Your man cave could use a little bit of tweaking, and that’s where we come in. No lair is complete without some big boy toys. And we’ve got a great one for you: The indoor ping pong table.
Why Get A Ping Pong Table For Your Man Cave?
Ping pong is as entertaining as its name. It can keep you and your buds amused for hours with its fast-paced gameplay and trash talk (all in good fun, of course). The game appeals to all fitness levels and ages too.
There are a ton of health benefits, as well, both physically and mentally. It’s a great cardiovascular exercise and improves hand-eye coordination. Sharpen your reflexes and strengthen your muscles as you let the ball fly.
And no it doesn’t make our list of the world’s most dangerous sports; ping pong is a very low-risk workout. It is a fantastic brain sport too as it requires mental focus and tactical strategizing to win the game.
Ping Pong Vs. Table Tennis: What’s In A Name?
Why is the game sometimes called ping pong and other times table tennis? The name ping pong dates back to the 1920s, when John Jaques & Son Ltd. had a version of the game called “Ping Pong.” They trademarked the name and only allowed its use with their brand of equipment.
As the game grew in popularity and tournaments started, the company threatened to sue anyone who used the name “Ping Pong” without mention of their specific equipment. Thus, an alternative name was needed for the game, and so table tennis was chosen. This name seemed to stick, especially after the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) formed in 1926.
How Are Indoor And Outdoor Tables Different?
Unless you plan to play outdoors, we recommend you get an indoor table. Indoor tables typically have a better playing surface than the outdoor versions. Also, if you later want to play competitively, most tournaments use the indoor kind so you will already be used to playing on a similar surface.
We don’t advise that you take your indoor ping pong table outdoors either. It can quickly warp if placed in direct sunlight and high heat. Meanwhile, outdoor tables can withstand a range of weather conditions, from the sun to rain and snow; just be sure you select a one that says it is “weatherproof.”
Fun Stats About Ping Pong You Don’t Know… Yet
- It is the most popular indoor sport in the world! There are 220 Associations from countries and territories around the globe within the Table Tennis Federation.
- The Soviet Union banned the sport from 1930-1950 because of the belief that it harmed players’ eyes.
- In a standard game, the player who scores 11 points wins. If the game ties at 10-10, however, the players alternate serves until one of them wins by two points.
- It became an Olympic sport in 1988, at the Summer Games in Seoul.
- Top players can put a spin on a table tennis ball of 9000 RPM, which is faster than a McLaren F1.
Features Of A Good Indoor Ping Pong Table
1. Size Of The Table
Whether you want to get a ping pong table that meets the dimensions set by the ITTF or not depends on whether you’re a casual player or looking to get into more serious competitions later. If you think that the next step after the man cave games is the big leagues, then you’ll want to get the regulation table size, which is 9ft long x 5ft wide x 2ft 6in tall.
The table’s net should be 6in high and 6ft long. When a regulation ping pong ball is dropped from a 12in height above the table, it should bounce up to 8.75in off the table surface. Now you know!
2. Conversion Top, Mini, Or…
There are many types of tables, from conversion tops to minis, and even swimming pool tops! A conversion top kit is great if your man cave doesn’t have a lot of storage room. The top can just fit over a pool table or another level surface.
When you’re not using the conversion top, simply store it away. You can also set it up quickly for a last-minute game. Obviously the conversion top is less expensive than a regular table, but you won’t get an excellent quality surface for that price. If you don’t plan to play much, this type will be one to consider.
As for mini ping pong tables, they are great for kids as they are shorter than regular tables for ease of play. However, in this post we’re talking about tables for your man cave and, likely, that’s a place just for the guys. So this option is likely not the one for you unless you’re vertically challenged.
If you do like the idea of having a different height of the table, you might consider the adjustable height table tennis table instead. It is full sized and features adjustable legs that you can put into different positions so people of all heights can comfortably play on it.
Of course, we have to talk about the full-sized table. It is the best choice if you want to play the sport for a long time to come. This type of table is the regulation size we noted in the “Size Of The Table” section.
3. Type Of Undercarriage
Before buying your ping pong table, check the undercarriage. There are many varieties, including rollaway. This type has the wheels and table integrated with the undercarriage into one unit. The rollaway table takes up more space than other tables and can be 6ft long when closed, so it will not fit into every man cave.
The separate halves undercarriage is a table that has two halves. The legs attach to the underside of the table top while the wheels are part of the table’s center edge. This type easier to store and take up less space than a rollaway design.
Also, if you have wheelchair players, the legs need to be set back more to accommodate the chair. Some tables have the legs close to the end of the table, which will be aggravating for a wheelchair user. Instead, look for table legs and undercarriage set at least 16in back from the end.
4. Table Top Type & Thickness
Table tops come in many materials, from plywood and plastic to metal, concrete, particleboard and fiberglass. If you’re a beginner, a thin thickness of table top will do. But, if you plan to play often and improve your skill level, then you will want to go with as thick as possible (thicker tables cost more than thinner ones, typically). The best-quality tables have wooden tops and are 1in thick.
