table tennis vs tennis

Table Tennis vs Tennis

Last updated on June 29th, 2022

TL;DR: Tennis and table tennis, another has a table in its name but both sound the same otherwise. However, that isn’t the only difference between the two. Whether you like tennis or table tennis, it’s important to know the many differences between the two as a racket sports lover or just a curious human being.

For starters, let’s look at the origins of both sports. Tennis originated in England during the 12th century while Table tennis was created by James W. Gibb in 1901. Secondly, the equipment needed to play both sports is different as well. In tennis, you need rackets, balls, and a net while for table tennis all you need are paddles and a small plastic ball.

The playing field is also different for both sports. A tennis court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide while a table tennis table is 9 feet long and 5 feet wide with a net stretched across the middle.

The biggest difference between the two sports though is how they are played. Tennis is played with players standing on opposite sides of a net in a court while table tennis is played with players on opposite sides of a table. 

The History Of Tennis And Table Tennis

It is hard to pinpoint when exactly tennis was invented. Some people suggest that tennis traces its roots back to the 11th century when French monks played a game that resembled tennis. However, the game those French monks played was very different from the game we know today.

Tennis didn’t really start to take shape until the 1500s to 1800s when wooden racquets and gut-stringed balls were introduced. Even then, the game was still quite different from the one we play today. It wasn’t until 1874 that Major Walter Clopton Wingfield finally created a set of standardized rules for the game, which is more or less the same game we play today.

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So, while we can’t say for sure when tennis was invented, we can trace its origins back to at least the 11th century.

While tennis has a long and storied history, dating back to the 18th century, its true predecessor is perhaps a lesser-known game called lawn tennis, invented in 1873 by Major Walter Wingfield.

This early version of tennis was characterized by a heavy emphasis on subtle play and strategy, and required a relatively large playing surface to give players enough room to move about.

By contrast, ping pong first came onto the scene in the 1880s, when avid tennis players started looking for indoor alternatives during the colder months.

While not as strategic or nuanced as lawn tennis, ping pong quickly grew in popularity due to its dynamic gameplay and accessibility. Today, it is one of the most widely played indoor sports around the world.

Thus while both tennis and ping pong share their roots in similar origins, they have evolved over time into very different games with distinct styles and fanbases.

However, at their core they remain rooted in the same essential idea: a desire to bring people together through friendly competition and playful enjoyment of sports.

Which Game Is More Intense?

While there are many differences between tennis and ping pong, perhaps the most significant one is the overall physical demand and intensity of each sport.

A typical game of ping pong is relatively short-lasting, typically ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. In contrast, a typical tennis match can last anywhere from 1 to 5 hours, or even longer in some cases.

Given the immense length of a typical tennis match, it is unsurprising that this sport tends to be considerably more physically demanding than ping pong.

This difference in physical intensity is due, in part, to the factors that contribute to each sport’s gameplay.

Unlike in tennis, where players predominantly use their upper body muscles while striking the ball with racquets and running across the court, players in ping pong tend to rely on their lower body muscles more heavily.

Additionally, while rapid changes of direction are frequently required in both sports, they tend to be more common and more crucial in tennis when compared with ping pong.

On the other hand, there are also many positives aspects that make ping pong a challenging sport in its own right.

Because players tend to move more quickly and make smaller rapid-fire movements rather than long strides, their reflexes must be particularly sharp in order to accurately return serves or block shots from their opponents.

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Moreover, since each game typically involves numerous rapid-fire exchanges rather than one long rally, players must also exhibit a great deal of strategizing skills in order to stay ahead of their opponents. 

Though both tennis and table tennis are widely enjoyed by people all over the world, it is clear that table tennis is significantly more popular than tennis.

  • According to the International Tennis Federation, there are approximately 87 million people who play tennis globally.
  • In contrast, the International Table Tennis Federation reports that there are more than 300 million people who play table tennis worldwide.

There are several reasons why table tennis is more popular than tennis.

  1. One reason is that table tennis is more easily accessible than tennis. For example, many people who live in urban areas do not have access to a tennis court. However, almost everyone has access to a table and a ping-pong ball, which means that they can play table tennis anywhere.
  2. Another reason why table tennis is more popular than tennis is that it is less expensive to play. For instance, a good quality table tennis racket can be purchased for around $20, whereas a good quality tennis racket can cost upwards of $100.
  3. Finally, table tennis is generally considered to be less physically demanding than tennis, which means that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy playing the game.

