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Essential Equipment for Table Tennis

Oct 9, 2007
Table tennis equipment in general is so inexpensive as compared with that required in other sports that you should not hesitate to purchase the best. An excellent racket costs about five dollars; a ball, twenty-five cents; and a table, fifty to sixty dollars. A reputable store will sell you good equipment, if you insist upon it. If you wish to be really certain, look for the official seal of the United States Table Tennis Association, which is stamped upon their equipment by those manufacturers whose products meet the minimum specifications laid down by this body.


The standard tennis table is nine feet by five feet, with the playing surface thirty inches from the floor. A white line one-eighth to one-fourth of an inch runs lengthwise down the center of the playing surface and divides the table into two parts. Since the line is only used in doubles, it is not mandatory in singles play, but is certainly preferable.

The best tennis table to purchase is one with a three-quarter-inch, five-ply top. A three-ply table is cheaper but deadens the bounce of the ball so that a fast game is impossible. The table should be sturdy, of standard size, and should have eight legs.

The surface should be stained (not painted) a dark green, or some other dull, nonreflecting color. A painted surface will slow up the bounce of the ball and will also rub off on the ball and discolor it. The table can be either of the folding or stationary type, depending upon whether or not you have a permanent place in which to keep it.


If you are planning a table-tennis game room in your basement, you will need good lighting overhead - at least four 200-watt bulbs; a minimum playing space of twenty-five feet by twelve; and enough room between floor and ceiling so that you can follow through on your strokes without hitting the racket on the ceiling - about eight feet.


In purchasing table-tennis balls, take extreme care to see that you get a round ball, neither too hard nor too soft. A round ball is necessary for a true bounce. A ball which is too hard or too soft is difficult to control. To test a ball for roundness, spin it on a flat surface; if it wobbles the slightest bit, discard it. Inspect the seam of the ball carefully, because if the seam is too hard the bounce will not be true. Pinch the ball, first on one side and then on the other, and select one with approximately the same amount of "give" on each side.


Only a word is necessary about net and posts. The total length of the net is six feet (five feet for table width plus an extra six-inch extension on each side). Posts are six and three-quarter inches high and the net is suspended by a cord running from one post to the other exactly six inches from the table top. A good net, plus two posts, costs about three dollars.


The most important piece of equipment is, of course, the racket. The rules of table tennis permit you to use a racket of any size, shape, and material you desire, but, through experience, expert players have learned that a three-, four- or five-ply racket weighing from five to six ounces and covered with soft, pebbled rubber is by far the most satisfactory. The rubber pips prolong contact with the ball and allow control and spin in the same way that a new tire with full rubber treads grips the road better and gives the driver more control of his automobile.

The rubber racket has the added advantage of not betraying the speed of the shot by the sound. It hits the ball with the same speed as a wooden racket but does not permit the opponent's ear to warn him of the severity, or lack of severity, of the shot by the noise produced.

Once the above equipment has been purchased, you are ready to enjoy playing one of the most satisfying and challenging games you could wish for.
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