By BRAD BALMER
Table Tennis Aficianado
GAME ON: Noelle Cullison, a member of the Broken Arrow 1st Junior Club, plays table tennis at the Tulsa Table Tennis Club at the Bixby Community Center.
Looking for something to do this winter? Join us in playing the second most popular participant sport in the world and the most popular racket sport—ping pong.
Ping Pong is the perfect activity in that it is inexpensive, healthy, fun and can be enjoyed by individuals of any age and physical ability.
Top table tennis players are some of the greatest athletes in the world, yet the sport is also enjoyed by millions of children, teenagers, students and adults of all ages and abilities.
Table tennis is a tried and true staple of American homes, proven to bring families together through a non-electronic channel.
Competitive league play and instructional classes for juniors aged 7-16 both began in November.
The club will play at the Northside Christian Church Gymnasium, located at 1221 N. Elm Pl. in Broken Arrow, just south of the BA Freeway exit.
Please bring your paddle if you have one, or we will have extra paddles available. Tennis shoes and dark colored clothing is recommended.
For more information, visit brokenarrowpingpong.com or call 918-240-7465.
Top 10 Health Benefits of Playing Ping Pong:
• Improves hand-eye coordination and stimulates mental alertness, concentration and tactical strategy. This makes it the perfect game for young people to sharpen reflexes and for older people to refine tactics.
• Develops mental acuity. The speed, spin and placement of the ball are crucial in table tennis, and practiced players are highly skilled in both creating and solving puzzles involving these three attributes.
• Improves reflexes. Due to the fast-paced, short-distance nature of the sport, both gross and fine muscle movements are improved. The game is distinguished by bursts of exertion and recovery, leading to fast-twitch muscle development.
• Easy on the joints. Have you had knee surgery or back problems or are tired of twisting your ankles? Table tennis is a great way to improve leg, arm and core strength without overtaxing joints.
• Burns calories. A 150-pound person can burn 272 calories by playing table tennis for an hour.
• Offers a social outlet. Whether you play in the community center or at home with friends, table tennis offers a great way to bond with other people. Because young and old people can play the game, it can help improve communication and build relationships, irrespective of age. Playing at home with siblings or parents can bring family members closer and enable them to spend more quality time with each other.
• Keeps the brain sharp. Alzheimer’s Weekly reports a clear increase in motor skills and cognitive awareness from playing table tennis, after a series of preliminary clinical studies in Japan found that table tennis markedly increases the flow of blood to the brain and could possibly even prevent dementia.
• Improves coordination. Following the ping pong ball as it moves quickly toward you, and following its trajectory as your opponent hits it helps to improve hand-eye coordination.
• Improves balance. Staying balanced and being able to quickly change direction are key to being successful in a ping pong rally.
• Stimulates various parts of the brain. By anticipating an opponent’s shot, a player uses 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.
Brad Balmer is a 40-year ping pong player, competitor and teacher.