Is table tennis harder than tennis?

Although both table tennis and tennis are popular sports that require physical skill, many would argue that table tennis is actually harder than tennis.

This is due to several key differences between the two games.

  1. For one, table tennis is much faster, with balls travelling at much higher speeds and requiring more intricate shots, spins, and strikes in order to be successful.
  2. In addition, table tennis players have less time to react to incoming balls, meaning they must have lightning-fast reflexes in order to be competitive.
  3. By contrast, although certain aspects of the game are physically demanding – such as hitting the ball over a longer distance upon return – overall gameplay tends to be slower paced, giving players more time to strategize their shots and adapt to their opponent’s movements.

Similarities Between Tennis And Ping Pong

There are many reasons why ping pong is often referred to as table tennis. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that the game shares many similarities with its big brother, tennis. Like tennis, the basic gameplay of ping pong involves hitting a ball back and forth using a paddle.

And both sports feature a scoring system in which points are earned by getting the ball over the net and into your opponent’s court.

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Another key similarity is that both sports require excellent hand-eye coordination and a good sense of timing.

In order to be successful in either tennis or ping pong, players must be able to quickly react to their opponents’ shots and accurately return each ball over the net within an instant.

But while these similarities do offer some justification for calling ping pong “table tennis,” there are also key differences between the two sports.

While both involve hitting a small ball back and forth across a court, the actual size of each court is quite different. Tennis courts are much larger than ping pong tables, giving players more room to maneuver around and make their shot.

Additionally, although racquets are used in both sports, there are key differences in how the racquets are wielded; while tennis serves typically involve whipping the racquet back behind the player, ping pong serves require players to hit the ball forward in a quick and fluid motion.

Tennis Rules vs Table Tennis Rules

Rules and scoring are an essential part of any game, dictating how points are awarded and determining the overall flow of the match.

  1. In tennis, for example, the server is determined via a coin toss, with the player that wins the toss serving first.
  2. Server change also differs for each game in tennis, with players switching servers every 2 points.
  3. Conversely, table tennis typically involves a series of 3 or 5 games played to 4 points each with a margin of 2 points after 10-10.
  4. Perhaps most notably, volleys are allowed in tennis but not in table tennis.
  5. Additionally, a “let” on a serve in table tennis means that another serve must be attempted, whereas in tennis there is no such rule and a point is awarded if the ball lands inside the court during an erroneous serve attempt.

Overall, rules and scoring vary widely between different types of games, making each one unique and exciting.

Tennis Scoring System vs Table Tennis Scoring

Compared to other scoring systems, both of these have their pros and cons.

  • On one hand, the tennis scoring system is relatively straightforward, with points being tallied up from 0 to 15 and then starting over again at zero.
  • Additionally, this system allows for a great deal of flexibility during competition, since overtime rounds can be easily added in when necessary.
  • At the same time, though, the tennis scoring system does have its drawbacks. For one thing, it can be confusing for spectators who aren’t familiar with how it works.
  • Additionally, because of its more complex nature, this system may lead to slower and lengthier games overall.
  • In contrast, the ping pong scoring system has many different benefits. For example, it is simple enough that anyone can easily understand how it works at a glance.
  • Additionally, unlike with tennis, there are no overtime rounds in ping pong; points are always counted up until one player reaches 21 or more. 
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How Long A Tennis Match Takes vs How Long A Table Tennis Match Takes?

Although tennis and table tennis are two very different sports, they do share one important characteristic: the length of their matches. A tennis game that is the best of 3 is usually around 90 minutes long, whereas the best of 5 typically lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes on average.

However, in tennis, anything can happen, and a match can last much less than that or far longer, as was famously seen in the historic match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut that lasted over 11 hours.

In contrast to tennis, a typical table tennis game only lasts for 5 to 10 minutes.

Thus, if a match is played best of 5 games, it will typically last from 15 to 50 minutes total.

Regardless of which sport you prefer, this short duration makes both tennis and table tennis exciting to watch, with each point carrying real weight and meaning.

Whether you love the fast-paced action of table tennis or enjoy watching powerful serves and shots played out over several grueling sets on a full-sized court, there is something for everyone in these competitive sports.

So don’t miss your chance to see these thrilling games live – grab some tickets today!

Tennis Courts vs Tables In Ping Pong

The playing surface in tennis and ping pong is very different.

