Getting in on one of the most popular sports in the world

Friday, 3 June 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

My new ping pong table arrived this week and I've been busy working on my chops and smashes. For those who have not yet caught the ping pong bug, those are varieties of table tennis shots. I'm so into it.

I love the nerdiness that seems to go along with ping pong. And it has a purity and simplicity in this overly technical, complex world. It’s been hot for a few years now, with the expansion of the Susan Sarandon backed ping pong club, SPiN (with locations in several cities including New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto).

What’s great about the sport – it is indeed a sport – is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to be especially fit or coordinated. It transcends all body types, fitness levels, ages and gender. The learning curve is short and it’s seriously addictive. My dad and I used to play for hours when I was a kid. And I’m pretty sure I used to beat him. (And before you say he let me win, I will remind you that I grew up in the ’80s when kids actually had to win at things. Unlike the kids of today, we didn’t get a medal for just showing up.)

Plus ping pong is an inexpensive activity to get into. Renting a table for an hour at a ping pong club will cost around $30 and you can buy a table for your home for under $1000. Compare that to a pool table. I ordered my sweet new backyard table (pictured above) from a great Vancouver company that delivered it the next day.

Fun fact: Table tennis is the most popular racquet sport in the world, ranked second overall in terms of participation, with ten million players competing in sanctioned tournaments every year. (pongworld.com)

If you’re in the market for a table, consider the following buying tips:

  • Unless you have a lot of space that is permanently dedicated to ping pong, buy a rollaway table. The larger the wheels the easier it is to move.
  • Thickness of the tabletop is key to allowing for a good bounce. It is mainly what separates the high quality tables from the lower end. Ensure the tabletop is at least 5mm thick for the most consistent bounce. The thicker the table, the more you’ll pay.
  • Also consider the thickness of the frame. The thicker the frame the better supported the table will be.
  • For good stability also consider the thickness of the table legs and the number of connection points in the table chassis.
  • A melamine resin surface is ideal for outdoor use. Avoid plywood.
  • If you’re getting an outdoor table, make sure the legs are encapsulated with aluminum which will resist water damage.
  • Tables that can turn into playback mode (pictured below) are great for kids and beginners. But once you get a little better you’ll quickly realize it’s not the most effective way to practise, since the ball won’t follow the natural trajectory it would during real play mode. For that you can actually buy a table tennis robot!
  • Corner protectors are a good idea for preventing injuries. Yes, that happens.

Ping pong table in playback mode

The best part is that ping pong makes any gathering more fun. From corporate events to first dates, but especially backyard summer shindigs. The key to your best game is to simply relax and not think too much. That means ping pong goes exceptionally well with good friends and cocktails.

Now I just need to figure out a ping pong themed menu. I feel a rosé-pong infused summer coming on.

top of page | | back to posts |
  • Subscribe to the A&K Newsletter

  • BrainofMorbius

    We had a ping pong table when I was a child. It wasn’t as nice as the one pictured here by a long shot, but it got a lot of use… Fond memories of it go back to the 70s and I think I still have some old, well worn paddles in a box somewhere. The game was made popular by the Brady Bunch…Tom Hanks made it look super exciting in Forrest Gump… So of course every cool family had to have one. But when we got ours….my oldest brother Rick won every game, as he did at everything else growing up. I can’t tell you the number of humiliating bankruptcies I suffered during my formative years at the soul crushing game of Monopoly. Talk about losing interest in competitive sports!

    Now, only a pretty girl at the other end of the ping pong table could convince me to take up the paddle again. As Spock once said to Kirk in The Undiscovered Country:

    “There’s an old Vulcan saying. Only Nixon could go to China.”