Table Tennis at the Rio 2016 Olympics - Your Guide

With the Rio Olympics just over 80 days away we take a look at some of the must watch sports that will be hitting your TV screens over the summer. This week, we're looking at Table Tennis.

Table Tennis has now been part of the Olympics for 28 years and has rightfully earned it's place as the most popular racket sport in the world. This simple but fast game, played all over the world, can be played almost anywhere where there is a table tennis table, bats and balls and is suitable for any skill level (although good eye/hand co-ordination does help!). It's also a great sport to watch with some amazing rallys (see below) and lightening quick reactions on display from the players.

Some of the laws of Table Tennis

There's a number of laws for table tennis but here's a few highlights to help you whilst you watch:

  • The table surface should measure 2.74m long and 1.525m wide (9ft x 5ft) and should lie horizontally 76cm above the ground.
  • The table should yield a bounce of around 23cm when a standard ball is dropped from 30cm above the table.
  • The net should be 15.25cm high and suspended by a cord attached to a post at each end of the table.
  • The ball should be 40mm in diameter.
  • This year, due to recent rule changes, the balls will be made of plastic rather than celluloid which is being phased out.
  • Bats should be at least 85% wood but can be reinforced by adding carbon fibre, glass fibre etc to the adhesive layer that bonds the rubber to the bat.
  • The rubber on the bat should be no more than 4mm thick (including adhesive).

And here's an explanation of some of the terms you may hear whilst watching...

  • A rally is the period during which the ball is in play.
  • The ball is in play from the last moment at which it is stationary on the palm of the free hand before being intentionally projected in service until the rally is decided as a let or a point.
  • A let is a rally of which the result is not scored.
  • A point is a rally of which the result is scored.
  • The racket hand is the hand carrying the racket.
  • The free hand is the hand not carrying the racket; the free arm is the arm of the free hand.
  • A player strikes the ball if he or she touches it in play with his or her racket, held in the hand, or with his or her racket hand below the wrist.
  • A player obstructs the ball if he or she, or anything he or she wears or carries, touches it in play when it is above or travelling towards the playing surface, not having touched his or her court since last being struck by his or her opponent.
  • The server is the player due to strike the ball first in a rally.
  • The receiver is the player due to strike the ball second in a rally.

Who should I keep an eye out for?

Ma Long from China and Timo Boll from Germany are bound to be up there for the mens singles. LI Xiaoxia from China and FENG Tianwei from Singapore are arguably favourites in the womens singles. Liam Pritchard and Paul Drinkhall are likely to feature for Great Britain once the World Rankings have been finalised.

Where can I play?

In the first instance we'd recommend checking out the national associations for information on where you can play. In the UK these are

For those of you browsing from our home town Edinburgh, we'd recommend checking out our friends at for places you can play in the capital. And for those of you really local to us Wiff Waff offer a fantastic monthly Table Tennis nights at The Drill Hall in Dalmeny Street in Leith (just 10 minutes along the road from us) and have recently introduced club nights for those who want a little longer on the tables or who play at a higher level.

For information about buying table tennis tables check out our fantastic table tennis table buying guide which compliments our great ranges of Butterfly Indoor Table Tennis Tables, Butterfly Outdoor Table Tennis Tables and Butterfly Concrete Table Tennis Tables.