Table tennis is the most popular indoor sport in the world – for good reason. Easy to understand and play, at least at the friendly fun level, the game requires a relatively modest investment in equipment and is a great way to get active, especially during winter months.
Table Tennis Fundamentals
The basics involve two or four players (singles or doubles) using rackets to hit a lightweight ball back and forth across a hard table divided by a net. Points are scored when a player fails to return the ball within the rules.
• The table and net. Official tables are 9 feet long x 5 feet wide x 30 inches high, made of wood, with a uniformly dark playing surface and 6-inch-high net. But as YiYe Wu, of DMI Sports, points out, different tables have varying properties. “To improve ball bounce, the best tables are thicker, with sturdier frames, and several layers of paint.” YiYe, who grew up in China playing table tennis, adds, “Some tables that come with ‘play back mode’ fold up on one end so players can practice alone.” Models at Dunham’s range from $150 to $500.
• The racket. Each player uses a laminated wooden racket (“paddle” in the U.S. and “bat” in the UK.) The blade averages 6.5 inches long by 6 inches wide, with rubber on one or both sides and a sponge layer underneath to dampen the impact of the ball. According to YiYe, handle shapes differ, so she recommends experimenting to find the best match for a player’s style of grip and play.
• The ball. International rules specify balls be 40 mm in diameter and made of high-bouncing air-filled celluloid or similar plastics weighing 2.7 grams. “Look for the stars,” advises YiYe. “Three-star balls are usually the best quality for better bounce and longer wear.”
Beyond the basics, players can invest in special shoes and clothing, robot ball launchers, instructional books and DVDs, coaching, club memberships, and more. Abundant information and resources can be found online.
Table Tennis Benefits
“One of the best things is the game can be enjoyed at any level of skill, by players of all ages and physical attributes,” comments YiYe. “Participants are active and moving, and the sport develops excellent hand-eye coordination. Those who want to progress can find clubs and tournaments throughout the country. Plus, families spend time together and friends socialize and have fun.” Forty million competitive and countless millions of recreational players worldwide agree – table tennis is a sport for all.
-Fun For All Ages
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