The ping pong ball is quite possibly the most important part of the sport as the game cannot be played without it. Because of this, you might think purchasing ping pong balls would be a straightforward process. However, this is not the case. There are many brands and different qualities of balls that will all tell you that they’re the best. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled this list of reviews that will help guide your decision as to which are the best table tennis balls for you.
For these reviews, we will be looking at balls that meet certain criteria. First will be ones that are up to competitive standards. That means that all of the balls in these reviews will be three stars, 40 millimeters in diameter, and International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) approved. Secondly, we will look at the best balls designed for recreational play or practice.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 7 hours of research:
The Best Ping Pong Balls Reviewed in 2021 – Overview
Here are the top 5 picks (keep scrolling for more details and picks 6-8).
1. Butterfly G40+ Table Tennis Balls
- PROFESSIONAL TABLE TENNIS BALLS: Approved by ITTF and USTTA for top level tournament play
Now, this is a truly excellent ping pong ball that is perfect for professional players. The Butterfly brand makes the G40+ and they are also known for producing ping pong tables, rackets, and other accessories. Their products are featured in national tournaments and used by Olympic-level players.
As for the makeup of this ball, they are like most other regulation balls, in that they are made with poly-plastic. However, Butterfly has set out to make their balls resemble the old celluloid ones as closely as possible. It is durable, perfectly round, and has the same hardness on all sides.
No matter where the ball lands, you will always get a consistent bounce. Like other modern balls, the Butterfly ones are 40 millimeters in diameter, the regulation size. It is easy to see why a ball of this caliber is featured in so many high-level sponsored tournaments, it is a great competition ball.
- Very high quality
- Special poly-plastic makes these balls feel like the old celluloid ones
- Durable, round, consistent hardness for excellent bounces
- Expensive for a ping pong ball
2. Pro Spin Ping Pong Balls
- SUPERIOR QUALITY BALLS… for competitions or family fun, these ping pong balls can survive any serve or smash
The first product on our list comes from Pro Spin. They are a well-trusted brand known for their quality and their ping pong balls are no exception as you will soon see. These orange ping pong balls are very much up to the standards we look for. First off, this ball is rated three stars, one of the highest ratings that can be given to a ping pong ball.
They are 40 millimeters in diameter, making them the correct size according to the ITTF. The ball has also gone through all of the necessary tests required to meet the standards of the ITTF. Where this ball differs from many like it, is that it is actually made from poly-plastic and not celluloid. This is an excellent feature as it means this particular type of ball will be more durable.
It won’t easily dent or crack, no matter how intense the match is. They are also better for the environment compared to traditional celluloid balls. With this ball, it is guaranteed you will get an accurate, consistent, and good bounce during play.
- Poly-plastic construction ensures this ball is durable and safe for the environment
- Meets all of the ITTF standards
- Recommended for training, rather than true competitive play
3. Killerspin 4-Star 40+ Ping Pong Balls
- COMPETITION BALLS: Table tennis balls are built to the new competition tournament standards with ABS plastic for the best durability and true bounce
The Killerspin brand has made it onto our lists before and for good reason. They always deliver high-quality, top-of-the-line products and their table tennis balls are no different. You’ll notice that these balls are actually rated 4-stars instead of the usual 3. This is not an unfounded claim as Killerspin is known for making some of the best ping pong products on the market.
A ball like this is designed to be used in a competitive setting and therefore needs to be of only the highest quality. This ball is created with the new standard in mind. What this means is that instead of celluloid, this ball is made with ABS plastic. This makes the ball more durable, preventing dents, breakage, and cracks during competitive matches.
The balls are also slightly larger than the standard 40 millimeters, thus the “40+” title. However, this doesn’t take away from the overall performance of the balls. Killerspin 4-star balls are designed for maximum speed, spin, and performance and it shows. Whenever you use these, you will find that every bounce on the table will be satisfying and you will never experience wobble.
