Who Invented Table Tennis?

by , under tabletennis

The game of table tennis was invented in England in the 1880’s by rich Victorians looking for an activity to be played indoors. When the game was first played, books served as a net, a knot of string or a champagne cork was used as a ball, and cigarette box lids were employed as paddles.

Improvements were made to the equipment during the early 1900’s. The balls were being made from celluloid, and the paddles consisted of a piece of rubber glued to a wooden handle. The word ping-pong originated because of the distinctive sound the ball made when hitting with the rubber paddle. And Parker Brothers opted to go with the ping pong name when they introduced the game to the United States.

With the commercial availability of the equipment, the game continued to grow in popularity, and the first tournament was held in 1902. In 1921 the Table Tennis Association was founded in England, and less than ten years later, the first World Championships also took place there.

Over time the sport spread to other parts of the world. In the Far Eastern countries, such as China, it is called ping pong, while in other countries similar terms in the native language are used.

The 1950’s rolled around, and other innovations were made. As an example, a sponge layer was added to the paddles over the rubber, making the paddles lighter and easier for the players to use. And finally, after being around for more than a century, table tennis was included as an Olympic Sport in 1988.

In the latter part of 2000, the international body governing the rules of table tennis introduced more changes. They decided to increase the size of the plastic ball used in tournaments from 38mm to 40mm. This was an attempt to slow the game down a little. They also made changes to the way the game was scored, now using an 11 point system as opposed to the traditional 21 points, which makes each set fast and exciting for the players and spectators.

If you watch the sports channels on TV, such as ESPN, a lot, you’re likely to catch a game of table tennis every so often. Table tennis often called ping pong, is played on a wooden table, with a plastic ball and paddles covered in rubber and a net dividing the playing surface. It is sometimes called the miniature version of tennis since the rules are so similar.

Table tennis is a fun and exciting sport, and it is easy to learn. A big advantage to taking up table tennis is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on expensive equipment. The most expensive part is the table. You can find inexpensive ping pong sets, consisting of the net, two paddles and a number of balls, in almost any department store in the toy or sporting goods section.

Enjoy your experiences with table tennis, and remember to keep your eye on the ball.


Most sports will require some skill or some form of characteristics that will make playing a little bit easier. Height, for example, is an advantage when it comes to basketball as players who are tall can easily get to the baskets. Bowling, on the other hand, requires the strength of the arm as well as steadiness because the bowling ball can be heavy. Chess needs a mind that thinks strategy and endgame while those who are involved with gymnastics will need flexibility and coordination. Although all these can be learned through constant practice, there are still people who seem to play these sports so naturally.

Table tennis, however, is one of those sports that seem to require no prerequisite conditions. Everything can be learned through practice, including the speed of the reflexes.


The start of the game

Similar to the beginnings of other sports, Table Tennis also began as a social activity. It is quite similar to tennis and badminton except that instead of a lawn or a court with a net in the middle, table tennis as well… a table. Fred Perry, a World Champion in the sport went on to become a champion in Tennis. That’s how related these games are.

During the second half of the 19th century, the game gained popularity in England and even had various names such as Gossima and Whiff-Whaff. But of course, the name Table Tennis caught on. The name Ping Pong also became popular.

Purportedly, the word ping-pong came from the sound of the ball as it strikes the table and the rackets. But unlike other sports games, which are played primarily outdoors, table tennis became popular as a leisure activity for the family. In fact, in the early 19th century, it is often played as an after-dinner activity during parties.

Between the periods 1905 to 1910, the craze for the ping pong spread through Central Europe and eventually to Asian countries like Japan, China, and Korea.

After a period of waning interests, table tennis was once again revived in England, particularly in Wales by the early 1920s. This time, the name table tennis was officially used while ping-pong became a trademark. At this time, national associations of players of table tennis were formed, and rules about the game were standardized, not only in the country but Europe and in the Far East as well.

Over the next years up until now, table tennis has become a worldwide sensation. By recent accounting, the sports has about 30 million competitive players all over the world. Since leisure players are not part of that figure, one can imagine the extent of the sport’s success.

There are actually few changes in the rules of the game since its inception. It, however, became, faster and more demanding than before, with players becoming more skillful with their games and faster with their reflexes. Among the changes that occur through the years are the height of the net in the middle of the table, some rules in serving and tie-breaking matches.

These changes are only made in the biennial meeting of the International Table Tennis Federation to ensure that rules are standardized all over the world. Also, changes are not implemented until a vote of the majority is reached.

Leave a Reply