Table tennis is a table sport that involves two or four players competing against each other. This popular sport is played around the world and is a popular Summer Olympic event. The objective is to win points by striking a ball that is unsuccessfully returned by your opponent. The equipment needed to participate in a game of ping pong is similar to a shrunken down version of tennis. Table tennis is played indoors and includes just three pieces of equipment to participate. All you need is a paddle, a ball and a table to play on! All the additional pieces of equipment are completely optional.
While table tennis can be played with just a paddle, table and ball, there are several accessories that can be acquired to improve one's play. Different accessories help enhance different aspects of the sport. For example, cases and covers help protect the strength and longevity of paddles and rubbers. Bags, clothing, and bottles assist in ease of transportation and match day experience. Glues and boosters can be applied to paddles to provide more power and rotation to the ball. Finally, there are even table tennis robots that can eliminate the need of another person to practice and perfect one's returns. Table tennis accessories have a vast variety of prices, and quality goes up with price.
Table tennis balls are pretty straight forward. The balls must have a diameter of 40 millimeters and weigh 2.7 grams. Table tennis balls are made out of a unique, plastic-like material called celluloid. Air is trapped inside the ball, which allows it to bounce after striking a paddle or table. The lightweight ball can be struck with different types of rubbers and wrist action which results in different spin rates. The faster the spin rate, the more curve you will see from the ball upon striking the receiving player's half of the table. A pack of several table tennis balls can be purchased for under $10.
Table tennis boosters are an alternative to table tennis glue that allow players to enhance the strength and spin of their paddles. The booster is applied underneath the rubber that makes up the hitting area on the paddle. When a booster is applied, it creates a sponge-like effect that makes the paddle rubber more elastic. Table tennis boosters are not legal for official ITTF competition if applied on one's own. However, it is legal to purchase a "pre-tuned" paddle. Boosters cost about $10 to $15.
Table tennis glue is an alternative to table tennis boosters that allow players to enhance both the power and rotation applied by the paddle. Table tennis glue is applied to the paddle in a similar manner to table tennis boosters. The glue is spread onto a sponge that is set underneath the rubber of the paddle. This gives the paddle more spin, strength, and elastic capabilities. The most popular table tennis glues are water-based glues that adhere to ITTF rules because they do not have VOC (volatile organic compounds). Glue costs about $15.
The net is another part of the table that stretches across the width of the table and extends six inches over each side with posts at either end. The net is made of a stretchy nylon material and measures six inches from the top of the net down to the table. Table tennis posts are usually attached to the table by an extendable clip or a washer and bolt that can be adjusted. This allows the net to be secured onto the table. Table tennis nets and posts will typically cost between $10 and $20.
There are two types of paddle cases that are used to help protect and increase the longevity of a player's paddle. Most players prefer an oblong shaped case that mirrors the shape of the paddle itself. The inside is lined with a foam layer that protects the paddle from chipping or the rubber from peeling. Finally, the case also protects from environmental factors such as sunlight or cold which harm the paddle's rubber. Additionally, players can also use a more rectangular shaped case that will protect multiple paddles and other pieces of equipment. Paddle cases typically range in price from $10 to $30.
The penhold grip is a popular grip style in table tennis that involves the player holding the paddle as if they were holding a pen. This means that the thumb and the index finger wrap around the handle on one side and the other fingers rest on the opposite side in the most comfortable manner. Penhold paddles have a shorter handle than other table tennis paddles. There are three types of penhold grips: Chinese, Japanese/Korean, and reverse backhand. Regardless of the type of penhold grip, all penhold paddles share the unique characteristic of a short handle that fits snugly between the fingers. Penhold paddles typically cost anywhere between $25 and $75.
Table tennis rubber covers are generally small plastic cases that only seal and cover the rubber of the paddle, leaving the handle exposed. Table tennis rubber covers serve a very similar purpose to the paddle cases except for they only cover the rubber. These covers are used to protect the rubber from the elements of nature (sunlight, cold, rain, etc.) and to avoid chipping on any hard surfaces. Table tennis rubbers are usually very cheap and can be found for under $5.
Table tennis rubbers are the surfaces on both sides of the paddle used to strike the ball. Different types of rubber provide different characteristics of service and return. Rubbers tend to have three different variations of thickness, also distinguished as "pimples-out" or "pimples-in" (reverse) rubbers. The rubber is glued atop the sponge, and a thicker sponge tends to a more offensive playing style. The pimples-in rubber allows for a smoother surface and great freedom of stroke. Pimples-out is a textured surface that is used best when desiring a specific style of play. Table tennis rubbers can be purchased for less than $10.
As you play the game of Table Tennis, you will notice that there are many different styles of play. Some players tend to play with an offensive mindset, while others lean on the defensive side. Some players prefer to use speed when striking the ball and some players use looping strikes with a lot of spin. A big factor in a player's approach depends on their grip style. The shakehand grip in table tennis is a grip in which you hold the blade as if you're shaking hands. The fingers wrap around the handle and the thumb rests at the base of the rubber. Paddles that favor shakehand styles tend to have a longer handle that allows the player to rest their whole hand around the handle. These paddles are the ones most commonly sold in the United States, and generally cost between $10 and $50.