- Very high-quality
- These balls are held to strict standards to ensure quality
4. Nittaku 3-Star Premium Ping Pong Balls
- PERFECTLY ROUND - These balls feature outstanding roundness and consistency
This brand of ping pong balls has been gaining in popularity ever since the introduction of plastic balls, in place of celluloid. Nittaku is a company from Japan and their balls are also ITTF approved so you know that they’re of high-quality. In terms of gameplay, the Nittaku balls are known for their smooth roundness, durability, and their consistent bounce on the table.
Each bounce on the table will give you a quality ping. It is no surprise that these are some of the best balls that money can buy if they’re within your budget. Like other balls that are made with plastic on this list, they exceed the 40-millimeter diameter that was common on the celluloid balls by a little bit.
- Excellent durability and roundness
- Consistent bounce
5. Stiga 3-Star Superior Quality
Stiga is another brand that is well-known in the table tennis community for its outstanding products of high quality. Their balls are no different from the rest of their products and are certainly something an aspiring champion should look into.
These balls meet all of the requirements laid out by the ITTF, making them ready for tournament play. They are 40 millimeters in diameter and also meet the necessary weight requirements. They are also officially approved by USA Table Tennis (USATT).
These superior quality balls ensure enhanced ball control, longer volleys, consistent bounce, and excellent spin. When you play with these, you will surely notice a difference, especially if you’re used to playing with 1 or 2 star balls meant for training. These will absolutely make your games feel more fast-paced and competitive.
- High-quality balls by a trusted table tennis brand.
- Superior overall performance
- While they are of excellent quality, they don’t quite match up with the more expensive alternatives
Training and Recreational Balls
1. JOOLA Training 3-Star Balls
- JOOLA - A PROFESSIONAL TABLE TENNIS BRAND TRUSTED FOR 60+ YEARS: Launched in the 1950s, JOOLA has been the proud sponsor of the biggest tournaments in the world, including the Olympics, World...
JOOLA is another very trusted brand and is among one of few that is sponsored at tournament events and for the Olympics. Here you will get what you pay for, that much is certain. Like the balls above, these ones are made specifically with practice in mind and are not built for the high-intensity of tournament-level matches. That being said, they are absolutely perfect for practicing and other recreational use.
Whether it’s serves, volleys, or spikes, these balls will hold up to your training standards. They are also perfect for recreational matches. If your office happens to have a ping pong table or perhaps you’re looking for some balls because your kids keep losing them, this is an excellent option. Not only are they of high quality, but they come at a very reasonable price.
From the Amazon page, you can also select if you’d like a small package or if you’d like to buy these balls in bulk. The bulk option is perfect for people that tend to lose sight of their balls or if you’re looking for an option to stock a training robot. Regardless of your reasonings, these JOOLA brand balls will surely be satisfactory.
- Made by a trusted, tournament-sponsored brand
- Affordable price
- Good options for different quantities
- Not always 100% round or balanced
2. Mapol 3-Star Table Tennis Balls
- Advanced training balls
These balls are a must-have for players who are just getting into the sport. If you’re going to be practicing, you’re going to need a lot of ping pong balls and you can get more than enough here for a fair price. They come in a bulk bag of 50 balls and are worth every cent. While they aren’t as high quality as their tournament-grade counterparts, these balls will give you a lot of mileage due to their number and quality.
Despite not being competition-grade, they’re still a 3-star ping pong ball, meaning they’re some of the best you can buy. They boast an excellent bounce and when you play with them, you will feel more power behind your shots compared to other training balls. Because of their enhanced power, these training balls are recommended for more advanced players.
- 3-star quality
- Enhanced speed and power
- Good price for a bulk of balls
- Inexperienced players may have trouble getting used to them
3. KEVENZ 3-Star Ping Pong Balls
This is another excellent option for buying in bulk, along with the JOOLA brand training balls. While they aren’t made by a well-known brand, if you’re looking for training balls you shouldn’t be looking for the most expensive nor the most impressive balls.
The KEVENZ brand has a few options to pick from, in terms of quantities, including a 60-ball pack. The price of this pack is cheaper than a pack of about a dozen tournament-quality balls. It is an excellent deal if you’re looking to buy practice balls in bulk.
Much like the JOOLA practice balls, they aren’t tournament quality but that doesn’t mean these are shoddily put together. They’re still 3-star rated balls and are durable, balanced, and long-lasting. All-in-all this is just another excellent option for those looking to buy training balls in bulk.
