There aren't many sports that match education as perfectly as table tennis does and there are plenty of reasons to support that:
It all starts in nursery school, where one can easily take the first steps to initiate table tennis by using only two of three necessary components to table tennis (ball -racket / ball - table / racket - table). Aside from initiating movement, other elements can be introduced in a playful manner: simple counting games, learning the terminology, playing in groups in a cooperative way etc. Obviously these activities don't necessarily need to be installed in physical education classes.
Reoccurring advantages of table tennis can be described as followed:
- Table tennis is a remarkably cheap alternative to most other sports and can be practised in almost any spot,
- It can be practiced in a confined space,
- Anyone can join: it is not gender specific nor do the physical abilities or age of the child matter. Anyone can participate at their level.
- It is a very safe sport: very few injuries occur and accidents through physical contact (doubles game) are rare.
In primary school, one can gradually advance to an actual initiation. The same aims as those set up in nursery school remain, though obviously at another level. Initiation can also take place without necessarily having table tennis tables at your disposal. Portable net posts of different manufacturers can be attached to regular tables. Actual table tennis tables (suitable for both indoor as outdoor use) can be applied during classes or in the pupils' spare time. The same advantages we have encountered in nursery school still count in primary school.
Furthermore, table tennis could gain its spot in secondary education. It is most useful to have pupils do sports during their spare time. Table tennis can be introduced in physical education classes or even in theoretical classes. For example, physical principles could be explained during mechanical classes. In many schools you will find areas where playing table tennis has been made available for pupils, which are frequently visited. The same advantages as the ones mentioned for nursery school apply in secondary education as well.
Lastly, table tennis is a suitable sport for students at universities and colleges to find some relaxation during their busy periods of studying. Therefore, many campuses or fraternity houses are equipped with table tennis tables.
Nowadays we are being told more frequently that we should pursue lifelong learning. Table tennis could easily be a part of that motto. Apart from being a career choice, it has found its way into our communities, schools and homes and - as mentioned- entails many advantages.
Table tennis is a 'lifetime sport' that matches our educational needs perfectly. Let's play!
Text translated by the students of 4 TEE and 4TTW from the Don Bosco Technical Institute Hoboken, Belgium under the supervision of their teacher Mrs C. Cleiren.