What is the difference between table tennis versus ping pong? Are they the same or different?
Trust me! It’s not the same!
There are indeed many different rules between these two names. Many new players asked me this same question. Let me compare the difference between ping pong and table tennis right now.
Are ping pong and table tennis the same sport?
No! Table tennis and ping pong were originally the same sport. But nowadays, Ping Pong and Table Tennis are different! They are two different sports. So Ping pong is no longer the informal American title of the game of table tennis. Here is the summary table of table tennis versus ping pong.
To feel the difference between these 2 sports, let’s see the “2020 World Championship of Ping Pong Final“. Note that, this is a “ping pong game” but not a “table tennis game”.
Another huge difference between ping pong and table tennis is, World Championship of Ping Pong is organized every year. While World Championship of Table Tennis is organized every 2 years (see the table below).
The only similarity between table tennis and ping pong is they are originated from England.
Why is table tennis called ping pong?
Some players have posted on theguardian.com that “Table tennis and ping pong are exactly the same game”. But this is no longer true!
Ping-pong is a trademarked name for the game also known as table tennis. In 1901, John Jacques registered “Ping-Pong” as a trading name in England, then the rights were sold to Parker Brothers. Ping Pong is also called “whiff-whaff” in England. Such a funny name 🙂
Before 2011, “Ping Pong” or “Table Tennis” is the same sport. Some recreational players tend to use “ping-pong” or “table tennis in the basement”. Amateur players consider “ping-pong” as a hobby. But serious players call it table tennis exclusively and consider it as a sport. In general, Ping Pong relates to garage players, while Table Tennis is used by players that formally train in the sport.
After 2011, Ping Pong is another sport. Nowadays, Ping Pong and table tennis are not the same.
Difference between Ping Pong vs. Table Tennis?
There is the World Championship of Ping Pong, organized every year in England. The Ping Pong event is held in London England (Alexandra’s Palace) hosted by Match Room (Barry Hearn’s) enterprise.
There is also the World Table Tennis Championship organized by ITTF.
So obviously, Ping Pong and Table Tennis are the different Sports for two different audiences.
Here are the main difference between Ping Pong and Table Tennis:
|Table Tennis||Ping Pong|
|Amount of Spin||Very high||Little|
|Speed||Very high||Medium Slow|
|Type of service||Many||Little|
|Different types of paddles||Yes||No (same paddle)|
|Points per match||21 then 11 (now)||15|
|Grand Slam players||5||0|
|World Championship||every 2 years||every year|
Equipment: Table tennis can use various types of equipment: pips-in, pips-out rubber, and no-limit type of table tennis blade. However, Ping Pong uses only one type of equipment: sandpaper bats. So in Ping Pong, every player uses the same equipment.
Rule: Table tennis plays the best of 11 points, in 7 games. While ping pong plays 15 points best of 3 (except the semi-finals and the final which is the best of five sets), with a sudden death point at 14 all and a double point ball played once on the service. There is a special “double-point ball” that can be used once per match when serving, and it gives 2 points to the serving player if won, and 1 point to the receiving player. It is white instead of orange to mark this occasion.
Scoring: The score ends at 11 points with a difference of at least 2 points for Table Tennis. The score ends at 15. A final score of 15-14 is a winning score.
Playing style: Ping Pong uses sandpaper which provides medium to slow speed and medium spin. Table tennis has a faster pace and a higher amount of spin. Table tennis has an offensive and defensive playing style. Ping Pong can mix both playing styles in a game.
Equipment for table tennis and ping pong
The main equipment difference: In Table Tennis, each person has their own customized paddle. In Ping Pong, the standard paddle used by all: sandpaper.
Equipment for ping pong players
Unlike table tennis, in Ping Pong, every player uses the same equipment: A sandpaper paddle. If you love “Ping Pong”, you can buy a “Sandpaper paddle”. Sandpaper paddles are only 5 ply racket (which is slow and give a lot of control and feedback to ping pong player). The sandpaper paddle doesn’t have 2 rubbers, but instead, it has 2 laminated layers.
