Touchless Table Tennis


I don’t know exactly how much help this will be to the larger table tennis clubs. I don’t envy anyone having to monitor groups of players to make sure that they are playing at a safe distance. It’s not such an easy task to disinfect every possible surface that somebody might touch or breathe on. My unsolicited advice to one club director was to not open up until he could get back to the pre-virus routine, or something close to it. Opening up before then insures that the major part of the director’s job will be sanitation enforcement.  

Having said all of that, I’m pleased to say that the T3 training center is open for business, as of May 1st. It’s not that I am disregarding any executive orders, or that I have some sort of a death wish. When gyms opened up in Georgia, I quickly discovered that coaching one person at a time was not only possible, but fairly easy to pull off with minimal risk factors.  The fact that I only work with one player at a time, and that I had already suspended group open play made this possible. 

For most players it’s possible to arrive for training, train for ninety minutes, never get dangerously close to me, and leave without ever touching anything but their own paddle. How is this possible? I have the outside door open when players arrive and close it as needed. This serves two purposes. It gets some fresh air into the coaching area, and keeps players from having to touch the door. Most players know they shouldn’t be touching the playing surface of the table. I know some players are in the habit of wiping their hands on the table between points. That is no longer acceptable. Fortunately I don’t have too many players who do this, and we’ll be training, not playing matches. Since we are training, there’s no reason to switch sides, and it’s actually possible to do an entire training session without the student ever having to touch any balls. If the coach is feeding multi-ball, serving, and maintaining control of the practice balls, the only time the student would have to touch the balls is if they were serving. My plan is to hold off on having students serve until the virus concerns have significantly lessened. Rubber gloves and hand sanitizer are available for anyone needing a restroom break. 

Even with all these precautions, there’s no certainty that this will be enough to prevent potential viruses from penetrating my training fortress. Not every room we enter can be completely sterile, and probably shouldn’t be. Perhaps something in this post will be helpful to the bigger clubs. It’s relatively easy to keep things under control with only two players. It may prove to be much more difficult for large clubs and tournament venues. Good luck.  

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