- Table-tennis is a sport that can be played your whole life that puts less stress on your joints if played recreationally while providing exercise. You can be male or female, young or old, disabled or able-bodied and can compete against each other. In table-tennis tournaments, an 80-year old man may play a 8-year old girl if they are in the same rating category.
- Table-tennis has been called the best brain sport on KQED, CBS, and other news outlets as research has shown table-tennis to activate more parts of the brain than any other sport. Doctors have recommended table-tennis to elderly patients to battle mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Exercise keeps the body young and table-tennis is an excellent way to keep the brain young.
- Table-tennis is the third largest participation sport in the world after soccer and cricket.
- The Guinness Book of World Record’s longest table-tennis rally is 8 hours and 40 minutes done by father and son Peter and Daniel Ives of England. The rally lasted 32,000 total hits.
- Whether you’re playing doubles or singles, table tennis, or ping pong, can be a fast-paced competitive sport. In fact, when played at an intense rate, it can be a great way to burn calories and get fit.
- Playing improves hand-eye coordination and it stimulates mental alertness, concentration and tactical strategy. This makes it the perfect game for young people to sharpen reflexes, and for older people to refine tactics.
- Develops mental acuity. The speed, spin and placement of the ball are crucial in table tennis, and practiced players are highly skilled in both creating and solving puzzles involving these three attributes.
- Improves reflexes. Due to the fast-paced, short-distance nature of the sport, both gross and fine muscle movements are improved. The game is distinguished by bursts of exertion and recovery, leading to fast-twitch muscle development.
- It’s easy on the joints. Have you had knee surgery, back problems, tired of twisting your ankles? Try table tennis. It’s a great way to improve your leg, arm and core strength without overtaxing your joints.
- Burns calories. A 150-pound person can burn 272 calories by playing table tennis for an hour. Considering the fact that the sport is entertaining and addictive, it can be a fun and easy way to burn calories.
- Offers a social outlet. Whether you play in the community center or at home with friends, table tennis offers a great way to bond with other people while you lose weight. Because young and old people can play the game, it can help improve communication and build relationships, irrespective of age. Playing at home with siblings or parents can bring family members closer and enable them to spend more quality time with each other.
- Keeps your brain sharp. Alzheimer’s Weekly reports a clear increase in motor skills and cognitive awareness from playing table tennis, after a series of preliminary clinical studies in Japan found that table tennis markedly increases the flow of blood to the brain, and could possibly even prevent dementia.
- Improves coordination. Following the ping pong ball as it moves quickly toward you, and following its trajectory as your opponent hits it helps improve hand-eye coordination.
- Improves balance. Staying balanced and being able to quickly change direction are key to being successful in a ping pong rally. This is especially important for the elderly.
- Stimulates various different parts of the brain. By anticipating an opponent’s shot, a player uses the prefrontal cortex for strategic planning. The aerobic exercise from the physical activity of the game stimulates the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for allowing us to form and retain long-term facts and events.
TABLE-TENNIS AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES
- Table-tennis became an Olympic sport in 1988.
- Countries to have won Olympic medals during the Olympic Games are China, South Korea, Japan, North Korea, Germany, Sweden, France, Singapore, Yugoslavia, Denmark, Hong Kong, and Chinese Taipei.
- The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has 226 member associations which is the highest number among all federations under the International Olympic Committte (IOC).
- According to the former US national men’s team head coach, the table-tennis athletes of the world powers such as China, Japan, Korea, Germany, France, and Sweden are the best conditioned athletes out of all Olympic sports for their countries.
- According to the former US men’s national team head coach, table-tennis athletes of the top nations in the world have the most overall leg strength out of all Olympic athletes for their countries. Sprinters may have more 100 meter strength and marathon runners may have more endurance but table-tennis athletes have the strongest overall leg strength. When Fremont Table Tennis Head Coach Shashin Shodhan did leg strength testing at a national team camp in 1998 when he was training seriously and doing weight-training, his leg strength was over 50% stronger than the average strength of US Olympic athletes in all sports.
