Which sport is best for you and your child? – Table Tennis?

Did you feel like, there is a missing part in your life and wanted to fill it with an activity? Or did you look for a sport or activity for your child? There are many activities, sports, etc. Which one to choose? Table Tennis (or Ping Pong) is one of them. But is it the right choice? Maybe you want to raise your child as a professional table tennis player. In this article, we will search if table tennis is the best sport for you and for your child. 

Table Tennis is a famous and individual game. You don’t have to structure a team but just find another player. It’s played more than 200 countries and there are many amateur and professional tournaments within the year. The cost is very less and there is a big potential to earn money from table tennis if you are professional.

I want the article to be as quantitative as possible, and let the numbers guide us. But of course, I will give my comments and analysis under each heading too. 

The Questions we will answer:

  1.   1. What are the benefits of table tennis?
  2.   2. What is the best age to start table tennis?  
  3.   3. How long does it take to learn table tennis?
  4.   4. How long does it take to be a good table tennis player?
  5.   5. What are table tennis costs?
  6.   6. How much do professional table tennis players earn?

1. Table Tennis - The very beginning

Table Tennis, or Ping-Pong, is a sport that 2 players or 2 teams (2 players as a team) hit a lightweight ball across a table using small rackets(bats, or paddles). Table tennis is being played since the 1860s or 1880s and is an Olympic game since 1988.

International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), founded in 1926, is the worldwide organization of the game that sets the rules, coordinates the organizations, etc. In 1980 the first World Cup was held, and Guo Yuehua won the first price of $12,500 from China. 

Chinese players have won 60% of the men’s World Championships since 1959. Chinese players, both men, and women are very successful in table tennis.

Table Tennis is played more than 200 countries. It is one of the very famous sports in the world. 

2. Benefits of Table Tennis

Everything begins with love. If you love table tennis and have fun while playing, you will continue and feel yourself good. But let’s go deeper than “feeling good”, and list all benefits of table tennis.

