Are Olympic Ping Pong Tables Smaller?

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Ping pong is widely known as an exciting social sport with two to four players that can be played indoors or outdoors.

Creating a ping pong table can be as simple as putting a divider down the middle of a large table and finding something to use as ping pong paddles and you are good to go. This is fine if you are playing an impromptu game with your friends at a Friday night barbeque.

However, if you are a more serious ping pong player, or if you want to use your ping pong table more regularly, having the right equipment is important and makes the game more enjoyable to play. But there are so many tables available on the market… and have you noticed that some are bigger than others?

The question is: are Olympic ping pong tables smaller than recreational tables, or is it the other way round? Let’s take a look.

Creating a ping pong table

What is Ping Pong?

Ping pong is played by 2 to 4 players who hit a lightweight, white or orange ball back and forth over a net on a ping pong table with a paddle, which can also be called a bat or racket. You score points when one player can’t hit the ball back to their opponent according to the rules.

Hold on! That sounds exactly the same as table tennis, doesn’t it? So what is the difference? Read on.

The Difference between Table Tennis and Ping Pong

Ping pong first began in the 1890s in Victorian England. When the equipment used for ping pong as well as the game itself were marketed, the term “Ping Pong” became its trademark. However, to prevent any legal issues arising with the trademark, an alternative name was given: table tennis.

The International Table Tennis Federation, or ITTF, was established in 1926 and preferred using the name table tennis, so now the game is more commonly known as table tennis.

So, is there really a difference between the two? Yes, but only in words. The trademark is Ping Pong, and the name of the sport is table tennis. It is much like how Kleenex is a trademark for a certain type of facial tissue, but people often say “Kleenex” when referring to facial tissues in general.

Any confusion about the rules or equipment being different is not correct.

The Difference between Table Tennis and Ping Pong

Ping Pong Table Sizes

The length of a ping pong table is 2.74 meters (9 feet). This is the standard length specified by the ITTF. The table is split in two by the net. The width of a ping pong table is 1.53 meters (5 feet).

There is a white line dividing the width of the table in two, which are used in doubles games. The table must be 76 cm (2 feet 6 inches) from the ground. The top of the net must be set to 15.25 cm (6 inches) above the table’s surface.

The table has a white line that is 2 cm thick painted along the 4 edges to demarcate the playing field. You are allowed to hit the ball on this boundary. When playing doubles, there is a 3 millimeter white line down the middle of the length of the table. When playing singles, this line is ignored.

Recreational ping pong tables do not need to meet tournament regulations and are normally quite a bit smaller than Olympic ping pong tables.

What is a Ping Pong Table Made From?

Ping pong tables can be made from any material provided that a standard ping pong ball will bounce 23 centimeters high when dropped from 30 centimeters high. However, the ITTF will only approve a ping pong table that is made from wood, specifically Masonite.

Many tables are made using high- or medium-density fiberboard or concrete (especially outdoors). A dark coat of paint is then added to the surface of the table. There is a special ping pong table paint that can be bought for this purpose.

It is important to note that some tables are sprayed with chalkboard paint which is very gritty and will cause problems with how your ball bounces and its speed.


Contrary to what many people believe, an Olympic ping pong table is not smaller than a recreational ping pong table. If you are serious about playing table tennis and want to practice at home, ensure that you get a table with the correct dimensions that are the same as an Olympic table so that you can get used to the proper size.

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