Encyclopedia of Sport: Every sport from around the world

Table Tennis (Ping Pong)

Table Tennis (called ping pong in the USA) is a popular sport around the world. The sport originated in England, and is currently played by almost all countries around the world. The Chinese have dominated the sport for the last two decades.

Table Tennis is played on a rectangular table with a net in the middle that splits the table into two halves. Each half has a vertical marker line in the middle that splits the half into two boxes. Players hit a lightweight plastic ball back and forth across a table using a small racket (also called a bat or paddle). It is played in a single or doubles format.

A play starts with a serve. Serves are required to land on the diagonally opposite box on the other side. All subsequent shots are allowed to bounce anywhere on the opponent's side of the table. Serves are the only shots that are allowed to bounce once on the player's own side of the table. All other shots have to directly fall on the opponents side. Each player alternatively gets to serves two times, irrespective of which player gets the point off of a serve. Points are awarded to a player when an opponent is unable to return the ball back on to a player's half of the table.

Table tennis matches are played in best of seven sets format, where a player who first wins four sets, wins the match. Each set is played for 21 points, and the has to be won with a two point differential. If a player reaches 21 without a two point differential the match continues until one player gets a two point lead.

table tennis matchtable tennis match

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the highest governing body for the sport, conducts several major tournaments around the world. Table tennis is also played in the Olympics.

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Check out our Encyclopedia of Every Sport. Well not every sport, as there is a list of unusual sports, extinct sports and newly created sports. How to get on these lists? See What is a sport?

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