While table tennis has seen changes over the course of its existence, a totally new format of the game was recently introduced to the sport. Going by the name of Table Tennis X or TTX, this format of table tennis is still in its nascent stages but there’s a lot to like about it. Get all the information of Table Tennis X including its short history, rules and which equipment to use to play this format in our exhaustive guide below.
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“Table Tennis, But Not as You Know It”
That subheading isn’t our original. It was what the International Table Tennis Federation used to launch Table Tennis X. It is an impactful line because it says a lot there is to know about this new format, the TTX.
So, what is Table Tennis X? It’s basically a form of table tennis but played over a short time and with slightly different rules and tweaked equipment.
Table Tennis X was launched just before the 2016 Rio Olympics (check out our exhaustive guide on table tennis in Olympics here) with the ITTF President Thomas Weikert called this new format, “cool, fun and with simple equipment, simple rules and a bid to attract youth” to the sport of table tennis.
It’s interesting to note the ITTF has been doing its bit to try and spread the game, and TTX is another of those examples.
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Apart from their work at the grassroots, there had been steps taken in the past as well to make the sport viable to the audiences and fans, right from when they increased the size of the table tennis ball in a bid to slow down the game, or they banned speed glue (because of health reasons and as another way to slow it down) and when changed the points in a game from 21 to 11.
However, probably taking a cue from cricket, which had a T20 version introduced to make the sport more attractive and financially viable, table tennis has now gone ahead and brought in a less serious version of the game, Table Tennis X.
How is Table Tennis X Different from Table Tennis?
On the face of it, there’s not a lot different. There’s a table, net, rackets and a ball and players serve, rally and attempt to win points. However, that’s where the similarity ends.
Table Tennis X is a more fun version of table tennis. It’s geared to appeal to the common audience, to players who prefer the slower nature of rallies and can therefore, in all probabilities dish out tricks and with time better strategy as well.
But the biggest difference between the two is unlike conventional table tennis, TTX is a time-bound format.
Yep, you heard it right. It is on the lines of football or field hockey or basketball in which each set lasts two minutes and the set stops as soon the two minutes are over. In case, the match is tied at that stage, the player winning the next point wins the set.
And while matches can be played over best-of-three or any other formats, players don’t have to worry about any serving rules like in traditional table tennis. Serve it the way you want it.
Serving Restrictions Not Applicable
Yep, that’s the other major difference is in the serving.
In conventional table tennis, players need to keep an open palm before they serve and need to toss the ball up at least six inches high.
There are no such rules associated with Table Tennis X, and the serving is freestyle, which is another move towards making it attractive to the youth and players not playing at the highest level.
This rule is particularly important because TTX can be played outdoor too, and not just in your backyard but also by the beach, for instance. We reckon one day, there could very well be a beach table tennis version which might get included at the Olympics or at least the World Beach Games like Beach Tennis.
Also, the player/team winning the point will keep serving till the point is lost in TTX unlike in conventional table tennis where serving is alternated every two points.
In doubles, a player from one team can serve only once and if they win the point, the next serve is made by his/her partner. Also there are no restrictions on where a serve starts and who returns it in doubles play.
Point-Scoring Vastly Different
Point-scoring takes things to another level.
Typically, a point is won if the ball’s not played according to the rules or if a player hits a winner. This still exists in Table Tennis X, but there’s a lot more.
One, players can take advantage of what is termed as wild-card on their own serve. A player can call out ‘wild-card’ once on their own serve each set and if the serving player wins the point, he/she will win two points instead of one.
Secondly, players hitting aces (where the opponent doesn’t make a return) or makes a winner (where the opponent doesn’t return the ball again), the player earns two points instead of one.
Combine the aforementioned two rules and a player calling out wild-card and serving a winner earns four points. Yep, you read it right, both players/teams have one chance to earn four points at a single go in each set!
Table Tennis Equipment
If you are a serious table tennis player looking to play at the highest level of the sport, there are a multiple factors you look at before choosing your equipment.
For instance, a table tennis beginner will these factors to consider before buying a table tennis racket (incidentally, it also consists of our recommendation on the best five table tennis rackets for beginners).
