The Best Ping Pong Balls In 2022: Reviews and Buying Guide

You can’t play table tennis without a ping pong ball! Unfortunately, not all balls are created equally and in this guide, we’re going to cover our favorite table tennis balls along with a buying guide to help you choose the right kind. Let’s get started by taking a look at our recommended best ping pong balls to buy in 2022.

At A Glance: Best Table Tennis Balls

Ping Pong Ball Buying Guide

What things do you need to look for in the best table tennis ball? Below we’ll cover everything you need to know when looking to buy some new balls.

A Brief History of The Ping Pong Ball

Table tennis was invented in the late 1800s in Victorian England ( read more about the history of table tennis here). The first ping pong balls were made out of rubber and cork but some improvised and even played with golf balls or balls of string.

In 1901, Englishman James Gibb was traveling in the United States and discovered some lightweight celluloid balls that he thought would be perfect for playing ping pong. In 1926, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) was formed, and competition table tennis balls were standardized at being 38mm in diameter and made of celluloid.

Over time, advances in rackets made the game faster and faster to play. For the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, the ITTF increased the size of the ball, from 38mm to 40mm. The intention here was to make the ball easier to see for television cameras and slow down gameplay to make the game more entertaining for spectators. You can easily identify these balls by their labeling which specifies 40mm.

Then in 2014, the ITTF changed table tennis ball material from celluloid to non-flammable plastic. As a result, the balls became slightly larger in diameter than the old celluloid balls which is why you’ll see them labeled as 40+.

The Switch From Celluloid to Plastic Balls

When the balls changed from celluloid to plastic, the different feel of the two kinds of balls was immediately apparent. To cut a long story short, the new balls carried less speed and spin but bounced higher. This took quite a lot of getting used to for some players, myself included. In fact, the change was so drastic that new rubber technologies specifically target the properties of the new ball.

If you want to learn more about the ball switch we go into a great deal more depth in this post, What are Ping Pong Balls Made Of?

Ping Pong Ball Star Ratings: What Do They Mean?

Table tennis balls are given a number of stars, from 1 to 3. Balls with 3-stars are of the highest quality and are the most durable, while 1-star balls will break or lose their shape quicker. Novelty balls, toy balls, beer pong balls, and table tennis balls intended for children often don’t have any stars at all.

It’s important to know that these star ratings are not official or standardized. Each manufacturer assigns its own star ratings, so stars aren’t an independent measure of quality. An ITTF-approved stamp is a much better sign of a good ball. These have gone through rigorous tests and meet official ITTF regulations for tournament play. 1 and 2-star balls, by comparison, are much lower in quality. They are best used for training sessions. Finally, balls without a star rating have no quality assurance, are wildly inconsistent, and are much more likely to get damaged.

ITTF Requirements for Table Tennis Balls


best ping pong balls

The ITTF has very strict requirements for table tennis balls, with small allowances for variation during manufacturing. Competition table tennis balls must conform to these standards:

Physical Properties

  • The ball should be 40mm in diameter – The average diameter of a sample should be between 39.5 and 40.4mm.
  • The ball should weigh 2.7 grams – A ball may weigh between 2.67 and 2.77 grams, but the sample mean must be between 2.69 and 2.76 grams.
  • Table tennis balls must be round – Sphericity is measured as the difference between its minimum and maximum diameters, which for celluloid balls should be less than .35mm, and less than .25mm for non-celluloid balls.
  • They must not veer – Veer is another measure of roundness but also measures any differences in thickness. Veer is tested by rolling the ball down a slight incline and measuring whether it rolls straight down or deviates off of the center line.
  • They must have a consistent bounce – When balls are dropped from a height of 305 millimeters onto a steel block, they should bounce back to a height between 240-260 millimeters.
  • They must have a uniform hardness – Balls are measured for hardness on a computerized device, where they are pressed with a pin with a set amount of force, and then any indentation is measured. The ITTF measures the poles and the seam for overall hardness.
  • They will also measure the thickness – Balls are measured ultrasonically for the thickness of their walls. This test is performed on the 5 samples who scored highest on the veer test, and lowest on the veer test. However, there is no current requirement for thickness; they gather the data to improve ball manufacturing and standards.

Surface Properties

  • Color – Balls must be white or orange for high visibility, and the finish must be matte with no shine.
  • Stamp – There are rules about stamp size, placement, and color. With ITTF permission, a company may add a second stamp that is specific to a certain event.
  • Packaging – Balls must be labeled as either “40” or “40mm” for celluloid balls, and “40+” for non-celluloid balls. All packaging must include a date code.
  • Star rating – ITTF balls may not use a star rating higher than 3. For a list of the table tennis balls that are currently approved by the ITTF, it’s always good to check their website. They update the approval list approximately every six months, so even an old ball with an ITTF stamp may be illegal by today’s standards.

