Many people use the terms ping pong and table tennis interchangeably. Some of them are not sure which term to use, so they use both. The real answer to which term is correct seems to lie in the fact that those who are serious game players will only call it one of the two names. It is believed that the sport originated in the 12th Century, but no one knows for sure if it existed before that time. In its early days, it was referred to as table tennis. During medieval times, tennis on a full-size court was played by royalty, and it is believed that table tennis was a variation of the outdoor game. Some historians believe that it was also called indoor tennis in the early 1800s by British soldiers who played the game while away from home.
Table tennis was very popular in England and was a pastime of the upper classes. In 1890, a table tennis set was designed and patented in England that was specifically designed to be played on a table. A year later, another inventor made a game that was played on a table using a 30cm high net, a cork ball, and paddles that were similar to drums. This decade also saw the basic rules of the game patented. Also at this time, a well-known game manufacturer began producing an indoor tennis kit that used paddles, a ball that was covered in netting, and a net that could attach to any table.
Historians believe that it was not until around 1900 that the term ping pong was used. This term originated to imitate the sound of the ball bouncing off of the paddles. The term was a registered trade name in England around this time. From that time forward, the controversy over whether to call the sport ping pong or table tennis continued. An International Table Tennis Federation was formed in 1926 and World Championships took place with many different countries participating. The World Championship games were called off from 1940 to 1946 due to World War II. Between 1950 and 1970, Japan and China joined in the competitions and won many championships.
A Japanese man became famous for his use of sponge rubber that he used to cover his wooden racket. The rubber produced more speed and made the ball spin more than other rubber rackets. This new invention worked so well that he won the 1952 World Championship. Asian players dominated the sport until the 1990s when other countries began to capture some of the championships. During these years, standards were set that required how thick the rubber on a paddle could be, and other improvements in equipment were developed.
The answer as to which term is correct seems to depend on the type of player who uses the terms. A recreational player may use either of the terms that are preferred. If you’re playing in your basement or at your friend’s house, it is perfectly acceptable to call it ping pong. Casual players seldom call it table tennis, a term that sounds somewhat stuffy and formal to them. Today’s recreational kits that include a net, two paddles, and several balls are usually sold as “Ping Pong” sets. However, serious players never call it anything other than table tennis. In fact, they do not even call it a game. It is a sport to them, and their game is a competition rather than a game. The correct term to use depends on whether you are a serious or casual player. Despite that fact, any English speaking person immediately knows what either term means and can choose either term and be correct in using it.