Rookie’s Guide to Sports: Ping Pong

Story by Debora Biasutti

I haven’t played table tennis – or ping-pong, as we call it in America – in ages. The last time was probably when I played against my cousin in his basement where it’s very possible that I lost.

Actually, even though I always used to lose to my cousin in any sport, at least I could keep the ping-pong score close. (Well, at least I like to think so.)

A few years passed and I came to college, where I saw a ping-pong table in my dorm’s basement. I ignored it for two and a half years until now.

After Googling the rules, seeing some videos of ping-pong matches with crazy-fast-eyes-on-the-ball Japanese players, I decided it was time to put my old ping-pong moves back into action.

The table wasn’t set when I went to play. It took me nearly ten minutes to figure out how to open it, and my boyfriend, who was gently forced to go play with me, couldn’t open it either.

Finally, a very smart dorm friend walked by and asked if we needed help. She opened that table like it was the easiest thing she had ever done. It was a great start – I felt really smart already.

After setting up the table and the net, I started to play with my opponent and applied the following basic ping-pong rules.

Ping-pong consists of a couple of paddles, a ball or two, and a table with a net. Winning three out of five sets usually wins you a match. Each set is played to 11 points.

To start the game you must serve behind the white line. If the ball hits the net on the serve, no point is scored and the serve goes back to the server. Also, each player serves two consecutive times and then it’s the opponent’s turn to serve twice.

From there, the players begin to play for the point, and lose when they hit the ball in the opponent’s side, hit the ball into the net or let it bounce twice in his own side.

Also, no player may touch the net or the game table. If such is the case, the opponent is benefited with a point.

As far as hitting the ball, the techniques applied in ping-pong are similar to conventional tennis. The backhand is when the player hits the ball the opposite side of the skillful hand, while the forehand occurs when the player hits the ball with a deft hand side.

Overall, ping-pong is a very simple game and it can become very competitive.

This is due to the attention it requires as well as the quick moves and reflections, allowing very little personal mistakes. But it’s also an enjoyable game that can be very fun to play with friends and family.

We might think that ping-pong is buried in the basements and attics of our homes, but it’s actually the world’s largest participation sport, according to the International Olympic Committee. So why not revive it?