5. Playback Mode
You may want to get a table tennis table that has a playback mode. This feature is great for beginners or if your kids plan to use the table too. You can practice alone by simply lifting one side of the table vertically. Unfortunately though this type of practice is not as good as playing a human player because the ball will not follow its natural path experienced during a match.
How To Correctly Store An Indoor Ping Pong Table
- Sure, you might want to keep your table up 24/7, but you might also want to store it away to give yourself more room in the lair when you’re not using it. If so, you might like the rollaway table we noted earlier as it folds down and up quickly and can just be rolled into the space where you want it.
- Ideally, keep your indoor table (regardless of which one you choose) in an area with a stable temperature. Taking it between extreme environments can cause irreversible damage. Keeping it in a moist area can warp it.
- Over time, the table top naturally starts to lose adhesion and become more slippery, which affects how the ball moves across its surface. To help your table expand its lifespan, we suggest using a table cover. It can keep dust off your table and looks tidy too if you store it in a place where others will see it.
How Big Of A Room Space Will You Need?
- You’ll probably need a bigger ping pong room size than you think.
- For the playing area, you want a space big enough to support your reason for playing, whether it be for recreational purposes or training for a national tournament.
- In your man cave, an ideal space is 28ft (8.5m) x 13ft (4m), so that you and your buddies don’t feel crowded during gameplay.
The Best Lighting & Flooring For Playing Ping Pong
- For your man cave, you’ll want good lighting to complement the entertaining activity. A single 100-watt light bulb above the center of the table will do for casual play. In general, “the brighter, the better” rule fits in this case; if you engage in more intense rallies then go for a high wattage.
- Wooden floors are great, particularly if they are raised floorboards rather than ones laid directly on concrete. There is a bit of “give” then that is easier on your legs as you move around the table. The next best choice is a linoleum or vinyl floor that has some grip to it. If it has soft underlay too, then that’s a bonus.
All About The Expedite Rule Of Table Tennis
- The time limit per game is ten minutes.
- The Expedite rule exists to discourage slow play in matches.
- The rule automatically kicks into effect if a game is unfinished after ten minutes of play unless both players have nine points.
- Under the Expedite system, each player or pair gets one serve each at a time. If the receiver makes 13 good returns, then the receiver wins the point.
Top 5 Indoor Ping Pong Tables
Below is an overview of five leading indoor ping pong tables. We scrutinized each model’s features, pointing out the pros and cons, to give you all the information you need to make an informed purchase decision. The top five tables are, in order of discussion, Viper Arlington, Killerspin MyT5, STIGA Synergy, Hathaway Victory Professional, and JOOLA Tour 1500.
The black top Viper Arlington indoor tennis table features a black 5/8in MDF top and 1-1/4in frame, with 1-1/4in square legs. It has eight 2in wheels, with four of those wheels being lockable. A net is included. It is high value for a sturdy, full-size table at about $400.
Pros and Cons
This table’s locking system is easy to open and close; it keeps the equipment stable while in use. The wheels make it a cinch to roll away the table after you’ve folded it up! Plus, the MDF top is sturdy, as are the frame and lockable wheels.
However, the Viper table tennis table has two separate halves, which can be clumsy and misalign. If, however, you’re more of a casual player, you likely won’t be too bothered by this issue in your man cave. You might even like that you can set up the two halves separately, say if you need an extra table at the last minute.
The Killerspin MyT5 indoor table comes in a blue or black top, has a 3/5in medium-density MDF top, and a white square metal frame that is 4/5in x 2in. The net is included. If you want quality at a step above the low $400 level of table, this rollaway table – currently just under $700 – is one to consider seriously.
Pros and Cons
The full-size Killerspin ping pong table is simple and quick to assemble – in as little as 15 minutes! It has a ton of features, including a safety locking system, heavy frame, 3in caster wheels for smooth movement, and quality MDF top.
The table has individual leg levelers too, which is a benefit if your man cave’s flooring isn’t totally even. Within minutes, the table can be leveled. Also, the Repeat Roller Coating (RRC) makes for amazing gameplay, similar to tournament level.
While there are few complaints online about the table, one shortcoming of the table that is reported by users is an issue with folding the table to play solo. Setting up the playback mode can be tricky to do on your own, according to online reviews. Storing the table can also overstretch the net if the net is not removed first. These issues may be minor ones though for recreational ping pong users.
The STIGA Synergy indoor ping pong table has a black playing surface with a 5/8in thickness. It has 1-3/4in self-opening steel legs, a 2in steel apron, and 3in mag wheels that are lockable. The quality frame for the budget price of about $600 is high value.
Pros & Cons
The Synergy top has a top thickness that is almost tournament level, without a hefty price tag. Most parts are pre-assembled, so it’s a breeze to put together out of the box. Plus, the mag wheels are simple to move across a range of floors in your lair, and the self-opening legs provide stability and support, regardless of who opens them.
