When exploring the past record of table tennis (often referred to as ping pong), you probably did not know that traces of this sport have made a mark in history since 12th century AD. It is thought that this entertaining game originated from a form of “Royal Tennis,” a popular pastime during medieval times.
Throughout the years, a wide range of equipment has been used to play the game of table tennis. For example, during the 1800s, British army officers stationed in India laid claim that the sport was once a form of indoor tennis, in which they used cigar box lids for paddles, round bottle corks for a ball and a makeshift net that consisted of books. During this same time, the game made strides with affluent individuals throughout England.
The first time the name, “table tennis” was used for the public to acknowledge, occurred in 1887 when the term appeared on a board and dice game produced in New York. During 1890, one of the first sets of table tennis was patented in England and offered additional table versions of popular games, such as cricket. Throughout the 1890s, various changes to the game were created, including the type of paddles used, as well as net height. At this time, Parker Brothers started marketing indoor tennis kits with a portable net.
Making reference to table tennis as “ping pong” started in 1900 when an Englishman was credited with creating the name he coined from the sound the balls made when bouncing off objects. In 1901, the trade name for “ping pong” was established in England, with American rights sold to the gaming giant, Parker Brothers. This is also the year when the Table Tennis Association was created in England, with the Ping Pong Association following four days later.
Throughout the 1920s, England and the rest of Europe saw a rise in popularity for the game. The year, 1902 marked the first round of tweaking table tennis rackets, introducing the pebbled rubber that lasted until 1952. It was a Japanese table tennis whiz that started making headlines for his use of a wooden racket covered with a thick spongy rubber, which produced increased speed and spin. When he won the World Championships in 1952, he set off an Asian trend of dominating the sport that will last for more than 40 years. Between 1959 and 1960, the thickness of paddles is made standard in regard to the ordinary pimpled rubber and sponge rubber options.
In 1971, table tennis sees the first anti-spin rubber paddle during the World Championships. Success is achieved throughout this time, which also marks the discovery of speed glue that when applied to paddles increased the speed and spin of play. Rackets saw additional changes throughout the 80s as a two-color rule is enforced.
One of the biggest triumphs regarding table tennis is when the game becomes an official sport in the Olympics. In 1988, the event is included during the Seoul, South Korea games. The sport saw smoothness for some time until new rule changes were implemented during 2000. The ball diameter was raised to 40mm, where 11-point games were also made commonplace. The early 2000s also saw a shift towards frictionless long pimpled paddles, leaving behind some of the power and spin offered through modern technology and speed glue. Future alterations pertaining to the game may see a banning of frictionless long pips and toxic speed glues.
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