Table tennis commonly known for its trademark name Ping Pong is played by two or four players striking a hollow ball back and forth across the table using small rackets.
Ping Pong is a well-loved sport all over the world. It started as a parlor game in the 1800s for anyone with a table, a paddle, and a ball. Originally, it was adapted from lawn tennis during the winter season, when players need to play indoors.
But Ping Pong was a trademark name owned by John Jacques of England. Rights, however, were later sold to the Parker Brothers. Later, the name table tennis was used in 1921-22.
As the game’s popularity increased tremendously over the years, it became an Olympic sport in the 1988 Summer Olympics held at Seoul, Korea. From there, organizations like the United States Table Tennis Association started to develop and then later able to standardize and officialize the game’s rules and mechanics. After 2011 however, table tennis and ping pong were differentiated with a very minor difference. The major difference being the make of the paddle used by the players.
There are three major equipment used in Ping Pong: the ball, the paddle, and the table. In this article, we will be enlightened with details of each of this equipment:
The Ping Pong ball should be hollow and made up of celluloid. The diameter of a ping pong ball is 40mm and has a mass of 2.7g. When the ball is dropped, the rules say that it shall bounce up to 24-26cm from a height of 30.5cm. At present, ping pong balls are made up of polymer instead of celluloid having a color of either white or orange.
The Ping Pong paddles are assembled using laminated wood covered with rubber on one or both sides depending on the player’s choice. The racket should be 10.6 cm long and has a weight of 180g. Its height and width are 19.36cm and 15.24cm respectively.
The Ping Pong table is 2.74m (9 ft.) long, 1.525m (5 ft.) wide, 76m high, it is the standard measurement specified by International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). The table is divided into two halves using the net. The net must be made up of nylon with the height of 15.25cm (6 inches).
Tabletops are usually made of plywood, particle-board, plastic, metal, concrete or fiberglass can vary in thickness between 0.47 to 1.2 inches. But the best game tables have wooden tops, made from a hardboard composed of wooden chips called Masonite. The chips are treated with steam so that they form long fibers and the fibers are used in making the boards. ITTF only approves game tables that are made of wood. The rest of the parts are made of aluminum or aluminum alloy. The boards are either painted or have a plastic layer on top. This ensures the quality of bounce.
It is important to choose the correct color of the tabletop surface in accordance with the surroundings where the table will be placed. It needs to provide a good contrast between the floors, walls and all the colors in the playing area.
Traditionally, the surface of a Ping Pong table is always green or grey, but for the interest of television coverage and make them visually better in the screen, there were experiments with different colors during the 1990s. The matte blue color was finally chosen as it complemented the usual reddish color of the floor coloring during tournaments. However, in 2016 the ITTF voted to amend this as it was noted that 8% of the male population have problems distinguishing green and red, thus the requirement now is that the ITTF approved table must have a dark, matte color.
When the table is not being used, the quality of the game table cover can either lengthen or shorten its lifespan. First and foremost, the tables need to be stored in a cool place to prevent warping of its surface. It is also preferred that it generally in one location as moving from different climatic conditions – hot, cold, damp – can have a detrimental effect on it.
There will also come a time when the top surface loses its adhesion, causing the ball to skid instead of bounce properly. This can be corrected and will need an expert to repair.
Making your own Ping Pong Table
There are ready-to-use game tables in the market, with different features and extra attachments, but some just make their own table. Using any type of plywood that is ¾ inch thick is fine. But since it comes in only a few sizes, fitting them together is a key step. The surface must be smoothened using a sander. Note that rough plywood is not ideal for a Ping Pong table as the rough finish could cause wayward bounces of the Ping Pong balls. It should then be painted with green, or actually, any color of your choosing. Then, lines are drawn.
There are advantages to building your own Ping Pong table, like possible savings on the cost of raw materials vs a ready-made table, bragging rights among friends and the sense of satisfaction that you have a job well done (if you ever are competent enough to have done the job, of course!)
But the disadvantages far outweigh the benefits: the frustration of a job poorly done, the difficulty in sourcing of materials, trying to get a good bounce, getting a paint job well done, and the time you spend learning how to and putting the table together may not be worth the effort.
There are a lot of Ping Pong tables available for sale in the market, that will be in your hands far faster than you could have thought possible. The secret is to get to know what type and what quality of Ping Pong table you want to have in the first place and go get it!