- Table-tennis is one of the first sports to sell out during the Olympic Games, including during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
- The North American Olympic Team has consisted of players ranked in the top 100, top 200, or top 300 in the world ranking depending on the year or consisted of players who have beaten players with that world ranking. Every 4 years, the NBA has around 1,000 players and the NFL and MLB have 3,000-5,000 players. Considering that there are more table-tennis players worldwide, that not all table-tennis players are world-ranked, and only 3-4 spots are available to North America in table-tennis, making the North American Olympic Team is comparable in difficulty to or possibly more difficult than making the major US professional sports league. The big difference is that the average athlete in the major US sports earn many millions every year and the US Olympic Committee gives $0 to anyone making the US Olympic Team and $25,000 to any US Olympic gold medalist.
- According to International Table Tennis Federation coaching education, it takes 15 years of serious training to reach the level of the North American Olympic Team (a rating of 2,700 or world top 100-300) and 20 years to be at the very top in the world (a rating of 2,900 or world top 10).
- It usually takes about 10,000 hours of serious practice time to be a world-class player.
- According to a study done by the Chinese national team, the maximum rotations during play of a 40 mm ball is around 8,000 rotations per minute (rpms). The balls upto the 2000 Olympics were 38 mm in diameter and those balls reached a maximum of 9,000 rpms.
TABLE-TENNIS AND CHINA
- China made its first appearance in international competitions in 1953. Mao Zedong wanted something to give the country national pride and put a lot of government money to develop the sport and for China to excel in the sport. China won its first World Championship title in 1959.
- China has won 24 of the 28 possible gold medals at the Olympic Games since table-tennis became an Olympic sport.
- China has 100 million table-tennis players.
- China has 40,000 professional table-tennis players paid by the government to practice full-time.
- Jan-Ove Waldner of Sweden is considered arguably the greatest player of all-time. In the 1990s, more people in China recognized him than US President Bill Clinton and is the only foreigner to have his own stamp in China. He has been nicknamed “the evergreen” in China as he has faced many generations of Chinese players who typically have shorter table-tennis careers. Three players on the North American Olympic Team have at least one win over Waldner in the 1990s.
TABLE-TENNIS AND EUROPE
- Nearly every country in Europe has more registered table-tennis players than tennis players.
- The government funds the professional leagues in Europe along with sponsors. The US and Rwanda are the only two countries in the world with no government support for sports.
- Countries such as Germany and France have close to 1 million table-tennis players.
- Sweden is the only men’s country in the past 30 years to break the Chinese male dominance. They won the World Championship Men’s Team title in 1989, 1991, 1993, and 2000. Sweden’s Jan-Ove Waldner won the World Championship Men’s Singles title in 1989 and 1997 and Olympic Men’s Singles Gold in 1992. Sweden’s Jorgen Persson won the World Championship Men’s Singles title in 1991.
- The European Championships take place annually. Portugal became European Champion in 2014 for the first time by defeating defending champion Germany in the final. The European Championships also took place in Portugal for the first time in 2014.
- Table-tennis has French origins as its roots came from the ancient game jeu de paume. Table-tennis developed at the end of the 19th century and reached its height at the beginning of the 20th century. Table-tennis was first mentioned in a sports article producer’s catalog, namely that of F.H. Ayres in 1884.
- The first patent for table-tennis was done in 1891 by Charles Baxter in England. An Englishman named James Gibbs brought celluloid balls to the US. Gibbs heard a high pitch sound when the balls hit the racket (Ping) and a low pitch sound when the ball hit the table (Pong). He told his neighbor, a sports article producer named John Jacques, about this and he trademarked “Ping Pong” to the entire world. Today, “Ping Pong” is a trademarked name owned by Parker Brothers.
- The International Table Tennis Federation was formed in 1926.
- Hungary was the first country to dominate the sport until 1935.
- The US won world titles in 1937 in part by adding spin with their fingers on the serves which is now not allowed.
- Players in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s used hardbat paddles which were slower and less spinny than today’s paddles. Japan won the world title in 1952 with the invention of the sponge rubber paddles which revolutionized the game.
- The longest point was 2 hours and 12 minutes done during the hardbat era.
- Ping-Pong Diplomacy was used by China and US in 1971 to develop diplomatic relations where friendship matches took place throughout the US between the two countries’ national teams. It was one of the biggest news items at the time in the US with countless media features including the US team being featured on the cover of Time Magazine. The US and Chinese national teams played friendship matches in sold-out arenas throughout the US. FTTA Head Coach Shashin Shodhan played one of the Chinese World Champions at Stanford University celebrating the 25th anniversary of Ping-Pong Diplomacy.