Looking back at my life, I can say that some of my fondest childhood memories came from whacking a little white ball back and forth in our family garage. Table tennis, or ping pong as it's more commonly referred to by the regular Joe, was a fun game played by my entire family and even though I wasn't the greatest, I had a bad tendency to lose balls in the depths of the miscellaneous items stored around the table, I still had a blast.
Where the game was a nice memory and fun to play for me, it's an obsession and way of life for others as professional players vie for titles in the sport around the world. Table Tennis is widely recognized as a sport of intense skill. In the professional ranks, it requires great concentration and reflexes to get even one point against a skilled adversary.
For those not familiar with the game, let me break it down for you. Table Tennis is a sport where two to four people use small rackets to hit a hollow plastic ball back and forth in an effort to score 21 points and win the game. With the exception of the initial serve, players must allow a ball played toward them only one bounce on their side of the table and must return it so that it bounces on the opposite side. Points are scored when a player fails to return the ball within the rules.
Where reflexes are your primary friend in being a good TT player, you also have to have a good head for strategy as the game isn't so cut and dried as the above description would have you believe. A skilled opponent can take a ball and send it at you in a number of different ways, from pure power to the subtleties of a slight flick and they can, and will, try their hardest to put a spin on the ball that will have it flying off your racket in a number of unpredictable ways.
This sport is so recognized throughout the world that it has been an Olympic event since 1988 and if you ever get a chance to watch these guys and gals go at it, you will understand why it is so highly regarded. A true master of TT can do things within the confines of that small table that will astound and amaze even the most casual of observers.
As well as being an Olympic event, this sport is also the lively hood of many people. It's wide international popularity allows for a number of endorsements deals and if you are a top 20 player in the word, you can expect to earn anywhere over $1 to $2 hundred grand in a year.
This sport isn't for everyone, and really, what sport is, but for those who have the talent for it, it can encompass a lifetime and provide for you the whole way. For the rest of us, while we might not make a living off it, it's still fun to play and I recommend you get yourself a table for your garage, if you have one.
Because you can never have enough good memories.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS