Table tennis is one of the most widely known sports. It’s enjoyed both professionally and as a hobby. One reason why it’s so popular is its versatility.
Compared to other sports, table tennis requires a minimal playing area. So, you can play it anywhere, at any time. You can play it with two players or four, indoors or out. You can even play it in the pool!
In addition to all these great features, we like the way table tennis is just as competitive and driven as any other sport. We also like how it improves your reflexes, aim, and hand-eye coordination.
Today, we’re focusing on the different types of table tennis equipment, so stick around because you definitely don’t want to miss this ultimate guide!
Table Tennis Equipment
Invented in late 19th century Victorian England, table tennis was first played as a parlor game. Within a few decades, it had spread all over the world. Then, a century later, in 1988, it was inducted into the Olympics.
Nowadays, table tennis is hailed as a competitive sport that relies on quick reflexes and mental sharpness. Now that you know a little bit about table tennis, let’s talk about its four basic pieces of equipment.
You can’t play table tennis without a table, now can you? It’s one of the most fundamental parts of the game. According to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), official tennis tables should be 5 feet wide, 9 feet long, and 2.5 feet off the ground.
The surface of the table is painted in a solid dark color, such as blue or green. Dark gray or black are sometimes used, but they’re less common.
No matter the color of the table, the surface should always be matte and smooth to reduce friction. This design feature also helps the ball bounce lighter and quicker from one side to the other.
The surface is made from one of the following materials:
To keep your table surface in good condition, we recommend that you store it somewhere cool and dry. Avoid extreme weather variations as they can warp and damage the table surface.
If your table folds up in an upright position, choose any one of the many table covers on the market. With non-folding tables, you can always cover them up with a weatherproof tarp, preferably one made of vinyl. Make sure it’s tightly secured to the undercarriage of the table for maximum protection.
Different Kinds of Tables
We mentioned above the dimensions of a regular full-size table, but did you know that these tables come in a wide range of shapes and materials?
Read on to see which one is more suited for your gaming needs.
Adjustable Height Tables
If you’re looking for a regular full-sized table that can be easily adjusted, this is the table for you. It’s the same dimensions as other full-size tables, with the simple addition of telescopic legs.
You can adjust the legs to different heights and positions, ranging from 2 feet to a little less than 3 feet. This is a great table for beginners, professionals, and even kids.
Conversion Top Tables
Do you love playing table tennis but don’t have enough space for a full-size table in your home? Then, why not get a conversion top kit instead?
A conversion top is just the surface section of a table. It’s designed to fit over a pool table or any other type of appropriate surface. The bottom layer is made of foam or rubber to protect the table. There are connectors on each side to secure the surface in place as you’re playing.
Have you ever thought about how much fun it’d be to play table tennis while you’re in a swimming pool? Well, table manufacturers were apparently thinking the same thing.
These floating tabletops measure around 30 x 60 inches and have a hard surface so that the ball can bounce back and forth. They also have soft, foam sides to protect you and others around you.
This fun novelty table comes with its own net and set of floating rackets and balls. The best part is its versatility. Not only can you use it in the swimming pools, but you can also use it as a tabletop game, providing you have a table that’s the same size or larger.
Outdoor tables are designed to withstand outdoor weather conditions. They’re designed with galvanized steel undercarriages and weatherproof surfaces. Some are even made from concrete for ultimate durability. Those tend to be more expensive than indoor tables.
If you’re looking for an outdoor table that costs less, look for those made of plywood resin, aluminum, or melamine. They’re weatherproof, lightweight, and easier to maneuver.
Table tennis nets are placed exactly in the middle of the 9-foot table. They come with two side attachments known as the post clamps. They allow you to secure the net from either side of the table. This is also where the net extends outward for 6 inches.
Nets are 6 inches high with a white tape at the top that’s about 15 mm wide. The bottom of the net should be slightly touching the table surface. The length of the net is 6 feet long to provide easy set-up and help maintain the proper tension.
Nets are made of nylon mesh or plastic. The material should offer both durability and flexibility to provide the proper tension.
The color of the material used should be a single dark matte color. The most popular are dark blue, green, and, of course, black.
Table tennis rackets are about 6 inches wide and 10 inches long, including the handle. The entire racket is made of wood, which should be at least 85% natural, according to ITTF regulations.
Then, the flat areas used for striking the ball are covered with colored layers of rubber. The rubber plays a big role in the amount of pivot and force that can be applied when hitting the ball.
Laid down in 1986, table tennis rules state that rackets must have a different color on each side: one black and the other red. This rule was recently updated and will go into effect starting from October 2021. Now, the ITTF allows not just red, but four new bright colors, including:
There are four main types of rubber. Players opt for different kinds to perfect their defense and serving styles during a game.
- Smooth: Also called ‘inverted’ rubbers, this is the most widely used. It has a shiny, flat surface and provides the maximum amount of spin, compared with other types.
- Anti-Topspin: Featuring a smooth surface, players use this rubber to block spins. It’s usually combined with a more offensive rubber on the opposite side, such as ‘inverted’ rubbers.
- Long Pips: This rubber type gives players the advantage of counter-attacking their opponents’ spin. Yet, it’s one of the most difficult rubbers to play with, which is why it’s only found on one side of the racket.
- Short Pips: “Pimpled” rubbers have a bumpy surface with a sponge layer beneath it. This type is used by players who don’t offer much spin in their game. They’re better suited for defensive play.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Rubber blades need to be cleaned regularly using a water-based rubber cleaner. This helps maintain that high-friction surface needed for the ball to spin.
We also recommend that you don’t leave rackets outdoors where they can get damaged by dirt or weather exposure. You can always store them in racket covers to keep them in good condition.
The ball used in table tennis is one of the most vital elements of the game. They were made of celluloid in the past. However, in 2011, the ITTF started promoting plastic balls. Plastic allows for the balls to move with more agility. Plus, plastic balls are easier to make.
Weight and Diameter
Lightweight, yet sturdy, tennis table balls weigh an average of 3 grams. They come in a range of diameters between 38 to 54 mm. In casual games, you can pick any size you want. Although in professional games, the ITTF recommends using 40 mm balls.
Table tennis balls must be a pale color. They come in either pale orange, yellow, or white. They should also have a matte finish. This is so they can stand out from their surroundings. Also, having that dull exterior boosts the ball’s bounce.
After reading our ultimate guide on table tennis equipment, you can now go into any table tennis arena brimming with confidence. When it’s time to buy the best equipment for your playing style, put your knowledge to good use.
Remember to hone your reflexes so you always stay quick and sharp. Whether you play on a full-size table or for fun in the pool on a floating table, make sure you go out there and have fun!