- Sandpaper paddles reduce the speed and the spin of the ball. Therefore, the rally’s length in ping pong increases. You have a lot of time during each shot. Ping pong is much slower than table tennis.
- Sandpaper paddle is much cheaper (only around $5 to $10) than a typical table tennis rackets (a blade costs $40 and 2 rubbers cost around 2 x 35 = $70, total price is 70 + 40 = $110).
- Sandpaper generates very little speed and spin, so you won’t have the joy of the real table tennis sport.
- The game is slow and less entertaining for the viewers.
Equipment for table tennis players
If you really want to be a “serious table tennis” player (not a ping pong player), don’t buy cheap, and low-quality equipment. But choose this, one of the best set-ups for the serious table tennis player. The racket + 2 sides rubbers are hand-assembled by Butterfly Equipment Expert.
Many new players don’t know how to choose the right equipment. In table tennis, you need both powers, spin, and control. Here is the full guide for choosing the right blade and rubber for competitive table tennis players.
Who is the World Champion of Ping Pong?
From 2011 to 2014, the World Champion of Ping Pong is Maxim Shmyrev (RUS). For the next two years (2015 to 2016), the champion is Andrew Baggaley (ENG). Last year, the current World Champion of ping pong is again Andrew Baggaley (ENG).
In 2017, the Chinese players started to interest in “Ping Pong”. The latest Ping Pong Champion is a Chinese “Yan Weihao”. He is only 20-year-old and comes from Nanking. In 2018, Wang Shibo, other Chinese players won the World Championship of ping pong.
|Year||Ping Pong Champion|
|2011||Maxim Shmyrev (RUS)|
|2013||Maxim Shmyrev (RUS)|
|2014||Maxim Shmyrev (RUS)|
|2015||Andrew Baggaley (ENG)|
|2016||Andrew Baggaley (ENG)|
|2017||Yan Weihao (CHN)|
|2018||Wang Shibo (CHN)|
|2019||Andrew Baggaley (ENG)|
|2020||Andrew Baggaley (ENG)|
It seems that England, Russia, and China are the most 3 powerful countries in ping pong.
You can see it here. Andrew Baggaley is currently the World champion of ping pong (in 2020).
Who is the World Champion of Table Tennis?
As you see, table tennis and ping pong are not the same! So the World Champion of table tennis is also different. Here is the list of the Men’s World Champion of table tennis. They are the best table tennis players of all time!
|Year||Table Tennis Champion|
Since 2013, China dominates the table tennis scene. There are 8 table tennis champions who are Chinese players in a row (2013 to 2019).
Ma Long won three World table tennis championships in a row (2019, 2017, 2015).
Recently, in Houston 2021 World Championship, Fan Zhendong won his first World Champion in his career.
Table Tennis Champion vs Ping Pong Champion
So finally, here is the resume of the main difference between ping pong and table tennis.
Let’s watch the funny match between the Table Tennis Champion (Zhang Jike, Liu Guoliang) and the Ping Pong Champion (Yan Weihao). They are using the hardbat (or sandpaper racket). Who will win?
- Table Tennis Training Tools
- Table Tennis Training Method in China
- How to Choose the Best Table Tennis Equipment
You should read
Coach EmRatThich was born in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1983. He started playing table tennis at the age of 8. After finishing his Ph.D. in Paris, University Pierre Marie Curie (Sorbonne University) in 2011, he is now a table tennis coach in a small club in France (about 153 players). Interested in table tennis coaching for a global audience, he founded pingsunday.com, one of the best online coaching programs for table tennis players. Using the Chinese coaching philosophy, his table tennis lessons are free, which allows many table tennis players to improve fast. He can speak English, French, Vietnamese, and a little bit of Chinese.