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Ping Pong vs Table Tennis: What are the Differences?

We are putting two of the most popular games against each other in this piece! Ping Pong vs Table Tennis is a very interesting subject because the two games look very similar. They both play quite similarly as well.  

In fact, many people think they are actually the same game just with alternative names. This isn’t entirely wrong, but nor is it entirely correct either. It’s easy to see why there is confusion as well because both games feature many of the same components. 

They are both table-based games, involve the use of paddles and balls, and seemingly follow similar principles. But they do have their own individual characteristics that actually make them different from one another. So, let’s get right down to and see what makes them unique.   

Ping Pong

Ping Pong

To start our Ping Pong vs Table Tennis summary let’s first look at the more casual game of the two. Ping Pong is also the most common of the two games but this is where things get a little tricky because in some cases the name is used interchangeably with Table Tennis. 

But one of the defining elements to remember when it comes to Ping Pong vs Table Tennis is that Ping Pong is a more casual focused game. It’s the kind of game you play at parties, family get-togethers or down at the bar. 

But the more social nature is just the beginning of the differences. Because by design Ping Pong is less formal it usually won’t have any set rules about serves. The point scoring in Ping Pong is also usually quite different. 

Because it is usually a social game players can agree to any scoring system they like. Although usually the traditional 21 point format is used with each player taking a set of 5 serves before alternating. 

So, Ping Pong basically plays the same as Table Tennis in most respects it just relaxes most of the rules. If you want a more serious, high-intensity game you’ll be playing Table Tennis but if you are just looking for a fun game to play at your next social gathering or game night Ping Pong is the better fit. 

Table Tennis

Table Tennis

Now to fully understand the differences between the two games, we need to take a closer look at Table Tennis. As we mentioned above the basic gameplay is the same but whereas Ping Pong is more focused on the social aspect of the game Table Tennis is more competitive. 

This understandably makes Table Tennis a more structured and rigid game. For example, while in Ping Pong a serve can be done in many different styles in a Table Tennis match the serve must be more precise. 

Following the traditional rules, the ball will need to be thrown higher than 6-inches using an open hand technique. It will then need to be hit from behind the table’s baseline to complete the serve. 

Table Tennis games also often follow a set score system, unlike Ping Pong. In a standard Table Tennis match, games go up to 11 points and each player will have two serves before alternating. These are just the traditional rules; there are other variations.   

Because of its more competitive, strategic, nature Table Tennis often attracts more professional, experienced players. It also often requires more high-grade and expensive equipment. High-quality paddles, balls, and a table will often be needed to play Table Tennis at even a moderate, competitive level.  

Ping Pong vs Table Tennis: What Are The Differences? 

So, let’s sum up what we’ve learned about Ping Pong vs Table Tennis, shall we? The differences might seem slight at first glance because the games are played in a very similar manner after all. However, the big difference is the focus of the game. 

When it comes to Ping Pong vs Table Tennis the differences are the small things not the big. While the games are played in much the same way Table Tennis is the more difficult and complex of the two. 

Unlike Ping Pong, there are set rules in place for a game of Table Tennis and the scoring system is much more rigid. While there are numerous variations to the rules Table Tennis is the more structured game that is found at the competitive level while Ping Pong is the party game. 

Basically, Ping Pong is the more relaxed, informal version of Table Tennis. In fact, many competitive Table Tennis players will likely get quite annoyed if you call Table Tennis Ping Pong instead! So, if you ever meet an experienced Table Tennis player be sure to keep that in mind. 


So, let’s finish up our look at Ping Pong vs Table Tennis with an interesting bit of trivia, shall we? What caused the formation of these two games in the first place? Well while at first both names were used interchangeably the split really happened due to potential trademark disputes. 

There were fears that Ping Pong, which was at the time by far the most popular name, would result in trademark disputes between companies. So, when the standardized rules were being written for competitive games the name Table Tennis was chosen instead. 

Now you know everything you need to know about Ping Pong vs Table Tennis! The games are very similar and if you’ve played one you can likely play the other. Just be aware that Table Tennis is often the more difficult of the two. 

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