How to Play Table Tennis: A Guide for Beginners

Did you know that table tennis dates back to the 1800s where it was an after-dinner game enjoyed by the members of the British upper class?

A lot has changed since then, as this popular sport has risen to become an Olympic staple and a sport played by 16 million people in the US each year.

Do you play? Do you want to learn?

Well, you are in the right place. Keep reading for beginners guide on how to play table tennis.

What is Table Tennis?

Table tennis, otherwise known as ping-pong is a tabletop game that closely mimics the game of tennis.

Played in both singles and doubles, and also mixed. It is a game of skill and reaction. Played over the world, and a recognized Olympic sport it is played both recreationally and competitively by millions of people around the world.

Played indoors or outdoors – weather permitting – it fast-paced and enjoyable to watch as well as play.

Equipment Needed to Play Ping Pong

When playing ping pong, all you need is a table, two paddles or bats, and a ball. A good friend to play against is also a worthy addition, because especially when starting out, you are going to have a lot of laughs.

While you could turn any level surface into a makeshift table, if you really want to learn how to ping pong you are better to invest in the real thing or check for a local club you could join.

Scoring in Table Tennis?

Unlike court tennis, table tennis is scored in single point increments with the first to reach 11 points in a game being declared the winner of that game.

Points are won when the ball is not successfully returned by either opponent. In order for a return to be successful, the ball must bounce once and only once on each side of the net. Service changes every two points unless both players are on 10 points, whereupon it changes every single point.

Winning a Game

A game of table tennis is made up of sub-games much like sets. Played in the best-of format, the first person to reach the winning odd number wins the game. The number of sets that needs to be one can vary depending on the conditions; practice, competition or just for fun.

While traditionally a fast-paced game, there is a rule that states any game that lasts more than one hour must be restarted. Similarly, in order to keep things moving, if a rally exists or more than 13 returned shots, the server loses a point. The rule system is called the Expedite System, but unless you are planning on playing competitively you are not obligated to follow this.

Practice: The Best Way of Learning How to Play Table Tennis

If you want to get good at something then there is really only one way to do it. Practice. Play games against friends, against yourself, run drills and if you want to take it more seriously join local competitions. Joining a table tennis club would be the obvious place to start.

To learn more about the game check out some of our other blog posts, and visit our store to treat yourself to the newest accessories to help you reach your true ping-pong potential.