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Like many other sports, table tennis began as a mild social diversion. Descending from lawn tennis to badminton to the ancient medieval game of tennis. Table Tennis likely began as a social hobby in England toward the end of the 1800’s. These early pioneers may have referred to their sport as gossima, flim-flam, or ping-pong. The game became a huge fun event after the name Ping-Pong, the noise made by the ball striking the table, was introduced by J. Jacques & Son. It became very popular in England under its present name “Ping-Pong.” (Hickok)
By the early years of this century, Ping-Pong had already acquired some of its present day complexities, but it was still used by many as an after-dinner amusement game rather than a sport. Dining-room tables made up some of the early equipment that was used. Several different every-day objects were used to play the sport. They used a line of books as the net; rackets were lids from empty cigar boxes, and then a little later, parchment paper stretched around a frame created a paddle. The ball would be either a ball of string, or perhaps more commonly, a champagne cork or rubber ball. The game underwent a few changes in England in the next few years. One person introduced a celluloid ball to the game, while another added pimpled rubber to the wooden paddle. These additions were used by many and advanced on by others. Some box sets can still be bought from Milton Bradley. (Bradley)
The game was very popular in Central Europe in 1905 to 1910, but even this was a modified version that was introduced to Japan, where it later spread to China and Korea to become a huge popular sport in these countries. (Museum) The Japanese dominated the sport for much of the 50s and 60s. But in the 60’s and 70’s, the Chinese soon caught up with the Japanese. China alone has dominated the sport for much of the time since then, especially after Table Tennis became an Olympic event in the 1980’s. For a reason unknown, the Chinese took table tennis as their national sport. And most other countries can’t really touch them in skill. Alone from China four of the top ten from both male and female live here including number one. Now other nations such as Sweden and South Korea have joined the top ranks.
For a while in Europe, it lost its fun and became very unpopular to play. Then in the early twenties, it regained its popularity and became a sport. In 1926 the International Table Tennis Federation, ITTF, was formed. By that time it had adopted its new name of Ping-Pong, while also being called table tennis. It started to become so popular that organizations and federations developed and rules and regulations were made. (Museum)
Over the next sixty years, table tennis developed into a major worldwide sport. Today it is said that a rough 30 thousand people play competitively, and another million to 2 million play in household rooms and garages. Although it has became faster and harder to play, the game itself has not lost its “gentleman’s” sport aura. One major concern that the ITTF has always insured that table tennis remains a contest of human skills. Also, they are very concerned with technological developments, which add a new factor to the game like the spin and speed of a paddle or bat, do not give too great an advantage to the players who get to use these developments. Therefore, equipment specifications are carefully laid down, and rigorously enforced. (Museum)
Other changes like lowering of a net, is a big rule that shouldn’t be broken. Rules preventing excessive advantage being gained by the server-were introduced in the thirties, and only minor changes are made from time to time. Changes to the rules of the sport can only be made only at the ITTF’s Biennial General Meeting. These changes are never made without the agreement of a substantial majority of the hundred members in Associations represented at the BGM. In this vote everyone is equal. This is kind of like the UN Security Council too, if they want to veto a rule or movement, just one person can stop the rule or movement.
Modern table tennis at a high rank is as rigorous as any sport in its demands for the highest degree of physical fitness and mental concentration. Very physical and arduous training to develop natural skills for the sport usually attains this. Fred Perry in 1928-29 became the World Men’s Singles Table Tennis Champion, and then in the following years he became a champion at Wimbledon. Many say he moved to the tennis court because his reactions got slower. But it is certainly true that no other sport requires faster reactions and more delicate muscular co-ordination than ping-pong. (Museum)
According to a PBS article: One of the first public hints of improved U.S.-China relations came on April 6, 1971. This happened when the American Ping-Pong team in Japan for the 31st World Table Tennis Championship, received a surprise invitation from their Chinese colleagues for an all-expense paid visit to the People’s Republic. Time magazine called it “The ping heard round the world.” On April 10, nine players, four officials, and two spouses stepped across a bridge from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland, ushering in an era of “Ping-Pong diplomacy.” They were the first group of Americans allowed into China since the Communist takeover in 1949.(Dean)
In table tennis there are very many different strokes, different swings, and different stances. I, myself as a ping-pong player, use the shake-hand grip. I use this grip for very many reasons. One reason would have to be that it feels the most comfortable to me. It feels way more natural and comfortable rather than the pen-hold grip. I have a lot more speed and control when I hit a hard move or hit. Another reason is because if someone hits the ball really fast back to me, then I am ready and I can hit back a very fast stroke back. In this style I can hit a backhand or forehand as fast as my body will let me. Also when I use this grip I can hit the ball to any spot on the table. When I use the pen-hold grip, I can’t usually hit the ball where I want to.
In table tennis, professionals play with either the shake-hand grip or the pen-hold grip. I myself use this grip. I have more control and more speed when I use this style. The shake-hand grip is appropriately named because you hold the paddle as if you were shaking someone’s hand, with your index finger extending over the bottom part of the rubber on the backhand side and your thumb slightly touching the rubber on the forehand side. (Bradley, Milton)
The pen-hold grip is also appropriately named because you hold the paddle just like a pen, only grasping the paddle at the top of the handle. Because of this, people that use this grip get a paddle with a more comfortable handle to use this grip.
The wrist flick is almost always done from the backhand side. The opponent usually does it to return a serve or to return a ball hit very short and low. (Bradley)
The counter is used against topspin balls, which you have no time to loop. This stroke requires very little forward arm motion, but it is extremely important that you angle and position your paddle correctly. If it is hard topspin, you must angle your paddle downward, so the ball is forced not to pop up when you hit it. If it is soft topspin, do angle your paddle so it’s nearly facing the opponent. If hitting either a backhand or a forehand, the paddle should only move forward about a foot during the complete shot. (Bradley)
All in all, ping-pong has a long history of ups and downs. It started in the end of the 1800’s and has since then become very popular. From all countries there have been many people that have played their way to the top of ping-pong history. There are a lot of different strokes and spin moves in the game of ping-pong. There are two main grips, pen-hold grip and shake-hold grip which are used in all games of ping-pong.
Deen, Alfred. “History of Table Tennis.” PongWorld. 2000. PongWorld. 31 Jan 2008
Hickok, Ralph. “Table Tennis.” Hickok Sports.com. Monday, 17-Dec-2007 11:26:23. Hickok Sports. 4 Feb 2008
International Table Tennis Federation museum, “The History of Table Tennis.” Robbins Table Tennis Specialties. 2007. Robbins Table Tennis Specialties, Inc.. 31 Jan 2008 http://www.robbinstabletennis.com/history.htm
ITTF Museum. “A Comprehensive History of Table Tennis.” ITTF Museum. ITTF Museum. 4 Feb 2008
Milton Bradley, “The History of Table Tennis.” Table Tennis History. Fortune City. 4 Feb 2008
Willcox, Isobel. Acrobats & Ping~Pong. 13438. New York: Dodd, mead & Company, 1981.
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