Time to Try Your Hand at Table Tennis

Published on: 17/06/2021

Looking to practice an indoor sport with your family at this time? Why not try your hand at table tennis, and experience its multiple benefits for the mind and body.

For those of us looking for exercise opportunities that we can practice with members of our household, a competitive sport may be a good idea to get the excitement going. While there are still limitations to some team sports and other outdoor activities at this time, a game of table tennis could be just what your family needs. 

What is Table Tennis?

Also known as ping-pong or whiff-whaff, table tennis is a sport wherein players try to hit a lightweight ball back and forth, using rackets. It’s similar to tennis, only that table tennis is played by two or four players on a hard table divided by a net.

Since 1988, table tennis has been an Olympic sport, with several event categories such as singles and doubles. As a sport, it is governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), a worldwide organization comprised of 226 member associations.

The History of Table Tennis

The sport is said to originate in Victorian England, where it had become a fashionable after-dinner game for the upper classes. Meanwhile, some sources claim that around the 1860s or 1870s, it was known as indoor tennis — played by British army officers stationed in South Africa and India. Back then, they placed a row of books at the center of the table to serve as a net and used two more books as rackets. 

What's interesting is that the sport became known as ping pong way before it was trademarked in 1901 by British game equipment manufacturer J. Jaques & Son Ltd. Nonetheless, the game played using this brand’s equipment was eventually called ping pong, while other manufacturers called theirs, table tennis. 

The Health Benefits of Playing Table Tennis

According to psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist Dr. Daniel Amen, table tennis is great for developing your hand-eye coordination and your reflexes. It is also a highly aerobic sport that gives a workout for both the upper and lower body. But more than these, he claims that it is the world’s best brain sport — it increases your concentration and awareness, at the same time requiring you to figure out your spins and strategies. 

How to Play the Game

To start a game, the ITTF rules state that the first service is decided by lot. This is usually a coin toss, but it may also involve the players guessing which hand has the ball (hidden by another player, umpire, or scorer). 

Once this is decided, the server strikes the ball —  it should touch his court first, and then the receiver's court directly, without hitting the net assembly. The receiver must then hit the ball back without it bouncing a second time on his side of the table. The ball should pass the net and touch the opponent's court, and this time, it can be directly or after touching the net assembly.

A point is scored when an opponent fails to make a correct service or return. The game is won when a player reaches 11 points unless both players score 10 points. In this case, the winner shall be the first player who can gain a lead of two points. A typical match consists of an odd number of games, usually the best of five or seven games. 

Improvising the Sport at this Time

Just like in the past, table tennis can be played even without an official ping pong table. Several table tennis experts and coaches suggest using any table, even the kitchen table. Alternatively, you try the sport by yourself by hitting the ball against a wall and letting it bounce on a wooden floor.

However, if you plan to take on the sport seriously, it’s best to know the various grips, stances, strokes, and spins so you can eventually build your techniques and plan your game strategies. 

Lastly, in order to make sure that there are no disputes when playing table tennis among your household members, you can review the official rules specified in the ITTF handbook.