Table tennis equipment needed

It is often claimed that table tennis is so popular because it is not an expensive sport. Now it is true that neither a large field – as in soccer – nor a certain number of competitors – as in all team sports – are needed.

Before you can start, you need to have your table tennis equipment together. Maybe you don’t know exactly what your equipment should be, what it should look like and how expensive it is normally. 

table tennis equipment

Table tennis room

In principle, you can play in any illuminated room that is slightly larger than the tabletop itself, or outdoors. Often there is no optimal place for it on mountain huts, in hotels or in the swimming pool.

However, in order to be able to use all possibilities of this fast ball game, the “table tennis room” should fulfill some conditions. The following regulations apply to the dimensions of the room at home: 28 feet * 13 feet (8.5m * 4m).

The lighting intensity is also precisely regulated for championships. A minimum of 400 lux is required, and this light intensity is only just sufficient for the often very bright hall floors. Those who are already reasonably proficient with ball and racket will soon notice that many sports halls lack light. But nothing is more annoying than having to let the celluloid ball pass all the time because it cannot be seen. And the table tennis players with their small but fast ball feel more often than other athletes that many of our sports and gymnasiums are equipped with lighting that is harmful to health.

In sports halls, where some tables can be placed, the boxes are limited by easily transportable borders, which must be made of dark material. The border of the playing field should be approx. 6 inches high.

Table Tennis Table

The table tennis table can be made of any material. It is important that the surface – also called playing surface – is matt and dark colored. Otherwise the light would be reflected in the table, which dazzles and hinders the game. Further it is to be noted that the table consists of 2 halves and a foldable underframe is attached to it. This makes it transportable and requires only little storage space in case of dismantling.

Which table tennis table should i buy?

When it comes to the table, you have to put a few hundred on the table. The purchase of cheap goods is not worth it. A table that warps, stands on too thin legs and is badly painted will quickly dampen the initial enthusiasm. 

Whether on the other hand a tournament table is necessary, which is made of special wood and can be easily assembled and disassembled by one person using automatic rollers, must be decided by the result of a cash audit. 

In any case, we advise against do-it-yourself tinkering, and if you can’t find good professional advice, you’d better rely on brand names like JOOLA, BUTTERFLY, WOLF, HANNO or IMPERIAL.

Attention: If playing outside, the table must have a weatherproof and distortion-free surface.

The ping pong playing surface

The surface of the table, the playing surface, is rectangular, 9 feet (2.74 m) long and 4 feet (1.525 m) wide. It is 6 inches (76 cm) from the ground and is completely horizontal. The playing surface includes the top edges of the table, but not the sides below the edges.

The playing surface must be uniformly dark and matt in color and have a white line running along the edges.

  • The lines along the long edges are called side lines.
  • The lines along the shorter edges are called base lines.

The playing surface can be made of any material. However, it must be designed in such a way that a ball that complies with the regulations and is dropped onto it from a height of 30.5 cm will bounce evenly everywhere, no lower than 22 cm and no higher than 25 cm. The playing surface is divided into two equally sized playing fields by a vertical net running parallel to the baselines.

The quality of the table itself is not prescribed in this rule, the buyer of a table is dependent on its own knowledge and experience. In any case, a good table should meet a few conditions to ensure the enjoyment of the game. Of course, a table approved by the ITTF meets the highest standards, but it also has its price.

The most important points to consider:

■ A jump height of a ball between 22 cm and 25 cm on each point of the table top, according to the rule 

■ Stability and stable construction of the frame, mobile if possible.

■ Frame onto which the playing surface itself is clamped to prevent warping of the playing surface.

■ Clean, even, possibly sanded surface paint in dark, matt color.

Table tennis racket

In the early days of table tennis, at the turn of the century, table tennis rackets were still similar to the equipment used for badminton. The sport of table tennis has been marked by a revolution in the field of racquet materials over the last twenty years. More precisely: The development of foam rubbers, which allowed completely new rotation effects, has made table tennis what it is today: an athletic martial art determined by high speed.

We do not want to dwell too long on history. In the fifties, table tennis was still played with simple pimpled rubber without a foam carpet pad. The technical possibilities were therefore limited, and the game was relatively slow. For example, it was hardly possible to “spin” the ball, so that after the serve on the opponent’s half of the table, it got a forward spin. Today, only older players still play with this pimpled rubber. Some coaches still encourage their charges to start with this rubber, because they think that the individual strokes are then easier and cleaner to learn. But there is actually no compelling reason not to start right away with the “backside” rubber (smooth surface on a foam base) that is common today.

