All About Table Tennis


Table Tennis is one of the most popular game which is loved all over the world.

It is an indoor game, which is being played on a table divided in between by a net. This game has few variants like singles, Doubles and mixed doubles.

To play Table tennis three types of equipment:

  1. The Table, b) A Racquet / Paddle, c) A ping-pong ball.

The Table Tennis Table should be 2.74mt.(9ft.) long, 1.52mt.(5ft.) wide, and positioned at 76cm (30 inches) high. The table tennis net is always 15.2cm (6 inches) high.

The table tennis racquet can have a rubber layer on one side or both side. It usually 15cm (6 inches) wide and 17cm (6.5 inches) long.

The table tennis ball, can be called as ping-pong ball played with a light 2.7gm (0.1oz), 40mm (1.57 inches) diameter high bouncing hollow celluloid ball.

Table tennis is being played by standing across a table. The umpire or scorer hides the ball in one hand under the table, and then the players need to guess which hand the ball is in. The winner gets to decide if he/she wants to serve or on which side of the table they want to stand. Normally in singles, the first service is decided by tossing a coin.

There is also another method called serve to play, where the player plays the ball back and forth three times and then plays out for point.

Table Tennis terms

Below is the list of some of the frequently used terms.

  1. Heavy - Used to describe a strong spin.
  2. Blade - Wooden part of the racquet.
  3. Anti-spin - A defense spin used to confuse the opponent or even as a reaction to one strong spin. Top-level players rarely use this technique, but it is very famous among amateurs. Player uses the pimpled side of rubber of racquet.
  4. Inverted rubber - Smooth side of rubber which is used to play and the pimpled side is glued to bat. The smooth side gives more spin as there is a larger contact area.
  5. Pimples (Pips) - Rubber side of the racquet that gives different spin effects unlike inverted rubber. There is no much contact surface on this side of the racquet.
  6. Crossover - Change of stroke from forehand to backhand. A player needs to change his/her stroke as this is often an easy target for attack. It is not easy to return a service in this area.
  7. Tight - A strong return which is difficult for the opponent to handle. It is usually a combination of spin and strong stroke.
  8. Loose - A weak return that has insufficient spin or stroke or both, and is easy for the opponent to play.
  9. Early - This is to refer raising of ball.
  10. Late - The fall of ball';s bounce.
  11. Loop - A strong stroke that usually overpowers the spin of the incoming ball.
  12. Multi-ball - A ball robot or another player continuously feeds another player in training. This method is used to reduce time waste.
  13. Penhold - This is a style used to hold the paddle. This resembles t-holding a pen.
  14. Shakehand - Holding the paddle with index finger perpendicular to handle. This is the most common way of holding the racquet and it resembles holding of racquet in tennis.
  15. Sandwich rubber - This is to describe inverted rubber with sponge.
  16. Speed glue - As the name, it is a glue with high volatile solvents, used to glue sponge of rubber to the blade (the wooden part of racquet). It increases the speed of stroke.
  17. Third ball - This is a stroke that';s hit by server in response to the opponent';s stroke after serve. This is the first attacking stroke in table tennis rally.

Playing table tennis

The game starts by deciding who is going to serve first and who is going to receive at the other end. The game begins after deciding which player will serve first.

Service and Return

The game is commenced by the player who serves. The ball is raised at least 16cms in air without any spin and is hit by the racquet in such a way that it hits the server';s side of court once before going on to the receiver';s court without touching the net.

Let - A rally of unscored results is referred to as Let. This could occur because of many reasons, but a few are -

  1. When the receiver is not ready and the ball is served.
  2. The ball is concealed and either the umpire or the opponent player is in doubt of the serve.

Scoring - There are many scenarios where one player gets points. A few are -

  1. If the ball touches anything, not the net, before reaching the opponent.
  2. If the opponent fails to return or service.
  3. If the player hits the ball with wooden part of racquet, not the rubber part, then the opponent gets a point.
  4. When the receiver completes 13 returns in a rally, under expedite system.
  5. Player gets a point when the opponent obstructs the ball.

Alternation of Services - Service can change depending on game point of the match. Regardless of the winner of rally, service keeps changing between opponents. A Deuce is played, when both the players have ten points each and each player serves for one more point. The service and receiving doesn';t change in Deuce.

Players change sides of the table at the end of each game. When one of the players scores five points first, players change the ends regardless of serving turn. If players miss changing sides or if are serving out of turn, the points are still calculated and game is resumed from there.

Types of Strokes

Usually strokes in table tennis are divided into two categories - offensive and defensive strokes.

Offensive Strokes - It consists of 5 types of strokes. Listed as below.

Hit - This is a very powerful stroke with more speed and less or no spin at all. It is hard to return this kind of stroke but is usually played to keep the ball in the game. The paddle is perpendicular to the direction of stroke.

