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Table tennis Glossary

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Table tennis terminology is the special set of English words and phrases used in the game of Table tennis to describe the game , the play and the equipment.

  • Antispin – A smooth rubber with very low surface friction, used to defend against strong spin or to confuse the opponent. This type of rubber is rarely (if at all) seen in modern top-level table tennis, but is popular with amateur and veteran players.
  • Blade – The wooden part of the racket.
  • Crossover – The point where a player has to change from playing a forehand stroke to backhand stroke; often a target for attack as it is difficult to return balls aimed at this area.
  • Early – The rising part of a ball's bounce.
  • Inverted rubber – Rubber that contacts the ball with its smooth surface, and is glued to the rest of the bat with its pimpled surface. With a larger contact area, this type of rubber generally produces more spin than pimpled rubber, although some rubbers are designed to have the opposite effect (see Antispin).
  • Heavy – Used to describe strong spin.
  • Late – The falling part of a ball's bounce.
  • Loop – A strong topspin stroke that aims to overpower the spin of the oncoming ball, usually backspin.
  • Loose – A return that is too high, too long, has insufficient spin or a combination of the above. Easy for the opponent to attack or kill. Compare tight.
  • Multiball – Training method that minimizes wasted time by using many balls that are continuously fed to the player, either by another player or a ball robot.
  • Penhold – Style of player that grips the racket in a manner similar to holding a pen.
  • Pimples – Rubber that contacts the ball with its pimpled surface. Produces different effects on the spin compared with inverted rubber due of the reduced contact area and flexibility of the pimples.
  • Sandwich rubber – Inverted rubber, with sponge.
  • Shakehand – The most popular table tennis grip. Similar to a tennis grip with the index finger extended over the racket head perpendicular to the handle.
  • Speed glue – Glue used to attach rubber to the blade. Contains a high percentage of volatile solvents which soaks into the sponge of a rubber and increases the speed and spin of a stroke.
  • Third ball – The stroke hit by the server after the opponent's return of the serve. Because the serve can be used to make attacking difficult for the opponent, the third ball is frequently the first strong attacking stroke in any table tennis rally.
  • Tight – A return that is difficult for the opponent to attack. Always a low ball, usually in combination with being short, having strong backspin, or both.

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Published - January 2009

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