Why Is Table Tennis Called Ping Pong? (& Variations)
Many people use Table Tennis and Ping Pong interchangeably. Some even believe that they mean the same thing, but that isn’t completely true. Table Tennis and Ping Pong vary slightly. Although when the game or sport as some prefer to call it was first introduced, it was known as Table Tennis, the name Ping Pong depicted the game played using the Jacques Equipment.
Since Jacques, a tennis equipment manufacturer, had trademarked the name Ping Pong, other manufacturers called the game Table Tennis. But why is the game called Ping Pong? The game of Table Tennis is also known as Ping Pong because of the sound the ball makes as it hits the paddle when the ball is bounced on the table.
Ping Pong is generally an onomatopoeia derived from the sounds of the game itself. It originated in medieval England, from where the game itself also originated. Another less attractive alternative was whiff-whaff which didn’t become as common as Ping Pong.
This topic has been very controversial for a long while and has caused countless confusions globally. Hence, I’ll be going deep into it.
- Which Term Is Accurate Between Table Tennis and Ping Pong?
- Is There Any Difference Between Table Tenis and Ping Pong?
- Are There Other Variations of Table Tennis and Ping Pong?
- Is It Wrong To Say Ping Pong
Which Term Is Accurate Between Table Tennis and Ping Pong?
At the time the sport originated, the terms Table Tennis and Ping Pong were used interchangeably. However, the name Ping Pong became trademarked. Therefore, people used Table Tennis more commonly to avoid trademark disputes.
As such, the official term for the game in the UK and other parts of the world is Table Tennis. Ping Pong is a registered trademark because it was registered by Hamley Brothers, a group of London toy importers and manufacturers. So, the trade name is Ping Pong, but the formal name is Table Tennis.
Presently, it would seem that the game has split into two groups. There are the recreational players, those who play the game for fun or as a pastime. They use the terms Table Tennis and Ping Pong interchangeably, although they mostly use Ping Pong. On the other hand, the more serious players play the game competitively and call it exclusively Table Tennis.
However, in China, the term Ping Pong is still in vogue for sports and recreational games. Recreational players are not very interested in what the game is called. Still, those that play the game professionally or competitively believe that the game should be exclusively known as Table Tennis.
This is because they believe that calling it Ping Pong makes it sound like some basement game, while Table Tennis attributes to it the seriousness it deserves and is more appropriate for the image of the sport.
Thus, the question of which of the two terms is accurate depends on who you’re having the conversation with. Some professional players will take offense at the game being called Ping Pong, so you should call it Table Tennis always to be correct.
Besides, the term Table Tennis sounds more professional, and it’s more popular in some places, like several African countries. In fact, in some African countries, the term Ping Pong is alien. And the game is primarily known as Table Tennis. If you were to say Ping Pong in some gatherings, there’d be confusion because everyone just calls it Table Tennis.
Furthermore, recreational players are not into the whole formality of the sport. Although professional players believe that Ping Pong was a sport played by ladies and gentlemen, since it has become a competitive sport, there should be more formality hence their insistence on the name of Table Tennis. That notwithstanding, it is generally known as Ping Pong in recreational circles.
Is There Any Difference Between Table Tenis and Ping Pong?
It is widely believed that Table Tennis and Ping Pong mean the same thing. Generally, many people feel that Table Tennis is the more formal game in which players compete in tournaments globally, while Ping Pong is the less formal version of the game.
Although there isn’t a lot of distinction between Table Tennis and Ping Pong, that does not mean they’re completely similar. Several competitive and commercial Table Tennis players do not like it when the game is called Ping Pong. They believe that the onomatopoeia from which the name Ping Pong originated makes the game sound frivolous and childish.
However, some Ping Pong players have adopted the less formal variant. Most of them prefer to play the game without being stifled by all the formal “Table Tennis” rules.
As such, the people who play Ping Pong focus less on the competition and more on the fun. They play more stripped-down versions of Table Tennis like beer pong, rotating Ping Pong, backward Ping Pong, turbulent doubles, and others.
Furthermore, the method of service in a game of Table Tennis is more strict. It requires that the ball be thrown at least six inches upwards and from an open hand. However, in Ping Pong games, the server can throw straight out of hand, and the six-inch mark is not a requirement.
In addition, there are eleven points in Table Tennis, and each of the players has two serves. But in the less traditional Ping Pong, the game can go up to twenty-one points, with each player having five serves consecutively.
In Ping Pong, the ball must bounce back on the server’s table before it goes over the net after it is served, that extra bounce is why the game is known as Ping Pong in alternative to Table Tennis. However, that is not a requirement in a game of Table Tennis. Once you serve in Table Tennis, then you’re good to go.
