If you are thinking about getting into the game of ping pong, the main thing you will need is a table. Like pool tables, you’ll soon discover that full-size ping pong tables can be fairly big and cumbersome, so it may not be the best idea to put a large, heavy one in your house if you only have a small living space to work with.
Many people have considered ping pong tables that are resistant to all kinds of weather conditions and environments. This is really important if you decide to set up your playing area in an outdoor area, or even in a garage or basement that doesn’t necessarily have indoor heating or air conditioning.
You’ll find that the table is the biggest expense when it comes to setting up your space. All of the other equipment for the game, such as balls and paddles, can easily be found at stores or on Amazon, and everything you will need is fairly inexpensive. Getting your playing area nicely defined as a comfortable recreational area can go a long way toward helping you create a fun and welcoming environment for your new, exciting hobby of ping pong.
Getting Started in the World of Ping Pong
One thing you’ll need to be aware of as you are getting started is that your table should be of a certain size. As with most sports, there is an official regulatory body called the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) that defines all of the rules and standards of the official ping pong game.
While the ITTF offers advice on all aspects of the game, they present the following comments about the recommended dimensions for an official game-sized ping pong table: “The upper surface of the table, known as the playing surface, shall be rectangular, 2.74m long and 1.525m wide, and it shall lie along a horizontal plane that is 76cm above the floor.”
So, by converting these numbers into North American terms, this means that the official dimensions of a standard ping pong size table are 9 feet long (2.74m), 5 feet wide (1.525m), and 2 feet and 6 inches high (76cm).
Amount of Space Around The Table
As mentioned above, a standard table is 9 feet long by 5 feet wide, so you will need to have a ping pong environment that is at least this room size. The bigger the room, the better, especially when you are dealing with professional players. If you have ever watched professional table tennis players in the Olympic Games or other world championships, you might have noticed how far they stand away from the table.
They often move quickly and extensively to the sides of the table, as well as far behind it. For this reason, the ITTF decided to recommend a minimum clearance space all around the ping pong table to give the players enough room and enough space. Many of the most popular international tournaments that you’ll see on TV offer a space of 14 meters by 7 meters around the table, which is about 46 feet by 23 feet
Of course, most recreational players will not need nearly that much space until they reach a certain playing standard. Another option is to install an outdoor table tennis table so that it is easier to build in enough space for everyone to be comfortable.
Outdoor tables can often be made out of concrete so that they are more resistant to the elements. it is often hard to achieve a uniform bounce on this kind of surface, but that is one of the trade-offs you might have to make if you decide on an outdoor environment.
Color of the Table
Official regulation tables are generally allowed to be any color. One of the most important aspects is a dark color that allows for full visibility of the ball. The table should also have a clear and smooth appearance that does not cause too much glare or lead to any other reflections.
You will find that many ping pong tables are dark green or blue. Green tables used to be more common, but blue ones are also starting to become more popular. You will even see purple and black tables every now and then. Keep in mind that in professional table tennis matches, no one may wear any type of clothing that is the same color as the ball (white or orange). This is so that the ball can be seen at all times.
Table Tennis Net
The color of the net can be dark green, dark black, or dark blue with a white stripe along the top edge. The stripe should not be any wider than 15mm or .6 inches thick. It is not necessary for the net’s color to match the color of the table. The net is in the middle of the table and it separates the playing area into two equal parts.
The ITTF has also offered some rules for the ping pong net. The net needs to be 6 feet long (1.83 meters), 6 inches high (15.25 centimeters), and there should be an overhang of 6 inches (15.25 centimeters). The net is supported by two posts that are the same height as the net. It is important that those posts are not more than 15.25 centimeters (6 inches) away from the table’s edges. It is also important that the bottom of the net should sit as close as possible to the playing surface.
Height of the Table
Tables are designed with a wide range of players in mind. The standard height of a ping pong table is 76 centimeters or 2 feet and 6 inches high. This is the type of level that allows players of varying levels of skill to play in comfort. This height also allows shorter players, such as children, or even disabled players who may be in a wheelchair, to participate in the game.
Weight of the Table
The table’s weight is another one of the major factors in terms of how stable it will feel. Heavier tables are often found in championships and more serious games. The typical weight for a full-size high-quality table is about 300 pounds.
This makes these tables a little more expensive and also less portable, so if you are going to go with a really heavy table, make sure that your playing environment is as permanent as possible so you don’t need to move the table any time soon. Most of the tables used for recreation are much lighter and they tend to weigh anywhere from 50 to 150 pounds, so they are far easier to move if necessary.
