Table tennis, also known as ‘ping pong’, is a fun racket sport that you can play anywhere against friends or family, whether it be at home, a leisure centre, or your local pub. Having a supply of good quality table tennis balls is essential for play and being able to enjoy the sport.

Despite all looking the same, there are different types of ping pong balls that have unique performance properties in order to suit the skill level of the player, which can make the buying process slightly more difficult and time consuming as you try to find the right ball for you.

With this in mind, we have produced a comprehensive guide to table tennis balls, to make buying your next balls that bit easier. After reading our guide you will know everything there is to know about table tennis balls, such as the size and weight requirements of the balls, what materials are used to make ping pong balls and the number of stars you should look for on the front of the balls.

table tennis ball dimensions

What is the size of a table tennis ball?

First, we’ll cover the size dimensions of a table tennis ball. Using the right size ping pong ball is vitally important in order to meet competition regulations and develop your skills and different shot types when playing recreationally. The diameter, weight and volume of the ball stays consistent worldwide regardless of the age or abilities of the players.

The International Table Tennis Federation’s (ITTF) rules state that a ball must be spherical, with a diameter of 40mm. This in turn makes the standard circumference of a table tennis ball 125mm/12.5cm.

Table tennis balls are hollow inside, making them one of the lighter balls in sports. ITTF rules require all balls to weigh exactly 2.7g.

Using a ball that meets these requirements is essential to get the most out of your table tennis game. As mentioned earlier practicing and playing against your friends with the right size ball will allow you to develop key skills such as applying spin to your shots and learn a variety of shot types such as a smash, backhand slice or a forehand block.

What is a Table Tennis ball made from?

Traditionally, table tennis balls were made from a material called celluloid, a transparent plastic. However, the manufacturing process for celluloid was very dangerous due to its inflammable nature and as a result, the ITTF changed its rules in 2014 so all balls were made of plastic free of celluloid.

All other national table tennis associations then began adopting this rule change, so that all balls in world table tennis were using these celluloid-free new plastic balls. Rules from the ITTF now state that ‘the ball shall be made of plastic material and shall be white or orange, and matt.’

The use of plastic balls has changed the game of table tennis over the years. Plastic balls tend to bounce much higher than the old celluloid balls and travel at a much greater speed through the air. This suits players who play a fast attack game and don’t look to put as much spin on the ball. The new plastic balls don’t spin as much either, so defensive players who use backspin in their shots have struggled, as well as some attacking players who use top spin shots.

What do the Stars on Table Tennis Balls mean?

All table tennis balls will have a star rating from one star up to three stars. This represents the overall quality of the ball, with one star representing a lower quality ball and three stars being the highest quality ball. Whilst each ball may look the same, the number of stars denote the key differences between each table tennis ball. This section will explain these differences in performance between each star rating and the skill level each star rating is most suitable for, so you know exactly which balls to look out for.

ping pong balls
ping pong bat and ball

1-Star Table Tennis balls

The lowest quality of the three types of ball, 1-star table tennis balls are the best options for beginners and for recreational use. They are slower through the air and don’t bounce off the table as high, making it easier for a lower-level player to react and return the ball. Whilst some spin can be applied to the ball, it isn’t as much the 3-star balls. The best players may still use 1-star ping pong balls, but this will only be for multi-ball training drills. These balls are also known for being less durable, but the overall cost is lower and compensates for the ball not being as longer lasting.

2-Star Table Tennis Balls

2-star table tennis balls are used more commonly in recreational matches and are perfect for intermediate players who are looking to further develop their game. Despite still not being used in top level competitions the balls are higher quality, offer greater bounce and can help intermediate players develop their spin control in order to help them win more points in matches. Like 1-star balls, top level players may buy these balls in bulk to use for multi-ball practice.

3-Star Table Tennis Balls

3-star table tennis balls are the ideal option for advanced level players looking to get to the highest level. ITTF approved, 3-star ping pong balls are used at tournament level, including the Olympics. They offer the best, most consistent bounce off the table and fastest speed through the air, leading to thrilling, fast-paced rallies at the top end of the sport mixed with finesse from the increased levels of spin. The plastic structure gives 3-star balls the greatest durability out of all the table tennis ball types, making it the most reliable option for training and matches for pro-level players.

Ping pong ball stars explained

Table Tennis Ball Colours

ITTF rules state that all table tennis balls must be either white or orange in colour with a matt finish. Orange coloured table tennis balls tend to be used more in recreational matches between friends and family, due to them being more visible and slightly easier to hit as a result. White ping pong balls are used mainly in tournaments as tables and floorings in arenas will be different colours, as well as the players’ clothing, which would make an orange ball more difficult to see than a white ball for players and officials.

Now you have read our guide, why not check out our range of premium quality Vermont table tennis balls. No matter whether you are a beginner starting out your table tennis journey or an established professional going for gold, we stock 1-star, 2-star and 3-star balls for players of all abilities to develop their ping pong skills.

All Vermont balls are manufactured to official standard size using outstanding durable poly material to help maintain their round shape and create a stable, consistent bounce. Available in packs of 3,6,12 or 90, each ball has a waterproof design suitable for indoor or outdoor use.

At Net World Sports, we pride ourselves on the quality of our Vermont table tennis equipment. As well as balls we stock a range of table tennis tables, nets, bats and more! We have the equipment to take your ping pong game to the next level!