Ping pong is a global sport played all over the world. More than 220 member countries are part of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). Since the Seoul games in 1988, ping pong has been an Olympics sport, and men and women participate in singles, doubles and team events.
Casual players and children are free to play ping pong with balls of any size, color, and weight. In contrast, serious players are restricted to the rules and regulations of the International Table Tennis Federation. Don’t be mistaken; these rules are not set in stone because several changes occurred between 1926 and 2000.
What is the official size of a ping pong ball?
In 1937, ITTF rules mandated the ping pong ball size to be 38 mm, or 1.5 inches in diameter. However, table tennis authorities became concerned about the waning spectator value of the sport due to reduced rally lengths as players became more skillful. They came up with the solution to increase the size of ping pong balls from 38mm to 40mm.
ITTF considered changing the net height but ultimately reasoned an overall increase of the dimensions of the ball would allow longer rallies.
Did players welcome the change?
This was the most significant change in ping pong rules since 1937, and not all professional players welcomed the change. For example, after the announcement, the Belarus player Vladimir Samsonov, who was the world number one at the time, threatened to withdraw from the World Cup. He argued that there was not enough time to get used to the larger-sized balls before that event. His threats worked because the change was postponed and only took effect in 2000 after the Sydney Olympics.
Is 40 mm now the only ping pong ball size for tournaments?
There was another minor change around 2014-2015. That was when the ITTF changed the material used to make the balls from celluloid to plastic due to nitrocellulose volatility. The new material caused the diameter of the final products to be slightly more than 40 mm. However, the difference is so insignificant that they are just called 40+ balls.
What is the weight of a ping pong ball?
Ping pong balls are perfect spheres explicitly made for the game. By ITTF rules, each ball must weigh 2.7 grams or .095 ounces. Furthermore, ping pong balls must bounce a height of 23 cm if dropped onto the table from 30 cm.
What color ping pong balls are allowed?
Between 1926 and 2000, few changes were made to the original rules and regulations about ping pong balls, except for changes in the approved colors. Initially, ping pong balls had to be pale in color. Then, after a change in 1947, they had to be white but not reflective. From 1971 regulated colors were white or yellow, with orange added as an option in 1993. However, to ensure the ball is visible in most surroundings, white or orange have been the valid options since 1997.
What do the stars on ping pong balls mean?
The stars on ping pong balls rate their quality. One star balls are the lowest quality, ideal for casual players and kids. Two stars are used for practicing, and three stars indicate the highest quality. Furthermore, ping pong balls approved for tournaments and competitions show ITTF printed along with the three stars.