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Table Tennis

 Table Tennis, like cricket and rugby, originated in England and from there spread to the world. It was created as an indoor replication of standard tennis and first played by the Victorian aristocracy in 1880. The first games were improvised with common household items but the popularity of the sport left room for the development of specialized equipment.

Table Tennis, in the early days, was known by several names, including: wiff-waff, ping-pong, and Gossima. Only ping pong, unhyphenated and sometimes capitalized, is still in widespread use besides the official term of table tennis. Ping-pong itself went through an evolution and devolution through history. It was first a common name, then, in 1901, it was trademarked by J. Jaques & Sons Ltd, who marketed an expensive and prestige set of equipment for the game. When table tennis reached the United States, the rights to “ping pong” were sold to gaming giant Parker Brothers and now today, it again is a generalized word for the sport.

The first rackets were made of wooden frames with parchment affixed to them, but in 1901 the modern racket was invented by E.C. Goode who attached a sheet of pimpled rubber to a solid wooden paddle. Around the same time, during a trip to the U.S., James Gibb found balls of celluloid plastic and adapted them to table tennis. Because of its flammability, guitar picks are table tennis balls, are a few of the only uses of celluloid today. The equipment did not undergo another major change until the mid 1950s when a spongy layer was added under the rubber on the racket. This has since been regulated, as has the use of “speed glue” because the game was becoming too fast and hard to follow. In 2000, the rules and equipment were revised slightly to be more watchable on television. The ball size was increased from 38 mm to 40 mm.

Organized table tennis began with an unofficial tournament in 1902 and by 1921, England had created the Table Tennis Association which was followed in 1926 with the International Table Tennis Federation. The first official table tennis tournament was held in London in 1927 and featured players from several countries. It was not until 1988 that it was allowed into the Olympics. Today there are other international competitions such as the World Cup, World Championship, Euro Top-12, and the Asian Games.

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