Table tennis has been a part of the Paralympic program since the inaugural Games in 1960 and has been a vital part of the regional and national sports offerings in the United States since the start of the National Wheelchair Games in 1956. Table Tennis is played throughout the United States at local, regional and national competitions of both the USA Table Tennis as well as a part of various sports agencies for the disabled, such as the National Veterans Games, Adaptive Sports USA sanctioned events and Athletes Without Limits.
Table Tennis is played internationally in more than 100 countries, enabling athletes who participate in the sport to have the opportunity in numerous international competitions. International competitions are weighted by an international ranking system, affording players the chance to have multiple opportunities to play throughout the world, earning the right to play in International Regional Games, such as the Parapan American Championships, World Championships, as well as the prestigious Paralympic championships.
The rules governing Paralympic Table Tennis are comparable to those of its Olympic counterpart, the International Table Tennis Federation, with modifications for players using wheelchairs in service as well as in doubles competition. The same quick technique and finesse is apparent in the games of athletes from various disability groups, including men’s and women’s competitions, as well as individual and team contests. All matches are played best-of-five games to 11 points.
The equipment used for Paralympic Table Tennis meets the standards determined by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) for all participants of the sport.
Tables are nine feet long (2.74m), five feet wide (1.52m), and 2.5 feet high (76cm). The net is six inches high (15.25cm). There should be no obstacle in the construction of the table that would prevent a wheelchair player from fully accessing the playing surface of the table or present a risk of injury. The game is played with a 40mm diameter ball weighing 2.7g. Officially (according to the ITTF) players use a laminated wooden “racket” covered with rubber on both sides. The rubber surface must be an ITTF approved rubber.