The far greater number of tournament players today prefer the attacking game. We don’t want to anticipate at this point, but first of all we would like to state in general terms that the attacking player is looking for a quick decision at every rally by means of an effective attacking shot, such as a quick topspin. If you belong to this category of attacking players, you have a lot of possibilities when choosing your racket. First of all, there is the wood: There are woods “from one piece”, five or seven times glued, fast and somewhat slower woods. It is important to find the right combination with the right rubber, whose speed and playing characteristics harmonize with your own playing technique and playing mentality. In any case, the grip should of course lie well in the hand, so do not exert unpleasant pressure on the thumb or palm.

Then as now, there were and are no regulations on the shape and size of the racket. It is all the more astonishing that for many years there have been no significant changes in the outline of the racket shape. However, the materials have been improved, and above all, modern materials such as glass fiber or carbon fiber have been introduced into racket construction. The rules have been adapted to the new requirements so that the character of the game has remained unchanged.

Layers of the racket covering

1. The visible surface of each side of the racket, whether or not it is used to hit the ball, must be uniformly dark and matt. Any edging on the edge of the blade must be matt. Parts of this edging must also be neither white nor shiny.

2. One side of the blade used for hitting the ball may either be completely free of coating, or it must be covered with an approved coating material over the entire striking surface. Each layer of rubber must be of uniform thickness.

3. If one side of the blade used for beating has no covering, the wood must be dark-colored, either naturally or in such a way that the frictional character of the surface is not changed. This can be done by staining, for example, but not by painting.

4. The coating for one side of the blade used for hitting can be either Ordinary nubbed rubber (nubs to the outside) or Sandwich rubber (nubs on the outside or inside)

Pimpled rubber is a layer of non-cellular (i.e. neither sponge nor foam) rubber – natural or synthetic – with pimples evenly distributed over its surface, with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 per square inch. Sandwich rubber is a layer of cellular rubber (i.e. sponge or foam rubber) covered with an outer layer of nubbed rubber. The total thickness of the nubbed rubber must not exceed 1/10 inch.

5. The part of the blade closest to the handle and grasped by the fingers may be covered with any material to provide better grip. It can be considered part of the handle.

6. Minor deviations from the uniformity of the color and the completeness of the covering, which are due to fading or wear and tear or accidental damage, may be disregarded, provided they do not significantly change the properties of the surface.

7. One side of the sheet, which is not to be used for beating, may be painted or covered with any material, provided it is uniformly dark and matt. If, however, a player hits the ball in play with a side of the club whose surface does not meet the requirements, he loses the point.

8. Before a player uses a racket for the first time in a match, he must allow his opponent and the referee to examine the racket.

In order not to give any player advantages because of successful experiments with rubbers, the regulations for the racquet rubber are very detailed. Especially the sandwich rubber rubbers make the game more athletic and interesting.

However, in recent times, service specialists with different rubber materials of the same color on both sides of the blade had produced unpredictable spin variations, so that the information could almost not be returned. For this reason, it is now mandatory at national and international events that different rubber qualities must also be recognizable with different colors.

The blade

The size, shape and weight of the racket are arbitrary.

The sheet must be made of wood of uniform thickness throughout, as well as flat and rigid.

The club head is made of wood in the sense of this rule if

1. at least 85% of the sheet, measured by thickness, consists of natural wood,

2. no single layer of adhesive is thicker than 7.5% of the total thickness or 0.35 mm, whichever is less 

Such a layer of adhesive in the blade may contain fiber material such as carbon fiber, glass fiber or compressed paper for reinforcement. 

The Rubbers

The most experimentation and development has taken place in recent years with the rubbers. The type and quality of the rubber material has a strong influence on the game. The regulations for the racquet rubber are very detailed. Especially the sandwich rubber rubbers make the game more athletic and interesting.

It is not easy to find your way around the many types of rubbers offered. The backside rubber with foam backing is preferred by the majority of players today. Due to its smooth but highly adhesive surface with a high coefficient of friction, it opens up a multitude of technical possibilities. 

Especially the rubbers need careful care. There are special agents for cleaning the surface (a water-soaked cloth can be used if necessary), and the rubbers are also temperature-sensitive. If you store your racket in an unheated basement, you should know that cold weather has a negative effect on the elasticity of the rubbers. Table tennis experts know that even strong, constant exposure to light can be harmful to the surface. So play it safe if you only unpack your racket for playing.

The thicker rubbers make it a bit more difficult to control the ball, but give more spin and speed. Some players prefer a rubber that is called “pimples outside” in the technical jargon. This rubber is similar to backside rubber, but the surface is not smooth, but has pimples. This rubber is feared by many “backside” players, because it causes the ball not to bounce forward evenly after the bounce, but to have a steeper falling curve. This rubber is also very direct and fast in the bounce, but on the other hand gives the ball less spin than a backside rubber.

