1 Star vs 3 Star Ping Pong Ball – What’s the Difference?

This article will help you understand the difference for 1 star vs 3 star ping pong ball - in sizes, weight, bounciness and spin
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Last updatedLast updated: August 22, 2023
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Ping pong may seem simple at first but when you start getting into the game, you will quickly realize there are a lot of tiny decisions that can drastically alter the ability of your game. One of those decisions is choosing between a 1 star vs 3 star ping pong ball. Yes, even those small balls can impact how you play the game.

If you’re looking to purchase new balls or want to get your game to the next level, having the right ball is imperative. We’ll help you sort out what the stars mean, how the effect your game, and help you provide you with some tips about the game of ping pong along the way. Ping pong is an enjoyable but competitive sport and the more time and energy you invest in the game, the better you will become.

What Do the Stars on Ping Pong Balls Mean?

It’s always nice when a product has a clear understanding of its quality. All ping pong balls come with a star rating, with one star being the lowest rating and three stars being the highest. Just as you would trade in your beginner paddle for an intermediate one as you become more skilled, you can also start to trade in your ping pong balls as you progress in skill level.

1 star ball

1 Star vs 3 Star Ping Pong Ball - What's the Difference?

Essentially, you want to use one star ping pong ball if you are a beginner. They are perfectly fine for practicing and getting the hang of the game. Plus, they are more affordable so are better for kids who may inadvertently damage or lose their balls. The biggest downside with one star balls is that they won’t last long so while you save money initially, you will need to spend more money over time to replace them. You can often find value packs of one star balls, such as with the Killerspin Training 1 Star Balls. Just one package contains 25 ping pong balls, which will definitely get you up and running and allow you to practice for hours on end.

2-star ball

1 Star vs 3 Star Ping Pong Ball - What's the Difference?

A nice, middle of the road purchase, two star ping pong balls are a good step up if you feel like you want to continue with the game of ping pong. They offer more durability and practicality than one star balls and are still fairly affordable. Two-star balls are great for older kids or for adults who want to focus more on their ping pong game.

3-star ball

1 Star vs 3 Star Ping Pong Ball - What's the Difference?

Finally, if you are serious about ping pong, three start balls are the only option. Whether you are playing a game or merely practicing, you will want to only invest in three star balls. Furthermore three star balls are ITTF approved Trusted Source International Table Tennis Federation - Home of Table Tennis Welcome to the home of the International Table Tennis Federation! The latest Table Tennis news and results can be found here on the official ITTF website. equipments.ittf.com , meaning they are tournament-level equipment. While three star balls are more expensive, they are far more durable and will also allow you to practice harder and increase your skill.

Difference Between 1 Star and 3 Star Ping Pong Ball

By now you may be wondering why there are different types of ping pong balls available, when clearly the best available are three star ping pong balls. Well, the sport of ping pong attracts many different people and you want to find the ball that works best for you. Remember that while you may start off not knowing how to play the game, with enough practice you can be a real competitor, and maybe even end up in the Olympics. The different ratings of ping pong balls will help you along the way.


It may be a matter of millimeters, but there is a size difference with ping pong balls. Three star balls are regulation-sized and need to mee the standards of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). As of 2000, the standard size for ping pong balls is a diameter of 40 mm. Furthermore, the weight needs to be 2.7 grams.

The one issues with this is that prior to 2000, the standard size was 38 millimeters. This means that if you stocked up and bought a bunch of three star balls decades ago, they will no longer be considered regulation size.

As for one star balls, they can vary greatly. While most balls are 40 millimeters in diameter, there are many brands that carry 38 millimeter balls. Furthermore, the standards for one star balls may not be as rigorous, so they could be off by a bit.

Be sure to look for an ITTF logo on your three star balls, just to make sure they are indeed regulation-level. For example, the Butterfly 3-Star Ball have the logo clearly marked in black and pink. If there is no logo, contact the manufactured to make sure what you are paying for is of the utmost quality.


1 Star vs 3 Star Ping Pong Ball - What's the Difference?

As we mentioned earlier, the standard weight of regulation ping pong balls is 2.7 grams. Because this is so specific, there is an agreed-upon variation level, between 2.67 and 2.77 grams, just in case.

One star balls are usually lighter than this, or more often, their weight is just more inconsistent. With three star balls, however, the weight will always fit within this range.

Heavier ping pong balls are faster than lighter ones, so three star balls will usually be faster. This is both a pro and a con, depending on your skill level. If you are new to ping pong, you want a one star ball that is slower to bounce. Much of ping pong is in the reaction time and if you don’t have time to practice your set up and your hitting techniques, you will quickly become frustrated.

When you become more used to reacting to your opponent, this is when you can move up to a faster, bouncier three star ball. You may be quite surprised at just how reactionary three star balls are and it will take a bit of time to get used to the speed. However, if you want to really improve on your game, then the three star balls will help you with this.


