Category: ping pong terminology

Common Table Tennis Terminology

Many newcomers to the sport of table tennis are surprised to learn just how many different terms and words are commonly used during matches. When you are busy trying to learn techniques like serving, backspin and proper footing, it’s easy to overlook the importance of table tennis terminology. However, learning these commonly used terms is essential to ensure you know exactly what people are referring to. Don’t worry if you are still in the dark, as we’re going to go over some of the most commonly used terms in the sport of table tennis.


If you’ve played table tennis for any given length of time, you’ve probably heard a player or referee use the term “deuce.” Of course, this term can undoubtedly be confusing to some, especially if you are new to the sport. So, what does it mean? Deuce is a term used in table tennis to describe a match where both players have reached a minimum of 10 points. When this occurs, each player is able to have one serve a piece.


Another term that you are likely to hear during a table tennis tournament is rally. Basically, a rally is the term used to describe the period of time for which a ball is in play. From the moment a player serves the ball to the time when it results in a point is known as the rally. Some rallies are several minutes long, while others only last for seconds.


A drive is the term used to describe a fast stroke that results in minimal backspin. Experienced players oftentimes use this type of stroke to force the opponent to move quickly; thus, draining their energy.


Similar to a drive, smash is a term used to describe a stroke with lots of speed but no backspin. When used correctly, smashing the ball will make it difficult for an opponent to successfully return it.


The term chop is used to describe a shot performed with lots of backspin. As most people already know, backspin is an essential element that confuses an opponent when performed correctly. While it may look like the ball is going to end up in a certain area of the table, the backspin will send it somewhere else.

These are just a few of the many terms used in table tennis. The more you practice and play the sport, the more terms you will likely hear. If you don’t understand a term, ask other players or referees what it means. After all, that’s the only way you are going to become more knowledgeable.