(spacer)EdGate Gateway to the Summer Games torch image(spacer)
(placeholder) (placeholder) (placeholder) (placeholder) (placeholder)
(placeholder) Brought to you by EdGate and Griffin Publishing Athens 2004

Table Tennis

Table tennis was first played in England with improvised equipment on dining-room tables using small rubber and cork balls. By the 1900s, the game was very popular in the United States as well as in England. Early manufactured sets were called Gossimar, Whiff-Whaff, and, more commonly, Ping-Pong, the latter being a trade name. In 1922, its popularity as a parlor game waned while at the same time movements were starting to revive table tennis as a serious sport. Except for the similarity of equipment and basic scoring rules, there’s a world of difference between table tennis at the Olympic level and the friendly household pastime.

Click a link to
read more about

One player serves until 5 points have been scored, after which the opponent serves for the next 5 points. A game is won by the player who first scores 21 points. If, however, the score is tied at 20, play continues until one player gains a 2-point advantage, with the service changing after each point. A match consists of three games out of five.

Table tennis involves hitting a small celluloid ball back and forth over a net until one of the players misses the ball, hits it into the net, or hits it off the table. In each of these cases, the opponent scores a point. To serve, a player holds the ball on the flat, open palm of the hand, then throws it up and strikes it as it falls. The served ball must first hit the table on the server’s side of the net, then bounce to the other side of the net, hitting the table before being returned by the other player. When a serve touches the net but is otherwise a good serve, it is called a “let” and replayed. Players rotate ends after every game and when one player reaches 10 in the deciding game of the match. Balls in play that touch either the net or the table edge are valid shots. When, in the opinion of the umpire, a ball hits the side of the table rather than the edge, the player who made the shot loses the point. In doubles play, service must be from the right-hand court into the opponent’s right-hand court, and partners must alternate hitting the ball. The sequence of one specific partner hitting to one specific opponent must be changed after each game and when one side reaches 10 in the deciding game of the match.

News, History, and Fast Facts

More sports






Canoeing & Kayaking





Field Hockey











Synchronized Swimming

Table Tennis


Team Handball


Track & Field



Water Polo



General Sports Links
Olympians will compete in dozens of sports this summer. Even though Gateway to the Summer Games can't feature them all, you can learn about each and every one by visiting the sites listed below.

Portions of the above text were excerpted from Share the Olympic Dream--Volume II.
© 2001 by Griffin Publishing Group/United States Olympic Committee.

For information on purchasing Griffin materials, please visit the Griffin Publishing Group Web site at http://www.griffinpublishing.com.


Griffin Publishing

Coaches Notes

International Paralympic Committee
International Paralympic Committee

US Paralympics
US Paralympics

Canadian Paralympic Committee
Canadian Paralympic Committee



Help | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy
© Copyright 2004 EdGate All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Produced in partnership with Griffin Publishing Group.