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Table Tennis For All

Making table tennis more popular

It is the elite few who hit the headlines in sport; table tennis is no exception. However, for most people sport is something to be enjoyed, an activity that provides exercise and it should be fun to play.

Table tennis is somewhat unique in the sporting world; it is the one sport that everyone can play and perhaps it is the one sport that at some level, everybody has played.

Slow Down
Over the years sport has become faster owing to the advancements in technology. Therefore, for table tennis players, who cannot race around the court like RYU Seung Min, enthral the crowds with stone wall defence in the mode of KIM Kyung Ah, lob the ball into the atmosphere in the fashion of Michael MAZE, mesmerise opponents with subtle services as executed by Werner SCHLAGER, release a thundering forehand in the manner of WANG Liqin or play with the exquisite balance of ZHANG Yining, then perhaps we just need to slow down.

The answer, in order to slow down, to encourage more people to play table tennis and to promote `Table Tennis For All'; might well be found in Japan and the answer, a larger ball.

Not A New Idea
Wait a minute, haven't we just done that? The ball used to be 38mm in diameter, now it's 40mm and when you see the smaller ball, it now looks very small, it's as though you are playing with a marble or a garden pea!

However, in Japan, they organise competitions using a ball that is 44mm in diameter. The concept was originally promoted some fifteen years ago by the late Ichiro OGIMURA, the former World champion and President of the International Table Tennis Federation, who no doubt believed that the game was becoming too fast and losing its attraction to the masses.

It was a bold move when you consider that in the early 1990's the thought using a ball that was larger than 38mm was frowned upon in most quarters a further 2mm increase in the diameter would surely never be agreed. It was a most drastic proposal but one that reflected the attitude of a man who cared deeply for the sport that had brought him great rewards.

Furthermore, there are other modifications to the laws of table tennis for `Larger Ball Tournaments'. The height of the net is 2cm higher and the racket has to have short pimples; reversed rubber, anti-spin, long pimples are not allowed.

Also, in the conventional manner games are played to eleven points, should the score reach 10-all, then as in the established game the service alternates until one player is two points clear but if the score reaches 12-all, then it's sudden death! The player who wins the next point wins the game!

In Japan, the `Larger Ball Tournaments' are now well established; the speed the ball travels is reduced, the amount of spin that can be imparted is much less and the competitions have proved very popular, especially amongst veteran players.

It is `Table Tennis For All`, it's fun and is it successful?

Well, judge for yourself. At the World Veteran Championships in Yokohama in 2004 a `Larger Ball Tournament' was held; over 1,000 players entered whilst the `Larger Ball National Championships' in Japan this year attracted almost 1,500 players!

The figures speak for themselves.

Source: ITTF, Image courtesy of Tamasu Butterfly

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