Smash - As the name itself, it is a stroke which is very powerful. Usually played to return a serve that';s either too high or too close to the net. A lot of acceleration and accuracy is needed to deliver this stroke. It is a combination of backswing and high-speed. The ball';s trajectory is changed with sidespin. The main objective of smash is high speed and bounce, so that the opponent is unable to hit the ball.

Loop - This attack gives the ball more spin than speed. The racquet is parallel to direction of stroke. This kind of stroke results in topspin and jumps a bit forward after hitting the opponent';s side of the table.

Counter-hit - This hit, if delivered with correct accuracy, could be as good as a smash. When the ball is hit immediately after it bounces on the table, it results in counter-hit. To achieve this stroke, bat should be very close to the ball.

Flick - When the backswing is compressed to a short wrist swing, it gives a flick. Usually, played by participants, when the ball has not bounced beyond table';s edge. This stroke is usually played to return a serve and when there is no much room for backswing. This could resemble loop in the way it is played.

Defensive Strokes - It consists of 4 types of strokes. Listed as below.

Push - This stroke causes a backspin and makes the ball float slowly in air to the opponent';s side. This attack is popular by name slice in Asia. This stroke can be difficult to return because of the back spin action. This serve might land very close to the net and is difficult for amateurs to play. However, experienced players could return this serve with a loop and could put the opponent in a tough spot.

Block - This stroke might look easy, but could destroy the opponent. One doesn';t hit the ball, but simply puts the racquet so close to the ball, that it hits the racquet right after its bounce. Block could change the side of ball landing on the table, which can be highly advantageous as the opponent wouldn';t be able to judge the ball. Usually in block, the ball is returned with the same energy and angle with which it was served. This stroke can have a topspin and can make the opponent defenseless. Experienced players tend to return this serve with a loop or a smash

Chop - This is the backspin counterpart of loop. This strike is made when the ball lands almost at the end of the table. Hence, the strike is very heavy, and requires more energy. This backspin is usually a return to the opponent';s topspin. If played well, the ball is horizontal to the table while in air with a little rise. Chop is extremely difficult to return. Only certain players can demonstrate variations in chop like no-spin impact or side spin.

Lob - This strike propels the ball to a height of about 5 meters, to land on opponent';s table with highest spin. A good defense lob is so effective that it can be used as a return to smash. To make a return to this strike, players usually back off from the table for about a few meter and run towards the table to hit the ball with maximum speed and strength. This strike is very powerful because of its unpredictability of spin.

A Game - When either one of the players scores 11 points then, he / she is declared as winner of that particular game. In case both the players reach 10 points, then the player who achieves two points before the other one is declared as winner of the game.

A Match - A match is the best of odd number of games. Usually a match consists of 3, 5 or 7 games.

Types of Spins

Spin plays a very important part in table tennis. The effect of spin can change the entire game.

Backspin - This spin is used to keep the ball low and in the game. This spin is hard to return and so players use this a lot while serving. The ball rotates away from the player and so it is hard to hit the ball. To return backspin, smash can be used but it should be very close to the net and with full energy.

Topspin - In this type of spin, the trajectory of the ball is perpendicular to the axis of the spin. The ball dips downwards before bouncing and approaching the opposing side. To return this spin, the player needs to adjust the angle of their racquet. This is not as fast as the backspin but is used predominantly to give the opponent less chance to respond.

Sidespin - It is used much while service, as the trajectory of the ball is vertical. Sidespin doesn';t have much effect on the bounce of the ball. This stroke is referred to as a hook.

Corkspin - This spin is referred to as drill-spin. The trajectory of the ball is more or less parallel to axis of spin. This spin is not as effective as the ones mentioned above and can be returned with backspin or smash. To make corkspin more effective, it is usually combined with one or more varieties of spins.

Types of Grips

Grip in table tennis is the way one player holds the racquet. There are three different styles of holding a bat and different player has either one or both styles of holding the racquet.

Penhold - Here the player';s middle, ring, little fingers are curled around the racquet. This style of holding the racquet is called Chinese penholding. Another style of penholding is the Japanese/ Korean style. In this style, the three fingers are across the back of the racquet. Players who have Chinese penholding style prefer round racquet head, whereas the one who have the Korean style, prefer square-shaped racquet head.

Shakehand - This type of grip resembles one shaking a hand. This hold is also called the Western grip as many players of Europe and America use this style of holding a racquet. Shakehand grip looks easy and it is a very versatile style.

Seemiller - This grip is named after Danny Seemiller, as he was the one who used this technique. To have this kind of grip, one should place the thumb and index finger on either side of the racquet and the rest of the fingers should be placed at the bottom part.

This method is used to distract the opponent, as contrasting rubbers can be placed on both the sides of the blade. This technique gives great loops on the forehand side.