Over 40 million people play table tennis at a competitive level, making it the largest participation sport in the world. No doubt, theyve discovered the excitement, enjoyment and challenges of this dynamic and very convenient, low-cost sport.
Table tennis is one of the fastest sports in the world with record ball speeds of up to 160 km per hour. It can be played in any season and is fun, safe, aerobic, and maintains fitness and eye-hand co-ordination. It is a game of speed, reflexes and accuracy.
Table tennis, or ping pong, was first played in the 1880s as a British recreational game. Players used old cigar boxes as blades and shaped wine bottle corks for a ball. From these humble beginnings, the sport became popular in western and European countries in the early twentieth century and was introduced to China in the 1950s, a nation which has produced some of the worlds greatest players. Table tennis became an Olympic sport at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
The table tennis racquet is called a blade and there are three popular ways of holding it.
The shakehands is when all fingers are curled around the handle of the blade as if shaking hands.
The seemiller or American grip is when the pointer finger wraps around the blade and the thumb is pointed up towards the rubber on the forehand side.
The penholder is when the index finger and thumb are held around the handle of the paddle, with the wide blade of the paddle facing down.
Each grip has its own advantages and disadvantages. Only the penholder allows you to have the paddle facing in the same direction, both forehand and backhand. Try them all and you will quickly find the grip that suits you best.
To begin a table tennis game, the server must toss the ball at least sixteen centimetres (six inches) in the air and then hit it to bounce on their side of the net before it bounces on the other side. In the singles serve, the ball can bounce anywhere on the table. The white service lines on the table are for doubles play only, where the server must serve diagonally across court to the opponents quarter.
Returning the ball means hitting the ball over the net so that it bounces on the opponents side and trying to hit it so that they have difficulty returning it. There are a range of tactical returns you can learn, such as the spin and the loop. Dont be offended if someone calls you a looper. That could be a compliment!
You may have grown up playing table tennis where the winning player was the first to reach 21. The modern rule is that the first player to reach eleven wins. If the players are tied at ten all, play continues and the winner will be the person who leads by two points.
The new rules make for a faster, more exciting game. Beware! You need to bring out your best early on as getting behind in the points may cost you the game.
So if youre looking for a way to put some bounce back in your step, 40 million people say you cant go wrong with ping pong.
CJ – Fitness