Ping Pong in the Backyard

Enjoying a good match of ping pong in the back yard with your family and a cold beverage of choice is the pinnacle of at-home summer living

But wait, what exactly is ping pong?

The Game

Ping pong, otherwise known as table tennis, is played by teams of 1 or 2 known as singles or doubles. It is played on a table making it an ideal choice for the small or medium backyard. The table is divided into two halves and separated by a net, very much like a miniature volleyball net. The objective of the game is to slap a small ball using a wooden paddle over the net, and off of your opponent’s half of the table in such a manner that they are unable to return the ball in the same fashion. A fun game that is not necessarily very physically demanding, but more so a game of mental focus and concentration. Ping pong is a game that builds and requires good reflexes and coordination, making it a perfect family sport for the home or backyard.

Just because anybody can play, however, does not mean everybody can play well. There is a surprisingly huge amount of skill that can go into playing ping pong, which means the more you practise and enjoy, the deeper it gets. From offensive strokes to defensive strokes and the art of using spins to trick your opponent with an impossible bounce. Backyard ping pong is a game that begins as enjoyable on the surface, but, can go so much deeper as a sport or a hobby.

The Rules

A match consists of three games, of each the winner is determined by reaching 11 points first. The winner must, however, win by a margin of 2 points, or it is a draw. The white painted edges are part of the table and are legal if the ball skips off of these. however should the ball skip off the side, it is no point. Each player will serve 2 points in a row unless there is a ten-point tie, in which case each player will serve only once. A serve is legal unless it touches the net, in which case it is deemed a let serve and not scored.

Some Interesting History

  • Ping Pong originated in the United Kingdom at the tail end of the 19th century and in 1926 the first world championship was held in the capital city of London.
  • Early prototypes were all quick to patent names like “Whiff Whaff” and “Gossima” Ping pong was one of these early patented names and the reason why table tennis is so widely known as ping pong is because of extensive promotions carried out in the early 1900s (Also because it’s fun)
  • Also in 1926, the International Table Tennis Federation was formed, or I.T.T.F.
  • In 1988 ping pong became an Olympic sport.
  • While English in origin the game has been dominated by Asia since the 1950s. It has grown to be a really popular pastime all over the world.
  • In 2004 the International Table Tennis Federation opened a museum in Lausanne Switzerland, but the museum later moved to Shanghai in 2014
  • Because of the technique and concentration involved, playing ping pong actually has a long list of physical and mental health benefits that really complement those of spending time in the yard.
  • Ping pong has been used as a treatment for Dementia

Why should it go in the backyard?

It is becoming fairly well known that spending time outdoors has a wide-ranging host of benefits for your body mind and soul. Relieving stress, and positive implications to your cardiovascular health are just two of a long list that includes positive effects in the prevention of type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and premature death. it’s safe to say that spending time outside in your yard or green space is good for you. That doesn’t mean you have to stop there though, adding some physical and mental stimulation to the mix is an enjoyable way to really reap the rewards of a healthy lifestyle. While the yard does already offer a lot of opportunities to move around, it is mostly in the form of work, which can be daunting and difficult to achieve, and let’s face it; not all that fun. Adding physical but leisurely activities, like backyard ping pong to the mix can be a fantastic way to entice yourself into a really healthy lifestyle. The health benefits of ping pong, like spending time outdoors, are numerous and include improved balance, and improved hand-eye coordination. The fact that it is easy on the joints makes it a wonderful option for those getting further along in their years who would like to hold on to their mobility. It has even been used as a treatment for dementia. That’s right, ping pong is actually well known as a fun way for people to keep their brains sharp! Ping pong belongs in the backyard because that is where it has the potential to bring the whole family together. Picture this: it is late spring and the dad is firing up the bbq, while the mom is reading her book and enjoying their wine. The older brother and his friend excitedly debate the finer points of the rousing match they just had while the grandpa and grandchild gently paddle the ball to each other. Everybody enjoying a perfect family moment.

Who do I know that even plays backyard ping pong?

