WikiChoeclaiste: Checklist for Introduction to Learning Table Tennis: Fun Facts

Table of Contents


Players, Games, Countries
Famous players
Artificial Intelligence
Equipment and Rules
Techniques, Physics, Tactic and Strategies


  • Table tennis started in Victorian England in the 19th century.

  • Middle-Upper class would play after dinner.

  • Used books for the net, rackets were lids of cigarette boxes with parchment wrapped around the frame, and the ball would be a ball of string, a rubber ball, or most commonly a champagne cork.

  • Originally it was called “whif-whaf” or “flim flam.”

  • Later in 1901, it was named ping pong by J. Jaques & Son, an English publisher.

  • Then in the 1920’s the name became table tennis.

Players, Games, Countries

  • Table Tennis has been in the Olympic games since 1931, with many fans.

  • Zhang Yining is very famous in China. She started playing table tennis at six years old and joined the national team in 1993. Her unique style of play is notable. In 2004 she was an Olympic champion in Athens and she was a gold medal winner in the 2008 Olympic Games. In 2005 she was named best female athlete of “China Top Ten Laureus Sports Figure Glory”.

  • 8,000 registered tournament players, who train and take the sport seriously.

  • Played all around the world.

  • Countries that it is most popular in are China, United States, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Poland, Argentina, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Iran and Canada.¹

Famous Players

  • Fidel Castro and Mao Zedong both played table tennis.

  • “Ping Pong Diplomacy” in 1971 involved Chairman Mao Zedong using the 1971 Ping Pong World Championships to successfully encourage President Richard Nixon to visit China the next year.

Artificial Intelligence

  • A humanoid robot, TOPIO, developed in Vietnam, 1.88 m tall and 120 kg, uses artificial intelligence to play table tennis against humans, and improve its playing skill.


Equipment and Rules

  • Two or four players, each player has one paddle. A good paddle has a topsheet and a sponge underneath.

  • One ball, pressurized with gas.

  • Table is 5 feet by 9 feet and 2 feet 6 inches high. The net height is 6 inches and overhangs from the table by 6 inches.

  • The rules of tennis apply, including the ball must bounce on opponents side before they return the shot.

  • If the ball hits the net, does not bounce, the opponent misses the shot, or the ball is hit and misses the table, one point is given to the other player.

  • Players are not allowed to hit ball repeatedly or move the table during the play.

  • A game is won by the first player who reaches 11 points, but a game must be won by a 2 point margin.

  • The match is deemed won from a best 3 of 5 games (or best 4 of 7, or best 5 of 9).

  • Players change serve after 2 points.

  • Players swap table sides after each game.²

Techniques, Physics, Tactic and Strategies

    • Techniques to play include Asian and European grip; foot work; serve skills including aim, throw to serve and spin; forehand and backhand techniques including loop, smash and block techniques; drop, slice strikes, and spin hitting techniques.

    • To improve your game, study the style of Ma Lin, the Chinese number 1 world ranked champion, from 2007, (holds the title of 2004 Athens Olympics, first doubles with Chen Qi). Ma Lin’s style is the penhold style. However, in addition to the traditional backhand push, Ma has also incorporated the reverse backhand, resulting in three different possible strokes to use during a game (forehand, backhand, reverse backhand). The reverse backhand is an innovative stroke to compromise for the penholder’s already weak backhand. It utilizes the underside of the blade, whereas only one side was originally used.

Ma Lin. Photo from guano,
  • Inspire your game by looking into the physics principles behind the game.

  • The Magnus Force, (creating lift or drop) acts on the ball, and is perpendicular to the velocity vector (speed direction curve) of the ball.

  • There are four phases in both the backspin and forward spin, velocity vector curve, in considering the curve before and after the ball is hit by the receiver. Other forces considered being drag, lift and gravity.

  • Kinematic equations can be used to calculate the components of the velocity vector curve, for each axis; variables being displacement, time, acceleration, and initial and final velocity.

  • The spin direction of the ball determines the orientation of the Magnus Force (up or down) on the ball.

  • The orientation of the Magnus Force is always perpendicular to the direction of air movement around the ball.

  • Bernoulli’s Equation is the basis for the Magnus Force and is based on experiments with ping pong balls, which showed that if the velocity of the air flow around the ball increased then the air pressure decreases, creating lift or drop.³

  • Video analytics of ping pong balls help in analysis of velocity vectors for motion. Similarly, professional table tennis players like Adriana Diaz from Puerto Rico (world rank number 19), and Zhou Jingy from Singapore (world rank number 5), use video analytics to improve their game. Champion players have recorded ball speeds of 110 km/h with ball spin of 9000 rpm.


Works Cited

1.“What is the Magnus Effect and How to Calculate it.” Magnus Effect, Accessed April 11 2022.
2.“Top Ten Emerging Countries in the World of Table Tennis.” Eleven Points, Accessed April 11 2022.
3.“Table Tennis Rules.” Pong World, Accessed April 11 2022.





#Whif-whaf  #ZhangYining  #ChairmanMaoZedong  #PingPongDiplomacy  #TOPIO  #MaLin  #ReverseBackhand  #MagnusForce  #AdrianaDiaz


Author Profile

My name is Fu Zang. I am a florist in Los Angeles, USA. Back home in China I learnt table tennis at the age of six. In my spare time I run table tennis tournaments for under-privileged youth. Find out more at



Standard table tennis paddles and ball
Checklist: Fun Introduction to Table Tennis
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Checklist: Fun Introduction to Table Tennis
A fun checklist to introduce table tennis for the beginner and with facts and ideas interesting even for advanced players.
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