  • 1. Ease of Continuity: I am beginning from the most important one. You will hear from people around that they use to play football, basketball, handball in the school. But now they do not play. At least not regularly. This has 2 main reasons. The first reason is you do not have that much time. The second reason is that you have to gather lots of people to play. Playing sports that needs to gather 5-10 people is not easy. Sports, such as table tennis needs 2 people, and one of them is you. Find someone, go and play.
  • And you do not need a large area to play. Two rackets which you can carry in a small bag, a small lightweight ball, a net, and a table. The hardest one is the table, right? Yes but there are many places that you can rent all. The table cost is not much, you can even buy it for your office, home, garage, etc. 
  • It is very easy to find an opponent to play table tennis because, in more than 200 countries, millions of people play this game. If you don't know, OK again, find someone who doesn't know but wants to learn and play. It is not too complicated, and matches during the learning phase can be enjoyable too.
  • I think number one barrier to continuing a regular sport is ease of continuity which is one of the huge benefits of Table Tennis.
  • 2. Burn Calorie & Lose Weight: Do you have some issues with your weight? Yes, more than 70% of you have issues with your weight. How do I know? According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in 2014, Overweight or Obesity ratio is 70,2% in US Adults. Sports is a very good way to burn calorie and lose weight. I am not even counting the other good supports of sports. If going to the gym is boring for you, try table tennis then. It will really help to burn calorie and lose weight.
  • With a very simple equation "daily calorie intake = daily calorie burn"(Please read our Daily calorie need and calorie burn of your body article to learn more). To lose weight you have 2 choices; decrease/change what you eat or increase what you do. Here is one of the benefits of table tennis; to burn calorie, if you add it to your life.
  • 3. Reflexe, Balance, Hand-Eye Coordination Improvement: Think about the short distance and fast-moving nature of table tennis. There is no sport that improves your reflexes like Table Tennis. The opponent hits the wall, but where? right, middle, left? to the edge? Near you, far? Suppose, you caught the place. But what is the spin, back, forth, left, right? Did you catch it?
  • Above cases are related to Hand-Eye Coordination, too. Within milliseconds, you have to understand the move of your opponent, decide/make your move. Believe me, I remember myself catching my empty cup before falling on the ground with my same hand I dropped.
  • Table Tennis needs the player to be very concentrated, in an alert situation and staying balanced for the whole game. If you play longer this will penetrate your normal life standing. These can be count as other benefits of table tennis
  • 4. Keeping Brain Sharp and Preventing from Dementia/Alzheimer: Before the game, you have to set a strategy on your playing style, moves, etc. During the game, you have to reassess your strategy and change. In the below items, you will find surprising health benefits of table tennis. These health benefits alone may be a reason to count table tennis one of the best sport for you and for your child.
  • Predicting the opponent's shot forces the prefrontal cortex for strategic planning.
  • The aerobic exercise from the physical activity of the game stimulates the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is responsible for allowing us to form and retain long-term facts and events.​
  • According to a Japanese study, “The Effectiveness of Exercise Intervention on Brain Disease Patients: Utilizing Table Tennis as a Rehabilitation Program”, playing table tennis and other engaging table games and activities, make Alzheimer sufferers reduce their need for medication, shows an improvement in long-term memory and a dramatic decrease in brain deterioration.
  • Through this study, MRI scans on the participants’ brains showed that table tennis can activate up to five different sections of their brains simultaneously. Awareness and cognitive thinking ability show great improvement.
  • Daniel Gregory Amen, who is an American celebrity doctor and practices as a psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist as director of the Amen Clinics, five-times New York Times bestselling author as of 2012, says 2 important sentences about Table Tennis:
    1. "You still may think that calling table tennis a sport is silly, but I think it is the best brain sport ever. It is highly aerobic, uses both the upper and lower body, is great for eye-hand coordination and reflexes, and causes you to use many different areas of the brain at once as you are tracking the ball, planning shots, and strategies, and figuring out spins."
    2. "Golf is good. Tennis is great. Table tennis is the world's best sport. There are very few brain injuries with ping pong"
  • 5. Low Risk of Getting Injured: You have a table between you and your opponent. There is no physical touch between you and opponent. All you need to do is hitting a ball with a racket. If opponents ball crushes your body, no matter, it is a small lightweight ball. When we compare with the other sports table tennis has a very low risk of getting injured. Of course, opponent's paddle can come to your head, but this is a very low risk that I did not face although I am playing for years. If this is the case; use your reflexes that are improved by table tennis 🙂
  • 6. Core Muscle strength and Quality Exercise for the Joints: Like other sports, table tennis works out your leg, arm, and core muscles. However, since power is generated from the core and there are a lot of twisting activities on shots, core muscle strength is another benefit of Table Tennis.
  • Table tennis is also the perfect choice for people who had knee surgery, history of back problems, have twisting ankle problems.

3. Best Age to start Table Tennis

Let me analyze the best age to start table tennis with a different analysis. Below are the champion table tennis players which are the winner, 2nd or 3rd in World Table Tennis Championships after 2000.  After structuring the list accordingly, I got 18 players. Let’s begin with this list and understand when the world table tennis champions began to analyze the best age to start table tennis.

TableTennis-MensSingles-PlayerOnSite
Men's Singles World TT Championships medalists after 2000 (wikipedia)

1 Chiang Peng-lung
2 Fan Zhendong
3 Fang Bo
4 Joo Se-hyuk
5 Kalinikos Kreanga
6 Kong Linghui
7 Lee Sang-su
8 Ma Lin
9 Ma Long

10 Michael Maze
11 Oh Sang-eun
12 Ryu Seung-min
13 Timo Boll
14 Wang Hao
15 Wang Liqin
16 Werner Schlager
17 Xu Xin
18 Zhang Jike

Best Age to start Table Tennis - PlayerOnSite
Analysis for Best Age to start Table Tennis

Best Age to start Table Tennis

I was able to reach the birth years of all, but starting years of only 10. Champions’ starting age to Table Tennis is 4 or 5. So if you are a mother or father wishing to raise your child as a professional table tennis player, 4-5 is the best age. (Notice: as there are also 6, 7, 8, 9 even 10, it is not late at 10 for professional)

Average of 10 champions is 6,4. They can begin at 4, and even 10 is not too late if he has the talent. For amateurs, or for you, there is no limit. At any age, you can begin learning.

It is similar for women, too. Woman table tennis champions such as Zhu Yuling and Zhang Yining started table tennis at 5 years old.

4. Learn Table Tennis & Play Table Tennis Regularly

How long does it take to learn table tennis?

Although learning table tennis depends on the ability of the player, we can say that within 5-10 hours of playing or private lessons, you will be able to grip the paddle, serve and return the ball. This means after 5-10 hours of practice, you will begin enjoying the game. Meanwhile, you will learn table tennis rules as well.

