History of Table Tennis

For history of table tennis in a particular country, see the Country in Focus page.

Table Tennis likely began as a social hobby in England toward the end of the 1800's. Dining-room tables and balls of cork made up some of the early equipment that was used. These early pioneers may have referred to their sport as gossima, flim-flam, or ping-pong. Around the turn of the century, the game underwent a few changes in England. One person introduced a celluloid ball to the game, while another added pimpled rubber to the wooden paddle.

The recreational game lost some of its popularity until various groups around Europe revived it as "table tennis" in the 1920s. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was formed in 1926. The sport soon spread to Japan and other Asian nations. The Japanese dominated the sport for much of the 50s and 60s, however the Chinese soon closed the gap. China alone dominated the sport for much of the 60's and 70's, but after Table Tennis became an Olympic event in the 1980's, other nations such as Sweden and South Korea have joined the top ranks.

Read about Ping pong diplomacy of 1971