Now that you figured out your table tennis table can fit in your home, it’s time to figure out which pack of table tennis balls you need to purchase. Believe it or not, there are several types of table tennis balls to choose from, each serving its own purpose outside of providing you and your mates with a good time.
You might find yourself standing in your local sports shop holding a 1-star ball in your right hand and a 3-star ball in your left wondering how they differ. Wonder no more with this comprehensive guide to choosing the right ping pong ball.
League Regulation Ping Pong Balls
The International Table Tennis Federation, or ITTF, has a specific set of rules for the types of balls used in competition. If you want to read their regulations and rules about the matter, you can take a look at their 9-page document on the subject here. Put simply, the ball must be made of a certain material, be of a certain color, and have specific weight and size dimensions.
Take a match to a ping pong ball and you would see it ignite in flames. There’s a common misconception that every ball is filled with flammable gas, but that’s not the case – the ball itself is flammable. Some of the more popular variety of table tennis balls are made of celluloid and have been for over 100 years.
In more recent years, manufacturers have made the switch over to plastic, which carries some advantages and disadvantages. Plastic balls tend to be slightly heavier, which means spinning is more difficult.
Ping pong ball weight is a crucial part of determining if a ball is fit for competition. ITTF rules say balls must weigh 2.7 grams but any ball between 2.67 and 2.77 grams is acceptable.
There are heavier balls meant for outdoor play and lighter balls for novelty purposes and spin training. Just be aware of the difference in weight for any ball you purchase.
ITTF states any ball between the sizes of 39.50mm and 40.40mm is acceptable for competitive play.
But do searches online and you’ll find miniature balls for novelty purposes and much larger ones for training. If you’re just starting out, larger diameter table tennis balls are perfect for you and your friends.
Matte white and orange are the only two official colors for play under the ITTF. Depending on where games are played, either color is used to make spotting the ball much easier for opponents.
When it comes to playing a couple of friendly exhibition matches, you can choose whatever color you want. Most of the colors you’ll find outside of matte white and orange are more for decorative purposes or beer pong, if you’re into that sort of thing.
I mentioned above a rating system set for table tennis balls. Ratings come down to a series of tests determining roundness, hardness, veer, and more. Balls are given stars on a one-to-five scale, with one being the weakest and five the strongest.
Lower-rated balls, which can be purchased in large quantities, are used for training, and, since their expendable, they’re chosen for large venues such as gyms and community centers. As you guessed, higher rated balls find themselves used for competition thanks to their durability and shape.
Picking the right ball comes down to how you’re going to play. If you’re just starting out, try finding larger diameter balls.
If you’re truly serious about finding the right table tennis ball for your games, head on over to our shop where you can find an assortment of balls perfect for you.