As table tennis players, we like to take care of our things, and one essential piece of equipment needed for the sport is the ball. A ping pong ball is a delicate, lightweight, and hollow ball that is struck with the racket over and over again.
You are forced to think the question, do they wear out? That’s what you’ll learn in this article, in addition to other things you should know.
Table tennis balls wear out when in use, and ultimately they will break, often from the seam where the two halves of the ball are glued. However, the wearing doesn’t affect the game until it’s broken. The ball’s star rating and constriction process affect how fast the ball will wear out and break.
Luckily the wearing won’t affect the game because it doesn’t diminish the bounce or make it inaccurate. Only when the ball breaks, the wearing has gone over its withstanding point and is now unusable. So, the wearing will make the ball break, but you can play with it without problems until that.
Now, let’s take a closer look at what are some possible differences between table tennis balls.
What is the difference between table tennis balls?
Two things affect how fast the ball will wear out and break: The star rating and how the ball is constructed. However, there are other differences between balls that aren’t really affecting how fast the ball will wear.
I’ll start with the star rating and build process so you can learn why the two things have a say on the ball’s deteriorating process.
1. Star rating
Ping pong balls are rated either to 1, 2, or 3-star categories. 1-star being the poorest quality and 3-star being the best. The star is given during and after the manufacturing process to see whether the balls comply with the quality standards fully or partly.
3-star balls comply with the quality standards in all categories, such as seam evenness, weight, roundness, and hardness, in addition to the quality control tests made in the manufacturing phase. 1 and 2-star balls can have a slightly uneven seam, or the roundness isn’t Olympic level.
Generally, 3-star balls are only used in competitive tournaments and are approved by the ITTF, whereas 1 and 2-star balls are used in training, recreational play, and beer pong, for that matter.
So when it comes to the wearing out and breaking process, 3-star balls last far longer, whereas 2 and 1-star balls will wear out and break faster.
2. Build process
The second factor is how the ball is built, and I’m talking about the seam because that’s where the ball will break 90% of the time. Now, nearly all balls are made out of two halves glued together, making up a seam.
However, thank’s to new technology, balls such as JOOLA Flash that are made without the seam, meaning, it isn’t glued together anywhere so it will withstand stikes and wearing many times over a normal ball!
A 3-star seamless ping pong ball can last months, whereas a 1-star ball can be broken at any moment. However, more quality balls cost more, so if you are an occasional recreational player, 2 or even 1-star balls can do just fine, but if you care about the quality of your game at all, a 3-star ball is a must.
Material, size, and color really don’t affect how fast the ball will wear out, but these are still considerable differences that you should know about.
There are two materials of ping pong balls: Celluloid and Plastic. Until 2015, nearly all table tennis balls were made out of celluloid. Still, ITTF decided in 2014 that all Celluloid ball factories will need to change to plastic because of the easy flammability of the Celluloid balls.
Also, a plastic ball is slightly slower in speed than a celluloid ball, which was the ITTF agenda to make the rallies slightly longer.
Nowadays, ping pong balls are made out of ABS plastic with a great bounce and don’t have flammability issues that can present safety hazards in factories and wrongly usage of ping pong balls.
To learn more about the material differences, history, and affect on the game, I encourage you to read my article about it.
When it comes to the size, there are two kinds of these as well. You probably have seen the +40 mark on a ping pong ball. This means that the ball is over 40mm in diameter.
This is shown because celluloid balls used to be 38mm in diameter, but when the material change was made, it needed to be clear that the balls were now 40mm in diameter.
This makes the plastic balls slightly slower than celluloid balls because naturally, a slightly bigger object has more air resistance when compared to the smaller object.
Finally, there are two main colors in ping pong balls: White and Orange. However, there are ping pong balls of all colors for recreational and other uses, but in table tennis, only white and orange are used.
In short, the difference between white and orange balls are that white balls are a better fit with dark surroundings because it can be seen better, whereas orange balls are better in light surroundings.
Depending on a table tennis club’s surroundings, the color can be either in training; however, in competitive games, the ball is always white because the environment is designed for it; therefore, a white ball can be seen better by the players, referee, and both live and tv audiences.
If you want to learn more about the color differences of ping pong balls, I highly suggest that you read my article covering the subject.
How long do table tennis balls last?
In short, there is no average time for how long a table tennis ball lasts. It has too many variables, such as the star rating and construction method of the ball, your skill and strike power, how often you train with the ball, and so on. However, a seamless 3-star ball can weeks and even months.
You should replace your table tennis balls if you notice a decrease in bounce or other performance quality. All in all, ping pong balls tend to get broken often, so choose your balls carefully!
My Favorite Table Tennis Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Here you can find my preferred table tennis equipment that I believe you could benefit too!
- Racket: My favorite racket choice is the beautiful Killerspin Jet800 because it fits my offensive and speed-focused playstyle. The two carbon layers, 2.1mm sponge, and 190g weight makes this racket powerful.
- Ping Pong Balls: New technology and design have made the JOOLA Flash Seamless 3-Star Balls stand out from the other balls. These balls are seamless, meaning they are more durable than any ball with a seam! Even when these balls come at a higher price, they will pay themselves quickly. As a bonus, the design makes me excited!
- Table Tennis shoes: The famous Butterfly Lezoline Rifones is my choice as it is for many others because they are designed specifically for table tennis standards. I like the excellent support, comfortable cushioning, and lightweight sole with great traction, which gets you exploding fast to whatever direction you need to.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.