How to Play

Table Tennis

  • Table tennis, also known as ping pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight ball back and forth across a table using small bats
  • The game was invented in England in the early days of the 20th century and was originally called Ping-Pong, a trade name. The name “table tennis” was adopted in 1921-22 when the old Ping-Pong Association formed in 1902, was revived
  • Ultimate Table Tennis, India’s first ever professional league was inaugurated in July 2017 with six clubs participating in the league. The aim of the competition is to increase the popularity of the sport in India and to propagate towards a medal in Table Tennis in the 2024 Olympics

EQUIPMENT

  • Ball- The international rules specify that the game is played with a sphere having a mass of 2.7 grams and a diameter of 40 millimeters. The rules say that the ball shall bounce up 24-26 centimeters when dropped from a height of 30.5 centimeters onto a standard steel block.
  • Table- The table is 2.74 meters long, 1.525 meters wide and 76 centimeters high with any continuous material as long as the table yields a uniform bounce of about 23 centimeters when a standard ball is dropped onto it from a height of 30 centimeters. The table or playing surface should be uniformly colored and matt, but with a white side line, 2 centimeters wide, along each 2.74 meters edge and a white line, 2 centimeters wide, along each 1.525 meters edge. It should be divided into two halves by a net of 15.25 centimeters in height.
  • The Net Assembly- The Net Assembly shall consist of the net, its suspension and the supporting posts, including the systems attaching them to the table. The net shall be suspended by a cord attached at each end to an upright post 15.25 centimeters high, the outside limits of the post being 15.25 centimeters outside the line. The top of the net, along with its whole length, shall be 15.25 centimeters above the playing surface. The bottom of the net, along its whole length, shall be as close as possible to the playing surface and the ends of the net shall be as close as possible to the supporting posts.
  • Racket- The racket may be any size, weight, or shape. The blade of the racket or bat or paddle is usually made of wood, is flat and rigid and may be covered with a thin layer of ordinary stippled or pimpled rubber, which may be laid over a thin layer of sponge rubber and may have the pimples reversed. Whatever combination is used, each of the two sides of the racket must have different colors.

 

GRIPS

Though Table Tennis players grip their rackets in various ways, their grips can be classified in to two major families of style, Penhold and Shakehand. The rules of Table Tennis do not prescribe the manner in which one must grip the racket and numerous grips are employed.

  • Penhold- The penhold grip is so named because one grips the racket similar to holding a writing instrument. The style of play among penhold players can vary greatly from player to player. The most popular style, usually referred to as the Chinese penhold style, involves curling the middle, ring and fourth finger on the back of the blade with the three fingers always touching one another. Differing from this, another style, sometimes referred to as the Japanese/Korean penhold grip, involves splaying those three fingers out across the back of the racket, usually with all three fingers touching the back of the racket, rather than stacked upon one another. Sometimes a combination of the two styles occur, wherein the middle, ring and third fingers are straight, but still stacked or where all fingers may be touching the back of the racket, but also are in contact with one another. Penhold styles are popular among players originating from East Asian regions such as China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea.
  • Shakehand- The Shakehand grip is so named because the racket is grasped as if one is performing a handshake. Also referred to as the “Western grip” as this is the grip those players’ native to Europe and USA have almost exclusively employed. Many world class European and Asian players currently use the shakehand grip and it is generally accepted that it is easier to learn than penholder, allowing a broader range of playing styles, both offensive and defensive.

SKILLS

The different types of strokes one needs to master to play this game, can be categorized as offensive and defensive strokes