  • A tennis court is 78 feet long and 27 feet wide, while a ping pong table is only 9 feet long and 5 feet wide.
  • The net is also much higher in tennis, 3 feet 6 inches at the posts and 3 feet in the center, while the ping pong net is only 6 inches high.
  • This difference in size and height means that the two games are played very differently.
  • Tennis requires more power and precision, while ping pong is a more strategic game.
  • Ping pong also has a number of different rule variations, such as doubles and table tennis, which add to the game’s complexity. 

Tennis Court Surface Quick Breakdown

The traditional tennis court grass surface, grass court is no longer seen as much because of the necessity and expense of upkeep. However, you can find grass-court from various high-end tennis clubs and famous tennis arenas and tournaments like Wimbledon.

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The reason for this is that the grass creates a softer surface, resulting in less injuries to the player’s feet and knees. Another advantage to playing on grass is that the ball bounces higher on this type of surface as opposed to playing on a hard court made of concrete.

This gives the player more time to react and get to the ball. The main disadvantage to playing on grass is that it requires more maintenance than other types of court surfaces and can be more expensive to install. 

In their own way, clay courts are amusing since when the ball strikes the surface, it is slowed down; thus, clay courts are perfect for players who enjoy playing more tactically than aggressively.

Clay courts are made of crushed stone, shale, or brick, which aren’t as comfortable on the body as grass. Because the ball moves slower on clay, there are more rallies and longer points, which can make matches on this type of surface last longer than on other court surfaces.

The biggest disadvantage to playing on clay is that it’s more expensive to install and maintain, as well as harder on the body than other types of court surfaces.

Hard courts are made up of asphalt or concrete, which makes them the fastest surface overall.  They require less maintenance than grass and clay courts, but they can be more abrasive on the player’s body.

Hard courts also tend to produce a higher bouncing ball, making them ideal for players who like to play an aggressive game.

The main disadvantage of hard courts is that they can be unforgiving on the body, causing more injuries than other types of court surfaces.

Ping Pong Table Breakdown

It is interesting to note that the dimensions of a ping pong table are regulated by an international body, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).

The ITTF was founded in 1926, and today its membership includes over 220 national associations. 

  1. According to the ITTF’s rules, a ping pong table must be 2.74m long, 1.525m wide, and 76cm high at the edges. 
  2. The net must be 6cm high, and it must be centered on the table so that it divides the table into two equal halves. 
  3. These dimensions have remained unchanged since 1901, when they were first codified by the ITTF’s predecessor, the International Lawn Tennis Federation. 

While the ITTF’s rules are not legally binding, they are followed by all major tournaments and by most manufacturers of ping pong tables.


When it comes to the coloring of ping pong tables, there are a variety of options to choose from. The most common color is blue, which is thought to provide a more enjoyable playing experience and help the ball move faster across the surface.

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However, black and white tables are also available for those who prefer a different color scheme or like to mix things up from time to time.


With most ping pong tables being made up of two parts that can be easily folded for storage and transportation, convenience is another important consideration.

Whether you’re looking for something that will fit easily into a small apartment or need wheels for moving on your own, there are plenty of options available to suit your needs.

Playing surface

In addition to the construction materials used in making a ping pong table, there is also some variation in terms of its playing surface.

Typically constructed from wood veneer or laminate, outdoor tables typically feature water-resistant surfaces designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, while indoor tables usually have tops made from either plastic or high-pressure laminate.

Whatever your preference, there’s sure to be a ping pong table out there that’s right for you.

Indoor ping pong tables

When people think of ping pong, they might picture a game that is played indoors.

And while it’s true that most indoor ping pong tables are made with a metal core that includes the feet and supports rails, the tabletop itself can be made from different woods, such as plywood, spruce, and pinewood.

However, many tables are also made from high-density fiberboard or particleboard. 

Outdoor ping pong tables

Outdoor ping pong tables are commonly made from materials that are both tough and corrosion-resistant, such as aluminum and stainless steel.

These materials make the surfaces of outdoor ping pong tables durable and long-lasting, allowing them to withstand harsh weather conditions and strong winds.

Additionally, nets, posts, and other components of outdoor ping pong tables must be framed in weatherproof materials to prevent deterioration from environmental factors like rain or heat.

However, one key difference between outdoor and indoor ping pong tables is that outdoor tables often have a more lackluster playing surface due to the reduced bounce, spin, and overall control of the ball.

