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Ping Pong Terminology

The Basic Terms and Terminology in the Game of Ping Pong

Anti-topspin
A type of bat rubber that prevents spin and absorbs speed with the effect of returning a ‘dead’ ball.

Backhand
A stroke played across the front of the body with the back of the hand facing forward.

Backspin
Spin applied to the ball where if hit with a normal racket position by an opponent the ball would not return back over the net.

Block
A defensive shot played against loops and smashes aimed at keeping the ball on the table.

Chop
A defensive shot played with backspin.

Closed
A racket angle where the top of the ball is struck.

Dead ball
A return shot played without any spin.

Doubles
A game played with two players on each side.

Drive
An offensive shot usually played in rallies, where the ball is struck at a medium pace.

Drop shot
A surprise offensive shot where the ball is hit so it just passes the net.

Expedite rule
After a time limit of 10 minutes during a single point in tournament play the receiver automatically wins the point (provided he/she has successfully returned the ball 13 times in a row).

Forehand
A shot played to the side of the body with the palm of the hand facing forward.

International Table Tennis Federation
The international governing body for the sport of table tennis.

Inverted
A bat rubber type with a smooth finish but which grips well. Also capable of producing a tremendous amount of spin. Also known as Pips-in.

Let
A situation where the ball hits the net but still lands in the opponents half during a serve. A let results in play stopping and the serve being retaken without either player being awarded points.

Lob
A defensive shot, usually against high-sped shots, where the ball is returned high in the air.

Long pips
A type of rubber with a surface consisting of long pimples, which results in unpredictable spin.

Loop
An offensive shot with topspin.

Match
Usually played as the best of three or five games

Medium-long
A serve played where the second bounce occurs near the edge of the table at the opponent’s end.

Open
A racket angle where the bottom of the ball is struck.

Penhold
A grip where the bat is held vertically like a pen.

Pips-in
A bat rubber type with a smooth finish but which grips well. Also capable of producing a tremendous amount of spin. Also known as Inverted rubber.

Pips-out
A bat rubber type consisting of many small pimples, which produces high levels of speed and control but little spin.

Push
A defensive shot played against backspin shots.

Receive
Service return.

Seemiller
A type of bat grip named after 5-time US champion Dan Seemiller.

Serve
The opening shot of a point where the server plays a shot after tossing the ball in the air.

Set
One game to 21 points in a match.

Shakehands
A grip where the bat is held with the middle, ring and little finger wrapped around the handle.

Short
A serve that would (potentially) bounce twice on the opponent’s half of the table. Can be very difficult to return.

Sidespin
A type of spin that, when applied to the ball during a shot, curves the flight of the ball to either the left or right.

Skunk
An informal scoring method often used in recreational play where the player wins a game at a score of 7-0 or 11-1

Smash
An offensive shot played at high speed.

Topspin
A type of spin that causes the ball to bounce low and fast on the opponent’s half of the table.