7 Fun Facts about Table Tennis You (Probably) Didn’t Know
Table tennis is an incredibly interesting sport played across the world by virtually anyone who can swing a paddle.
Table tennis is also called ping-pong in some countries and played by everyone from the rich to the poor.
It’s the world’s most popular indoor game. Didn’t know about that fact?
Here are some more fun facts about table tennis/ping-pong that will blow your mind.
1. Table tennis balls are not hollow
Ever wondered why a broken table tennis ball cannot be used again even after sealing it? Well because ping-pong balls are not hollow but rather pressurized with gas to a certain extent.
In fact, the International Table Tennis Federation dictates how high a ball should bounce under certain circumstances on a specified surface if it is to be used in an official tournament. In this regard, when a ball cracks, it consequently reduces its bounce rate. Initially, table tennis balls used to be made of celluloid which has since been replaced by plastic balls. Since 2014, all tournaments have been using plastic balls.
2. Before bat/paddles, books were used to hit the ball
Table tennis has come a long way since its invention in the 18th century. There have been significant changes in the rules and equipment between then and now. However, the fascinating thing is that before we had the fancy red and black bat/paddles, the early adopters of the game used to play it with whatever they laid their hands on. In this regard, players brought thick books, sponge, sandpaper and wood among other materials to the tournament.
Today, the international table tennis Federation dictates that a paddle should be 85% wood and have one smooth surface. It’s also in the regulations book that a bat should have a red and a black side among other rules.
3. It’s the best brain game in the world
If you didn’t have enough reasons to play table tennis, then consider it because it’s the number one brain game and calorie burner in sports today.
You thought chess was better?
It’s considered better than chess regarding the brain activity that goes into winning a game. Some health professionals have conducted numerous tests to conclude that it is the best brain game in the world. In fact, they encourage the old and people suffering from mental issues such as dementia and Alzheimer’s to consider playing table tennis to improve their memories.
4. All ages play table tennis even in the Olympics
One of the best things about table tennis is that it can be played by virtually anyone who can hold a bat/paddle. It doesn’t matter whether you are barely off your diapers or 90 years old as long as you can swing a bat, you can play table tennis.
Fortunately, the International Table Tennis Federation has extended this unique advantage to formal table tennis. In this regard, anyone can compete in the Olympics table tennis tournaments regardless of their age. In the recently concluded Olympics in Rio Brazil, the oldest player was 54 years old while the youngest was only 15 years old.
5. Table tennis restored relations between USA and China
Sports have been used to unite people across the globe with various international events such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. However, it’s in 1971 that a table tennis tournament turned foes into friends. Before the tournament, relations between China and the US were pretty tense, but the tournament helped in easing up the pressure. In fact, only a year later, the then US Pres. Nixon visited China to strengthen their newly mended relationship.
The tournament which involved other countries as well such as the UK and Canada was widely covered by the media and named "ping-pong diplomacy". The event was historic because the Chinese invited these other countries to participate in the friendly tournament after locking itself out from the rest of the world for six years.
6. The most decorated table tennis player isn’t Chinese
It’s a well-known fact that the Chinese dominate the table tennis scene in the highest levels of competition. The Chinese have literary won over 80% of all championships. Since 1981, there have been 131 world champion competitions, and Chinese players have won 109 of them.
In China, over 10 million people play ping pong professionally daily and an additional 300 million occasionally. Interestingly, the most decorated table tennis player is Swedish with 16 world championships, a couple of gold and silver Olympic medals under his name. Jan-Ove Waldner is a respected table tennis player in China although he retired in 2016. In fact, he might be enjoying more fame in China than in his native Sweden.
7. Table tennis was called Gossima
It emerges that before we even had the debate between ping-pong and table tennis, various companies had initially struggled to patent the game with different funny names such as Pim-pam, Punch ball, Flim-flam and Whiff-whaff. John Jacques is credited for the name ping-pong which he adopted after his original name Gossima failed.
At first, table tennis used to be played by the royalties and the upper class and so a load of sports manufacturers wanted to get a piece of the cake, and that’s where the war between ping-pong and table tennis officially begun. John Jacques tried to patent the name of the game (ping-pong), but it quickly became a problem as he wanted a lot of money from the table tennis community for using the name. To avoid this kind of problem in the sport, it was agreed that the game would only be called ping-pong if the equipment used were from his company.
There are other numerous fun facts about table tennis that you can find ranging from equipment, table tennis history, and players. Nevertheless, these are some of the most fascinating and interesting facts that are worth noting. Other interesting facts include;
The average professional table tennis player can send the ball towards the opponent at a speed of more than 100 km/h. The fastest recorded smash is 112.4km/h. It’s also believed that the average wild class table tennis player can spin a ball up to 9000 rpm.
Since its inception in 1927 as a competitive sport, the game was played in the Soviet Union but later banned between 1930 and 1950 because the government believed that it was potentially harmful to people’s eyes. On a similar note, the International Table Tennis Federation added a new rule in the year 2000 that increased the size of the table tennis ball so that people could see it clearly on TV. It was also believed that increasing the ball’s size would reduce its speed consequently allowing for better play. However, table tennis remains one of the fastest sports in the world today.