Introduction To Table Tennis

Table tennis is an extremely fast moving sport and demands possibly the quickest reactions of any of the Olympic disciplines.

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Table tennis players can put extreme spin on the ball to make it difficult to predict or return, or can try to maneuver their opponent around the table — hoping to open up a point winning opportunity. But the real joy of the game is in its simplicity, requiring very little in the way of equipment, meaning it is a very accessible sport.

Table tennis is certainly a sport for all and a sport for life — anyone can get involved at any time and continue play throughout. It is particularly good for developing alertness and co-ordination.

A brief history of table tennis

Table tennis can be traced back to Victorian England, as a form of after-dinner amusement for upper class Victorians in the 1880s. Everyday objects were used; books as a net, a knot of string as a ball and a cigar box lid as the bat. The popularity of the pastime led game manufacturers to sell the equipment commercially.

The sound generated in play was what gave the sport its name "ping pong" and this was used by some manufacturers of equipment at the time. Around the turn of the 20th century celluloid balls or paddles were introduced to the game, and by 1927, London held the first ever official world championships.

Table tennis was granted Olympic sport status in 1988. The sport is now sport dominated by Asian countries such as China and Korea.

From 2000 the size of the table tennis ball increased in size from 38mm to 40mm and to weigh 2.7g (approx 0.0060 lbs) with the aim to increase the ball's air resistance — effectively to slow the game down in an attempt to make it more spectator friendly.

Further changes in 2001 saw a move from the traditional 21 point game to a first to eleven points game, unless both players reach 10 points, at which point it follows the tennis format of a player needing to reach a 2 point lead for victory — although the 21 point game is still widely played at recreational level.

How playing table tennis is good for fitness

Playing table tennis can have a number of positive health and fitness benefits including:

  • Improves aerobic fitness, with more oxygen circulated around the body to better muscular endurance.
  • Burns off calories with energy being supplied to the muscles and not forming fat.
  • Boosting flexibility reaction times, due to the fast-paced nature of table tennis, as well as tactical strategy formation.
  • Improves hand-eye co-ordination with concentration required for serving and returning shots.
  • Develops the strength and power of muscles, notably leg and arm muscles.
  • Furthers concentration, awareness and mental strength, with matches often lasting for some time, which helps aid overall brain functioning.
  • Improves nimbleness of players, on their feet.
  • Improves social skills as it often leads to friendships formed through the love of this growing niche.