ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Sports and Recreation»
  • Individual Sports

Table Tennis... Ping-Pong... Let's Just Call It a Lot of Fun!

Updated on August 6, 2013

Birth of the Game

Have you ever thought about the about the origins of the popular game table tennis? It has been around since the 1880s when it was developed in England as an after dinner game played with a "net" made of stacked books on top of a table. Two more books were used as rackets to bat a golf ball back and forth across the table top without hitting the "net."

This new game was nicknamed wiff-waff due to the sounds made by the swooshing of the "rackets" during the game or ping-pong for the sound the ball made as it was knocked back and forth across the table. The new sport quickly became a popular party game. By 1901, J. Jaques & Son Ltd had trademarked the name Ping-Pong and was manufacturing the game with other companies soon following, though these competitors called their versions table tennis.

Soon a new ball was developed especially for the game as well as specialized rackets designed to make the game quicker and more challenging. Parker Brothers bought the rights to market the game as Ping-Pong in the United States and soon the game's popularity was rising in the States as well as worldwide. In Great Britain, the Table Tennis Association was created in 1921 and was followed by the International Table Tennis Federation in 1926. Also in 1926, the first official World Championship was held in London. The United States Table Tennis Association was formed in 1933 and similar groups were formed around the world.

Various changes have been made over the years to the ball used for play such as a slight increase in size to slow the ball's speed. This was necessary to gain television coverage of the sport as the original ball speed was too fast to be captured on camera. The rackets used also saw some changes with a layer of sponge added to increase the speed of the ball. After apparently working out the perfect speed for the ball, the popularity of the game has continued to grow over the years. The game has become an Olympic sport and is played for sport and recreation around the world. Players young and old enjoy the fast paced action of the game and will undoubtedly keep table tennis, or ping-pong if you prefer, popular for many years to come!

Actors Robert Redford and Paul Newman participate in a game of table tennis.
Actors Robert Redford and Paul Newman participate in a game of table tennis.

A Popular Sport

Perhaps not surprisingly, even celebrities have been known to enjoy an occasional game of table tennis. Some of the many stars from the past who have expressed a fondness for the game include Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman, Audrey Hepburn, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Susan Sarandon. Even some newer faces to stardom have been caught ping-ponging such as Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and even Her Royal Highness Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. Of course, these days, it is almost possible to become a star for playing table tennis.

One of the best known table tennis players is South Korean actress Soo Yeon Lee. She has been called the world's hottest ping pong player and, while she was an actress before becoming known as a table tennis player, there is little doubt that her athletic abilities in the game have furthered her career considerably. It seems fitting to end this article with a how-to video starring none other than the lovely Korean beauty showing us the way to have a good time playing this long-loved, popular game.

Have you ever played table tennis?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      lamlam ikgops 3 years ago

      what are the stregth and weakness of a table tennis player