The paddles used in table tennis are used to strike the ball onto your opponent's half of the table. Paddles can come in many different variations that favor the player's specific skills and techniques. Paddles must be made of at least 85% wood, but can also include some carbon fiber in its design. On both sides of the paddle, you will notice a rubber surface that comes into contact with the ball. These are called "rubbers" and include different rubber patterns that impact the amount of friction applied to the ball. Sometimes, the rubber surface has raised pieces of rubber, known as "pips." These pips can vary in length, with longer pips allowing for more spin on the ball, while shorter pips tend to add more speed. Depending on the quality, Table Tennis paddles can range in price from $10 to as much as $100.
Technology has made a huge impact on how players approach training. Years ago a player would need another person to practice his or her skills but with table tennis robots they are now able to practice with just themselves. These robots range in terms of costs and models, but they are all designed to serve balls across the table for a player to return. A large container is attached to the robot that the player will feed with table tennis balls. The robot will then send table tennis balls onto the player's side of the table until the container is empty.
Additionally, robots can change the speed, locations, and even the spin on the ball, giving the returning player different situations to practice with. Some models are pretty straightforward while others can be very precise in terms of programming how, where, when, and what speed the ball will be served. More complex machines even come with wireless controls and are capable of pre-programming your practice routine. Table tennis robots have a very wide range of prices, with some simple machines available for as cheap as $30 and some heavy equipment selling for hundreds of dollars.
The clothing made specifically for table tennis is very similar to clothing worn in other sports. Shirts and shorts tend to be loose and lightweight which allow for the player to be comfortable while moving around the table. Additionally, these pieces of clothing are designed with moisture-wicking material to absorb sweat and prevent your clothes from getting wet and heavy. Traditionally, most table tennis shirts are collared and have team logos and colors on the front if applicable. Table tennis shirts can be found for under $30.
When playing table tennis, any comfortable pair of shorts will be adequate to play in. Table tennis shorts should be loose and light, so that the player can move with ease around the table. The most important aspect of the shorts is that they are comfortable for the player for the full duration of a match or matches. Table tennis shorts can be found inexpensively at most athletic apparel stores.
For most recreational players, the type of shoes they are wearing don't have too much impact on their play. As long as the shoe is comfortable and allows them to move quickly they'll have no problem getting to the ball. That being said, at a competitive and professional level, being able to quickly react and change direction can be the difference between winning and losing a point. With that in mind, many athletic apparel companies produce and manufacture footwear specifically designed for the sport of table tennis.
Table tennis shoes are balanced between being lightweight for quick movements, and being sturdy enough to prevent ankle injuries. Additionally, they tend to be made out of breathable materials that allow the player to be comfortable even late in the game. Finally, the flexible but grippy soles allow the player to move quickly without losing traction. There are dozens of table tennis shoe manufacturers out there that range in cost so check them out, try them on, and find one that fits best for you. Table tennis shoes typically cost similar to a pair of regular tennis shoes, perhaps a little more at times.
The table in table tennis is the largest and most expensive piece of equipment that you will need to play table tennis. The table looks similar to a small version of a tennis court, with lines marking the area of play and a net dividing the two courts. The rectangular table is nine feet long, five feet wide and stands 30 inches off the ground.
Table tennis tables stand at 2.5 feet above the ground, and measure 9 feet long by 5 feet wide. The table can be made from a variety of materials so long as the ball bounces 9 inches when dropped from a foot above the table. Generally, indoor table tennis tables are made with better material than outdoor tables, as gameplay is more important than protecting the surface from nature's elements. STIGA and JOOLA offer some of the best indoor tables, with prices ranging from $200 to $400.
Outdoor table tennis tables have the same dimensions as indoor tables, but are designed differently to withstand different conditions. Outdoor tables must be able to last through strong winds, rain, and any other notable weather conditions. The primary difference in outdoor tables is in the material that makes up the playing surface. Outdoor tables are typically made with a galvanized steel undercarriage that makes them more durable and strong, allowing them to last much longer than a typical indoor table. Because of this, outdoor tables are more expensive than indoor tables, ranging from at least $300 to $500.
When playing table tennis, especially at a professional level, many players sweat a lot during matches. For this reason, towels are used to wipe sweat away and keep it off the eyes and face of players. While wristbands can assist in this matter, towels are the best tool. While any preferable towel can be used during a match, some table tennis companies produce their own towels. These towels are branded and are small and lightweight so that they are easily transported and stored. Towels can be purchased easily at almost any sports or department store for low prices.
Table tennis can be a very intense sport, especially when played for long durations. Because of this, proper hydration is important to maintaining a high level of play, and a water bottle is the perfect solution to this issue. Most professional table tennis players carry a water bottle with them to tournaments to keep good hydration levels. Some table tennis companies produce their own water bottles that are portable and easily handled during matchplay and breaks. Table tennis water bottles can be found easily and inexpensively almost anywhere.