The very best thing should be finding someone to play or finding a club where there are many people willing to play/learn table tennis. Or convince some people to buy a table tennis table in your building, neighborhood, office, etc. 

How long does it take to be a good table tennis player?

After learning the basics, if you enjoy playing table tennis, believe me, you will improve your style very fast. In here I would like to share a youtube video with you which will let you understand how anyone can be good at table tennis. Within just a few months, the guy improves his skills and be a good table tennis player in one year.

Develop your table tennis…

  • 1. Serve & return the ball, learn rules,
  • 2. Develop strong, error-free forehand and backhand,
  • 3. Put more spin on the ball,
  • 4. Spike high balls,
  • 5. Develop a few killer serve,
  • 6. Send the ball to exact circles on the table,
  • 7. Learn to play with a distance from the table,
  • 8. Watch professionals and understand table tennis strategies,
  • 9. Watch your opponent and develop a strategy.

Table Tennis Cost

1st step in Table Tennis: Do you have $10? Then you can hire a table and play with your friend for an hour. Just like in many sports, your first option is renting the stuff. In the renting scenario, table tennis cost, which can be a barrier to “learn table tennis & play table tennis regularly”, is low. The hourly rate changes between $10 – $17. Renting the paddle and the ball is included in some places. No need to carry anything, no case, etc. 

2nd step in Table Tennis: After a while, once you enjoy playing table tennis, you will desire to buy your own staff. Why not?

Paddle: There are many kinds of paddles. You can buy for $10 or $1,000. You can begin with a paddle between $30 – $50.

Please review my article to help with your paddle selection: What makes table tennis racket different? 

Table: Does it makes sense to buy a table tennis table? Table tennis table cost is around $400, which means 30-40 hours of playing. If you have a place in your home, building, office, garage, garden(outdoor table), why not? In the long run, buying it lowers your table tennis costs.

Please review my articles to find best places to play table tennis near you.

Balls and Cases are cheaper. For instance, you can find 50 balls for $10. Quality ones are not that cheap; but not a big deal.

3rd step in Table Tennis: Coaching and private lessons may be expensive which is between $60 – $150/hr. So you can be a member of a team, or play in a club that has many people willingly. Clubs has one more plus, experiencing more people means playing with different disciplines and styles.

There are cheaper robots for just $40 that helps you practice when you are alone. You can use  for one kind of shots or repetitive cycles, etc. (Of course, there are robots for $2,000 or more)

In this journey, buying staff, such as paddle, table, robots, etc. are very important steps to learn table tennis & play table tennis regularly.

Please review my article to help you with table tennis brand selection: The best table tennis brands.

Table Tennis Calorie Burn

How many calories do you burn while playing table tennis? It depends on how you play(slow,  joyful, contentious) and your weight.  

73 kg (160 lbs) - 305cal/hr
82 kg (180 lbs) - 344cal/hr
91 kg (200 lbs) - 382cal/hr
100 kg (220 lbs) - 420cal/hr

For a joyful match, a 73 kg (160lbs) person can burn 305 calories per hour whereas 100 kg (220 lbs) person can burn 420 calories. To burn calorie, table tennis has a few advantages. For example, swimming burns twice calories than table tennis, but it may be easy to play table tennis for 2 hours rather than 1 hour of swimming. 

So, if you want to lose weight, you can consider starting playing table tennis regularly.

Please review my article to compare this calorie count with daily activity and understand the logic behind calorie calculation and calorie numbers: Daily calorie need and calorie burn of your body.

Continuity to Table Tennis 

I highlighted the best age to start table tennis as 4-5 years old, in the above heading. But what is the end date for learning or playing table tennis? Is it too late for you to begin? Or at what age can you still play it?

Here, in these youtube videos, you will see over 80 and even over 100 years-old players.  So you can continue table tennis, even when you are aged.

5. Be a Professional Table Tennis Player

Don’t you want your child to be a champion? 8-10 years of dedicated work can make your child a World Table Tennis champion. Here is why.