Whereas indoor table tennis allows for detailed adjustments that can radically alter how a ball reacts when hit, most outdoor tables are only equipped with limited settings that have less impact on gameplay. 

Tennis Racket vs Table Tennis Paddle

Although ping pong and tennis racquets may appear to be similar in size, there are actually a few key differences between the two.

  • For starters, ping pong paddles are typically 6.7 inches long, while tennis racquets are usually 27 inches in length.
  • In addition, ping pong paddles have a much smaller sweet spot than tennis racquets, meaning that they require more precision when hitting the ball.
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As a result, ping pong is often considered to be a more challenging and strategic game than tennis.

Tennis rackets

While the standard length for a tennis racket is 27inches (68cm), there is actually a legal range for tournament play that extends from 26.5inches (67cm) to 29inches (73.5cm).

And when it comes to the weight of a tennis racket, the average racket actually weighs in at a surprisingly low 300g.

Tennis rackets are made from lightweight materials like graphite or graphite composite, including titanium, fiberglass, or kevlar.

The strings are typically made of natural gut, polyester, or nylon, with polyester being the best option for advanced athletes.

Table Tennis Paddles

Table tennis rackets are usually 6inches (15cm) wide and 10inces (25cm) long if you include the handle.

Official rules of table tennis say that the racket can be any shape, size, or weight; however, nearly all table tennis rackets look the same because that is the optimal model for the game.

  • Table tennis paddles are usually made from 5 or 7 layers of wood, but some layers can be ply composite wood and titanium carbon fiber in the high-quality paddles. 
  • In addition, the paddles are always covered with rubber. 
  • The thickness of the rubber affects how much spin or speed a player can put on the ball. 
  • For example, a player who wants more speed would use a thinner paddle with fewer rubbers while a player who wants more spin would use a thicker paddle with softer rubbers. 
  • The 5 or 7 wood layers also contribute to the paddle’s overall speed and spin.

Tennis Balls vs Ping Pong Balls

Tennis balls must meet a specific set of criteria in order to be used in competitive play. 

  • Firstly, they must be between 2.57 and 2.70 inches in diameter. They must also weigh between 1.98 and 2.10 ounces. 
  • In addition, tennis balls must be able to bounce to a height of at least 53 inches when dropped from a height of 100 inches onto a concrete surface. 
  • The International Tennis Federation (ITF) regulates these standards. Tennis balls are typically made from a hollow rubber shell, which is filled with pressurized gas.
  • The rubber shell is then covered with green felt, which is typically made from nylon or wool. 

These specific criteria help to ensure that tennis balls meet the necessary performance standards for competitive play.

Unlike tennis, where players use large and heavy tennis balls.

  • The sport of ping pong uses much smaller and lighter balls weighing only about 2.7 grams each.
  • These ping pong balls are roughly 40mm in diameter and have undergone extensive testing to ensure their quality.
  • They are carefully checked for surface imperfections, hardness, roundness, and weight to make sure they can withstand the rigorous demands of competitive play.
  • In fact, until 2014, table tennis balls were historically made from celluloid.
  • However, in 2015, International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) implemented new regulations requiring all table tennis balls be made from ABS plastic.
  • This change was driven by safety concerns surrounding celluloid as well as advancements in ball manufacturing technology that allowed for a more uniform product with improved performance characteristics.
  • Today, table tennis balls continue to undergo rigorous testing to ensure their quality and meet the expectations of players worldwide.
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Which Sport Is Faster?

There is a huge difference between tennis and table tennis in terms of speed and physicality. In tennis, players need to move much farther in order to reach the ball, making it a more physically demanding sport.

On top of that, good reflexes are essential for tennis players to succeed, as they must react quickly to sudden and unexpected changes in direction or velocity.

In contrast, table tennis is a less physically taxing sport. Due to the smaller distances involved, players typically don’t need to overexert themselves in order to get to the ball.

Additionally, their reflexes must be razor-sharp since the ball moves at high speeds, making split-second adjustments necessary for success.

Overall, these differences make tennis a very different undertaking from table tennis and demonstrate why one cannot simply replace the other when looking for an exciting and fast-paced game.

