Are you looking for some fun facts about table tennis? We’ve got everything you ever wanted to know about this strategic, fast-paced sport!
Spin, slice, attack, defense, table tennis has it all! No wonder so many people have set up table tennis in their basements and garages.
But table tennis is not only a weekend game you play with your buddies. The best players in the world are elite athletes with exceptional hand-eye coordination, speed and superior reflexes.
In these fun facts about table tennis we’ll dive into the history of the game, the greatest players and tournaments, and also a few wacky facts that will have you scratching your head.
The greatest thing about table tennis is that it can be played by people of all ages. That’s probably why it’s so popular in schools, retirement communities, and even prisons.
There is no barrier to play and it’s impossible not to have fun while doing it!
Did you ever wonder why one side of a table tennis racket is pimpled and the other side is smooth? Or why some people call the sport Ping-Pong?
And wait until you see the astonishing speed and spin rate that a table tennis ball can travel. You’ll be dying for a rally and a match after these table tennis facts!
21 Fun Facts About Table Tennis
1. The most popular racket sport in the world
If you read our fun facts about tennis, you’d know how popular that game is, but table tennis is even more popular. There are estimated to be over 350 million table tennis players worldwide!
2. What about Ping-Pong?
Table tennis is also commonly referred to as Ping-Pong. However, the term Ping-Pong is a trademark of Parker Brothers and cannot be used by any other manufacturer or governing body. Table tennis sounds a lot more intense anyway!
3. The national sport
Table tennis is the national sport of China. Even Communist leader Mao Zedong was an avid table tennis player.
In fact, China dominates table tennis competitions worldwide, winning almost all the gold medals ever awarded in World Championships and Olympics.
4. Blink and you’ll miss it
A table tennis ball can reach speeds of 70 mph (112 km/h). This is especially astonishing when you consider the lightness of the ball and the short distance it has to travel.
5. The ball became bigger
Table tennis has endured many evolutions of the game to keep it competitive for players and interesting for spectators.
In 2000, it was decided to increase the diameter of the table tennis ball by 2 millimeters. This change was made to slow down the ball speed and encourage longer rallies.
6. Greatest player of all-time
Ma Long has won an astonishing 5 Olympic gold medals, 11 World Championship gold medals, and has been ranked number 1 for a total of 64 months.
Nicknamed The Dragon and The Dictator, Long is regarded as the GOAT of table tennis and he’s still only 33 years old!
7. Best player not from China
Swedish player Jan-Ove Waldner is nicknamed the Mozart of Table Tennis. He is the only person from a non-Asian country to win an Olympic gold medal. He is famous in Sweden, but also revered in China as a legend of the game.
8. Measurable table tennis facts
In case you want to build your own! Height of the net: 6 in (15.25 cm) Height of the table: 30 in (76 cm) Area of the table: 5 ft wide (1.525 m) by 9 ft long (2.74 m) Width of the table lines: 0.8 in (2 cm) Diameter of the ball: 1.57 in (40 mm).
9. Getting dizzy
The spin rate on a table tennis ball is absolutely insane. It’s one of the fun facts about table tennis that truly boggled our mind. A player can put a spin of 9,000 rpm on the ball making it almost impossible to return.
10. Do it for your health!
Table tennis is a sport that you can play throughout your life regardless of age. This is especially good for keeping your mind sharp.
In fact, studies have shown that playing table tennis enhances long-term memory and slows cognitive decline.
11. Make your own game
Want a quick game of table tennis but don’t have the proper equipment?
It’s believed the first game of table tennis was played with a cigar box for a paddle, a stack of books for the net and a champagne cork for the ball. Thankfully nobody’s been using a cork for a very long time now!
12. What’s in a name?
While we already talked about the name Ping-Pong, you should hear some of these other wacky names that table tennis has gone by over the years.
There’s whiff-whaff, gossima, and indoor tennis. These were all attempts at marketing by separate companies wanting to sell the game under their own unique name.
13. In the record books
The longest rally of all time was between Peter and Daniel Ives of England. This father/son duo rallied the ball over 32,000 times in 8 hours, 40 minutes, and 5 seconds without a break.
14. Can table tennis make you blind?
This is definitely one of the wackiest table tennis facts. Table tennis was banned in the Soviet Union from 1930 to 1950 because the government believed that playing too much would lead to blindness.
Thankfully, today it is recognized that table tennis improves vision, especially hand-eye coordination.
15. A change in balls
In 2015, the official table tennis ball underwent a drastic change. The ball formerly made of celluloid transitioned to plastic.
Plastic balls are slower with less spin, but bounce higher. The reason for the switch was simply the high production and shipping cost of celluloid.
16. The table tennis robot
Created by the Japanese company Omron, Forpheus is the world’s first table tennis robot!
Positioned over one side of the table, Forpheus holds a racket and can rally with players testing them on a variety of skills by using AI to learn the strategy of its opponents!
17. Smooth or pimpled?
Have you ever wondered why some table tennis rackets are smooth while the others are pimpled? Well, it is all about the spin.
Smooth rackets are able to generate more quick spin, while pimpled rackets actually deaden the spin which helps in defense.
18. A strange table tennis record
Pavol Durdik might be the most eclectic table tennis aficionado out there. Among his many world records, we think the strangest one is the most table tennis balls fired out of one’s mouth in 30 seconds.
Pavol’s record stands at 59 balls in 30 seconds. Think you can beat that?
19. Female GOAT
When it comes to the best ever female table tennis player look no further than China’s Deng Yaping.
Nicknamed the “Queen of Table Tennis”, Deng is a 4-time Olympic champion in both singles and doubles. All the more impressive, Deng was once deemed too short to play at 4’11 (1.5 m).
20. Swish swish
The game of Swish invented in Australia is a revamped version of table tennis for the visually impaired. In Swish, players use a paddle to hit the ball under a partition. The ball is also filled with bells to make it easier for players to hit.
21. Playing all the shots
The game of table tennis is split up into offensive and defensive shots that a player can choose to use.
Offensive shots include hit, loop, counterhit, flip, and smash. The defensive shots are push, chop, block and lob. And don’t forget the most important shot of all, the serve!
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
Did these fun facts about table tennis get your head spinning? If we’ve missed any of your favorite facts, you can let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to this list!