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For the love of Table Tennis

Editor's Pick 02 Dec 2012, 21:32 IST

They say basketball is the second fastest indoor sport, right after Ice Hockey. If you were to quantify ‘fast’ based on the movement of players, you may well agree with this fact. But if you think about the speed of game, movement of the ball, and frequency of action between the players, Table Tennis takes the cake hands down.

Now that’s a sport that’s FAST!

There is a reason why most clubs and hangouts have a Table Tennis table. It’s a sport which is easy to pick up and is very well suited for any group of people. A Table Tennis rally lasts around a few minutes usually, which allows the losing player to be replaced and players can be rotated, giving everyone a chance to get into the action. And there is something absorbing about a table tennis rally which commands attention. Remember those Tom and Jerry cartoons where the characters shake their heads from side to side as if hypnotised while following a rally? That’s testament to how engaging the sport can be. It’s a non-contact sport with all the speed and intensity of a contact sport, and none of the risks of physical injury, through accident or otherwise.

All you need to play the game is one table, a couple of racquets, a ball, and one other person to play with. Although it may be argued that the table is an expensive piece of equipment, through personal experience I can tell you that any flat surface which reasonably matches the dimensions of a Table Tennis table, can be used to play the game. I used to play it on a discarded lunch table. It was oval at the edges, but good enough to enjoy the game, even if it didn’t adhere to the international standards. You can get started easily in a sport like this.

It’s easy to get started in this sport

Table Tennis promotes dexterity and coordination. The speed and appeal of the game is vastly underrated because it’s not often dissected. To keep track of such a small ball and make contact with it time and time again, without even realizing how exactly you returned the last volley; the beauty of the game lies in the fact that it allows you to suspend your conscious mind. Once the ball is served, I slip into a zone where there is no time for thought, there’s only time to react. The sheer variety of ways in which a shot can be played boggles the mind. Take into consideration the different angles with which you make contact with the ball, a slight turn of the wrists which allows you to put a spin on the ball, the movement of the body relative to the ball – all allow for an infinite combination of moves which are fused one after another to make a Table Tennis rally a delightful experience. I say experiencing, not simply watching. You don’t ‘watch’ Table Tennis, you get immersed in it, soak your subconscious in it and absorb the essence of a rally which is too fast to process consciously; it’s meant to be experienced.

For a country like India, excellency in Table Tennis is something which is closer within our reach than most other sports. The biggest hurdle for sports in India is cited to be lack of natural athleticism and facilities. Table Tennis requires practice and persistence above all else. With cities getting smaller and smaller, there is less room for outdoor activities and more for something like Table Tennis. The future of the sport should be bright in India.

Here is a video to get you in the mood for Table Tennis:

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