Table Tennis vs Ping Pong: Difference and Comparison

During its initial development stages, Table Tennis was popularly called ‘Ping Pong’. Later on, due to trademark issues, the International Table Tennis Federation chose to opt for the name ‘Table Tennis’ rather than ‘Ping Pong’.

However, since 2011, the two terms formally stand for different sports with separate world championships.

Key Takeaways

  1. Table tennis is a more formal and competitive sport governed by the International Table Tennis Federation, whereas ping pong is a casual, recreational game.
  2. Table tennis requires stricter rules, equipment specifications, and playing techniques than ping pong.
  3. Although both games share similar gameplay and equipment, table tennis emphasizes skill, strategy, and professionalism.

Table Tennis vs. Ping Pong

The difference between Table Tennis and Ping Pong is that Table Tennis is more formal, fast-paced and exciting. At the same time, Ping Pong is more flexible, has slower ball movement, and comparatively longer rallies.  

Table Tennis vs Ping Pong

Table Tennis is a sport in which two or four players hit a ball in a back-and-forth manner, across a table divided by a net, using rackets. It is fast-paced, in which players can use a variety of noises, has an 11-point game, and is an Olympic sport. 

Ping Pong is considered a more casual and less competitive version of Table Tennis. It is comparatively slow-paced, in which players can use only sandpaper paddles, has a 21-point format, and is not an Olympic sport. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTable TennisPing Pong
Trademarked Nomenclature‘Table Tennis’ is not a trademarked term.Players can use a variety of rackets in Table Tennis, e.g. pips-in, pips-out rubber blades etc.
Equipment UsedIt has a 21-point format.Players can use only sandpaper paddles.
ScoringIt has an 11-point format.Players are given two serves before switching servers.
ServesPlayers are given five serves, each alternately.The service should occur at least 6 inches above the palm, by hitting from behind the line.
ServiceIt has a faster pace and more spin. Further, it has separate offensive and defensive playing styles.There are no hard and fast rules for service in Ping Pong.
Playing StyleIt has a slower pace and medium spin. It does not have any separate offensive or defensive styles, but a mixture of both. The rules in Ping-Pong are pretty flexible, for e.g. it allows team-play, which gives rise to more variations.
Flexibility of RulesIt has a rigid system of rules.It occurs once every two years, and is conducted by International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
Part of OlympicsIt is an Olympic sport.It is not an Olympic sport.
World ChampionshipIt has occurred every year since 2011 and is promoted by British sports enthusiast Barry Hearn.It occurs every year since 2011 and is promoted by British sports enthusiast Barry Hearn.

What is Table Tennis?

Table Tennis is a sport in which two or four players are positioned on two opposite sides of a table. They hit a lightweight ball in a back-and-forth manner, using rackets.

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It is a fast-paced game which has a higher amount of spin. It has a differentiated offensive and defensive playing style.

It has an 11-point format, and players are given two serves before changing the servers. The service in a Table Tennis game should be done by throwing the ball at least 6 inches above the palm by hitting from behind.

The players can use and choose from various paddles or rackets, like pips-out, pips-in rubber blades, etc.

 It is overseen by an international governing body called the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), which has laid down a fixed system of rules for Table Tennis. Its world championship is organized once every two years by the ITTF.

Apart from that, it is also an Olympic sport.

table tennis

What is Ping Pong?

Ping Pong originally was a more popular term that was used to describe a game that we now associate with Table Tennis. Parker Brothers from America trademarked the term ‘Ping Pong’ when the ITTF was being set up.

Therefore, it decided to drop this term and use ‘Table Tennis’ to describe the game.

In the following time, Ping Pong came to describe lighter and less formal versions of Table Tennis. The differences between them have become so prominent because they are now considered separate sports.

Ping Pong is a slow-paced game which has less spin. It is informal and has no distinguished defensive or offensive styles but a mixture.

It has a 21-point format, and players are given five serves alternately. There are no rules for service; the players can let the ball drop or bounce before hitting it.

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The players can use only sandpaper-based paddles.

It is not an Olympic sport, but the World Championship of Ping Pong has taken place every year since 2011.

ping pong

Main Differences Between Table Tennis and Ping Pong

  1. Table Tennis is a formal and fast-paced game, while Ping Pong is more casual and comparatively slow-paced.
  2. Table Tennis has an 11-point game format, whereas Ping Pong has a 21-point game format.
  3. In Table Tennis, the players are given two serves before switching, while in Ping Pong, the players are given 5 serves alternately.
  4. The players in Table Tennis serve by throwing the ball at least 6 inches above the palm and then hitting from behind the line. No such hard and fast rules exist in Ping Pong.
  5. A variety of paddles can be used in a game of Table Tennis, while only sandpaper-based paddles can be used in Ping Pong.
  6. Table Tennis is an Olympic sport, and its world championship takes place once every two years. However, Ping Pong is not an Olympic sport, and its world championship has taken place every year since 2011.
Difference Between Table Tennis and Ping Pong
References
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/026404102317284754
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6485142/

Last Updated : 31 August, 2023

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