One sport that is often seen on television in channels such as ESPN is table tennis. This is often called the miniature version of tennis because the rules are almost the same. The only difference was that this is on a smaller scale and played indoors.
This sport originated in England in the 1880’s. This was placed by rich Victorians who wanted to play a game indoors. During those time, the sport was referred to as ‘Ping Pong’
During that time, books served as the net, a knot of string or champagne cork was used as a ball and a cigarette box lid was the paddle. Pretty primitive back then but people enjoyed it even if the ball did not bounce that well.
In the early years of the 20th century, improvements were made in the game. The ball was made of celluloid while the racket was made of rubber that was glued to a wooden handle.
The word ping pong became the nickname of this sport since hitting the plastic ball with the paddle produced this distinctive sound. The game was later introduced in the United States by Parker Brothers using that name.
Table tennis was getting popular because the equipment used in playing the game was
Now being produced commercially. Before the first tournament was held in 1902, people were already writing the rule book.
In 1921, the International Table Tennis Association was founded in England. Less than 10 years later, the first World Championships were also held there. Eventually this sport found its way to other parts of the world. Many in the Far East such as China call it ping pong while other nations made a similar term in its own natural dialect.
In the 1950’s, another innovation was made for the paddle. A sponge layer was added over the rubber making it lighter and easier for the player to use. Despite this game being around for more than a hundred years, it was only in 1988 that this was considered to be an Olympic sport. The sport become more sophisticated and new techniques were developed ranging from close to far distance play. This was the period of Chinese domination, with rest of the world players struggling. For the next 30 years china practically ruled the sports accumulating 8 world championship during that period.
In the latter part of 2000, the international body governing the rules of table tennis made another change. The plastic ball used in all tournaments will no longer be using the 38mm but instead will use 40mm versions. This was meant to slow the game down but the type of paddle used and the technique in hitting the ball still made it fast to watch. The changes were primarily done make table tennis a spectator sport. With bigger size balls, the audience can follow the ball easily, the rallys are longer and overall the sports becomes more engaging. The master stroke worked! In last two decades the sports has seen a tremendous rise, make it a 7th largest sport based on audience size. But still ping pong table were same size and height.
The scoring system was also changed. Players will have to follow the 11 point scoring system and no longer the 21 which made each set fast and exciting. And the sets were increased to best of 5. Coupled with this, the sport underwent some technical changes as well. The balls had to pass a new standard drop test. The clothing of the players need to sufficiently dark.
As the popularity of the sports progresses, a lot of professional clubs started cropping up around the world to promote the sports. In US alone, currently 2300 clubs are active which are recognized by ITTF. Some of the popular clubs are Temecula TT club, Baltimore TT club etc. The sport is played in over 54 countries.
People have tried to make similar versions of this game. Some have tried using a bigger ball. Others want to play this game the traditional way before the new rules took effect.
Over the years, table tennis distanced itself from the more informal ‘Ping Pong’ which is now in itself a separate sports. The first ping pong world championship was played in the year 2011.
Those who would like to know more about the game such as who were the great players, the techniques in outsmarting the opponent and other information can buy a book or do some research in the Internet.
Table tennis is easy to learn. The person doesn’t have to buy any expensive equipment because there are affordable versions that come in a set in the toy section of a department store or in a sporting goods store. The key to being good in the game is practice and learning to always keep the eye on the ball.
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