Popular Ping Pong Ball Brands

Here are some of the top brands for table tennis balls, in no particular order:

Nittaku

Based in Japan, Nittaku has been making table tennis equipment since 1920. Many consider their ping pong balls to be some of the best in the world, and they have supplied competition balls for 13 World Championships, 3 Olympic Games, and 7 years of European Championships.

JOOLA

JOOLA is based in Germany and is one of the brands responsible for the first table tennis tables in the early 1950s. In 2018, American company Sport Squad Inc. acquired them. JOOLA table tennis balls draw consistently high praise from experts and amateurs alike.

DHS

DHS stands for “Double Happiness Shanghai”, and they are one of the largest manufacturers of table tennis balls in the world. Founded in 1959, the company was the official table tennis ball of the 2008, 2012, and 2014 World Championships.

Double Fish

Double Fish is based in Guangzhou China and has been making sports equipment for more than 60 years. Better known as a supplier of table tennis tables for ITTF international competitions, Double Fish also makes highly-rated table tennis balls.

Butterfly

Another Japanese brand that’s found in every lineup of top table tennis manufacturers is Butterfly. With two balls ranking in our top eight, they make quality products loved by players all over the world.

What Should I Look Out for When Buying the Best Ping Pong Balls?

The very first thing you should look out for is an ITTF symbol on the ball. As mentioned earlier, the ITTF has strict rules regarding table tennis ball characteristics. So any ball bearing their mark is of high quality. Of course, this means they will be more expensive too. Furthermore, these balls will be rated as 3-star because 2-star and 1-star balls are not ITTF approved.

Next, ensure the ball is made from ABS plastic and not from the older celluloid material. They play quite differently, and now that plastic is well-established it makes no sense to use older balls.

Beyond this, it’s simply a matter of sticking with well-established brands that players love. Some balls might feel rounder and more consistent while others could last longer. There is no substitute for trying these balls out for yourself, but fortunately, we’re pretty experienced when it comes to table tennis balls, so we can give you a good indication of what we think the top balls are.

Best Ping Pong Ball Reviews

Ping pong balls break quite easily so if you’re playing regularly you’re going to wear them out. For this reason, it’s a good idea to own a mix of ITTF-approved competition balls and lower-grade training balls so that you don’t break the bank. For this reason, we’ve included some budget training ball picks alongside the premium 3-stars.

#1 Nittaku 3-Star Premium 40+ Ping Pong Balls (Pack Of 12) — Best Overall


best ping pong balls Nittaku

Specifications:

  • Classification — 3-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — White
  • ITTF approved? — Yes

Nittaku Premium 40+ balls have consistently topped ping pong ball ratings from the table tennis community since the introduction of plastic balls in 2014. They’re made in Japan, are ITTF approved, very durable, and have a great reputation for their roundness and consistent bounce.

The only downside is that they are pretty expensive, but if you’re looking for the most professional ping pong ball you can get then most will agree the Nittaku 3 Star Premium ball is the one you want.


best table tennis balls dhs

Specifications:

  • Classification — 3-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — White
  • ITTF approved? — Yes

DHS D40+ are the most common table tennis balls used at international events. They were used as the official ball for the World Championships four years running from 2017 to 2020.

I’ve always enjoyed using DHS balls and found them to be very consistent. They were even a staple in my bat case back when celluloid balls were the only ones around. There is no doubt in my mind they are among the best balls you can buy, and as they are marginally cheaper than the Nittaku 3-Star Premium 40+ it’s easy to make a case that they are the best ball overall.

#3 Butterfly G40+ 3-Star Balls (Pack Of 12)


best table tennis balls butterfly

Specifications:

  • Classification — 3-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — White
  • ITTF approved? — Yes

Since the release of Butterfly’s G40+ 3-star balls, they’ve been met with significant critical acclaim from amateur and professional players alike. Aiming to replicate the feel of older celluloid balls, Butterfly pride themselves on their consistency, hardness, and roundness.

They’re manufactured in Germany and are ITTF approved.

#4 JOOLA Prime 3-Star ABS Balls — Best Value for Money 3-Star

Specifications:

  • Classification — 3-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — White
  • ITTF approved? — Yes

These JOOLA Prime 3-Star ABS Balls have excellent thickness, even hardness, and consequently, greater durability. As you’d expect they are ITTF approved and are a good option if you’re looking for a cost-effective premium competition ball. You can, however, go quite a bit cheaper and still get a 3-star ball, but the manufacturer likely won’t have the acclaim of JOOLA.