All of this is passe if you are looking to play Table Tennis X because the rackets for this format do not possess the capability to impart too much spin on to the ball. As mentioned earlier, this is done in a bid to level the playing field – spin is one of the variants which make it difficult for the lesser players.
Rackets for TTX are expected not to have rubber in order to magnify that effect of no-spin.
Also remember when the ITTF changed the diameter of the ball by a mere 2 mm and the hue and cry around it way back in the years? Nothing of that sort here with the ball even heavier and bigger for TTX, making it slightly more difficult to add pace or spin to it.
On the other hand, the table tennis tables could be your usual ones, but given the push towards TTX being played outdoors, it would make more sense to get yourself an outdoor table (check for the differences between indoor and outdoor tables here).
Differences Between Conventional Table Tennis & Table Tennis X
|Conventional Table Tennis
|Table Tennis X (TTX)
|A traditional, more serious version of the sport
|A fun version, geared to the youth and
appealing to even the casual player
|Played to 11 points per game/set
|Each set lasts two minutes whatever the point-score
|There're serving restrictions (open palm, 6 inch toss etc)
|No serving rules, freestyle serving allowed.
|A player winning a rally earn a point
|A player winning a rally could earn one, two or four points
|Each player/team gets two chances to serve
|A player/team continues serving till he/she wins the point
|In doubles the player serving and receiving are pre-decided
|In doubles, anyone can serve and anyone can make the first return
|The ball weighs around 2.7 grams & has a 40 mm diameter
|The ball is a lot heavier and bigger.
|Table Tennis rackets are glued with rubber which helps impart speed and spin to the shots
|TTX rackets will have no rubber, reducing most of the spin on the ball
Use of Outdoor Table Tennis Tables for TTX
While Table Tennis X can be played anywhere, including indoors, the real fun is always playing outdoors.
One of the reasons why the format was launched on a beach in Rio – apart from the fact it was Brazil obviously! – was it’s branded as one catering to the youth and to fun and one of the most interesting places to play could be the beach.
The use of heavier balls in Table Tennis X would reduce the impact of wind on the rallies but there’s no doubting the odd ball could sway around and make things interesting. So while it would be tough to impart spin on to the heavier ball with a rubber-less table tennis racket, the elements of nature might add unpredictability to the sport.
And if TTX has to be played outdoor more regularly than indoor, then it’s best to opt for a table tennis table which is more suited to outdoor table tennis.
In our piece comparing indoor and outdoor table tennis tables here, one of the things we have mentioned is an indoor table tennis table cannot be used outdoors but an outdoor table can be used inside closed quarters with an obvious caveat it might not offer similar bounce and pace off the top because of the mix of substances used.
In case of TTX, even if one if playing indoors, the very informal and casual nature of play thanks to the use of heavier balls and rubberless rackets takes away the element of spin and true bounce. Therefore, using an outdoor table tennis table wouldn’t too much effect on play anyway.
Hence, our suggestion would be to opt for an outdoor table for TTX irrespective of where you want to play it.
Table Tennis X (TTX) Frequently Asked Questions
How does a game start in TTX?
A toss decides who serves first. The player or team winning the toss opts to either serve first or decide which side of the table he/she starts from. If the player decides to serve first, the opponent has a choice of sides.
Can I surprise my opponent with my serving tactics in TTX?
Yep. There is no rule on how to serve; you can even hide the ball behind arms, legs or any other part of the body.
What happens if a set is in play when the buzzer goes off in Table Tennis X?
The point continues after the buzzer goes off and the winner of the rally takes the point. The set ends at the end of that point and is decided by who is leading at that stage.
Who starts the serve in a new set?
It’s the player who lost the previous set.
How many points does my opponent get if I call a wildcard and he/she wins the rally?
The opponent gets as many points as the rules specify; one or two depending on whether it’s an error made by the player calling wildcard or a winner hit respectively. The opponent doesn’t get double the points.
Which is a better table to use, Indoor or Outdoor, for Table Tennis X?
As explained in the section above, we would recommend using the sturdier outdoor table tennis table even if it comes at a slightly higher price.