If you are a serious table tennis player, you have surely heard this comment before by someone! “Is table tennis a real sport?”
As a full-time table tennis coach, I often hear this comment and struggle to contain my frustration when hearing such an ignorant comment.
I have often asked myself why does table tennis have such poor value in society! And how can this be changed?
I’ve come up with a few key points:
- Table Tennis can be played by anyone almost anywhere. This automatically gives an impression of, if I can play and hit a few good shots then it’s a fun recreational game!
- It’s very rarely seen on TV; few people see the true skill and athleticism required.
- Rallies and spin, rallies are seemingly short, I say seemingly because the average rally last between 3-5 strokes. When in fact the ratio in Tennis is very similar depending on surface 2-5.7 Strokes per rally. The court is far bigger than a table tennis table making the rallies seem far greater and therefore is more appealing to the eye. The; angles, curve, spin, agility, placement, skill and athleticism is easily observed due to time. These key elements are overshadowed in Table Tennis due to split second rallies. Spin, is the most technical part of the game and one that is almost invisible to the naked eye. Many sequences and errors occur due to the spin created by players (at times 100 revs per second) and this skill is degraded due to an observing spectator, mainly due to ignorance.
What can be done?
I thrive to develop my beloved sport and believe Table Tennis deserves it’s dues..
There have been many changes to the game in the last 20 years of which some have worked and others can be developed upon.
- Possibly increase the size of the ball once more to 42mm. This would once again reduce speed and spin increasing rally strokes
- Increase the height of the net by 2-5cm implementing a reduction power strokes and developing other attributes (consistency, placements and variations) and of course potentially increasing rally length once again.
- The ball has a logo stamp, I would put a black dot on the opposite side helping the viewers see the spin slightly more. This would also reduce unforced errors from the players.
- Entertainment: every sport I go to watch or be a part of I notice an external entertainment factor. E.g. Football; flags, whistles, music, commentators, mascot, half time challenges for fans and fan merchandise. This is very similar in most popular sports. Table Tennis can follow lead from the recent Ping Pong World Championships (how it’s run and aims to engage people).
The other key element is developing a culture and this can only be done if we thrive towards developing and growing our sport, giving it the recognition it deserves.
This article was originally posted by Eli Baraty here: