More people are now playing ping pong than ever before and it has become one of the most enjoyable social sports since its inception in the 1800’s. The sport has developed from a simple past time to a very competitive sport that is played even in the international arena. Depending on your level and standard it is likely your skills will differ but you can learn more about the official rules of ping pong here.
Ping pong wouldn’t be ping pong if not for the sound the ball made as it hits the paddle and table during a rally. It is even in the quality of the sound that most ping pong veterans know the quality of their equipment. Different types of ping pong balls are now marketed, sold, and used depending on the level of competition of the sport.
Many toy manufacturers even make generally cheap and low quality ping pong balls because those are just used for fun. Generally lighter in weight than the prescribed 2.7grams they often will not exhibit good performance in bounce, spin, and control and so aren’t recommended in this guide, instead below we review some of the best ping pong balls around.
In terms of competition levels within schools, communities, or regional matches, sport grade ping pong balls are always used. The quality of which ranges from a rating of 1-star (lowest) up to 3-star (highest quality).
Single-star rated ping pong balls are mostly used for beginner training sessions or in school. These are not tournament grade and it is to be expected that these will have a seam in the middle and would easily crack open or get dented after a few plays of ping pong.
Two-star rated ping pong balls are used by advanced players who are training for competitions. These ping pong balls can also be fed to robots for multi-ball practice sessions.
A high-quality three-star ping pong ball must not have a visible seam around the center of the sphere. It should also be firm and must not cave in when it is pressed on its sides. Ping pong balls are usually smashed with the paddle during competitions so firmness is a very important characteristic.
Ping pong balls will also come in two colors, white and orange. These are highly visible against the blue or green ping pong tables and are the only colors which are approved for competitions and tournaments.
The Evolution of Ping Pong Balls
People from elite families during the 1800’s first used golf-balls for their past time sport which is usually done after dinner time. These golf balls are volleyed back and forth a table with books acting as the net. It was not until 1901 that James W. Gibb innovate a ping pong ball made of a celluloid material.
Celluloid is a kind of thermoplastic material which has nitrocellulose and camphor in its compound structure. Camphor was eventually identified to gradually squeeze out of the ping pong balls overtime. Once exposed to air, camphor sublimes and becomes an environmental hazard.
This issue led to the innovation of plastic ping pong balls. These plastic balls are also known as “Poly” balls and are the officially prescribed balls for tournaments and Olympic competitions. However, since plastic materials have a higher tendency to expand due to heat, poly balls are expected to have a diameter which is slightly over the 40mm standard ball, which is why it is labeled explicitly as 40+ by some manufacturers and sellers.
Some celluloid balls were still used allowed to be used in tournaments until July 2014. The ITTF has also posted a list in their website for the approved balls for the period January to December 2017.
Olympic / Tournament Standard Ping Pong Balls
In terms of the official ping pong balls used in international competitions such as the Olympics, the choice of ball must be 40mm to 40+mm in diameter and should weigh 2.7 grams. The color of the ball must be either white or yellow in matte finish as these colors are highly visible and contrasting on a green or blue table. All ping pong balls used in prestigious tournaments are preferably made of plastic material.
The International Table Tennis Federation is the organization that approves the 40mm balls that may be used in international competitions such as the Olympics. ITTF approved balls follow a strict color coding of the balls and its stamp, the material from which it is made of, and the seamlessness characteristic of the balls.
Manufacturers Who Create the Best Type of Ping Pong Balls
One of the reputable manufacturers of 3-star ping pong balls is Nittaku. This company can be found in Japan and makes premium ping pong balls that are reserved for tournament use as the balls can be very expensive to use only for fun sport. Japan is known for manufacturing high quality products and these are exhibited even in their ping pong balls.
Other popular brands are largely manufactured in China such as DHS, Double Fish, and Xushaofa. These brands make a range of ping pong balls with different star ratings depending on the needs and use of the buyers.
Xushaofa, for instance, makes seamed ping pong balls as well as premium seamless ones. It’s just a matter of picking the quality of the ball that is suitable for the player’s needs.
