Popular as a hobby or even a bar activity in the UK, table tennis is also a sport competed at an elite level.

The best table tennis players in the world are immensely skilful, even if the online betting markets do not attract as much attention as the outdoor equivalent. 

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Often called ping-pong, table tennis perhaps has more nuances than some people might expect given its self-explanatory name.

If you’re considering looking into table tennis live betting, we would recommend making sure you’ve got a full understanding of table tennis rules and scoring.


Table tennis was first played in Victorian England by the upper classes. There is some evidence that versions of the game were played by British military officers in India in the second half of the 19th century, who may have brought the game back with them. 

This was initially played with a row of books serving as the net, and two more books used as the bats. A golf ball was used instead of what we now know as a table tennis ball.

Slazenger filed a patent for the net in 1883.

Naming conventions varied, with some calling it ‘ping-pong’. Part of this was down to branding decisions from certain companies.

At the beginning of the 20th century, James W. Gibb found celluloid balls ideal for the game. Already an enthusiast, the celluloid balls were popularised before E.C. Goode invented the modern version of a table tennis bat. 

The International Table Tennis Federation was founded in 1926, five years after the Table Tennis Association. London was the host city for the first World Championships in 1926. 

Both the 1950s and 1980s saw major advancements in the technology of table tennis bats, which massively increased the speed and spin players could generate. Regulations were tweaked in the latter part of the 21st century to slow the game down. 


A coin toss takes place to decide which player will serve first in a table tennis match. The server holds the ball, tosses it up, and then hits it so that it bounces first on their side of the net before bouncing on the opponent’s side.

The opponent has to return the ball after it has bounced. They cannot hit the ball on the full. Their return must not bounce on their side of the net.

Singles players can serve to any part of the table, while players in doubles matches must hit their serve diagonally across the table. If they have served on the right-hand side, the serve must go to the left-hand side of the table.

Players are intending to hit the ball so that their opponent is unable to return it. All shots must hit the opposite side of the table. If a player hits the ball into the net and it goes out of bounds or doesn’t make it to the opponent’s side of the table, then the opponent wins the point.

Points can also be won if the ball hits any part of the opponent’s body during a rally. In doubles play, players have to alternate shots and serves.


A game of table tennis is won by winning 11 points. Players serve for two points in a row before swapping – this pattern continues throughout the game.


If the score gets to 10-10, a player/team needs to establish a two-point advantage to win the game.

Matches are made up of multiple games. The number of games required to win a match varies depending on the tournament and its specific regulations, but it is most common for table tennis matches to be best-of-five or best-of-seven games. 

Table Size & Dimensions

A table tennis table is nine feet long and five feet wide. It should be 2.5 feet high, with a flat surface that delivers a uniform bounce of about 9.1 inches when a ball is dropped from 11.8 inches.

The table should be dark coloured and smooth. A net is placed halfway across the table, and this should be six inches high.


Table tennis regulations dictate that the ball must be 2.7 grams and have a diameter of 40 millimetres.

From 2015, balls have been made of a polymer rather than the celluloid that was used for several decades.

When dropped onto a steel block from one foot in the air, professional-grade table tennis balls should bounce between 9.4 and 10.2 inches. 

Table tennis players use a laminated wooden bat covered with rubber on one or both sides. At least 85% of the bat’s blade must be made of wood. The average size of the blade is 6.7 inches long and 5.9 inches wide.

Players are allowed to have different rubber surfaces on each side of the bat – these materials will have varying benefits, either enabling a player to generate more spin or to nullify the spin from their opponents. 

Most Successful Countries at the Olympics

China are by far the most dominant country at the Olympics.

They have the most gold medals (32), most silver medals (20), and most total medals (60). South Korea are the second-most successful with just 18 total medals, which is double the amount of any other country.

Since table tennis was added to the Olympics in 1988, China have won the most medals at each Games. China have won all but five gold medals in the history of the event.

*Credit for the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Sam is a sports tipster, specialising in the Premier League and Champions League.

He covers most sports, including cricket and Formula One. Sam particularly enjoys those on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – notably MLB and NBA.

Watching, writing and talking about sports betting takes up most of his time, whether that is for a day out at T20 Finals Day or a long night of basketball.

Having been writing for several years, Sam has been working with 888Sport since 2016, contributing multiple articles per week to the blog.