by Staff Writer
Whether you prefer to call it ping pong or table tennis, the game remains the same. Kids and adults alike enjoy the simple game that can provide a lifetime of challenging entertainment. And because of this, table tennis tables are popular additions to many recreation rooms.
The creation of ping pong: The origins of table tennis are a little muddy, but most accounts trace back to British military officers in the late 1800s who developed the game as an after-dinner entertainment. The table used was a dinner table, and stacks of books served as the net. Paddles were either books or empty cigar boxes, and the ball used varied between a golf ball or a wine cork shaped into a ball. It didn't take long for the game to become popular and produced for the masses.
Different styles of play: The most common style of table tennis involves the use of a ball that is 40 cm in diameter and paddles with a rubber surface that allow the players to apply spin to the ball. A variation referred to as "large ball" table tennis uses a 44-cm ball. The larger ball slows down play, which some players prefer. Another variation of table tennis, which attempts to limit the extreme spin that is used in the more common version of ping pong, disallows the use of a soft rubber surface on the paddle. In this variation, players rely more on strategy than their ability to play the spin of the ping-pong ball.
Table tennis game play: The serve is determined by a coin flip. A proper serve takes place from behind the end-line of the tennis table and must bounce on the server's side of the net before bouncing over the net and landing on the receiver's side of the table. The players exchange returns until one player fails to return the ping-pong ball. The ball does not have to pass directly over the net; the ball may pass around the net, but it must hit the top of the ping pong table and not the side to be considered in play.