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3 Consistent Characteristics of Table Tennis Balls for Elite Level Players

3 Consistent Characteristics of Table Tennis Balls for Elite Level Players

Table tennis is a fantastic sport to play, and an enthralling sport to watch. Modern elite level matches last an average of about 30 minutes, and happen at an incomprehensibly fast pace compared to amateur competitions. This is due to well-honed skills, high-level table tennis (or ping pong) supplies, and superhuman reaction times. One of the biggest contributing factors to the speed at which professional table tennis is played is the quality and consistency of the table tennis balls. Here are some of the characteristics that are important to professional quality table tennis/ ping pong balls.

  1. Consistency
    In professional sports you would be hard-pressed to find a more perfectly consistent piece of equipment. Each ball must weigh 2.7 grams (between 2.67 and 2.77 grams), have a diameter of 40 millimeters (between 40.0 and 40.6), and when dropped from 30 centimeters the ball must bounce back to 240 mm (240-265 mm). Table tennis is a precision sport, and even slight deviations are carefully controlled to assure that the ball and the bounce are as consistent as possible.
  2. Spin
    Professional players can introduce lateral force on the ball through skillful strokes (sometimes called loops), causing the ball to spin at up to 9,000 rotations per minute. This causes extreme curvature in the ball’s flight path thanks to the Magnus effect (the observable phenomenon associated with spinning objects where a difference in pressure enables the object to move *or curve* in the direction of the lower-pressure side).
  3. Material
    The qualities of a ball, in any sport, determine how it will behave in game. Other than being small and light, a table tennis ball has a few peculiarities. Modern balls are made from plastic (the sport has moved away from celluloid as a material in international competitions due to safety concerns associated with raw celluloid manufacture). Most modern table tennis or ping pong balls are colored white, though sometimes orange or other colors can be found as well.

Ping pong supplies are only half of what makes the pro level games so exciting. The players themselves are accomplished athletes with precision and speed unimaginable to the talented hobbyist. That said, the equipment that the professionals use to perform at their best are also available to all levels of table tennis players to help all levels of player (from professional players to tournament players to recreational players and hobbyists).

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