The sport got its start in England towards the end of the 19th century when, after dinner, some upper-middle class Victorians decided to turn their dining room tables into miniature versions of the traditional lawn tennis playing field. Several different every-day objects were employed in constructing the sport. They used a line of books as the net. Rackets were lids from empty cigar boxes, and a little later, parchment paper stretched around a frame. The ball would be either a ball of string, or perhaps more commonly, a champagne cork or rubber ball. Before “Table Tennis.”
When the game first started it was called by a number of different names. “Whif whaf,” “gossamer,” and “flim flam” were commonly used to describe it. The words, as can be assumed, were derived from the sound that the ball made when hit back and forth on the table. In 1901 though, English manufacturer J. Jaques & Son Ltd registered one of the more popular names, Ping-Pong, as a copyright. He later sold the trademark to the Parker Brothers in the United States. Then in the 1920’s the name and the sport were revived in Europe as table tennis. Evolution
The turn of the century brought many other refinements to the sport. Players started using celluloid balls after the English man James Gibb discovered them during a trip to the United States in 1901 and proved them to be perfect for Ping-Pong. In 1903, E.C Goode replaced parchment paper and cigar box lids with pimpled rubber on light wooden “blades” as rackets. And after the world championships in Prague in 1936, where two defensive players took over an hour to contest one point, the net was lowered to make the pace of the game-play faster. (In another effort to make the game more fast paced and entertaining, rules were again changed in 2001- see Rules). It Spreads
Also around this time, the sport spread to other European countries and to the United States. Asian countries like China, Korea and Japan are understood to have learnt about it from British Army officers who held posts in those places. There was an unofficial world championship held in 1901, but the first official world championship was held in London in 1927 by the International Table Tennis Federation. The ITTF was founded in Berlin in 1926 by England, Sweden, Hungary, India, Denmark, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Wales. Asian Factor
Although it may seem today that the sport, in the professional realm, is dominated by Asian countries like China and Korea, it wasn’t always that way. Before the late 1950’s and early 60’s, European players from Hungary especially, but also from France and Sweden seemed without competition. But in 1952, Japanese player Horoi Satoh introduced the foam rubber paddle. The paddle made the game faster and spinning the ball became an even greater factor. Japan became the main winner in the world competitions in 1960, and by the mid 1960’s China took over the reigns through to the early 1980’s. Their absolute domination of the sport was finally subdued with the entering of table tennis into the Olympic Games in 1988 and the participation of players from Korea and Sweden. Table Tennis and the Cold War
On April 6th, 1971, the US table tennis team was invited on an all-expenses-paid trip to play in China. Four days later, nine players, four officials and two spouses crossed the bridge from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland. They were the first group of Americans to be allowed into the country since the communist take-over in 1949. One of the first signs during the Cold war of improved relations between the United States and China, Time magazine called it “the pong heard throughout the world.” It was shortly followed with a visit to China by President Nixon.
Facilities and Equipment The Table The playing surface, should be rectangular, 2.74m long and 1.525m wide, and shall lie in a horizontal plane 76cm above the floor .The playing surface should not include the vertical sides of the tabletop. The playing surface should yield a uniform bounce of about 23cm when a standard ball is dropped on to it from a height of 30cm. The playing surface shall be uniformly dark colored and matt, but with a white side line, 2cm wide, along each 2.74m edge and a white end line, 2cm wide, along each 1.525m edge. The playing surface shall be divided into 2 equal courts by a vertical net running parallel with the end lines, and shall be continuous over the whole area of each court. For doubles, each court shall be divided into 2 equal half-courts by a white center line, 3mm wide, running parallel with the side lines; the center line shall be regarded as part of each right half-court. The Net Assembly
The net shall be suspended by a cord attached at each end to an upright post 15.25cm high, the outside limits of the post being 15.25cm outside the side line. The top of the net, along its whole length, shall be 15.25cm above the playing surface. The Ball
The ball shall be spherical, with a diameter of 40mm.and weigh 2.7g. The ball shall be made of celluloid or similar plastics material and shall be white or orange, and matt. The Racket The racket may be of any size, shape or weight but the blade (wooden face) shall be flat and rigid. The covering material (rubber sheets) shall extend up to but not beyond the limits of the blade, except that the part nearest the handle and gripped by the fingers may be left uncovered or covered with any material. The surface of the covering material on a side of the blade, or of a side of the blade if it is left uncovered, shall be matt, bright red on one side and black on the other. Slight deviations from continuity of surface or uniformity of color due to accidental damage or wear may be allowed provided that they do not significantly change the characteristics of the surface.
Rules of the game Serving The server shall project the ball near vertically upwards, without imparting spin, so that it rises at least 16cm and then falls without touching anything before being struck. The ball shall not be hidden from the receiver by any part of the body or clothing of the server or his doubles partner and as soon as the ball has been projected, the server’s free arm shall be removed from the space between the server’s body and the net. If the umpire is doubtful of the legality of a service he may, on the first occasion in a match, declare a let (see below) and warn the server. Any subsequent service of doubtful legality of that player or his doubles partner will result in a point to the receiver. Whenever there is a clear failure to comply with the requirements for a good service, no warning shall be given and the receiver shall score a point.