In this article, we’re going to take a look at how to un-dent a ping pong ball. One of the worst things that can happen during a game of table tennis is when someone hits the ball too hard and it gets dented. But you’ll be glad to know that you can sometimes repair the ball. Here are some good ways to try and extend the life of your dented table tennis balls.
A Few Words of Caution
Before we start looking at how to fix your balls, always keep a few things in mind. Under no circumstances should you try putting the ping pong ball into a microwave oven. Just a few seconds of heating could cause spontaneous combustion of the ball and cause it to explode. Have you ever tried heating a boiled egg in the microwave? If so, you’ll know how careful you need to be, so don’t try it for dented table tennis balls.
If you must use a household appliance, put your dented ping pong balls into a conventional laundry dryer for 30 seconds or so. You might find that occasionally the balls will take up to five minutes to un-dent, but this depends on the initial quality of the balls.
After heating your balls, be sure not to put them down and let them rest while they are still hot, because this might lead to the formation of a flat edge on the ball, which will make it really useless. Keep the balls suspended, whether by holding them gently or hanging them in some kind of soft fabric until they cool off.
If you attempt to un-dent your table tennis balls with some of the methods we describe in the paragraphs below, please also be aware that heating table tennis balls can give off an unpleasant smell, so be sure to try these methods in an area with a decent amount of ventilation. Like many other DIY projects or life hacks, you can often make a whole lot of headway just by reading a wiki, articles like this one, or watching instructional videos on Youtube.
Try a Little Hot Water
The hot water method is the easiest way of getting a dent out of a ping pong ball. This method is also used to get dents out of other things such as cars, so it is pretty effective. With ping pong balls, it works by heating the air inside the ball.
This causes the air to expand and knock out the dent. To utilize the changing air pressure involved in this method, you will mostly need some steaming and boiling water in a mug. Toss the ping pong ball onto the top of the water and simply wait for the magic to happen.
First, boil some water in a kettle until bubbles appear and pour it into a large mug. Drop your ping pong ball inside the cup from a distance so you can avoid touching the boiling hot water. Take a wooden spoon and push the ball down slightly below the water. This will increase the pressure on it. Use the spoon to extract the ball from the water. Finally, wipe the ball off with a towel and allow it to dry.
The Hairdryer Method
We mostly recommend using hot water to un-dent your ball, but if that does not work, you could also try the hairdryer method. All you need is a hairdryer and a hand towel (to hold on to the ball). Be careful when you are using this method because you can easily burn your hand if you don’t protect it with a towel.
You’ll simply be holding the ping pong ball in the towel and pointing the hairdryer on it at the hot setting. This also heats up the air particles inside the ball and causes the dent to pop out. You can also try this without actually holding the ball.
If you notice the ball getting too hot or becoming deformed, turn the dryer off for a while and let the ball cool down before you try again. After you have finished the process and the ball seems to be fixed, you may need to suspend it in a tissue or a towel.
The Thumb Method
If none of the above methods work, you can try saving your ping pong ball with the thumb method. Basically, you just use your thumb to push the area around the dent and try to pop it back into place. This will not always work and sometimes you might even cause the dent to get bigger, but it is sometimes a method worth trying.
The Cigarette Lighter Method
Another option is to pass the flame from a lighter below the ball for a few minutes. This is another way to heat up the air inside the ball and pop out the dent. Just be careful not to hold the lighter below the ball for too long at a time or else it will be bound to melt the plastic entirely.
Using Vacuum Pressure
If you are able to reduce the pressure outside the ball without actually heating the ball, the ball may also recover with less damage. You could try putting the ball in a small container and sucking it powerfully with a vacuum cleaner. This might just pull the dent out of the ball and get it looking good again.
Looking Like a New Ball
If you follow all of the instructions above and if the ball was not too dented in the first place, you should now have a ping pong that looks almost like new. But although it may look new, it is worth noting that the ball will still not be as good as a new one because the heating process may have affected the original shape. You might find that it won’t bounce as well as it used to, but it should last a little bit longer and allow you to have a few more decent rallies.
Cleaning Your Ping Pong Balls
Regular collections of dirt or grime on the ball can also sometimes affect whether or not you’ll be able to get the dent out of it. Always be sure to wipe down your balls after you have been playing for a while because they will certainly be dirty from the combination of body oils, sweat, and other contaminants on the table.
Use a standard kitchen sponge (or a soft cloth) and warm water to dampen the ball and gently wipe the surface until you notice the dirt and other particles being removed. Some players use a small amount of detergent when cleaning their balls, but this is not a recommended practice.
