Table Tennis Equipment
The international rules specify
that the game is played with a light 2.7 gram, 40 mm diameter ball. The
rules say that the ball shall bounce up 24–26 cm when dropped from a
height of 30.5 cm on to a standard steel block thereby having a
coefficient of restitution of 0.89 to 0.92. The 40 mm ball was
introduced after the 2000 Olympic Games. However, this created some
controversy as the Chinese National Team argued that this was merely to
give non-Chinese players a better chance of winning since the new type
of balls has a slower speed, while at that time most Chinese players
were playing with fast attack and smashes. A 40 mm table tennis ball is
slower and spins less than the original 38 mm (1.5 inch) one. The ball
is made of a high-bouncing air-filled celluloid or similar plastics
material, colored white or orange, with a matte finish. The choice of
ball color is made according to the table color and its surroundings.
For example, a white ball is easier to see on a green or blue table than
it is on a gray table. Stars on the ball indicate the quality of the
ball. Three stars indicate that it is of the highest quality, and is
used in official competition.
The table is 2.74
m (9 ft) long, 1.525 m (5 ft) wide, and 76 cm (30 inch) high with any
continuous material so long as the table yields a uniform bounce of
about 23 cm when a standard ball is dropped on to it from a height of 30
cm. The table or playing surface is uniformly dark coloured and matt,
divided into two halves by a 15.25 cm (6 inch) high net. The ITTF
approves only wooden tables or their derivates. Concrete tables with a
steel net are sometimes available in outside public spaces, such as
equipped with a laminated wooden racket covered with rubber on one or
two sides depending on the grip of the player. The official ITTF term is
"racket", though "bat" is common in Britain, and "paddle" in the U.S.
The wooden portion of the racket, often referred to as the "blade", commonly features anywhere between one and seven plies of wood, though cork, glass fiber, carbon fiber, aluminum fiber, and Kevlar are sometimes used. According to the ITTF regulations, at least 85% of the blade by thickness shall be of natural wood. Common wood types include balsa, limba, and cypress or "hinoki," which is popular in Japan. The average size of the blade is about 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) long and 6 inches (15 cm) wide. Although the official restrictions only focus on the flatness and rigidness of the blade itself, these dimensions are optimal for most play styles.
Table tennis regulations allow different surfaces on each side of the racket. Various types of surfaces provide various levels of spin or speed, and in some cases they nullify spin. For example, a player may have a rubber that provides much spin on one side of his racket, and one that provides no spin on the other. By flipping the racket in play, different types of returns are possible. To help a player distinguish between the rubber used by his opposing player, international rules specify that one side must be red while the other side must be black. The player has the right to inspect his opponent's racket before a match to see the type of rubber used and what color it is. Despite high speed play and rapid exchanges, a player can see clearly what side of the racket was used to hit the ball. Current rules state that, unless damaged in play, the racket cannot be exchanged for another racket at any time during a match.