- Large quantity for a good price
- Durable and long-lasting
- Should really only be used for practice
When it comes to which ping pong ball is the best for competitions or tournament level play, the clear choice in this category is the Butterfly G40+. While the other options in this category certainly are excellent in their own right, these are the overall best quality. The G40+ will always provide a consistent bounce as well as consistent hardness and roundness. You will likely never find a ball that is off-balance or out of shape in some way.
When it comes to balls for recreation and practice, your obvious choice should be the JOOLA brand training ones. Generally speaking, they tend to be of higher quality than the other choices in this portion of the list, providing a more consistent bounce and lasting longer. On top of that, it is also the cheapest choice on the list for bulk options. A pack of 120 balls is cheaper than some packs of a dozen or fewer tournament-quality balls.
Ping Pong Ball Q&A
1. “What’s the difference between training and tournament-quality balls?”
The answer to this question boils down to overall quality. Generally speaking, balls made for tournaments will have fewer defects in them, meaning they will be completely round almost all the time and will provide consistent bounce, speed, and will also be very durable. Training balls can also be bought in high quantities for relatively low prices and are better options for amateurs or recreational players and are less durable.
2. “What exactly are the ITTF requirements for a ping pong ball?”
Ping pong balls go through rigorous testing in order to be approved by the ITTF and are as follows:
- The ball is 40 millimeters in diameter
- The ball weighs 2.7 grams
- The ball must be completely round
- The ball’s hardness must be uniform
- The ball must have a consistent bounce
- The ball must not veer
- The ball must be a high visibility color – specifically orange or white
- The ball must have a star rating
3. “What does a star rating even mean?”
The star ratings that you see on ping pong balls are a rating indicative of their quality. 1 or no-star balls are the worst quality and should only be used by players who do not take the game seriously. These are typically used by people who buy their balls in large quantities and are used recreationally or for home use. They will break or dent easily and are not meant for high-level competition.
2-star balls are decent for training but if you’re going to be serious, you should be buying 3-star balls. The 3-star balls are the best of the bunch and meet all of the ITTF standards, meaning they’re good candidates for practicing and competitive play.
Officially, ITTF approved balls will not receive a star rating higher than 3. Though, some balls are rated at 4 or even 5 stars. This can be seen as a red flag by some as the brand creating these high-ranking balls may simply be lying for the sake of sales. However some brands, like Killerspin, really just use the 4 or 5-star rating to boast about quality.
4. “What’s the point of all these regulations?”
Really, it all boils down to consistency. Even though ping pong balls are relatively light, even the slightest changes can mess with a player’s shots or tactics. For instance, if you were used to the regulation weight of a ping pong ball and then suddenly you had to play with a ball that was significantly heavier, you’d have to put more power behind your swing to get it over the net. Additionally, you might find it harder to put more spin on the ball.
Roundness and overall thickness are also a big part of ball consistency. If a ball hits the table on a spot where the plastic is thin, it won’t bounce very well or might bounce somewhere unexpected.
5. “Why do ping pong balls need to be orange or white?”
Ping pong balls actually come in a variety of different colors. The reason that tournament-quality balls only come in orange or white is that those colors are high contrast, meaning they can easily be spotted by players during matches. Additionally, it is much easier for spectators to see where the speeding, bright ball is going.
6. “Why are ping pong balls made of plastic and not celluloid anymore?”
Interestingly, celluloid is a flammable material and thus can be hazardous, especially in large quantities. It is the same material that 14-millimeter film is made of. Because of the hazardous nature of these balls, the ITTF allowed companies to expand on what materials they could make balls out of back in 2014.
However, companies have to be careful and make sure that whatever new material they use still meets the criteria of the celluloid balls or at least comes close to it. In fact, the reason that most balls say 40+ on it is that the new plastic balls are always just a little larger than the old celluloid ones.
Even with the switch, the ITTF still allows celluloid balls to be used in official tournaments. This is because it is expected that the celluloid balls will drop out of popularity relatively soon as they are more costly to make and are also quite hazardous.
Curious about the history of ping pong? Check out this article!