A downfall of the STIGA table tennis table is that it isn’t tournament-level thickness so if you are training for competitive play you won’t be replicating the tables you will play on later. Also, the bounce is not the best; it doesn’t have the RRC feature of the Killerspin MyT5. However, you are paying hundreds of dollars less than the MyT5, so it depends on whether you value the ball’s bounce more than the table price or not.
Hathaway Victory Professional
The Hathaway Victory Professional table tennis table in blue has a playing surface made of 1in-thick MDF with 20 layers of coating. It has 2in-diameter steel legs and frame, as well as eight 5in-diameter locking wheels. The set includes two table tennis paddles and three balls.
Pros & Cons
The Hathaway model’s greatest strength is that it is a tournament-level table that meets the ITTF regulations for the thickness of its top, unlike the STIGA Synergy. It has a 1in-thick table top and 20 layers of non-marking coating that make for exceptional ball bounce on a consistent basis.
The steel frame is strong, the wheels move easily, and the table has a playback feature for solo play. Plus, the table’s safety locking mechanism provides extra security and control, increasing its value.
One drawback of the Victory Professional is that it is pricey at just under $700. Paying this much for an indoor ping pong table may be out of your budget. However, the quality is high with this well-made table, and it takes less than a half hour to assemble. Another downside is that it is a weighty table at over 250lbs.
JOOLA Tour 1500
You’ll feel great about owning a table from JOOLA, the company that just happens to have provided equipment for the Olympics. The blue table surface is 5/8in thick and made of MDF. Extra features include leg levelers and a tournament-grade post and net set. It has eight 2in locking wheels.
Pros & Cons
The JOOLA Tour 1500’s MDF table top is easy to play on, regardless of whether you are a beginner or amateur. It comes in two halves so you can enjoy playback mode and also easily take down the ping pong table when you need more room in your lair.
The assembly time is fast, averaging about 20 minutes, and leg levelers are a welcome feature if your man cave’s floor is uneven. Did we mention that the net and post set is tournament level?
There is a disadvantage to the two-halves design, which is that they can misalign as you play. You will then have to stop the game to adjust the table, which can be annoying as it slows down the fun.
Also, you won’t get the same bounce quality as the Hathaway Victory Professional because the top isn’t as thick as the competitor’s model and doesn’t have the 20 layers of high-quality coating. You will save about $200 though if you choose the JOOLA model over the Hathaway.
The ABC’s Of Table Tennis Terms
- A is for Ace: An ace is a legal serve that is untouched by the receiver with his or her bat. Obviously the server gets the point.
- B is for Backhand: A backhand is a stroke played on the player’s left-hand side (if the player is a right hander) and vice versa for left handers.
- C is for Closed Racket: Also known as a closed angle, a closed racket is when you hold the racket’s face low toward the ground.
How To Clean A Table Tennis Table
- After every use of the table, wipe it down with a soft, dry cloth to remove any dirt or dust.
- Every two to three months, use a non-abrasive cleaner for a deeper clean. Mix two cups of water in a bowl and add 1/3 cup of white vinegar. Using a soft cloth that you dip into the mixture, gently wipe the table. Wring out any excess liquid from the cloth before putting it on the table.
- An overly abrasive cleaner can ruin your table, particularly if the table is made of wood (most of them are). If you prefer to buy a cleaner rather than make your own, use one that is specifically for cleaning ping pong tables.
What We Recommend As The Best Indoor Ping Pong Table
Our top pick is the Killerspin MyT5 indoor table tennis table for your man cave. Not only can you assemble it in as little as 15 minutes but you get a great table to boot! Enjoy a full-size table with a sturdy frame, smooth-moving wheels, and leg levelers.
It also has a playing surface that provides a more consistent bounce than almost all of the other models we reviewed here (except for the Hathaway Victory), thanks to its RRC coating. For the price, you can’t beat the value for beginner or amateur players.
In second place is the Viper Arlington because it is made for recreational play, which realistically is what you’ll use it for most of the time in your lair (rather than competitive training).
This ping pong table is well-built, has lockable wheels, and is easy to pack away when you need more space in your man cave. You won’t find a table that will offer you better quality at this $400 price level for your casual games.
As for the STIGA Synergy, it got knocked out of first and second place because it offers little more than the Viper Arlington yet costs about $200 more. The JOOLA Tour 1500 didn’t make the top ranks either.
There are two main reasons why: The Tour 1500 doesn’t have the high-quality coating of the MyT5 or the locking system of the Arlington. We eliminated the Hathaway Victory Professional table because of its steep price and the features you likely won’t require for recreational play.
Now you have all of the information you need to make a decision about which indoor ping pong table is best for you in your man cave.
Not Ready For The Real Deal? Here Is Another Option:
Swimming Pool Table Tennis
This novelty table is a great option for your home swimming pool, especially if you like to throw parties!
The table top floats in the water and is typically 54in x 27in. While the top of it is hard, the sides are soft so that it does not pose a risk to others in the pool.
Also, take the tabletop game from the pool to the patio and use it there on a sunny day. In the colder weather, simply use the game inside the house.