Some Helpful Markings
The markings or lines on official ping pong tables are referred to as “boundary lines” and any balls landing outside and beyond their limits are considered “out of bounds”. Official ping pong tables show the following lines:
- A white line down each side of the table that is 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) wide across the length of the table.
- A white line along each end of the table that is 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) wide across the width of the table.
- A very thin white line that extends all the way from one end of the table to the other. This line is not used in singles games, but it is used in doubles games to divide the table into equal halves. All of the other lines are drawn symmetrically along the length and width of the table.
The Thickness of the Playing Surface
The playing surfaces of official ping pong tables can come in lots of different thickness levels, which are sometimes denoted in the actual name of the table model. The surface measurements generally range from 0.5 inches to 1 inch in thickness. To be considered official, the table must also be built out of a continuous sheet with no joints.
The thickness of the surface affects the bounce of the ball. Thicker playing surfaces generally cause the ball to bounce higher. It is really important to have a surface that allows for a uniform bounce. However, thick tables like these can get fairly expensive, so if you are just going to be needing a table for recreational purposes, a thickness of .75 inches should be fine.
A Few Other Important Things to Consider
There are quite a few other things you may want to consider when deciding which indoor or outdoor table tennis table to buy. One of these things is the warranty period. Some brands offer a very generous warranty period of up to ten years, which will really keep your table in excellent condition for the duration of hundreds of games and even though some trying weather conditions if you purchase a warranty for an outdoor table.
Because this type of warranty shows the confidence that the manufacturers have in the quality and construction of their tables, you can rest assured that you will be getting a very well-constructed product. Another thing to consider with indoor or outdoor ping pong tables is whether the table has an integrated ball and bat storage area.
You will discover that many of today’s tables have compartments and clips for holding balls and bats, which can be an incredibly useful feature that will help you avoid hunting for old boxes of equipment in the garage or basement! Also, you’ll need to consider the frame of the table. We recommend looking for silver solid steel powder-coated frames that are sturdy, with 6 lockable rubber wheels.
Tables like these are generally foldable and they have a rollaway system to make them easy to transport. Tables like these can also be used in playback or individual mode and they come with a very good quality net and post system that can be screwed to the table. These types of tables can be completely set up in less than ten minutes, and they are often great value for money.
For example, we would consider the Joola Tour 1500, 1800, and the Joola Tour 2500 models. Although Joola is a German company, they actually sponsor the American Olympic table tennis team, so they are a very well-known brand. The Joola Tour 1500 has a 15-millimeter thickness tabletop, which is about .6 inches. As mentioned earlier, the thicker the tabletop, the more uniform the bounce.
So while 1500 is a thick surface, you’ll get the best bounce of all if you select the 2500 version. All of the models are good-looking tables, with a blue design and white lines outlining the edges. The undercarriage is especially well put together, with solid framing and adjustable feet. All of these tables come with lockable wheels and a trundle system to help them fold into two separate halves.
Becoming a Ping Pong Player
If you don’t want to invest in a full-sized table just yet, keep in mind that there are lots of smaller tables and midsize ones that are often around 7 feet by 4 feet, with a height of 2.5 feet. Popular manufacturers like Stiga or Joola also offer mini ping pong tables that are even smaller.
These tables range from about 6 feet by 3 feet, and they have a standard height of 2.5 feet. Playing on these tables is actually not very much different from playing on a full-sized table and these tables can often be very good ways to get started with the game.
Playing on these miniature tables of different sizes can indeed be great fun, and it can also be a good way to teach some of the younger players how to play the game. Take a look at some professionals really making the most of their mini table! As you can see, it can be a whole lot of fun to play on these tables.
The only problem is that you might get used to the smaller playing area and then it can take you quite a bit of time to adjust to a full-size table. It goes without saying that if you have enough open space in your house, you should try to select a full-size table like some of the models we mentioned in the previous section.
But if you are mostly looking for a smaller option for some fun times with your friends, then simply try a smaller table, which can be an ideal choice in spaces that are more limited.
Hosting a Ping Pong Party
Ping pong really is a game that is very social. It is quite simple, so even the least coordinated members of your social group will probably be able to return the ball across the net a few times. Once the table is built, it is very convenient and you can play the game for as long (or as short) as you like. Only got 15 minutes? That’s plenty of time for a few quick games.
Best of all, ping pong is a game that really engages everybody around the table. There is nothing worse than going to a party where everybody is sitting around staring into their phones. You’ll find that a few lively games of ping pong will really loosen people up and give all of your guests many hours of entertainment. And if it isn’t enough to gather informally with your friends at home, you could also even form a team to take part in local tournaments in your area.