Table tennis, also known as ping pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth with rackets (also known as "bats" or "paddles"). The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net. Players must allow a ball played toward them only one bounce on their side of the table and must return it so that it bounces on the opposite side. Points are scored when a player fails to return the ball within the rules. Play is fast and demands quick reactions. A skilled player can impart several varieties of spin to the ball, altering its trajectory and limiting an opponent's options to great advantage.
The game is controlled by the (ITTF), founded in 1926. Since 1988, table tennis has been an Olympic sport which includes four events. From 1988 until 2004, the events were men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles and women's doubles. Since 2008 the doubles have been replaced by the team events (Beijing was the first time where table tennis had an Olympic team event).
The game originated in England and was played amongst upper class Victorians as an after dinner entertainment activity, commonly known then as "wiff-waff". A row of books were to be stood up along the center of the table as a net, two more books served as rackets and were used to continuously hit a golf-ball from one end of the table to the other. Eventually, table tennis evolved into the modern game in Europe and the United States. The popularity of the game led game manufacturers to sell the equipment commercially. Early rackets were often pieces of parchment stretched upon a frame, and the sound generated in play gave the game its first nicknames of "wiff-waff" and "Ping-pong". A number of sources indicate that the game was first brought to the attention of under the name "Gossima". The name "ping-pong" was in wide use before English manufacturer J. Jaques & Son Ltd led it in 1901. The name "Ping-Pong" then came to be used for the game played by the rather expensive Jaquesses equipment, with other manufacturers calling theirs table tennis. A similar situation arose in the United States, where the rights to the name "Ping-Pong" were sold to Parker Brothers.
The next major innovation was by James Gibb an English enthusiast of table tennis, who discovered novelty celluloid balls on a trip to the U.S. in 1901 and found them to be ideal for the game. This was followed by E. C. Goode who in 1901 invented the modern version of the racket by fixing a sheet of pimpled, or stippled, rubber to the wooden blade. Table tennis was growing in popularity by 1901 when table tennis tournaments were being organized, books on table tennis were being written, and an unofficial world championship was held in 1902. During the early 20th century the game was banned in Russia due to a belief that was held by the rulers at the time that playing the game had an adverse effect on players' eyesight. In 1921, the Table Tennis Association was founded in England, and the International Table Tennis Federation followed in 1926. London hosted the first official world championship in 1927. Table tennis was introduced as an Olympic sport at the Olympics in 1988.
In the 1950s rackets that used a rubber sheet combined with an underlying sponge layer changed the game dramatically, introducing greater spin and speed. These were introduced to England by the sports goods manufacturers S.W. Hancock Ltd. The use of speed glue increased the spin and speed even further, resulting in changes to the equipment to "slow the game down".
Toward the end of 2000, the ITTF instituted several rules changes aimed at making table tennis more viable as a televised spectator sport. First, the older 38 mm (1.5 inch) balls were officially replaced by 40mm balls. This increased the ball's air resistance and effectively slowed down the game. By that time, players had begun increasing the thickness of the fast sponge layer on their rackets, which made the game excessively fast, and difficult to watch on television. Secondly, the ITTF changed from a 21 to an 11-point scoring system. This was intended to make games more fast-paced and exciting. The ITTF also changed the rules on service to prevent a player from hiding the ball during service, in order to increase the average length of rallies and to reduce the server's advantage. Variants of the sport have emerged. "Large-ball" table tennis uses a 44 mm ball which slows down the game significantly. This has seen some acceptance by players who have a hard time with the extreme spins and speeds of the 40mm game. The ball's mass is 2.47 grams.
There is a move towards reviving the table tennis game that existed prior to the introduction of sponge rubber. Classic table tennis like Liha or "hardbat" table tennis players reject the speed and spin of reversed sponge rubber, preferring the 1940–60s play style, with no-sponge, short-pimpled rubber equipment, when defense is less difficult by decreasing the speed and eliminating any meaningful magnus effect of spin. Because hardbat killer shots are almost impossible to hit against a skilled player, hardbat matches focus on the strategic side of table tennis, requiring skillful maneuvering of the opponent before an attack can be successful.