Despite popular practice, ping pong and table tennis are not interchangeable terms. Well, at least, that’s no longer the case since 2011 when ping pong officially became its own sport.
Before 2011, table tennis and ping pong were pretty much the same things. It’s just that most recreational users in the United States preferred to call the game by its cheery and easy-to-pronounce moniker, ping pong.
On the other hand, serious players seldom referred to the game as “ping pong”, preferring to call it exclusively by the more professional-sounding “table tennis”.
The Differences Between Table Tennis and Ping Pong
Well, these days, the things that make ping pong and table tennis different go beyond the way these two terms are spelled or the way certain groups of players prefer to call them.
Let’s start with ping pong for no other reason than it’s the catchier term. There’s a certain air of exclusivity and sophistication surrounding the term “table tennis” that isn’t present in “ping pong”.
With the term “ping pong”, you feel like anyone can play the game regardless of social status or level of skill. This is a big part of what makes these two terms different.
Think of it this way: “ping pong” is the garbage collector, while table tennis is the “environmental technician”. Despite becoming an official sport since 2011, ping pong has maintained its ability to appeal to the common folk.
Ping pong is also the more fun-sounding of the two. It’s something that makes you think about setting up a table in your friend’s garage and playing there until the weekend is over.
In ping pong, that welcoming attitude should always be a part of your arsenal since that’s what the game is all about.
You won’t need much—a good ball, a level table with a net, and a sandpaper bat are all it takes to get started. Plus, you must make sure that all players involved are using the same standard bats.
Even in scoring, ping pong is simpler. It’s a race to 15 points per set, with the winner being determined by whoever gets the best of their opponent in three sets. A tiebreak also has to take place at 14 all.
There’ll also be no extended arguments or looking at the rule book. As soon as you reach 15 points, you either move on to the next set or someone calls “game, set, and match”.
Ping pong is more a game of skill than anything else. Since you pretty much have nothing else to rely on than basic sandpaper bats, expect rallies to be long and drawn-out, with the ones coming out on top being those that are able to outmaneuver their opponent.
Ping pong is definitely a slower-paced game compared to table tennis, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun. Plus, it puts both offensive and defensive players on an even playing field (unlike table tennis, which clearly favors the former) because each player has time to get into a position to strike the ball.
Now, on to table tennis, which is what many consider to be the real sport. It’s a huge Olympic sport that has hundreds of millions of players around the world.
We’re, again, going to discuss the equipment, scoring, and skill aspects of this sport and how it differs from its more inclusive counterpart.
Think of table tennis as pretty much requiring custom-made bats—because that’s what you’re truly going to need to get ahead in the game.
The vast repertoire of skills you’re hoping to one day possess? Not possible without the right bat.
You’re going to need a bat that’s specifically designed for your particular gameplay. There are bats for those who constantly go on the offense, players who draw out errors from their opponents, and those with a lot of variety and spin to their game.
Since equipment very much matters in a game of table tennis, take your experience to the next level by getting the best table tennis table on the market.
A game of table tennis is almost always going to be intense. You’re going to need to go all out to triumph in a race to 11 points per set of a “best of seven sets” match.
This scoring system is clearly meant for genuine enthusiasts who don’t mind grinding out a 90-minute marathon match any day.
Unlike ping pong players, table tennis enthusiasts are heavily dependent on their equipment to execute their game.
In table tennis, you’re expected to hold a vast repertoire of skills in order to beat your opponent. You need to be able to hit through the court when you need to, defend like there’s no tomorrow, and disrupt your opponent’s rhythm with spins and other shot varieties.
So there you have it—three key areas where ping pong and table tennis differ. Assessing the equipment, scoring, and skill required in each sport makes you realize that, although they are not vastly different, their dissimilarities warrant their complete dissociation from each other.