Ping Pong – The Basics
The origins of ping pong can be traced back to 19th century England, where it was a form of after-dinner entertainment for members of the English upper class. Ping pong is thought to have started out as something that British officers serving in British colonies came up with to pass time when they weren’t campaigning. The earliest form of ping pong saw players using a table lined with books over the midline and books used to hit the ball over this makeshift net.
Fortunately, players no longer have to construct makeshift ping pong equipment as manufacturers have been producing everything for the sport since at least 1901, which is a relief to people interested in playing some ping pong.
How to Play
To play the game, two teams of either one (singles) or two people (doubles) are needed. Unfortunately, four is the maximum number of people that can play a game of ping pong at one time due to the small size of the table. One can also get some practice by themselves before taking someone on in a real match by pushing one end of the table against the wall and bouncing the ball against it to simulate an opponent. Keep in mind that while this is useful for getting a feel for the basics of the game, it is no comparison to the actual game.
1. The person to serve the ball first should be decided by a coin toss or another form of 50/50 chance in order to be fair.
2. Official rules state that the server must toss the ball up in air while serving but this is not necessary in casual settings.
3. The server must strike the ball so that it lands once on their side of the court before bouncing over the net to land on the other side. If the ball does not hit the side of the server, hits the net, or does not hit the opponent’s side, the server receives a “let”, allowing the server to re-serve. If the server does not successfully serve a second time, the other player receives a point.
4. The person to serve switches with every two points.
5. Once the ball has been served, the other player has to hit it back once it has bounced on their side of the court one time. If the ball bounces more than once, the other player receives a point. If it hits the net or if it lands off of the table on the return, the other player scores a point.
6. Official rules award the victory to whoever reaches 11 points with a 2 point lead, though many players like 15 or even 21 points. If there is no 2 point lead, the person to serve switches with every point for a more intense match.