Balls range in quality from one star (practice balls) to three star (competition quality). The official ball colour is white or orange. The official ball size is 40mm.

The search for the 'perfect' ball
Ever since the game was first invented, the search for the perfect table tennis ball has been on. Early versions of the game were unsuccessful because they were unable to find a suitable ball, and it was only when the celluloid ball was first introduced in the early 1900s that the game became popular. But, the search has continued for a better ball.

Following trials in the late 1990s, the rules were amended and the size of the ball was changed from 38mm to 40mm to try and slow the game down, which would mean that the length of the rallies would increase and in turn would make the game more appealing to television viewers.

Celluloid or Plastic?

Historically, table tennis balls were made from celluloid. However, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) introduced plastic balls at all ITTF tournaments from July 1, 2014, with national associations around the world also adopting this change. The change reflected the fact that the manufacturing process for celluloid was inherently dangerous due to its inflammable nature, and was being banned in some countries, while transportation and storage of celluloid was also affected.

Table Tennis England recognised that there would be a transition period while supplies of celluloid balls were used up and supplies of plastic balls improved. From the start of the 2015/16 season, plastic balls have been used at all Table Tennis England events.

bat and ball

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