. As a sport, table tennis is faster and more competitive than ping pong. Ping pong is also considered more of a leisure game, although it is played in sporting events.

6. Table tennis uses an 11-point scoring format, while ping pong uses both an 11-point and a 21-point scoring format.

7. Players must serve by having the ball 6 inches out and above the palm in table tennis, whereas in ping pong, the serving rules are more relaxed.



Both fun and engaging games, ping pong and table tennis, deserve to be known separately.

After going through our thorough guide on ping pong vs. table tennis, we hope you can comprehend them better now. If you have any further questions regarding this topic, write them down in our comments section below.


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