Outdoor ping-pong hits the mark
16th September 2011
Free and easy, fun and friendly – Outdoor Ping-Pong hits the mark!
Ping-pong, whiff-whaff or table tennis, it doesn’t really matter what you call it, everyone’s playing it.
From indoor matches to bars and sports clubs to schools and community centres, and increasingly outdoors in parks, school playgrounds and all kinds of public spaces.
Young, old, fit or unfit, the sport is engaging and compelling to all and has been likened to a fairground attraction where people keep coming back for more and more!
Social table tennis is becoming more popular and dare we say it fashionable and cool to play. People are realising the low barrier to access; you don’t need kit, a big team or a lot of time to play and have fun. Richard Yule (English Table Tennis Association (ETTA), Chief Executive) said: “We are quickly proving that where there are table tennis tables provided there are no barriers and people play; it’s really as simple as that.”
In fact many disused outdoor spaces can, and are, being brought to life through outdoor ping-pong by creating a low cost, healthy activity, and a meeting point where friendly banter and fierce competition develop between strangers and quickly blossom into friendships and social engagement.
Yona Lesorgen, a table user, wrote to the ETTA about her experience, she said: “I’m writing with regard to the table tennis table at Haggerston Park. I live locally and have recently started playing table tennis regularly with friends. The table is used by a lot of people and is a good place to meet locals. We are three flatmates in our mid to late 20s and often when we go down to play there are other locals playing there. We have made friends with various people this way and have even started a Facebook group to encourage people to play and meet other locals”.
Popping up all over the place…
Permanent outdoor tables are appearing everywhere (London, Birmingham, Bristol and Hull to name just a few) particularly in parks and are free of charge for the public to play. Sometimes the park offices or kiosks loan bats and balls, but often people tend to purchase them (at less than a fiver) and bring their own.
“Loaning out the table tennis bats helps to break down barriers between park staff and park users, particularly some of the youths who can be intimidating at times. When they come to the park office we get to talk to them and this can help to build respect and reduce conflict” Richard, Park Keeper, Rosemary Gardens, Islington.
Concrete ones are particularly good….
Tables can be made of composite materials and concrete ones are particularly good because they generally have good playability and are very robust to be able to withstand the elements or occasional misdemeanours of equipment abuse. Tables suitable for public use and permanently sited can cost anything between £500-£3,500.
Location, location, location
A hard surface area 8m x 4m sheltered from the wind is strongly recommended and consideration should be given to providing multiple table sites to accelerate social engagement that creates communities of players. Location is all-important, some tables are close to kiosks or cafés, what more can one want than a social game of ping-pong followed by some relaxing liquid refreshments?
Further advice on all aspects of outdoor table tennis including ‘where to buy’ and ‘how much’ can be obtained from www.etta.co.uk or by telephoning Diccon Gray at the English Table Tennis Association on 01424 722525.
Diccon C Gray (National Competitions & Events Manager, ETTA) 16/09/11