Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net. Except for the initial serve, players must allow a ball played toward them only one bounce on their side of the table and must return it so that it bounces on the opposite side. Points are scored when a player fails to return the ball within the rules. Play is fast and demands quick reactions. A skilled player can impart several varieties of spinto the ball, altering its trajectory and limiting an opponent's options to great advantage.
Table tennis is governed by the worldwide organization International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), founded in 1926. ITTF currently includes 217 member associations. The table tennis official rules are specified in the ITTF handbook. Since 1988, table tennis has been an Olympic sport with several event categories. In particular, from 1988 until 2004, these were: men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles and women's doubles. Since 2008 a team event has been played instead of the doubles. In 2007, the governance for table tennis for persons with a disability was transferred from the International Paralympic Committee to the ITTF.
The game originated as a sport in England during the 1880s, where it was played among the upper-class as an after-dinner parlour game. It has been suggested that the game was first developed by British military officers in India or South Africa who brought it back with them. A row of books were stood up along the center of the table as a net, two more books served as rackets and were used to continuously hit a golf-ball from one end of the table to the other. Alternatively table tennis was played with paddles made of cigar box lids and balls made of champagne corks. The popularity of the game led game manufacturers to sell the equipment commercially. Early rackets were often