Ping pong, or table tennis, is a popular, recreational game played in activity centers and basements. It is also an official Olympic sport. The tables used for competitive table tennis must meet certain dimension specifications. The tables used for recreational ping pong do not necessarily meet these same standards.
The ITTF dictates that an official ping pong table is a rectangle 2.74 m long and 1.525 m wide, which is about 9 by 5 feet. The table top must be 76 cm above the floor and be level across the entire surface. The table can be made of any material that results in a 23 cm high bounce when a standard ping pong ball is dropped on it from a height of 30 cm.
The table must be a uniformly dark color with a white line, 2 cm thick, painted along all four edges. A net shall run horizontally across the entire 1.525 m-width of the table, dividing the table into two, equal, 1.37 m, lengths. The top of the net is 15.25 cm above the playing surface. For doubles, an additional line, 3 mm wide, is drawn perpendicular to the net, down the center of the table, dividing the table into two, .76 m, equal half-courts.
Some recreational ping pong tables meet the dimension specifications of an official table, but they are not required to do so. Recreational tables in the U.S. are measured in inches or feet. If a table is 9 feet by 5 feet, it is usually marketed as "tournament-size", "meets IFTT standards" or "competition size". Other tables can be significantly smaller. An official table is about 108 inches by 60 inches. Some recreational tables are only 84 inches by 42 inches or smaller. These tables are often described by the manufacturer as "midsize" or "mini."
World Wide Appeal
Table tennis has more participants than any other sport in the world. The game originated in England as a recreational alternative to lawn tennis in the 1880's. The International Table Tennis Federation, or IFTT, was formed in 1926, but table tennis didn't debut at the Olympic Games until 1988. The United States Table Tennis Association, or USATT, notes that because "ping pong" is a registered trademark of Parker Brothers, the term "table tennis" is used instead.