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Beginner's Tips For Ping Pong
Ping Pong is a simple and fun game that isn't quite as demanding as some other types of sports. You can play it indoors, in any weather, and with minimal space, equipment and training. You don't need to be incredibly fast, strong, or capable of running for hours on end to do it either, you just need a decent amount of stamina, good reflexes, and a fast mind. These factors add to the overall appeal of ping pong, and is a reason why a lot of personal gyms in people's houses will either have a ping pong table or a billiards table (billiards sharing much the same factors as ping pong).
The first thing you'll need to know about ping pong is the equipment. A ping pong table, net, a ball, and two paddles are all you need. Period. For keeping score, a simple notebook and pen will do, unless you want to buy a chalk scoreboard or something. Aside from those basic essentials, there's nothing else for you to invest in initially.
The second thing to think about is clothing - almost anything will do as long as you can move about freely in it. Most people wear simple sneakers, shorts, and a tee shirt. Jogging pants will do too. Unlike more active sports like basketball and running, where shoes are designed to be high impact with special soles and other fancy features, you just need shoes that are comfy. Same goes with the shorts/jogging pants and tee shirt. No special materials needed, no anti-rip extended wear and tear ultra-mesh-fiber-super-high-tech stuff needed. Pick anything out of your closet and you're done!
Now we get to the basic physical requirements. As long as you jog a bit from time to time and can walk up and down several flights of stairs without being reduced to a wheezing bag of blubber, you'll be fine. The average person can get into ping pong quickly. The most important physical factors for ping pong are quick reflexes, agile wrists, and good balance. Of course, if you've got two left feet that's a different story... Otherwise, if your balance and reflexes are decent you'll do.
The main reason for the need for reflexes is obvious - the basic objective of ping pong is to thwack a little ball repeatedly between you and your opponent until one of you fumbles and misses swatting the ball. Poor reflexes means you'll probably miss a shot. The need for quick wrists is because a majority of the action of hitting the ball in ping pong is controlled by the paddle's angle - which is, of course, adjusted by your wrists. As for the balance factor, you'll need to be moderately fast on your feet to hop from one side of the tennis table to the other. This doesn't really require any running around, just minor modifications to your stance and shifts in body weight to make you lean more to one side or the other.
Aside from the physical requirements, there's a simple mental requirement for ping pong - be calm, and be a planner. Like a good fencing game, ping pong requires a fast mind to go with the fast reflexes. It isn't enough to be able to block every shot your opponent makes; you have to be able to plan the angles you send the ball back, and to plan a step or two ahead every time to know where your opponent's return shot is going to be heading. This mental factor is actually why some people with slower reflexes can actually win against physically superior players - they can send one shot to a certain angle, force their opponent into a certain physical position, then when the ball heads their way again, return it at an angle that their opponent can't get to in time because they're out of position to counter.
These are all you need to get started on ping pong. Simple equipment, simple clothing, and decently fast reflexes and wits. Everything else follows as you practice and get more experience. Above all, just relax and have fun!
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