#5 Butterfly R40+ 3-Star Balls (Pack Of 12)


best table tennis ball butterfly

Specifications:

  • Classification — 3-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — White
  • ITTF approved? — Yes

The Butterfly 3-star R40+ marks the third generation of Butterfly’s plastic 3-star balls. Made in China they undergo strict testing to ensure they are viable for the highest levels of play. Butterfly state that they are also more durable than previous versions, which is a strong-selling point given how plastic balls can crack when you edge the ball during looping.

This ball was officially used for the 2021 World Champions — you can’t get any more prestigious than that.

#6 Sanwei ABS 1-Star Training balls (Pack Of 100) — Best Training Balls


best ping pong balls sanwei

Specifications:

  • Classification — 1-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — White
  • ITTF approved? — No

If you’re looking for a low-cost ping pong ball for training then we’d recommend the Sanwei 1-star training balls. Although they’re 1-star balls they’re incredibly good quality and very comparable to some of the other 3-star balls on the market.

In fact, I’m eyeing up some right now for my club which has recently just acquired a robot. You can also buy a pack of 500 balls which are incredibly good value per ball considering their quality.

#7 Nittaku 3-Star Nexcel 40+ (Pack Of 12)


best ping pong ball nittaku

Specifications:

  • Classification — 3-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — Orange and white
  • ITTF approved? — Yes

If you prefer orange balls to white ones then the Nittaku 3-star Nexcel 40+ balls are one of the best we’ve found. They’re very similar to the Nittaku 3 Star Premium balls as they’re also made in Japan and have a very consistent bounce. They are actually the first ITTF approved orange balls and some players much prefer them over white balls as they’re a lot easier to see.

#8 STIGA 3-Star Balls


best table tennis balls stiga

Specifications:

  • Classification — 3-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — White
  • ITTF approved? — No

These balls from STIGA are a good option for those looking for a step up from the 1 and 2-star training balls but aren’t willing to pay the higher prices of the competition balls mentioned above. The quality isn’t quite as good as some of the other brands but you’ll get a much better ball than the cheap ones used for training.

#9 MAPOL 3-Star Balls


best table tennis balls mapol

 

Specifications:

  • Classification — 3-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — White
  • ITTF approved? — No

If you want to buy some good ping pong balls in bulk for training or perhaps for use in a robot then these balls from Mapol might be a good option. They’ve not got the quality of a competition standard ball but considering the price, they’re pretty good value.

#10 Kevenz 3-Star Balls — Beginner’s Pick


best table tennis ball kevenz

Specifications:

  • Classification — 3-star
  • Material — Plastic
  • Color — White and orange
  • ITTF approved? — No

Another option for bulk buying table tennis balls is this bundle from Kevenz. You get 60 balls for less than the cost of one pack of premium competition balls. Pretty good if you ask us!

When the balls changed material in 2014 from celluloid to plastic, the balls increased in width higher than 40mm, but it was by less than 1mm. To easily distinguish the old from the new, the new balls are marketed as 40+.

There is no difference besides the color. Orange balls are useful as they are far more visible. Many of us play in sports halls with light backgrounds. As such, it’s very easy to lose a white ball during fast gameplay.

3-star ping pong balls have passed much stricter tests so they are of the highest quality. 1-star balls have a less consistent bounce and are more likely to veer. Many 1-star balls also feel a lot lighter than 3-star balls.

Double Happiness supplied both of the last Olympics: Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

Unfortunately yes, over time table tennis balls crack which makes them useless. However, the switch from celluloid to plastic balls means they last longer than they used to, so you get more for your money.

Can I Fix a Broken Table Tennis Ball?

In some cases, yes, you can. The boiling water method is the most common trick which works on ping pong balls with dents in them. It involves submerging the ball slightly in boiling water. The pressure change causes the dent to ping right out!

However, I do not believe this trick works on the new plastic balls as I can’t recall ever seeing dented plastic balls because they’re much harder than celluloid. They only ever crack. And once any type of table tennis ball is cracked, it’s destined for the trash.

Conclusion

There are many different types of ping pong balls to choose from and what you need really depends on your ability and goals. If you’re playing in tournaments and competitions you’ll want to practice with the best ping pong balls. In this case, we recommend the Nittaku 3-Star Premium 40+.
It really is a cracking ball (no pun intended) and is widely considered the best among players. The only issue with it is the cost.

If you would rather save money but still play with a high-quality 3-star ball, we recommend the JOOLA Prime 3-Star ball instead. It is still a great ball and isn’t wildly different from Nittaku’s. We also strongly advise you pick up some training balls to save your wallet. Buy one box of these and you won’t have to think about table tennis balls again for a long time, Sanwei 1-Star training balls are our favorite in this category.

Alex Horscroft

Freelance writer. Table tennis enthusiast. Lover of all things online. When I’m not working on my loop game I’m probably binge-watching some fantasy show.