Those new to ping pong might think it’s a game where you merely hit a small ball with a paddle. Experts know, however, that the key to winning is all in the spin. Putting a back spin or a forward spin on a ball can impair your partner’s ability to return the serve, and allow you to quickly win your game.

After you figure out how to merely hit the ball with a paddle, the next step is to practice these cool spins.

You can definitely practice different spins with one star balls, and most beginners start wit these. However, one star balls are usually heavier and therefore won’t have as accurate a spin. This is ok because as a beginner, you won’t be that accurate. It takes a lot of time and energy to perfect different spins and you don’t want to ruin premium, three star balls with all this practice. More affordable one star balls are fine and you can still work on your accuracy.

There will come a time, though, when you have perfected your spin techniques and want to take your effort to the next level. This is where three star ping pong balls come into the picture. They are made to be lighter, striving for that perfect 2.7 gram weight. The lighter the ball, the more accurate the spin will be.

It can be a bit of a transition to move on to three star balls, but like with anything, practice will help. You may need to slightly adjust your wrist rotation to craft that perfect spin but once you do you will be on your way to becoming a champion.

Also remember that once you reach an elite level, your opponents will also have experience with three star balls and will want to use them in game play. In order for you to have the same advantage, it’s important that all players have practice time with the same type of ball.

Player’s level

1 Star vs 3 Star Ping Pong Ball - What's the Difference?

While it would be wonderful if we could easily become champion players at any sport we chose, the harsh reality is that everything takes practice. Even if you think you will love the sport of ping pong, you may find out it’s just not for you. It’s always recommended to start a new hobby out with relatively inexpensive gear. This does not mean it should be of bad quality but rather you don’t want to invest a large amount of money only to discover you aren’t really into it, or just don’t have the natural talent you thought you had.

Players new to ping pong should use one star balls. They are more affordable and because you don’t have the skill level yet to really control the ball, the poorer craftmanship won’t really affect your game.

Kids who are interested in ping pong should likewise start out with one star balls. They can have fun, goof around, and simply enjoy the new sport with their friends without the pressure of becoming a champion overnight.

Once you feel like you are ready to really commit to the game of ping pong, this is when you want to start playing with three star balls. The higher rating means you can better control the balls. As a result, all those fancy tricks you have been practicing will actually work with the balls. With one star balls, you can expect less reliability, which is frustrating if you are putting in the hours.

Furthermore, if you want to enter tournaments, most require the use of three star balls. It is much better to practice with the type of balls you will be using on game day.


Made to be soft, one star ping pong balls are usually made out of polystyrene or celluloid. In fact, their materials are often a mish-mash, which is why they have such a low rating.

While the softness isn’t great for play, they do have an advantage for younger kids. Let’s face it; kids like to play. And while they’re practicing ping pong, they may start to goof around. The softer material means there is less chance of permanent damage if the ball is hit the wrong way, or even thrown around. Furthermore, if you have breakables around you and the ball is hit off the mark, there is less chance of anything breaking.

Although three star balls can also be made from different materials, they are usually composed of polystyrene. This material provides a harder surface so there is a more reliable bounce. Essentially, you can hit the ball as hard or soft as you would like and know that the ball will respond how you think it will. This is much better for advanced players who work on specific skills.

Finally, the use of polystyrene is much better for the environment than celluloid. Most often ping pong balls will end up in the garbage after enough use and while this is still a material that takes hundreds of years to break down, it is better than celluloid.

Interestingly, if you want to do something with your old ping pong balls, other than throw them in the garbage, there are many ways to upcycle them Trusted Source 10 ways to reuse polystyrene | Greenredeem Blog | Discover how you can reuse the polystyrene that arrives in your parcels. Tips and tricks that can make life easier at home. blog.greenredeem.co.uk . This includes using bits of the material as a drainage layer for your plants and using it to package fragile items for shipment.

Final Thoughts

When you first start out, go for quantity over quality. Purchase a large box of one star ping pong balls. While they may not be the most accurate, they are more affordable and will still work for your purposes. If you find you really love ping pong and are ready to take your skill set to the next level, then it is time to invest in more quality equipment.

You can opt for intermediary two star ping pong balls, or go all the way up to three star balls. These will give you more accuracy and speed and are the type you will use if you enter into any tournament. We hope you now have a better understanding of the differences between 1 star vs 3 star ping pong balls. Above all else, practice hard but make sure you have fun!


International Table Tennis Federation - Home of Table Tennis
Welcome to the home of the International Table Tennis Federation! The latest Table Tennis news and results can be found here on the official ITTF website.
10 ways to reuse polystyrene | Greenredeem Blog |
Discover how you can reuse the polystyrene that arrives in your parcels. Tips and tricks that can make life easier at home.
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