Is your ping pong table where you can easily get to it? Is it folded up in a corner of your garage where it can easily be rolled out, once you move the lawn mower? A well-placed table can be perfect for folding laundry or working on science projects. If you are reading this, you probably have moved past the ping pong stage and are just wishing you had more room at your home to really play some table tennis.
The hardcore players might try the approach I took and put your table on a vacant lot and instruct the contractor to build a house around it. Most players won’t be able to do this, so having a table in your home will usually involve some level of compromise in terms of space and availability. If you have a space where you can leave the table up all the time, this is usually a better situation than moving the table every time you play. If you don’t really have enough space for playing a match, your table can still be very useful for practicing serves, which in the long run might improve your play more than a few more matches.
For many of us, the dilemma of finding a place to play may not lie within the walls of our house. I recently addressed the idea of starting your own club, which is a great option. Another viable option is to lobby your local recreation center to set up a table on a regular basis in a place with enough space to play. Parks and Recreation Departments are very sensitive to public perception and can be very helpful, once they realize that it is in their best interest to work with you.
A proven approach is to go to the local center and politely request one table and one good sized room for players to use during certain hours. Pitch this as providing open play, in much the same way that they provide basketball courts for pick-up games. This initial meeting will very likely not result in any satisfactory outcome. The next step is to begin an email and letter campaign to the head of the Parks and Recreation Department. If enough players simultaneously contact the top person, there is an excellent chance something will be done to provide a table and a place to play. Keep in mind that the Parks and Recreation people don’t know much about table tennis and may think the table crammed in to the game room is already meeting this need. You may have to continue flooding the people in charge with requests until you wear them down.
Once you get the table, make sure you thank all the people that made it happen and make sure it is used on a regular basis. You worked hard for the ground you gained and you don’t want to risk having to fight for it again. It is a good idea to offer to be in charge of the use of the table and playing area. Parks and Recreation people will love your program if it is no work for them and you don’t cause them any problems.
It’s pretty hard to really get the most out of table tennis if you don’t have a decent place to play. Perhaps playing at your house is a good option. But if you can convince a recreation center that you just want one table and a few hours a week, you might be well on your way to a far better playing experience and one that can really grow for you and your community.