How to Play Ping Pong – Blatt Billiards

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How to Play Ping Pong

by David Roeder |

Ping pong or table tennis is a fun game you can learn how to play. It is played similarly to tennis but on a smaller scale and often indoors. The game was originally played for leisure, but over the years led the way to professional tournaments, and it even became a part of the Olympics in 1988.

What Equipment Is Needed to Play Ping Pong?

outdoor ping pong table

You will need a ping pong table, ping pong balls, and ping pong paddles to play ping pong. You will also need an opponent you can challenge. When you want to practice ping pong, you can practice alone if you push one end of the table up to a wall you can use to bounce shots off.

What Do the Star Ratings on Ping Pong Balls Mean?

pile of ping pong balls

When shopping for ping pong balls, you will notice they have star ratings ranging from one to three. One-star balls are acceptable when you are first learning how to play. Two-star balls are slightly better quality. Finally, three-star balls are considered tournament balls and are the best quality. 

What Are the Different Parts of a Ping Pong Paddle?

ping pong supplies in drawer

A ping pong paddle looks like a miniature tennis racket but, instead of being open, it is solid. The paddle is called a bat because you use it to hit the ball back and forth. The various parts of the paddle include:

  • The Blade – This is the main round part of the paddle. A high-quality paddle will use multiple layers in its design and can be made of wood or carbon fiber.
  • The Handle – This is the part of the paddle that you hold.
  • The Sponge Layer – A sponge layer is adhered to the blade. The thinner the sponge layer, the better control you will have.
  • The Rubber – The rubber is the outer layer on the blade and is made of rubber.

How to Hold a Ping Pong Paddle

man holding ping pong paddle

There are two different ways you can hold a ping pong paddle. It is best to choose the most comfortable one when you first learn how to play. Then, once you are more comfortable, you can try variations like the reverse penhold grip.

  • Penhold Grip – Place your thumb and forefinger around the paddle handle while placing the other three fingers on the back of the blade, similar to holding a pen.
  • Shakehand Grip – You grasp the paddle handle while keeping your index finger on the back of the blade. Alternatively, you can place your thumb on the backside of the blade so your thumb and forefinger form a “V.”

How to Serve in Ping Pong

person about to serve ping pong ball

The official way to serve in ping pong requires you to hold the ball in the open palm of your hand. Next, you toss it up into the air, and it must go up at least six inches to be considered a legal serve.

As the ball comes back down, hit it with your paddle, so it bounces on your side of the table before it goes over the net and onto your opponent’s side.

When playing singles, you can hit the ball anywhere on the table. However, when playing doubles, the ball must bounce on your side of the table, over the net, and bounce on the opposite diagonal on the opponent’s side of the table.

You will need to serve again if the ball hits the net during a serve. If the ball hits the net during regular play and lands on the opponent’s side of the table, it is considered a legal move, and play continues.

What Are the Official Rules of Ping Pong?

ping pong table against brick background

There are some essential ping pong rules you need to know when learning how to play table tennis, as follows:

  • Scoring – Each game is played until one player reaches 11 points. However, if both players are tied with 10 points, then play continues until one player has 2 more points than the other.
  • Serving – Players alternate serving where each player serves twice before it becomes the other person’s turn to serve. When breaking a tie, players only serve once and continue alternating until someone wins the game.
  • Reserves – When the ball hits the net during a serve it is reserved any number of times without any penalties.
  • Number of Games Played – Tournaments are played using the “best of 5” or “best of 7” number of games to determine a winner. When playing recreationally, you can choose either of these or the “best of 3.”
  • Changing Sides – In the last game of the series, when one player reaches 5 points, the players switch sides.
  • Hitting the Ball – You can hit the ball with either the forehand or backhand of the paddle.

Playing the Game

two men playing ping pong in an office

The first thing you need to do is decide who will serve the ball first. The objective is to continuously bounce the ball on your side of the table, over the net, and onto the opponent’s side of the table. Of course, your opponent must also do the same.

When one player is unable to bounce the ball on their side of the table before it goes over the net, the other player gets a point. One point is also awarded when someone misses hitting the ball on the return.

Quality Ping Pong Tables for Your Home

outdoor ping pong table

It is easy to find quality ping pong tables at Blatt Billiards. We offer our Blatt Custom and Semi-Custom ping pong tables, as well as our Blatt Economy tables. Find your new ping pong table today or contact us at 212-674-8855 for further assistance.

How to Play Ping Pong Infographic