By: Priyanka Supraja Balaji, Finalist in US Open Table Tennis - U1000 Division (for those with a rating under 1000 points)
I’m one of the teens across the country who were supposed to participate in the US Nationals Table Tennis Tournament this summer. But, that all soon changed. Thanks to the timely COVID-19 pandemic, I instead ended up playing table tennis in my garage more casually with family members for fun and practice, which allowed me to realize the importance of table tennis in these “shelter-in-place” times.
This inclusive sport’s agile movements require limited space to play, making it convenient and fitness-friendly. As it is, many of us are stuck in one of three states: digital overuse, stress, or boredom. Ping pong can provide gadget-free fun, quick breaks for any age, and stress relief, the perfect remedy to those mental phases. According to the Harvard Medical School, ping pong has been proven to relieve stress on a psychological level. The quick movements of the ball and body—combined with the strategy, focus, and agility critical to the game—make this both a physical and cognitive exercise. See, our brain, when we exercise, releases dopamine, a hormone which alleviates stress. Table tennis proves that you can get a workout and feel happier—two difficult things to do in this pandemic.
Some teens who live in smaller homes believe that indoor sports aren’t a viable option for them. Interestingly, it’s possible to play ping pong in a smaller area (11 by 14 in.) while practicing social distancing, providing affordable, fun, and safe physical activity. You don’t need to have professional equipment to play ping pong. Instead, be creative by using a spare wooden plank as a table, a thin box as the net, or playing against a wall.
Ping pong is a unique sport because it has no age barriers. Even in local tournaments, it’s very common to see youth competing seniors and people with special abilities enjoying the sport.
This pandemic has turned our lives upside down, compelling us to try new activities we wouldn't have considered in the past. Whether you’re an expert already playing the sport or a newbie looking to start, a game of ping pong during quarantine is definitely worth your attention.
“How Much Space Do You Need for a Ping Pong Table?” Table Sport Pros, Table Sport Pros, 6 Feb. 2019, https://tablesportpros.com/ping-pong-space-requirements/.
Publishing, Harvard Health. “Tennis, Anyone?” Harvard Health, Harvard University, July 2017, www.health.harvard.edu/exercise-and-fitness/tennis-anyone.