Ping pong is not just for Forrest Gump! The answer to who plays backyard ping pong is honestly, almost everybody. Backyard ping pong is a social sport that everyone from small children right up to their grandparents can enjoy together. You can even play it from a wheelchair. The beautiful thing is that, although a match between two competitive young men in their prime would be far more intense than, a casual game of doubles between two teams of married couples, they are all played on the same table. It is such a dynamic sport because you can take it as seriously or as casually as you like – it doesn’t matter! The thing about backyard ping pong that makes it such a great addition to the home is its versatility. It doesn’t require much space to set up or play so even if your yard isn’t very big, you can still enjoy it. It doesn’t hurt to have a friendly but official way to settle a wager around the house, either. Kids don’t want to clean the kitchen? Play for it! Dad wants to see a concert but Mom wants dinner? Paddles up! Everybody enjoys playing for different reasons, but for the most part, it is safe to say just about everybody enjoys playing. Even teens who are otherwise untouchable and too cool for basically anything will enjoy a good round of ping pong, they just might choose not to admit it. Hey, finding ways to connect with kids at that age can be challenging, but guess what; a great way to stay in touch with kids is through sports, so why not have one right there in the backyard? Backyard ping pong can be a great solo pastime as well. Fold one end of the table up and you have a great way to keep mentally sharp, far better for you than binging on Netflix!

Well, what do I need to get started?

Ok, so ping pong has some great physical and mental health benefits, it’s fun, it’s easy, and anyone can play. So what do you need to get started? There are a few things you will want to consider before going ahead and investing, so we’ve broken it down into a few segments for you. We’ll have you out there paddling with the best of ’em in no time!


The first consideration you will need to take into account is the space. While it doesn’t require nearly as much real-estate as something like a trampoline, you will want some dedicated space. The standard size for a ping pong table is 5 feet x 11 feet. This means roughly 15 to 19 feet by – 11 feet should do for comfortable gameplay.

A covered patio can make a fantastic home for a ping pong table, to be enjoyed in all weather conditions! You definitely will want to make sure you have a fairly level, firm bit of ground that can support the weight of the table, so use caution if planning to place it on grass that can go soft in the rain. A backyard ping pong table is definitely best suited for a deck or patio situation, if available. If you are forced to put it on the lawn then I would recommend finding some mats, if the ground is soft, to help displace the weight and keep the table level. As long as you aren’t too concerned with the health of the grass underneath, this can be a good solution for placing a ping pong table on softer ground. You could even go so far as to place boards of wood underneath where the legs meet the ground, for an extra sturdy approach. Just remember, it’s about displacing the weight so that one part doesn’t just sink into the mud.

When placing on a patio or deck be sure to keep the table away from things like the bbq or sliding glass doors. In the midst of heated gameplay, it can be difficult to remember that the sliding glass door is closed, and we don’t want to have an accident. Likewise, the smell of a melted plastic ping pong ball that has found its way into the hot bbq is a surefire way to ruin a cookout, so a little prudence in arranging the space is required.


The Table

Alright so you’ve got the perfect spot in the backyard for your ping pong table, now all that’s left to do is get a ping pong table right? Awesome let’s have a look at what to consider when purchasing your first ping pong table for your backyard. Firstly, make sure you buy a model designed for the outdoors. The second thing to take into account is the climate in which it is destined to live. If you live somewhere similar to where I do, and that is, very wet and damp, I would not recommend buying an all wooden table. Even covered, the moisture over time will be absorbed into the wood causing warping and waterlog, which is not what we want to see. Definitely consult with your local ping pong table specialist when choosing which table you buy, because the material it is made from is going to have to survive your local climate. Alternatively, if I lived somewhere very warm, I might not opt for a metal table as it could get really hot in the sunlight. Keeping these little details in mind can help make sure you get the most enjoyment out of your table over the course of its life. A good table should last many years if you look after it properly. I would recommend doing some research and making your purchase online, as having a table delivered will take about 85% of the hassle out of the set-up process.

