Ping Pong Ball Size, Weight & Everything Else You Need to Know

A ping pong ball’s size is 1.57 inches (40 mm) in diameter. This makes it the smallest sports ball in the world. It’s also the lightest at just 2.7 g.

Here’s a further breakdown of the size of table tennis balls:

















But ping pong balls weren’t always this size. You’ll also learn how fast ping pong balls can go due to this small size and how many you can fit in your car.

Read on to learn about all of the specifications of table tennis balls and how they have changed over the years.

What Size Is a Ping Pong Ball?

ping pong ball size and weight


How big are ping pong balls? The diameter of a ping pong ball measures 1.57 inches or 40 mm in diameter. However, there is a little allowance either way to account for inaccuracies in the manufacturing process.

The radius of ping pong balls measures 0.79” or 20 mm. And the circumference is 125.6 mm.

As ping pong dimensions are so small, it should be no surprise that table tennis balls are the lightest balls of any sport!

How Ping Pong Ball Diameter Has Changed Over Time

A collection of ping pong balls

Ping Pong Project (Flickr) under CC BY-SA 2 – unedited

You may notice that modern table tennis balls are labeled as 40+, not 40 mm. Why is this? Well, it’s because table tennis balls have seen a few changes over the years.

When table tennis became a sport, 38 mm celluloid balls were the norm. And they remained that way for the next 100 years. However, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) replaced them in the year 2000 with 40 mm balls. The reasoning was to slow down the game and increase the rally length to make the sport more exciting to watch.

Yet a further change occurred in 2014. This was a material switch from celluloid to plastic with a very small increase in size, hence 40+. The reason for this change was the reduced number of celluloid factories and concerns regarding flammability.

What Is the Weight of a Ping Pong Ball?

Table tennis balls weigh 2.7 g or 0.095 oz. As with size, there is also a small allowance for weight too.

That being said, table tennis balls are still incredibly lightweight. In fact, they are the lightest ball of any sport — none come close. Pickleball balls and squash balls are the next lightest, but these come in at around 25 g, making them over 9 times as heavy!

Ping Pong Balls vs. Golf Balls

A golf ball

While golf balls may be fairly similar to table tennis balls (the diameter of a ping pong ball is 40 mm as opposed to 42.7 mm for a golf ball), they behave very differently. While table tennis balls are made of a thin and smooth sheet of plastic, golf balls are made of anywhere from one to five layers. This usually consists of a rubber core surrounded by soft plastic and a thin cover.

The outside of the ball is also not smooth. It features dimples to help with aerodynamics as it travels farther than table tennis balls. As a result, the balls are far more robust and heavy, weighing 45.93 g compared to the 2.7 g of a table tennis ball.

Fun Table Tennis Ball Statistics

By using the formula V=4/3πr3, we can calculate that a table tennis ball has a volume of 33.51 cm3. From this, we can calculate all sorts of fun table tennis ball statistics.

Did you know?

  • 56,778 table tennis balls can fit in a car
  • 1,095,529 table tennis balls can fit into a school bus
  • 22,870,000 table tennis balls can fit into a Boeing 747
  • 100,750,635 table tennis balls can fit into an Olympic pool

Read More: The Best Ping Pong Balls: Reviews and Buying Guide


The Speed of a Table Tennis Ball

A player hitting a ping pong ball fast


The speed of a table tennis ball maxes out at around 70 mph. While this is damn quick, it pales compared to many other sports in terms of sheer speed.

Soccer, for instance, has a highest recorded pace of 131 mph, which is considerably quicker. Yet the fastest sport is badminton, as the quickest shuttlecock speed tops out at over 300 mph. That’s over four times as quick as the fastest table tennis shot! However, the projectile’s speed alone isn’t the best indicator of how fast the sport plays.

You also need to consider the size of the playable area, and table tennis tables are far smaller than, say, a badminton court. In table tennis, shots are loaded with heavy topspin, so there is more to think about in a shorter window to make a return. As such, table tennis is the fastest sport overall.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Was the Ping Pong Ball Size Changed From 38 MM to 40 MM in Diameter?

Table tennis balls were changed from 38 mm to 40 mm to slow the game down so that rallies would be longer. The intention here was to improve the experience for the audience so that the sport could grow.

What Was the Controversy Around the 40 MM Ping Pong Ball?

The 40 mm ball is slower and carries less spin than the 38 mm ball. China believed this was a targeted change to give other nations a greater chance of winning competitions. This was because their style was very fast and involved high levels of spin.

What Is the Difference Between Ping Pong and Table Tennis Balls?

While ping pong is often used to describe table tennis, it is technically a different game and not widely played. However, the table tennis balls are the same for both sports.

How Big Is a Ping Pong Ball in Centimeters?

The diameter of a ping pong ball in cm is 4 cm. This makes the radius 2 cm.

What Is the Ping Pong Ball Diameter in Inches?

The diameter of a ping pong ball in inches is 1.57”. The radius is 0.79” and the circumference is 4.95”.

Do Ping Pong Balls Come in Different Sizes?

While a few ping pong ball sizes are available besides 40+, such as jumbo balls, these are not legal for official play. The vast majority of balls on the market are of the same size at 40+.

Closing Thoughts

Ping pong ball sizes have varied over time. When table tennis first established itself as a sport, balls were 38 mm, then 100 years later, in 2000, they grew to 40 mm. Yet the most recent change occurred in 2014 when the material switched from celluloid to plastic. The size also marginally increased, giving us the 40+ balls we know and love today.

Hopefully, they won’t change again for some time. After some initial issues with manufacturing consistency, the current balls are very high quality and durable. I expect 40+ will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.

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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.