20+ Differences Between Table Tennis And Ping Pong

Table tennis and ping pong are two names of the same sport. For a very long time, ping pong has always been used to refer to table tennis. Even today, table tennis will come to your mind when someone mentions ping pong.

However, in the last decade, certain developments have made ping pong a slightly distinguished sport from table tennis.

The setup looks the same, and it is hard to distinguish. Yet, knowing those subtle differences will allow you to figure out the sport easily.

Key Differences Between Table Tennis And Ping Pong

Comparison between Table Tennis And Ping Pong

ParametersTable TennisPing Pong
The use of the nameIt was adopted in the 1920s due to the restrictions put on the name ping pong.Although ping pong means table tennis informally, it also represents a separate sport.
The surface of racketsThe rackets use layers of sponge and then rubber on the outside.The rackets have a layer of sandpaper on the outside.
Variation among the racketsThere are multiple options for the thickness of the sponge and the rubber texture.There are no such options available.
Rules for serving the ballThe player has to serve the ball according to the rules.There are no specific rules for serving the ball.
The speed of the gameTable tennis is faster, with the rallies being faster than ping pong.Ping pong is slower and is more playable as a recreational sport.
Playing stylePlayers adopt offensive strategies in table tennis.Players adopt both offensive and defensive strategies.
Inclusion in the OlympicsTable tennis is a part of the Olympics.Ping pong is not an Olympic sport.
Frequency of World ChampionshipsWorld Championship is held biennially.Ping Pong World Championships are annually held.
The game pointThe winning score is 11 in a game.The winning score is 15 in a game.
The total number of matchesThere are five to seven games in total.In a ping pong match, there are three to five games.

Major Differences Between Table Tennis And Ping Pong

What Is Table Tennis?

Table tennis is a sport commonly played indoors on a wooden table. The table surface has baselines marked on it like a tennis court. For playing, the players use hard paddles with rubber surfaces. The ball used for striking is made of celluloid or plastic.

Table tennis was developed in nineteenth-century England. While the sport was more commonly known as ping pong, it took its name in the 1920s.

Since then, table tennis has not only become a well-known sport from a mere hobby but is also an Olympic sport for about three and a half decades.

What Is Ping Pong?

Ping pong is a term that was used initially to define table tennis and is also played with hard paddles and a plastic ball on a wooden table with baselines. The name ‘ping pong’ was more commonly used until 1901, when J. Jacques & Son trademarked the name.

Further, about two decades later, Parker Brothers gained the rights to the name. This caused the other organizations to adopt the name ‘table tennis.’

However, in 2011, the governing bodies added changes to ping pong to make the sport different from table tennis despite their close relationship.

Table Tennis Vs Ping Pong All You Need To Know

Contrast Between Table Tennis And Ping Pong

The Use Of the Name

  • Table Tennis- Table tennis became a more commonly used term because ping pong became more restricted after being trademarked by companies. Today, table tennis is the official term for the sport.
  • Ping Pong- Until Jacques and Son Ltd. and Parker Brothers acquired the name, ping pong meant table tennis. The name was still used informally for table tennis until becoming a separate sport in 2011. Today, professional players do not use ping pong informally anymore.

The Paddles

  • Table Tennis- Table tennis paddles are better known as rackets. The interior layers of the racket are made up of plywood, and the surface of the blade is covered with rubber layers on both sides with sponge layers underneath. 
  • Ping Pong- Ping pong rackets are similar to table tennis rackets. However, there is a slight difference. The interior layers are made of wood, and the surface is covered with 5-ply sandpaper. 

Variation Among The Rackets

  • Table Tennis- Since there are no rigid restrictions regarding the type of racket, table tennis rackets vary in the thickness of rubber and the type of surface. Each type has its pros and cons, and players select the racket based on what suits and improves their performance.
  • Ping Pong- Ping pong rackets have a more specified composition. The surface is not made of rubber but sandpaper. All ping pong rackets will be the same, and the similarity restricts the players from sticking to one type.
Name And Equipment Table Tennis Vs Ping Pong

Rules For Serving The Ball

  • Table Tennis- Table tennis has more defined rules for serving the ball. A player has to strike the ball from behind the line after tossing upwards about 16 centimeters (6.3 feet) from the throwing hand.
  • Ping Pong- Ping pong currently does not have defined rules for serving the ball. Therefore, some players serve as they do in table tennis, while some even bounce the ball on the table first before hitting it.

The Speed Of The Gameplay

  • Table Tennis- Table tennis has faster gameplay when compared to ping pong because the rackets increase the speed and spin, increasing the overall pace.
  • Ping Pong- Ping pong is relatively slow in terms of overall gameplay. This is because the sandpaper rackets do not allow the balls to spin much or gain enough speed.

Playing Style

  • Table Tennis- In table tennis, the players mainly adopt the offensive style of gameplay, where the purpose is to acquire points as quickly as possible by making the opponent fail to return.
  • Ping Pong- The slower gameplay of ping pong allows the players to adopt both offensive and defensive styles as and when required. 
The Gameplay Table Tennis Vs Ping Pong

Inclusion In The Olympics

  • Table Tennis- Table tennis has been known as an Olympic sport since the Summer Games of 1988 when the event was held in Seoul.
  • Ping Pong- Ping pong is not in the Olympics currently. However, the sport has gained separate recognition with its World Championship events.

World Championship

  • Table Tennis- The World Table Tennis Championship event is a biennial event. In other words, it is held once every two years.
  • Ping Pong- The World Ping Pong Championship event is an annual event. It is held once every year.

The Game Point

  • Table Tennis- Earlier, the winning point was 21 in a single table tennis game. Today, the game point to score is 11.
  • Ping Pong- Every ping pong match is played up to the game point of 15.

The Winner

  • Table Tennis- Table tennis matches have 5 to 7 games. The winner needs to win at least 3 or 4 matches respectively to win the match.
  • Ping Pong- The number of games in a ping pong match is 3 to 5. The winner will have to win 2 out of 3 matches or 3 out of 5 matches to win the match.
The Competition Table Tennis Vs Ping Pong

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How many types of textures are available for table tennis rackets?

Table tennis rackets are available in a lot of textures. The inverted rubber keeps the smooth surface outwards. Short pips have small pimples on the surface.

Both of them are speed-oriented. Medium pips and long pips focus more on the spin.

The antispin racket has a softer surface and is mostly used for defensive playing, but it can be customized to one side.

Q2. Is ping pong more of a casual sport?

The name ping pong does make the sport somewhat seem less professional as a sport.

However, since the last decade, when separate ping pong championships came into being, it is slowly being looked at as a professional sport despite being still under the shadow of table tennis.

Q3. Which is easier to play – table tennis or ping pong?

Ping pong is relatively easier and more playable as a recreational sport based on the overall gameplay.

Although table tennis is equally recreational, the fast pace might not allow new players to catch up quickly enough. 

Q4. Why is table tennis known as ping pong in the United States?

Table tennis is more popularly known as ping pong in the United States. One primary reason is that when the sport was new to the States, the Parker Brothers popularized the sport as ping pong.

Q5. How does the sponge affect the playing style of table tennis?

The sponge layer of the rackets also affects the overall gameplay. In the antispin racket, this layer is soft, allowing more spin.

Moreover, if the layer is thicker, the speed will also increase. However, the player will require more skill to control the ball.


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