Featured Image – Noah Feck
Playing ping pong is not as easy as other sports. I’m not talking about the skill necessarily but more about the logistics of playing.
A ping pong table takes up lots of room, and the good ones can be pretty expensive. Finding a place to play is paramount if you’re like me and share a love of the game.
Throughout the years I have been playing, this has been my biggest challenge whilst moving around to different cities and countries. Thankfully I have found multiple outlets to play and am a much better player because of it. Here I’ve outlined my experience to expedite the process for you.
I know how frustrating it can be to want to play and have nowhere to go. Hopefully, this article will solve that issue for you and you can enjoy this fantastic sport to its fullest.
Table of Contents
Play at a Local Ping Pong Club
This will be the most competitive environment but also the best place to learn and improve your skills. A club will have the added benefit of playing with players who can teach you about the rules and etiquette as well. It’s this type of experience that’s the difference between an intermediate player and an expert.
The best place to start is by looking through the USA Table Tennis Association to find a club. Through their website, you can search clubs by area and find one close to you. There are also leagues and even coaches listed so it’s a great resource to immerse yourself in the game and get a USATT Player Rating.
Another great portal is the Table Tennis Match database. This will help you find potential clubs, as well as having lots of great articles and information about all things ping pong.
To play at a club is a little different than your buddy’s basement. There is a certain decorum that is required of the players, and while it’s very friendly and welcoming it will serve you best to do a little research beforehand.
5 top tips for your first visit to a ping pong club
- Dress appropriately. Don’t wear cut-off jeans and your favorite beach tank top. Think tennis; wear fitted athletic shorts, a short-sleeved sports shirt, and proper non-marking footwear. It doesn’t have to be fancy but you only get one chance at a first impression.
- Bring your own paddle(s). Everyone else will have their own already, so make sure you have one ready to go. If you don’t have one then call ahead and arrange to rent or borrow one.
- Be friendly and introduce yourself. Most members will be happy to see a new face and someone who is as excited about the game as they are. This is how you’ll find out about all the friendly games and who the good players are.
- Mind your manners and be respectful. Many members have probably been active there for years. They are proud of their club and only want people around who cherish it as much as they do.
- Have fun. Everyone is there for the same reason–a little entertainment. Keep in mind why you started playing in the first place and enjoy yourself as much as you can.
Find a Ping Pong Bar
These have become quite popular over the past decade or so. Most major cities have at least one ping pong bar, and many regular bars have started to make room for one or more tables.
Check their website or Facebook page for any event nights. If you’re looking to meet people to play against, these functions will be an excellent place for that which is especially good if you’re by yourself.
If you have a friend, then you can go any time. The best part about ping pong bars is that they are open for extended hours after usual work times, and you often don’t need a reservation to play.
Examples of Ping Pong Bars
One of the most popular ping pong bars is SPIN. There are locations in many major cities in the US, and they are quite large. They have lots of tables, so even if you decide to play at the last minute, chances are you will be able to get a table.
While SPIN is the most well-known, it’s not the only one. You can find other dedicated ping pong bars that are capitalizing on the popularity and success of SPIN. Some you may like even more than the original.
In Chicago, they have Ace Bounce which is the same concept as SPIN. They have plenty of tables and host events regularly. Another significant advantage to ping pong bars is the option to get food as well. These bars usually have great menus with plenty to offer beyond simple burgers and fries.
Find a Table at a Local Recreation Center
When I was younger and just learning the game, I spent a lot of time at my local neighborhood rec center. They had two tables there that were pretty beaten up. Saggy nets and worn-out paddles seemed to add character to the place, though, and if you can play well under these conditions, you can play well anywhere.
Not all rec centers will have the same “character” as my local one, so you may be lucky enough to have a lovely table and excellent equipment. Either way, it will be a great place to meet other like-minded players.
Rec centers could be your least expensive option as well. Some of them are free, and if not, they charge a very nominal fee. You may even be able to get a membership that would allow you use of their other facilities as well.
Simply google “recreation centers near me,” and you’ll be sure to find at least one if you are within earshot of any metro area.
Join an Online Event Meet-up
Given that ping pong is gaining popularity, it makes sense that people have turned to the internet to spread the word and grow the game. Tapping into these communities could provide you with all the ping pong you can handle.
- You can start with Facebook by searching “local ping pong groups.” If your area is large enough, you will find some people near you looking for new people to play with.
- Facebook isn’t the only place you can find table tennis players, though. Check out eventbrite.com as well. This avenue will be a little more structured than facebook but will give you access to more serious players as well.
- Meetup.com is another site that allows people with common interests to come together and enjoy what they love. Here you can search existing groups and schedule your own meet-ups. You can also start your own group if there isn’t yet one in your area.
Play Ping Pong At Home
If you have the space, playing at home will afford you the most play and comfortable learning environment. Having your own table allows you to practice without fear of slowing down a game or getting in the way of someone else’s game.
Most tables have the option to fold one half of the table upward. This creates a wall so you can pretend like you’re playing against someone else, or you can check out our top recommended ways to practise table tennis alone. Work on your forehand and backhand efficiently. You can also master the art of returning a serve since you will have to react much faster using only half the table.
The first thing we recommend you do before purchasing a ping pong table is to take proper measurements. A ping pong table can look smaller in a bar or rec center than it actually is. Check out the room size needed for Table Tennis, which outlines how to take exact measurements of your space so you can have the best experience possible.
If indoors is not an option for you, then simply move your practice area outside. There are tables made specifically for outdoor use and won’t be damaged by mother nature. You won’t have to worry about space either as you’ll have plenty of room around all sides of the table.
Hone your game at home so you can impress your new friends once you find your favorite place to play ping pong in the US.