Tennis Ball Speed vs Ping Pong Ball Speed

  1. The speed of a tennis ball can vary widely, depending on the type of shot being played and the player’s body strength and physical stature. For example, the first serve in a set is usually the fastest shot, with speeds ranging from 60-150 mph or 95-240 kph. This variation in speed is due to the power and technique involved in throwing a fast serve, which requires speed and precision. After the serve, forehands are typically the fastest shots as well, requiring explosiveness from the player. However slighter players will have slower speeds for their backhand strike compared to heavier players who can generate greater force with their backhand swing. 
  2. Compared to the speed of tennis balls, which can reach 70mph or more, the ping pong ball is much slower at around 120kph. However, the short distance between the player and the table means that table tennis players need to move even faster in order to return shots successfully.
  3. In addition to its speed, another key feature of the ping pong ball is its rotational velocity. At thousands of rotations per minute, this high degree of rotation is actually an important part of what makes playing table tennis so challenging. The increased displacement of air caused by each rotation makes it difficult for players to return shots as effectively as possible, requiring them to develop advanced techniques for predicting where a ball will land and how best to respond.
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Tennis Equipment vs Table Tennis Equipment

In addition to the basic equipment of a tennis racket and ball, most players use wristbands and headbands as well.

  • These accessories help to improve performance by keeping hair up and getting rid of sweat quickly, making it easier to play without distraction.
  • For example, being able to wipe away sweat from the eyes in the middle of a rally can make all the difference between victory and defeat.
  • Likewise, using a wristband to keep long hair out of one’s face can help prevent obstructions that might otherwise disrupt one’s focus or momentum.
  • Overall, these simple but effective accessories are an important part of any tennis player’s arsenal, helping them to perform their best in even the most grueling matches.

Tennis Shoes vs Table Tennis Shoes

When it comes to playing tennis or table tennis, having the right footwear can make all the difference. Both sports require a certain amount of agility and speed, and proper shoes can help you get the most out of your performance on the court.

For tennis shoes, one of the main considerations is length. Because tennis involves a lot of lateral movement and quick directional changes, having longer shoes with more support will help keep you stable and balanced as you run around the court.

For instance, an extra-long heel counter can provide additional stability for side-to-side movements, while also providing effective cushioning for heavy impacts on hard courts.

Additionally, sole design plays an important role in determining how well a tennis shoe performs. If a particular sole doesn’t have enough traction or shock absorption for the needs of a particularly hard surface like clay or grass courts, it could cause problems that impact your game.

Meanwhile, table tennis also requires fast footwork, but this is often achieved by moving laterally instead of up and down like in other sports.

As a result, table tennis shoes tend to be cut lower to allow greater flexibility in this sideways motion.

In addition, because table tennis involves repeated small impacts with each shot rather than heavy impacts like in tennis, the shoes don’t need as much cushioning. This makes them lighter overall, which can further improve your agility around the table.

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Which Sport Is More Expensive?

Which Equipment Is More Expensive?

  • There is a wide range of prices for tennis equipment, from affordable and modestly priced rackets, to more expensive ones that are used by advanced players. For example, tennis balls are relatively inexpensive, typically costing between $3-$5 per ball. At the other end of the spectrum, high-end rackets can cost several hundred dollars or more, but these are typically reserved for professional players or those with very serious ambitions in the sport. Similarly, shoes for playing tennis can be quite expensive, with many pairs well over $100. Despite these higher costs, overall it is possible to find equipment that is accessible to all players at various levels and budgets. 
  • There is a wide range of prices when it comes to table tennis rackets, from low-end models that cost as little as $10 to higher-end ones that can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The most expensive rackets tend to be special editions or models with celebrity or professional player autographs, while lower-cost rackets may feature unique materials or technologies.
  • Along with the differences in racket prices, there are also varying costs for other table tennis equipment. Balls are relatively cheap, and you can typically find 3-star balls in packs of 40 for just a few dollars. However, high-quality tables can be quite expensive, ranging from around $500 for a basic model to several thousand dollars for specialty tables. In addition, recreational players may also opt to invest in higher-end table tennis shoes, which often have specialized designs and performance features but come at a premium price point.

Tennis Court Costs vs Ping Pong Courts

While tennis courts can be found in many public parks, it is often difficult to get a spot on one. In addition, public courts are not always well-maintained, which can make playing tennis less enjoyable.

Private tennis courts typically have better upkeep and may be more convenient to access, but they come at a higher cost.

The average private tennis court can cost upwards of $200 per hour to rent, while the average table tennis table can be purchased for around $200.

For those looking to play tennis on a regular basis, the costs can quickly add up. While table tennis may not have the same prestige as tennis, it is a much more affordable option for those looking to get involved in a racket sport.

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