If you miss a day of table tennis do you become irritable or moody? Have you gradually increased the amount of time you play each week? Do you have conflicts with others over the amount of time that you dedicate to table tennis? Has table tennis become the most important thing in your life? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it’s safe to say that you are addicted to table tennis.
Addiction to exercise is real. Distance runners who drastically reduce their mileage experience withdrawal symptoms similar to heroin addicts. Table tennis withdrawal can produce similar physical reactions, depending on how intensely you train. In addition, table tennis stimulates the brain in very unique ways. It’s not surprising that it’s addictive. Take it away and players become bored, lethargic, and depressed. A little friendly ping pong usually results in players laughing and forgetting their worries. Whether it’s intense table tennis training or an occasional casual game, table tennis is fun, and potentially addictive.
For regular players this addiction is the norm. People who aren’t addicted to exercise may have a hard time understanding. At a certain point the table tennis addict doesn’t just want to play, they need to play. There’s the movement, the concentration, the rhythmic sounds, the thrills, and the challenges. All of the speed and grace that make playing other sports appealing is condensed into the smallest possible area, generating a potent and addictive drug. I’m not talking about a metaphorical drug. Endorphins secreted from the brain can be triggered by childbirth, sex, morphine, and table tennis.
For many players the addiction may be more psychological than physical. One new player described it as “the constant quest to get better.” This quest is often begun with the thought that this is a relatively easy sport to excel at. By the time reality sets in, players are already caught up in a maze of changing spins. The quest becomes a search for answers, that surely lie around the next corner. At this stage there may be numerous equipment changes, or looking to coaches for instant answers. Dealing with this type of addiction requires some soul searching. No sport should ever be the most important thing in anyone’s life.
If you play or train regularly, you are possibly flirting with addiction. Table tennis is actually an extremely healthy activity, and maybe we’re all a little addicted to it. You might even think that you are okay being addicted to such a great sport. But real addiction is enslavement. It’s a pleasure to play, and a privilege to play often. But it’s possible to be addicted. Are you?