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Serve up your A-game with the coolest table tennis talk!

Whether you’re swinging your paddle in the park or acing a tournament, these 30 epic terms will elevate you from a casual player to a table tennis titan.

Ready to become the best slang slinger?

Grab your paddle—it’s time to dive into the lingo!

Must-Know Table Tennis Terms, Phrases and Slang:

  1. Backspin
  2. Block
  3. Chop
  4. Dead ball
  5. Drive
  6. Edge ball
  7. Forehand
  8. Let
  9. Loop
  10. Match point
  11. Penhold
  12. Pips
  13. Push
  14. Rally
  15. Receive
  16. Serve
  17. Set
  18. Smash
  19. Spin
  20. Topspin
  21. Undercut
  22. Volley
  23. Warning
  24. Wipe
  25. Anti-spin
  26. Ball placement
  27. Game point
  28. Long pips
  29. Rubber
  30. Skunk
Table Tennis

#1 Backspin

A type of spin where the ball rotates backwards as it moves towards the opponent, causing it to slow down and bounce lower when it hits the table. Backspin makes returning the ball more challenging due to its deceptive motion.

#2 Block

A defensive stroke used to counter attacking shots, where a player uses a short, compact motion to return the ball with minimal effort. A block can quickly turn the momentum of a rally by catching an opponent off guard.

#3 Chop

A defensive stroke that imparts heavy backspin on the ball, typically executed away from the table. Players use a chop to counter fast topspin shots, creating a low-trajectory return that’s hard to attack.

#4 Dead ball

A serve or stroke with very little to no spin, which can be tricky to return as it does not react as expected when contacting the opponent’s paddle. The dead ball can be a strategic deception.

#5 Drive

An offensive stroke with a flat hit, designed to drive the ball fast and low over the net. The drive is a fundamental shot aimed to limit the opponent’s reaction time and force errors.

#6 Edge ball

A ball that hits the edge of the table, which is still a valid point as long as it hits the opponent’s side first. Edge balls are often unexpected and can be frustrating for players on the receiving end.

#7 Forehand

In table tennis, the forehand is a type of stroke used to hit the ball when it is on the same side of the body as the paddle-holding hand. It’s one of the most basic and commonly used strokes, allowing for power and control, and can be played from anywhere on the table.

#8 Let

In table tennis, a “let” is a situation where a point is interrupted under certain conditions and must be replayed without penalty to either player.

#9 Loop

A loop in table tennis is an attacking stroke that applies a significant topspin to the ball. This technique is designed to arc the ball over the net and make it dip quickly onto the opponent’s side, challenging their defense.

#10 Match Point

Match point refers to the situation in which a player or doubles team needs one more point to win the match. It’s a high-pressure moment where focus and strategy are crucial.

#11 Penhold

Penhold is a grip style resembling holding a pen, with the thumb and index finger encircling the racket handle. This grip allows for flexible wrist movement, often used by Asian players for its quick forehand strokes.

#12 Pips

Pips are the small rubber bumps on the surface of some table tennis rackets. Pips can be ‘out,’ where they create unpredictable spin, or ‘in,’ for a more consistent hit and preferred by offensive players.

#13 Push

A push is a defensive stroke with backspin used to control the ball, particularly against short balls or serves. It’s a strategic maneuver often implemented to provoke a weak return or set up an attack.

#14 Rally

A rally in table tennis is a sequence of back-and-forth shots between players. Rallies continue until one player fails to make a legal return, and they often feature a mix of offensive and defensive plays.

#15 Receive

Receiving in table tennis refers to how a player returns the ball following an opponent’s serve. The receive is crucial in setting the tone of the rally, and effective receiving strategies can neutralize the server’s advantage, allowing the receiver to take control of the point.

#16 Serve

The serve in table tennis is the action that starts each point. It involves striking the ball so that it bounces once on the server’s side of the table and at least once on the opponent’s side. Serves can be varied in spin, speed, and placement to gain strategic advantages.

#17 Set

A “set” in table tennis refers to a game within a match, typically played to 11 points. Players switch service every two points and a set must be won by at least a two-point margin to accommodate the rally scoring system.

#18 Smash

The smash is a powerful, offensive shot, often delivered with a lot of speed to finish the point. It’s executed usually when the ball is high and close to the net, making it difficult for the opponent to return.

#19 Spin

Spin in table tennis is when the ball rotates due to a player striking it with a particular motion. Spin affects the ball’s trajectory and bounce, with different types—such as topspin or backspin—being strategic elements of play.

#20 Topspin

Topspin is imparted on the ball by striking it in an upward motion, causing it to rotate forward. This makes the ball dip down faster after it bounces, often used to create offensive pressure or force errors from the opponent.

#21 Undercut

Also known as backspin, an undercut is a type of spin applied by slicing beneath the ball. This causes the ball to float slower through the air and bounce lower on the opponent’s side, often used defensively.

#22 Volley

In table tennis, volleying is illegal. It refers to hitting the ball before it has bounced on the table during a rally. If done during a rally, it results in a point for the opponent.

#23 Warning

In table tennis, a warning (often signaled by a yellow card) can be issued by the umpire for various infractions, such as improper service, behavior not in keeping with the spirit of the game, or delays in play. Warnings serve as a caution, and repeated infractions can lead to points awarded to the opponent or even disqualification.

#24 Wipe

Players often wipe their hands on the table, particularly near the net, to dry off sweat during a match. This action is allowed, typically between points or games, but it should not unnecessarily delay the game. Wiping is also a moment for players to catch a brief mental break and refocus.

#25 Anti-spin

A type of rubber that minimizes the amount of spin returned to the opponent, effectively countering their spin-heavy shots. It’s often used by defensive players to neutralize aggressive topspin or backspin from their adversaries.

#26 Ball placement

Refers to the strategic positioning of the ball on the opponent’s side of the table during a rally. Good ball placement can keep an opponent off-balance, exploit their weaknesses, and create opportunities for winning shots.

#27 Game point

The situation in a game of table tennis where a player or team needs one more point to win that game. The pressure ramps up during game point, as the receiving player must prevent their opponent from scoring to stay in the contest.

#28 Long pips

Long pimples, often referred to as ‘long pips,’ are a type of rubber on a racket that has elongated, spaced-out pimple projections. They create unpredictable spins and bounces, making it difficult for opponents to anticipate the trajectory of the return.

#29 Rubber

The material attached to the blade of a table tennis racket, which influences the speed, spin, and control of the ball. Rubbers come in a variety of surfaces, including pimpled (short and long pips) and smooth (inverted), tailored to different playing styles.

#30 Skunk

In informal table tennis play, “skunk” refers to a rule where a game ends prematurely if a player reaches a certain point lead (often 7-0) over their opponent. This rule is not used in official competitive play but can be applied in casual settings to speed up games and maintain interest.

Table Tennis


What are some Table Tennis terms for beginners?

“Backspin,” “Forehand,” and “Smash” are some Table Tennis terms beginners should start with. These provide a foundation for learning basic strokes and techniques in the game.

What are some funny Table Tennis terms?

“Skunk” and “Dead ball” are some funny Table Tennis terms, adding a playful element to the game by describing a situation of overwhelming victory or a ball with no spin, respectively.

What is a famous Table Tennis phrase?

“Set point,” is a famous Table Tennis phrase, announcing the critical moment in a game where a player could win the set, highlighting the tension and excitement of the match.

Meet Rev, one of our dedicated team members who embodies the essence of sports passion. When he’s not immersed in the world of sports content creation, Rev is busy honing his skills in esports and exploring the great outdoors through activities like hiking and basketball.

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