When choosing a racquet and rubber, the principle of trial and error applies. It is a fallacy to believe that the most expensive rubber is absolutely necessary for the first table tennis steps. If you still have to learn the secrets of spin and rotation, you can be satisfied with a medium price range.

The Handles

The handle is not covered by the rules at all. Essentially 6 forms have been developed:

  • Flared handle
  • Straight handle
  • Cpen handle
  • Anatomic handle
  • Conical handle

These handles can be combined with the blades as desired. When buying a racket, make sure that the racket fits well in your hand. There are different grip shapes and grip strengths. 

On the subject of price: the most expensive rackets are not always the best. An inexpensive racket, it doesn’t have to be the cheapest, it’s enough to start with.

The ping pong ball

How to choose the table tennis ball

A real table tennis problem is the choice of the ping pong ball. Visitors of tournaments are sometimes surprised that the competition experts “unscrew” a number of celluloid balls between thumb and index finger before their match and were not satisfied with five or even ten balls.

By the way, an experienced player notices after a few rallies whether the failed topspin is due to bad form on the day or to the poor quality of the ball. Not only the cheaper so-called one- or two-star balls are often out of round, but also the relatively expensive tournament ball with the three stars: But if you have to spend that much money for a few grams of celluloid, you should be careful when buying it and sort out balls that are out of round. A trundling ball makes the game more difficult to control.

Size of the ping pong ball

The ball is evenly round. Its diameter is 40 millimeters or 1.57 inches. The weight of the ball is at least 2.7 grams or 0.095 ounces. The ball is made of celluloid or similar plastic material and is dull yellow.

No ball of any other sport is as light as a table tennis ball and few reach such a speed, which in table tennis is sometimes over 60 mph (100 km/h). It is almost unbelievable that something as light as a table tennis ball can resist the hard stroke and the pressure that is created.

The ball deforms during a smash in such a way that it has only about 75% of its original size. Therefore, especially for advanced players, the quality ball, which has been tested many times, is recommended.

It is usually offered in four or five different qualities:

  • Training ball 
  • 1-Star Ball
  • 2-Star Ball
  • 3-Star Ball 
  • 3-Star Ball, selected

How to test your ping pong balls

Roll the ball under light pressure with the club on the table top. A damaged ball “crackles” while doing so especially with cheaper balls, there can be a constructional imbalance in the ball.

Test: Rotate the ball on the table top with the two index fingers. If the ball is not perfectly round, you should replace it with a good one.

Clothing

You should make sure that your clothing is comfortable. So sportswear is best!

It is not seldom that the newcomer in the club (probably influenced by tennis) appears in white. But in table tennis – at least in competitions – the tennis color is not only frowned upon, it is even strictly forbidden because it impairs the perception of the ball. Dark shorts and colored jerseys are offered today especially for the table tennis sport, especially since table tennis has become a mass sport.

Shoes for table tennis

However, the color regulation does not apply to shoes. Here you may choose white. But you should make sure that the shoes have a non-slip, cuddly sole and are not too heavy. The shoes you wear must above all be non-slip. Whether or not your feet steam in them is up to you.

The net assembly

It gets difficult when it comes to the net. What is offered by the table tennis industry sometimes has a relatively short life expectancy. We advise against the purchase of a simple “cheap hurdle” held only by weak light metal clamps because the net is  heavily used by the frequent assembly and disassembly, therefore it is worthwhile to buy the better quality items. A height-adjustable net, which also allows the tightness to be regulated, is more advisable.

The net is suspended on a cord which is attached at each end to a vertical post at 6 inches (15.25 cm) high. The outer sides of the posts are 6 inches (15.25 cm) from the lateral line. Measured from outside to outside of the posts, the net and its suspension are 6 feet (1.83 m) long. The bottom edge of the net shall be as close as possible to the playing surface along its entire length, and the sides of the net shall be as close as possible to the posts.

The following points should be observed in detail:

■ Large contact surfaces on the mounting parts.

■ Easy to use screws for fixing and adjustment.

■ Firm but flexible cord for tensioning the net.

■ Durable mesh surface.

■ Sufficient tensioning possibility with chain at the end of the tensioning cord and stable hooks on the net post.

For the game, make sure that the net height is correct. There are so-called net gauges for this purpose. But the net height can also be checked with the help of the racket: Most racket blades have a width of about 6 inches (15.25 cm). Measure the width of your racket and hold the racket to the side of the net to check the height.

The racket cover

Rackets and rubbers are not only expensive but also sensitive. A bat cover is therefore part of the basic equipment of every table tennis player. It should repel moisture and have a stable wood inlay if possible: Not only when skiing, breakage can occur, and for many players the match was already over when they reached into their sports bag, because they found their best piece in two parts due to carelessness.