Is Table Tennis Harder Than Tennis? (Read This First)

In this article, we’ll compare table tennis and tennis and break down their difficulty levels.

Which one is harder to play? First, a brief background…

The game of table tennis has been around since the 90s. It was created as a sub-version of tennis.

It was meant to be played indoors while tennis was played outdoors. That easily explains the dimensional differences between the two games.

So, is Table Tennis harder than Tennis? The game of table tennis is more difficult than tennis. Professional table tennis players perform more physical movements than their table tennis counterparts.

The tennis court is much larger than the table used in the game of table tennis.

Based on the circumstances that led to the creation of table tennis, it was created to follow the rules and play pattern of tennis.

Over the years, a couple of adjustments have been made to both games but the underlying pattern and game play has remained the same.

For instance, both games demand that the ball bounces before a return shot can be fired.

Though table tennis uses a paddle and tennis uses a racket – the principle behind the equipment is also the same. Both games can be played as singles and doubles. 

Singles meaning one player is on either side of the table or court and doubles referring to a situation where two players are involved.

Differences Between Table Tennis and Tennis

Tennis player

Table tennis and tennis can also be seen as two different sports and the difference is the basis for the variation in difficulty between the two sports.

Hence, before we consider the difficulty of either sport, we are going to discuss the difference between each sport.

We will consider the differences between both sports in terms of ball size, scoring and speed of ball during game play.

It is important that you understand how both sports differ before deciding which is more difficult.

Ball Size

By merely considering the variation in playing field, it will be obvious that both sports require different balls.

The ball used for tennis is hollow. It is made of vulcanized rubber with a felt coating. It weighs an average of 57.5 gm and is yellowish.

A table tennis ball on the other hand is a comparatively smaller ball. It weighs 2.6 gm and has a diameter of 40 mm. The balls come in different colors.

Based on the size of table tennis balls, a lot of difficulty is experienced with regards to firing return shots.

The size and weight of the table tennis ball are the primary factors contributing to the difficulty experienced in table tennis.

A beginner in table tennis will experience a lot of difficulty in making simple passes due to the small size of the ball.

The size of the ball will make it easy for a player to miss the ball when try to serve.

Furthermore, the weight of the ball is insignificant in comparison with the force of an average player’s forearm. 

The game of tennis requires more wrist movement. Players who serve balls with the entire weight of their arm rather than their wrist tend to over power shots and send the ball off the table.

Tennis involves a lot of physical movement. It is hard work for the muscles.

The court is wider and the ball larger. Blocking a table tennis ball is, however, harder than returning a tennis ball.


The scoring system of Tennis games is a bit illogical when properly considered.

The table tennis scoring system is more straightforward. In the game of table tennis, points are counted arithmetically from 1 to 11. 

The first player to get to 11 points is declared winner only if he is two points ahead of his opponent. 

In a situation where a player gets to 11 points but is still not two points ahead of his opponent, the game will continue.

Players will continue to play till one side is two points ahead of the other. A match in table tennis is the best of seven games.

The scoring for tennis is far more complicated. To win a tennis game, a player has to win four points while leading his opponent by at least two points.  The complexity of the tennis scoring system is evident in the point counting system. 

Rather than counting points arithmetically, points are counted as love, 15, 30, and 40. If both players get to 40 points simultaneously, the game will automatically be declared a deuce. 

Furthermore, a player is said to have an advantage when he possesses a point more than his opponent while going for the win. To obtain a match, a player has to win the best of five sets. 

In tennis, a set is a series of games played with alternating serves. To win a set, a player will have to win six games. The only exception to this rule is if a player wins six games when his opponent has won five games. 

If this happens, the player with the advantage will have to win an extra game before he can be declared winner of the set. 


Speed in both games is a complicated topic with regards to the implicated difficulty.

According to TTD Academy, a table tennis ball moves at a lower velocity than tennis. The tennis ball moves approximately two times faster than the table tennis ball.

The twist is that the associated speed differences does not make the game of tennis faster than table tennis.

The differences in the dimensions of the court and the table make the table tennis game significantly faster than tennis.

The tennis ball is restricted to a travel distance of 2.9 meters while the tennis ball has to travel at least 18 meters.

As a result, the table tennis game is much faster than tennis and demands fast hands and minds. Thus making it a mental and physical sport.

Difficulties Associated With Table Tennis

Table tennis was once a game restricted to the basements and yards. Today, the game is globally recognized as a competitive sport.

A common misconception of the sport is that players simply have to stand close to the tables and return the balls. 

This misconception is based on the comparatively small width of the tennis table.

Contrary to popular opinion, the game involves more than standing and returning balls. It demands physical agility, mental prowess and speed. 

Table tennis is a mental sport. This is the result of two things: the spin involved, and the limited time available. 

Deception is the best word that can be used to describe table tennis at the professional level. The size of the table makes the time available for mental assessment of balls limited.

Before a player fires a return shot, he would have to assess the level of spin his opponent used on the ball. He will also have to determine the best angle to place the paddle while returning the shot. 

These points and the fact that the ball is travelling at an average speed of 35 km/ hr makes the game very difficult. Table Tennis involves a lot of spin, demands good play mechanics and consistency. 

In addition, you are not allowed to play the ball till it bounces on your side of the table. The technicality of table tennis makes it difficult. The sport requires complicated techniques.

Technicalities Involved in the Game of Table Tennis

With table tennis, players are primarily focused on the technical and tactical aspect of their game play. The difficulty of the game of table tennis is based on the technical and tactical ability of players. 

Players struggle with arm movements, body position, foot work, how to beat pushers, when to use which serves, and stopping other players from attacking.

All these factors can be summed up as return shot selection. The win or loss of the game depends on the type of return shot a player serves. The game of tennis is considered the fastest ball game in the world. 

The ball moves at 9000 RPM (Revolutions Per Minute). Besides the accompanied speed of the game, there are other factors that influence the best choice a player should make.

The first and most obvious thing the player has to consider is a question.

The player has to question his ability to make the most favorable return shot. If the player is unable to deliver his choice-shot, he would end up losing a point.

Hence, he would have to consider the conditions of play. The amount of speed, spin and elevation of the ball will have to be considered.

The player will have to decide in split seconds if he can fire a suitable return shot based on the evaluated conditions.

At the same time, he will have to simultaneously consider his opponents abilities.

Table tennis players don’t just focus on the ball but also on the attributes and skills of their opponents. 

Questions like is the opponent using a forehand or a backhand, pushing or struggling, close or away, stressed or calm have to be answered accurately in seconds. 

All this will have to be done before every shot in the game of table tennis. The mental load the sport mounts on the shoulders of players is unlike any other sport.

To win in a professional tennis game, a player will have to consider all the factors above and deliver the most favorable return shot within split seconds.

The mental stress of table tennis players is invisible to the eye of spectators.

This is why many believe that table tennis is a relatively easy sport. 

In reality, a player has to make correct decisions within split seconds for every shot. 


The game of table tennis is more difficult than tennis. Professional table tennis players perform more physical movements than their table tennis counterparts.

However, this does not make tennis the more difficult sport.

Table tennis involves both mental and physical strain. Hence, it is the more difficult sport.