More serious ping pong players may also refer to 3-star balls manufactured by Stiga, Joola, and Kevenz to be used in practice rallies, recreational ping pong, and minor youth or club competitions.
Average Cost of Ping Pong Balls
Premium quality ping pong balls such as those manufactured by Nittaku 3-star can cost as much as $10 for 3 pieces per box. These are very pricey but well worth it and tournament grade.
Mid-priced ping pong balls such as the Xushaofao 3-star balls would cost around $6.00 for 3 pieces per box. While the most affordable balls that are durable and can be used in practice sessions will cost around $10.00 for fifty (50) pieces.
It is also wise to check first the photos and customer reviews that come with the selling ads since there are numerous versions of fake and imitation ping pong balls which are sold for the same price as the genuine ones. These imitations are found to be of poor quality in terms of color and stamps, durability, and performance.
Ping Pong Balls Product Review
1. Nittaku 3-Star Premium
These are premium ping pong balls that are quite pricey. It exhibits excellent performance in terms of bounce, spin, control, and predictability. The balls are seamless, firm, and have an even round shape. It usually comes in boxes with three white ping pong balls each. It must be reserved for tournament purposes as the balls do not last very long.
2. DHS ITTF Approved 3-Star
These ping pong balls are considered for professional level sport. Likewise, amateurs will find that the balls are durable enough to smash several times against the wall during practice. It is significantly cheaper than Nittaku and comes in a box of 6’s for $8.43. It is also wise to evaluate the seller first since this particular brand is frequently imitated and fake versions are sold online as well.
3. Pro DHS 3-Stars White
These balls are not tournament grade and are ideal for training purposes only. A box usually contains six balls for the very affordable price of $3.48.
4. Kevenz 3-Star
Ping pong balls of this brand are used for advanced training and robots. It can have an impact of over 1000 times and will last for a long time. These are also made of plastic but are not tournament grade due to the variance in ball diameter (39mm to 40mm). These balls usually have a seam but it is still relatively seamless to the touch. These can be bought in packs of fifty (50) pieces for an affordable price of $9.99.
5. Xushaofa 40+ Seamless Poly Ping Pong Balls
Genuine Xushaofa balls come close to the quality of the more expensive Nittaku balls. It is seamless and the bounce is generally predictable. It is also more durable than Nittaku balls. Although it has a higher bounce, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on the player’s style and preference. A pack of 12 balls costs around $24.00 through online sellers.
6. Asian Pacific 40+ Seamless Poly Ping Pong Balls
These are relatively more expensive than the Xushaofa balls which are both made in China. A pack of 24 balls will usually cost $37.49 exclusive of shipping fees. It is comparable to premium ping pong balls in durability, evenness of bounce, and it is ITTF approved.
7. KINGNIK 3-Star
These balls are also made by the same manufacturer in China who makes the Xushaofa ping pong balls. However, the KINGNIK 3-star balls tend to be heavier which means more effort in getting the ball over the net and when executing shots like backspin. Six pieces of KINGNIK costs $11.90 through online sellers.
8. STIGA 3-Star Ping Pong Balls
These are great for competitive playing and the bounce and spin are well balanced. Twelve balls would set you back only $17.99 but it is a quality as these balls are USATT and ITTF approved. Be careful when buying online as there have been reports of receiving fake STIGA 3-star balls and those delivered packages which have been considered lemons or customer returns because of the ripped or torn bottoms of the boxes signifying a red flag.
9. ULTRA Ping Pong Balls
These are one-star practice ping pong balls which are a little more expensive than the Kevenz brand of practice balls. These are made out of plastic and can be fed in ping pong practice robots or used in recreational ping pong. A pack of 50 pieces will cost around $13.00. The balls have decent performance in terms of bounce and spin. It is also durable and well worth the price.
10. EastPoint Sports Ping Pong Balls
These are pretty durable for low cost ping pong balls. There have been feedbacks of receiving dented ping pong balls upon delivery. These balls cost around $9.00 for 36 pieces. These are generally lighter than other practice ping pong balls which can be a problem for those who like to have a good feedback of the ball when hitting with the paddle.