The Gear

With the biggest piece out of the way, now it’s time to make sure you have all the gear you need to host a good tournament of ping pong. Don’t worry, it really isn’t too much. Ideally, you should have at least 4 paddles, if you want to facilitate any games of doubles. Personally, I would keep a backup. Should a paddle accidentally find its way to the roof or wear down over time, it is nice to have a back up on hand so that you don’t have to stop playing in the middle of a match. This may seem like a farfetched scenario, but believe me, if you get into a good heated match, it can happen! Lastly, you will need some balls. Ping pong balls do have a tendency to get lost, finding their way into all sorts of impossible nooks and crannies. Keeping a good stockpile of ping pong balls on hand will ensure that you never need to stop a good game, just because you can’t find the ball! One pro-tip which I will have to very strongly suggest is to invest in a good weatherproof cover. The thicker the better, and though it may seem like an extra expense now, down the road, you will be glad you did because your ping pong table will last years longer without needing to be replaced.

In terms of clothing, just anything flexible and comfortable will do. You don’t need to change into a tracksuit to play, but you are probably going to want to remove that new blazer of yours.

Getting Set Up

As I mentioned before, ordering your equipment online will save you a lot of problem-solving, unless you own a truck and are used to moving larger items, of course, I would make this a hard recommendation. If you are intent on buying from a brick and mortar store then I would advise just as strongly to have it delivered. We want to reap the health benefits of playing ping pong, not put our backs out in the parking lot!

Thinking about how the table has to get to where it’s going ahead of time can save a massive headache, ie: moving large planters out of the way the night before can really make the day go by a lot easier. While I maintain that using a service to move and set up your ping pong table is the way to go, if you are a hardnosed DIY-er, or making a second-hand purchase then definitely consult your favourite search engine for instructions on moving and setting up your make and model. Most manufacturers keep a digital copy of those kinds of documents on their website, and youtube is full of handy people who will show you the way.

Taking care of your backyard ping pong table

This is where table placement is going to really make a difference. If you weren’t able to put your ping pong table in a covered area, then you definitely need to buy a cover. I would still recommend it if it was under a roof of some sort, but you need something to protect it from the elements. Ping pong tables actually have a rather delicate finish which shouldn’t be neglected and left to the elements. This brings me to my next point which is to avoid harsh chemicals. The same delicate finish that doesn’t like the rain and snow is vulnerable to nasty chemical cleaners. Ping pong tables often require specialized cleaners depending on their finish so make sure you consult your manual. If you like to take your chances and use a DIY cleaner there are some all-purpose recipes on the internet using ingredients like vinegar. I would personally stick with the manufacturer’s recommendation, however. If something were to go wrong you would more than likely be covered under warranty and be able to have it fixed or replaced. On that same note, there may come a time when you need to have your backyard ping pong table re-sealed. Just as I said before with the moving and the setting up, leave this to the pros. If you’re really handy and confident and want to take your money into your own hands then, again there are some instructional videos floating around, but for the sake of good conscience, I can’t recommend it. Washing your ping pong table about once a week, protecting it from the weather, and letting the pros do the repairs, are a surefire way to make sure you get to enjoy your table for years. Take care of your ping pong table, and it will take care of you!

Build both your space and your community

Once you have set up your backyard ping pong table, you are going to want to have friends and family over to enjoy it with, so upgrading the social space is a must. A bbq is basically mandatory and you’ll want to also consider a lounge area for those not currently playing. Some nice outdoor furniture and planters can go a long way towards upgrading a space. It’s not uncommon for a centrepiece like an outdoor ping pong table to inspire a complete revamp of a space. It may sound like an over the top, expensive suggestion but I make it based on one key point. One of the main benefits of owning an activity such as a ping pong table is the social aspect. We, humans, are social creatures, and the importance of human connection in our lives isn’t recognized nearly as widely as it should be. If you want to really reap the rewards of your investment, brighten up your space, and invite your friends and family over. Have them invite their friends. Host a tournament. The biggest benefit of any sport is the human connection, and keeping a ping pong table in your backyard, which may seem like a simple and arbitrary activity at a glance, can bring so much more to your life with the right mindset. Much like the great sport of ping pong, it’s all about how you play it.

In Summary

If you have the yard space and want to get the most out of it, all things considered, back yard ping pong is a great option. You can use it to improve your physical health, focus, concentration and mental health, de-stress, bring the family together or even the whole neighborhood. You can truly use a wonderful activity like this to enrich your life in so many ways. Who doesn’t want to live a longer, healthier, and more present, connected life? Put the ping pong table in the back yard, it’s just about as simple as that.

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