Table tennis is proving to be enormously popular among Alsager U3A members. No other activity has exploded so fast over the past few years! We now have eight sessions a week and there seems to be an appetite for more. If I do a good job of explaining this phenomenon, there could be an even greater demand.
I have found it to be a very satisfying hobby; it provides an excellent form of exercise and it is social. Players who are fitter and faster get the exercise they need by playing harder, and those who are slower still reach their own level of activity.
It is hard to explain that by playing with and against the other players, we get to know a lot more about each other and form friendships. As in other social groups, a stranger observing the interaction between participants would easily misconstrue the banter between friends as hostility. This is a stage of familiarity that I think we all find fulfils some of our normal human needs as social animals.
Some players are superstars, they can spin, smash and defend in a most amazing way. Others with less ability can nevertheless use experience and cunning to gain an advantage. Of course, some just plod along, but the common theme is fun. Peels of laughter are just as common as gasps of incredulity at a brilliant or lucky shot.
We play doubles, that is two players on each side of the table taking strict turns to play the ball. The waiting players form a line and the first four go to play when a table becomes available. There are no set rules for who plays in any team of two, but we tend to use judgement to make each game as even as possible. After a while you find that some pairings work in a complementary way, both being lifted by some aspect of the others’ play, and occasionally the opposite happens.
The queue of waiting players always talk to each other – this is more welcome social interaction. In this weird time of isolation, the social part is just as much missed as the playing. When we get back to normal, we will resume. Perhaps if all this sounds good, you will join us or even form a table tennis group of your own.