  • Offensive Strokes
  1. Hit- A direct hit on the ball propelling it forward back to the opponent. This stroke differs from speed drives in other racket sports like tennis because the racket is primarily perpendicular to the direction of the stroke and most of the energy applied results in speed rather than spin, creating a shot that does not arc much, but is fast enough that it can be difficult to return.
  2. Loop- It is essentially the reverse of the speed drive. The racket is much more parallel to the direction of the stroke and thus grazes the ball, resulting in a large amount of topspin.
  3. Counter-hit- It is usually used as a counter attacking stroke against drives, normally high loop drives. The racket is held close and near the ball, which is hit with a short movement “off the bounce” (immediately after hitting the table) so that the ball travels faster to the other side. A well-timed, accurate counter-drive can be as effective as a smash.
  4. Flip- When a player tries to attack a ball that has not bounced beyond the edge of the table, the player does not have room to wind up in backswing. The ball may still be attacked; however, the resulting shot is called a flip because the backswing is compressed into a quick wrist action. A flip is not a single stroke and can resemble either a loop drive or a loop in its characteristics. What defines the stroke is that the backswing is compressed into a short wrist flick.
  5. Smash- The offensive trump card is a smash. A player will typically execute a smash when his or her opponent has returned a ball that bounces too high or too close to the net. Playing a smash consists of using a large backswing and rapid acceleration to impart as much speed on the ball as possible. The goal of the smash is to get the ball to move so quickly that the opponent simply cannot return it. Because the ball speed is the main aim of the shot, often the spin on the ball is something other than topspin. Sidespin can be used effectively with a smash, to alter the ball’s trajectory significantly, although most intermediate players will smash the ball with little or no spin.
  • Defensive Strokes
  1. Push- It is usually used for keeping the point alive and creating offensive opportunities. A push resembles a tennis slice: the racket cuts underneath the ball, imparting backspin and causing the ball to float slowly to the other side of the table. While not obvious, a push can be difficult to attack because the backspin on the ball causes it to drop towards the table upon striking the opponent’s racket. Often, the best option for beginners is to simply push the ball back again, resulting in pushing rallies. Against good players, it may be the worst option because the opponent will counter with a loop, putting the first player in defensive position.
  2. Chop- It is a defensive, backspin counterpart to the offensive loop drive. A chop is essentially a bigger, heavier push, taken well back from the table. The racket face primarily points horizontally, perhaps a little bit upward, and the direction of the stroke is straight down. The objective of a defensive chop is to match the topspin of the opponent’s shot with backspin a good chop will float nearly horizontally back to the table, in some cases having so much backspin that the ball actually rises. Some defensive players can also impart no-spin or sidespin variations of the chop.
  3. Block- It is a simple shot, but nonetheless can be devastating against an attacking opponent. A block is executed by simply placing the racket in front of the ball right after the ball bounces; thus, the ball rebounds back toward the opponent with nearly as much energy as it came in with this requires precision, since the ball’s spin, speed and location all influence the correct angle of a block. It is very possible for an opponent to execute a perfect loop, drive or smash only to have the blocked shot come back to him just as fast. Due to the power involved in offensive strokes, often an opponent simply cannot recover quickly enough and will be unable to return the blocked shot. Depending on the spin of the ball, the block may be returned to an unexpected side of the table. This may come to your advantage, as the opponent may not expect this.
  4. Lob- The defensive lob is possibly the most impressive shot, since it propels the ball about 5 meters in height, only to land on the opponent’s side of the table with great spin. To execute, a defensive player first backs off the table 4-6 meters; then, the stroke itself consists of lifting the ball to an enormous height before it falls back to the opponent’s side of the table. A lob is inherently a creative shot and can have any kind of spin. Top quality players use this to their advantage in order to control the spin of the ball. For instance, the opponent may smash the ball hard and fast, a good defensive lob could be more difficult to return due to the unpredictability and heavy amounts of the spin on the ball. Thus, though backed off the table by tens of feet and running to reach the ball, a good defensive player can win the point using good lobs. However, at the professional level, lobbers will mostly lose the points, so the lob is it used unless it is really necessary. 

RULEBOOK

Table Tennis is governed by the worldwide organization International Table Tennis Federation (IITF), founded in 1926. IITF currently includes 226 member associations. The Table Tennis official rules are specified in the IITF handbook.

Table Tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988, with several event categories. From 1988 until 2004, these were men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles and women’s doubles. Since 2008, a team event has been played instead of the doubles event in which in team from the country will be represented by 4 players, 2 of whom will pair together for a match.

Some of the India’s Best Table Tennis Players

AYHIKA MUKHERJEE

ACHANTA SHARATH KAMAL

MANIKA BATRA

SATHIYAN GNANASEKARAN

ANKITA DAS

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