Usually, the official size of the ball used in playing a game of Table Tennis is 25mm. On the other hand, the size of a Ping Pong ball is 27mm. So a Table Tennis ball is slightly smaller than a Ping Pong ball, although the smaller ball is sometimes used in a game of Ping Pong. But Table Tennis players always stick to the 25mm ball. You can trust them to always keep the rules to maintain the sanctity of the game!
Additionally, in a game of Table Tennis, the player only has to make sure the serve hits the table on either side of the net. In Ping Pong, on the other hand, each play must hit the table on both sides of the net. I think I’d rather play Table Tennis. Also, players and fans of the sport feel that Table Tennis players are way more serious than Ping Pong players, another reason to play Ping Pong.
One more difference is in the texture of the bats. Yes, the bats are used in playing the games. The Table Tennis bat is padded on the sides with leather and sponge, while the sides of a Ping Pong bat are padded with sandpaper. Essentially that means that the Ping Pong bats are longer, and you would need more skill and craft to put them to use.
Are There Other Variations of Table Tennis and Ping Pong?
Apart from the traditional game of Table Tennis and the less original Ping Pong, there have also been other variations different from Table Tennis. The games are played using a table, bat, and balls, just like Ping Pong and Table Tennis. However, there are differences in the games. Some of the variations of the game are:
Backward Ping Pong
It’s one thing to clone a game, and it’s quite another thing to call a backward version. Bold if you ask me, anyway, in backward Ping Pong, you have to hit the ball downwards on your side before it touches your side of the table. And the hit must be directed to your opponent’s side. Your opponent must do the same.
If anyone misses the ball and it touches his side of the table, it’s a goal for their opponent. Only two people can play backward Ping Pong. There are no doubles in the game. But, it is only a little different from regular Ping Pong.
The Ceilings’ the Limit Ping Pong
This sounds more like a sentence, but it’s a great way for you to change up your game of Ping Pong, have fun and burn some calories while at it. It’s simple, once the ball lands on your side of the pong table, you must bounce it up to the ceiling, so it lands on your opponent’s side. After which, your opponent bounces it up to the ceiling as well.
If the ball does touch the ceiling, it’s a point for your opponent. It’s best to play this version in the basement or a room with a much lower ceiling than usual. I’m certain you can’t play it in your living room. Try getting the ball up there.
Craving a little variety, this is definitely for you. Here it’s usually a team of four players. However, two players are tied with their backs to each other, and each must hit the ball in turn. Once one player hits, they have to rotate so the other player can hit as well.
The constant rotation is what makes the variation both challenging and interesting. It’s also good for exercising. Imagine how many calories you’d burn by doing that.
Beer pong is not exactly like Ping Pong, and the players do not use bats or paddles. Still, it is inspired by Table Tennis and maybe the need to get drunk at parties. Whichever the case, it is played by two opposing teams, and the teams can have a minimum of two players, an unlimited maximum.
The goal is to get a Ping Pong ball into the cups of beer arranged on a Table Tennis table. Once an opposing team member gets a ball into a cup, the other team member must drink the cup’s contents. The team that can get the most balls in the cup wins. And the losing team ends up very drunk.
The clue is in the name. The players hold one bat or paddle in each hand. The hand you use depends entirely on which direction the ball comes from. If the ball comes from the right side, you use your right hand and vice versa. The game is great for brain training, and it is also a boatload of fun.
Obstacle Table Tennis
Ever tried playing with some objects standing in your way? It could be fun. You should try it. In obstacle Table Tennis, you place some chairs or other objects around, and you have to get around them to hit the ball with your paddle. You must be fast on your feet to make your shots, talk about good for the brain and the body.
Squash Ping Pong
Here, you can place your tennis table along a wall or between two walls with a narrow aisle. The goal is for the isle to restrict your movement and make the game a little more challenging and a little more fun. Careful, though, before you hit the wall.
Is It Wrong To Say Ping Pong
Lovers of the game, which I am one, believe that Ping Pong is certainly not an offensive word for the game. To make things easy, we should refer to the hard one with many rules and serious players Table Tennis, while we call the fun basement one Ping Pong.
Moving forward, both terms mean essentially the same thing. So there can’t be a wrong word for it. But while that may be so, some lovers of the sport feel that calling it Ping Pong is disrespectful. And I’ve been told a few times to have a little respect for the sport. Some Olympic players or professional players are serious about calling it by the proper name.
While Ping Pong may be correct in any context, Table Tennis sounds less playful and more important. Ping Pong sounds like backyard and basement play. Table Tennis feels next level.
People who have more respect for the sport use the more formal Table Tennis, you can still choose how you want to call the game, but no term is wrong. And it is not disrespectful to say, Ping Pong. However, you can’t help offending those who take it seriously if you say that.
That being the case, you can vary your usage around your friends and use the more formal term if you’re in a different company, especially if you find yourself around professionals, maybe in the gym or the club, as the case may be. Also, in the UK, the term Ping Pong does seem to carry a derogatory connotation. Whatever the case, for safety sake, just stick the Ping Pong.