Get Inspired: How to get into Table Tennis

Fast Answers

Why get into table tennis?

It's fast, fun and easy for everyone to play.

Who is it for?

All ages and abilities. It's also a great way to stay fit if you are less mobile or returning from injury.

Is there a cheap option?

It can be very affordable as most clubs offer sessions for a few pounds.

What if I want a proper workout?

Table tennis can be intense and can really get the heart pumping. It also improves cardiovascular fitness and endurance levels.

Can I take it to another level?

There are tournaments at all levels, from schools through to county and national championships.

Is there a disability option?

Table tennis is a very accessible game.

Is there a family option?

Just get a few bats and a ball and you can start to play anywhere, even on the dining room table!

Table tennis is a cheap and accessible activity that can be played with people of all ages.

Table tennis clubs provide the best place to learn the game, and with more than 750 clubs in gyms, leisure centres, schools, colleges and universities throughout the UK there is bound to be an opportunity to play near you. To find your nearest club, get in touch with Table Tennis England,   Irish Table Tennis,   the Table Tennis Association of Wales  or Table Tennis Scotland. 

Table tennis

Joanna Drinkhall

Men and women can participate in individual, doubles or team events. Matches consist of a best of five sets of 11 points each. At professional level, the sport is really fast. The ball travels at speeds of 100mph and is struck more than 180 times in a minute - about three shots a second. One of the main benefits of playing table tennis is that it is non-contact, so you can get all the benefits of a high-energy workout without the risk of collision injuries.

Ping-pong

Ping-pong

Put simply, ping-pong is a more relaxed version of table tennis. You can play it on your dining room table, or even make a table out of cardboard boxes.  Professional table tennis players generally wouldn't refer to their sport as ping-pong, but recreational players might use both words. Ping-pong is full of giggles! Whether you improvise with saucepans in the kitchen or dust off the table in the attic and play Round the table  with the whole family, it's a fun activity that everyone can join in with.

In England, Ping!  is an innovative project where people can play social and competitive table tennis for free. Meanwhile, you can find permanent outdoor free-to-use tables  in parks in places such as Hull, Birmingham and Bristol. For opportunities near you, contact Irish Table Tennis,   the Table Tennis Association of Wales  or Table Tennis Scotland. 

Disability Table tennis

Egyptian table tennis fanatic Ibrahim Hamato lost both arms in an accident when he was 10, but he carried on playing by improvising with his mouth. "I hope this shows people that nothing is impossible as long as you work hard," he says.

Table tennis is a completely inclusive sport and nearly everyone can participate in its full format or when adapted. Table tennis offers people the chance to develop their fitness and coordination and it also helps to build social skills. There are opportunities for disabled people to play table tennis at local, national, international and Paralympic levels. In Scotland   there are regional ID days to help develop talent. Wales  is keen to develop the sport further following medal success at the 2012 Paralympics. Table Tennis England  strongly believes the sport is for everyone and in Northern Ireland and Ireland,  athletes are encouraged to join their local mainstream club in order to access regular coaching.

Table tennis for kids

Table tennis and kids

Children can often start playing and enjoying table tennis from the age of 4 or 5 onwards. It is a great activity for kids because you don't need much equipment, it can be played anywhere and it's space effective. You can also play indoors so it doesn't matter if the weather is bad outside! Table tennis Wales  has produced a handy guide for parents about getting kids involved. Contact your regional table tennis association to find an opportunity to play near you.

Coaching and Volunteering

Table tennis volunteer Mike Smith is nominated for BBC East Midlands Unsung Hero Award 2011

Learning to become a coach, and being involved in the activity, benefits you and those who you work with. It also develops communication, teamwork and leadership skills. The easiest way to get started is by joining an established club and getting involved in the coaching set up. You can do this is in Wales,  Scotland,  England   and Northern Ireland.  You can also try Sports Coach UK. 

Volunteers are the lifeblood of table tennis. Find out about opportunities to get involved with JoinInUK  who can help you find a club that needs your 'hands on' attention. Volunteer Scotland  and Volunteer Now  are also a good place to start.

What's next?

1. Go to our Activity Finder to get into table tennis near you.

2. Find your local table tennis opportunities. Table Tennis England,   Irish Table Tennis,  the Table Tennis Association of Wales  and Table Tennis Scotland  can all help.

3. Share your story  and inspire others

Are you inspired to try table tennis? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the sport by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired,  visiting us on Facebook  or email us on getinspired@bbc.co.uk.

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.