If there’s one sport that Chinese players excel in, probably it’s ping pong. With the high medal percentage, China earned in the past Olympics, there’s no doubt that its players can sweep the competition. And that makes us wonder if height matters to win the game. How tall do you need to be to play ping pong?
If Chinese ping pong players’ average height serves as the reference for the standard height in playing ping pong, you don’t need to be a six-footer to compete. But if you use the tallest ping pong player as a reference, you must be 6’5 ft. That leads to the conclusion height doesn’t matter.
But if the height doesn’t matter, what skills must you develop to be a great player? What other factors contribute to the success of a short player? Why do some tall players lose the game? But before these questions get an answer, let’s dive into the list of players who won ping pong in the past.
How tall do you need to be to play ping pong?
Height requirement is not mandatory for ping pong players. There are players as tall as 6’5 ft and as short as 4’11 ft. And they won in various international games. That’s the recorded data available as of this writing But there may be players who won a local championship that has not been recorded.
The popular player recorded as the tallest ping pong player is Omar Assar. The Egyptian ping pong player is 6’5 ft. He placed silver in the 2011 Arab Games in Qatar. He also won the gold medal with his team player at the same event.
Other tall players include Alexander Shibaev, Kirill Skachkov, and Vladimir Samsonov.
Having a 4’11 ft, Deng Yaping earns the spot as the shortest player in ping pong. The Chinese ping pong player won 18 world championships. That’s a huge achievement!
But the greater ones happened when she won four Olympic championships. And that proves that height doesn’t matter in ping pong.
Other shorter players include Koki Niwa, Chuang Chih-Yuan, and Seiya Kishikawa.
Is height advantage or disadvantage in ping pong?
Height can either be an advantage or disadvantage in ping pong. It depends on winning factors such as footwork and arm reach. A short player can win the match if he or she masters footwork. A tall player can win the match because of its long reach that lessens the chance of missing hitting the ball.
Tall ping pong players advantages and disadvantages
Tall players have more advantages than short players in different aspects. One of the obvious advantages is the reach. Tall players easily cover the playing area. They don’t need to move a lot and don’t need to decide on the grip to use when they receive a solid bold shot. They also have no difficulty in returning short serves.
But the problem they may encounter is when they decide to hit the ball while staying in place. Instead of moving, they just stretch their arms to reach the ball. It’s a clever strategy, but it weakens the power and accuracy of the stroke because there’s less power when a player hits the ball in this position.
Another advantage of having a tall height is that it provides more freedom for the player to swing better. It improves the defense strategy of the player beating his or her opponent’s strategy.
But even if tall players have a longer swing, they must adjust to the height of the table. And if they compete with the shorter player, it becomes tougher. Because of their height, tall players must bend their knees longer to receive the ball.
Short ping pong players advantages and disadvantages
Short ping pong players are better than tall players in terms of footwork. They focus on the footwork mastery, so they can hit the ball even if it’s far from their reach. They learn to move their body fast to cover their playing area.
Unlike tall players, short players don’t need to bend their knees that much as they receive the ball. Their height is well-adjusted to the height of the table. Because they don’t need to put more effort into their knee position, they have more control over their upper body part.
Being in control with the upper body part is important because the arms and hands of the players must be in power as they hit the ball. And this is the reason why shorter players win the game over their taller counterparts.
Weight transfer significance in ping pong
Because short ping pong players move a lot when playing, it’s easy for them to shift their body weight from left to right and vice versa. This is not possible if players just stay in place and stretch their arms to hit the ball. The weight remains on the center of their body while the arms and hands are less powerful.
Why is it important that your arms and hands are powerful? Because weak hands and arms deliver the ball with less power, which the opponent can easily receive. Your goal as a player is to hit the ball with power, so you can earn points.
As short players shift their bodies from either side, they also bring power to their hands and arms. So even if the ball is far from them, if they landed on their feet strong, they can hit the ball as hard as they can. And they can deliver a faster ball, which their opponent may have a hard time receiving it.
I can say that ping pong is a height-friendly sport, and it’s not an expensive sport. All you need is to buy a paddle and ball and rent a table tennis court.
You can buy a beginner paddle from STIGA Apex Performance-Level that isn’t expensive. If you want a paddle with carbon technology, you can try STIGA Supreme Performance-Level Table Tennis Racket which is slightly more expensive, but not an expensive racket.
You can also buy a pingpong paddle set such as JP WinLook Ping Pong Paddle Set if you need multiple rackets and balls!