The ingredients in most cleaners can be abrasive. This can make your balls a lot more brittle and it can shorten their lifespan. It is always a good idea to keep your balls covered or stored away when they are not in use. This will help to keep them clean and in better condition overall.
Parties and Ping Pong Balls
As real ping pong enthusiasts, we love to gather regularly with a big group of friends and spend a few hours showing off our skills around the table. The group includes players of all ages and skill levels, and we have found this is a very good way to practice our skills and learn how to deal with all kinds of different shots and opponents.
Remember that if you hit the ball too hard over the end of the table, and the other player hits the ball anyway, whether intentionally or accidentally, you still lose the point as long as the ball was clearly going out of bounds anyway. So if a ball is flying wildly past the table, it is always a good idea to try and get it under control quickly with your ping pong paddle, or else it may quickly “go to the dogs”.
One thing that can get a little annoying about our gatherings is our dogs. All of our dogs love hanging around the table and chasing down any stray ping pong balls. As you might imagine, this often leads to plenty of dented balls or balls that are completely cracked. The balls that are cracked are generally ruined, so we just have to throw those ones away.
But a lot of the dented balls can actually be salvaged from time to time, as we have explained throughout this article. Check out this excellent video for an informative demonstration of how to go about trying to repair your balls. It can be a fairly involved process, but it could work. Your only other alternative is to get a whole new set of balls.
Sometimes the games develop into raucous beer pong sessions, and these are the times when the balls can end up having a lot of deformities. Between balls being hit too hard and balls being chewed up by the dogs, it is always a good idea to have a large supply of balls available if you decide to start a beer pong session.
Buying a New Set of Balls
Unfortunately, the methods we’ve described here simply won’t work every time. If your ball has a crack in it you will not be able to repair it and will have to buy a new one. Once you have owned a bunch of ping pong balls for a number of years, it does not matter how much you try to get the dents out because you might just need to get a new set of balls after a while. Try to pick up balls that are a range of different colors to keep the game as interesting as it can be.
Ping Pong Ball Colors and Sizes
All regulation balls must be white or orange for high visibility, and the finish must be matte with no shine. However, as in the game of golf, it is possible to get balls of all colors if your goal is mostly to play some informal games in your basement with your buddies. Simply spend some time browsing around Amazon to discover psychedelic balls in all kinds of funky colors like luminous pink or green.
As you are thinking about which balls to get, always remember that the ITTF has very strict requirements for table tennis balls, which have very small allowances for variation during manufacturing. Competition table tennis balls should be 40 millimeters in diameter and should weigh 2.7 grams.
All table tennis balls should be perfectly round and they must not be able to veer at all (in other words, the ball should roll in a straight line when they are allowed to roll along a flat surface). All table tennis balls must have a consistent bounce.
When they are dropped from a height of 305 millimeters onto a steel block, they need to bounce back to a height anywhere between 240-260 millimeters. They must also have a uniform hardness. The balls are measured for hardness on a computer, where they are pressed with a pin with a set amount of force, and then the indentations are measured.
Finally, be aware that ping pong balls are also rated in terms of quality by a star system from 1 to 3 stars. One-star balls are the ones that are mostly used for recreational play, but balls that are used in official tournaments should be of three-star quality.
No ITTF-approved balls may use a star rating higher than 3. For a list of the plastic balls that are currently approved by the ITTF, it is always a good idea to check their website. The approval list is updated about every six months, so even some older balls that do have an ITTF stamp may no longer be approved.
Look For a Local Club of Ping Pong Enthusiasts
One of the best ways to enjoy the game of ping pong is to meet up with other people who also enjoy the game, so you could look into joining a local club. Go online to look for the closest club in your area and try to join it. Most ping pong clubs are usually quite diverse and it can also be a good way to make some new friends.
If you are worried about being too young or old for the club, you’ll probably find that there are lots of people of all ages that play on a regular basis. For most people, playing ping pong at clubs is one of the best ways to improve. There are usually lots of members willing to practice with you and give you tips and helpful advice to help you improve.
Some of the more experienced players can see exactly what you are doing wrong and then you can try to adjust your playing style in a way that makes your overall game a whole lot better. Practice the most basic types of shots confidently before you try any of the more difficult shots like topspin, backspin, or sidespin.
If there is a local club of enthusiasts in your area where you can play a few games of table tennis on a regular basis, it is also well worth finding a regular partner who is willing to help you improve, especially if they also need to practice their own game.
A few informal hours of simply hitting the ping pong ball back and forth with either forehand or backhand shots will really help you improve your skills quickly, and this will lead to fewer balls going wildly off your table at your next gathering. This should mean not as many dented balls and less of a need to pick up a new set.