TableTennisPlayingAge-PlayerOnSite
Table Tennis Champions "Playing Ages - Playing Good" Graphic

In the 3rd heading, we had the best 18 table tennis players which are the winner, 2nd or 3rd in World Table Tennis Championships after 2000. If we continue on that example we will see that:

After beginning at 5-6 years old, the champions were professional table tennis player at 15-16 years old. In here I analyzed “joining the national team” or “playing at World Junior” of the champions. They had the first success as a professional at 20 years old (World, Asian, European, Olympics, etc.). And they remain world number one for nearly 15 years till 35s.

Please review FAQ-1 for the data used in the analysis of Table Tennis Champions.

Professional Table Tennis Players Earnings

How much do professional table tennis players earn? A professional table tennis player can earn money in a few ways; tournaments(events), endorsements (contracts with suppliers) and coaching. When coaching included, the time to gain money expands and makes it more easy to select such sports for professional. Now let’s talk some money.

Tournaments

In 2018 there were more than 125 tournaments of ITTF(International Table Tennis Federation) all over the world. This means more than 10 tournaments in a month on average. Of course some for Juniors, U21, U15, etc. Professional Table Tennis Players collect points in such tournaments and these points able players to proceed in more advanced tournaments.

  • 6 World Tours(Hungary, Hong Kong, Japan, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Sweden), 6 Platinum World Tours (Qatar, Germany, China, Korea Republic, Australia, Austria) and 1 Grand Final are the top important tournaments. The prizes are high in these tournaments. There are also junior, premium junior, challenge, etc. tournaments.
  • The categories are Men's Singles, Women's Singles, Men's Doubles, Women's Doubles, U21 Men, U21 Women.
  • Winner, finalist, semi-finalist, quadro-finalist, R16, R32 earn money in these tournaments.
WT - Grand Final - $100,000
WT - P - $35,000
WT $18,000
  • 1. WT - Grand Final. Total Price: $1,001,000. Winner Price: $100,000. Finalist Price: $55,000.
  • 2. WT - Platinium. Total Price: $235,000 - $346,000. Winner Price: $28,000 - $38,000. Finalist Price: $14,000 - $19,000.
  • 3. WT. Total Price: $145,000 - $170,000. Winner Price: $17,700 - $19,000. Finalist Price: $8,800 - $9,800.
  • Let me have 2 more samples. Challenge Tournament: (total price: $35,000 - $70,000. Winner Price: $4,000 - $8,000). Finland Open: (total price: €7,000).

Now, I understand why finalists are so sad when they are beaten in World Tour – Grand Final. It’s worth $45,000. 🙂 Tournaments are the first way for professional table tennis players to earn money.

Endorsements

Endorsements are contracts between suppliers and professional table tennis players. Suppliers want their brands to be seen on players’ clothes or on their hand as a racket, case, etc. They pay yearly or pay per match, etc. Professional table tennis players endorsement earnings are huge. Unfortunately learning these endorsement earnings is not that easy. I am sharing just a new I found in an unreliable source, “Timo Ball gets $16,000 per match in the Chinese super league”. For sure these numbers are not small.

Coaching

These numbers need to be checked as well. There is some news about ” Liu Guodong, Singapore coach wants $9,000/month and Leszek Kucharski, Indian coach given $6,000/month“.

Expenses

There are also expenses within these tournaments other than private lessons/coaches, paddles and clothes. Transportation to Countries, visas, tournament fees, hotels(as tournaments take a few days), etc. Of course, you have to extract the taxes.

6. Conclusion

No matter which sport, I wish every single of you regularly play a sport. Every sport has different advantages. Continuity, burn calorie, improve reflexes, brain sharpness, etc. benefits of table tennis are real life changers. However the most important factor is “what do you really want to play?”, “what will you enjoy from?”. I think these are the key questions and you should let the answers guide you and show the best sport for you and for your child.

Lastly, as you now know the professional table tennis players’ earnings, you may think to raise your child as a professional table tennis player.

7. FAQ

Please find the data for the best table tennis players which are the winner, 2nd or 3rd in World Table Tennis Championships after 2000.
TableTennisAgeTable-PlayerOnSite

Table Tennis Champions Analysis

Let me answer this question with the help of our previous “world table tennis champions’ case”. The height of the table tennis champions (male) is between 168 cm – 186 cm. And the average height of the champions is 178 cm(Please review analyze data in FAQ-1). An average US male is 176 cm and an average Chinese male is 169 cm

Wait a minute; table tennis players are not short !? In fact, their height are above the average! This can be because cameras misleading us or because 60% of champions are from China and the average height of China players is short.