photo of ball and paddle

table tennis

Regulations are established by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

photo of doubles game with players in wheelchairs

© Razvanjp | dreamstime.com

Table tennis is often played by persons with physical disabilities, who are accommodated through a system for classifying players, and by special rules for those playing in wheelchairs. Visit www.lboro.ac.uk/research/paad/ipc/table-tennis/table-tennis.html, a site of the International Paralympic Committee. On 28 September 2006, governance of the paralympic sport was transferred from the International Paralympic Table Tennis Committee to the ITTF, following the model of tennis.

Ball

Balls for international play must be from a list of approved manufacturers and models maintained by the ITTF, see below.

The ball has always been made of celluloid, but this is not a requirement. In fact, the ITTF is encouraging manufacturers to find a better material.

On 1 October 2000, the diameter of the ball was increased to 40 mm from 38 mm.  The ITTF estimated that the increase would decrease the speed of the ball by 4 to 8%, and the spin by 10 to 13%.  The purpose of the change was to produce longer rallies and to make the ball more visible on television, in the belief that this would make the game more interesting to spectators. 

International Table Tennis Federation.
The Ball.
ITTF Technical Leaflet T3.
April 2000, updated July 2000.

Table and net

The top edge of the net is 15.25 centimeters (6 inches) above the playing surface along its entire length, and the bottom edge is as close as possible to the playing surface. The outside edge of the posts holding the net are 15.25 cm (6 inches) from the outside edge of the table.  Thus the net is 6 feet long.

The playing surface is 76 cm (30 inches) above the floor, 274 centimeters (9 feet) long, and 152.5 cm (5 feet) wide. It is dark colored and matte. A standard ball dropped from a height of 30 cm (12 inches) above the surface must bounce to a height of about 23 cm (8¾ inches).

White lines 2 centimeters (¾ inch) wide are painted along each edge, and a center line 3 mm (1/8 inch) wide parallel to the side lines divides the playing surface in half.

Racket

photo of racket

© iStockphoto.com/Matt Craven

It may be any size, shape, or weight. Of the total thickness, 85% must be natural wood.

In international play, one side must be black and the other bright red.

If the surface of the racket is covered with dimpled rubber, which is usual, the layer of rubber must be no more than 2 mm thick. If a layer of foam rubber is used beneath the dimpled rubber, the combined thickness of both layers may be no more than 4 mm. The ITTF defines the density and geometry of the pimples; these regulations were revised in October 2000. Rackets in international play may only be covered with materials on a list maintained by the ITTF, see below.

closeup photo of dimpled surface of paddle

© iStockphoto.com/Shaun Cammack

further information

The major source of information is the ITTF website, www.ittf.com  The sport's regulations and the lists of approved equipment were formerly available on this site, but the site's navigation is so bad they are very difficult to find. The search function applies only to articles.  Approved racket coverings, for example, are at www.ittf.com/ittf_equipment/Racket_Coverings_27.asp?FormName=Search&FormAction=search&s_List_No=27 Let us know if you succeed in finding the regulations.

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