Ping pong, or table tennis, is fun for kids and grownups alike. Made an Olympic sport in 1988, ping pong requires excellent hand-eye coordination, quick reflexes, concentration, agility and conditioning. It's no wonder that many professional baseball, hockey and basketball players, golfers, boxers, and tennis stars play in their off seasons to stay competitive. To see how competitive, check out the epic table-tennis battle between Serena Williams and Steph Curry in this fun ad for Chase.
But you don't have to be a pro to play. Though fast-paced, ping pong is easy on the joints, making it a great inter-generational sport. Even grandparents can play with kids, who can quickly become expert. Every year there seems to be a new child prodigy, like 9-year-old James Oram, who picked up the sport about a year ago and can already whip players twice his size. “I really like ping-pong because I get to run around the table," said Oram recently when he faced off against an anchor for the Columbus, Ohio, NBC news affiliate. "My mom really got me to start playing a lot and I really enjoyed the sport.”
Looking to get your family started? Here are a few fun games for players of all ages.
Around the World: Many sports, including basketball, have a spin on this classic. But the table tennis – ping pong version is much more frantic — and fun. Ideal for three players, each person takes a turn hitting the ball across the table, then quickly moves to the other side while one of the other players returns the ball.
Ball Around the Table: This is another fun variation three players can play. The server positions him or herself alone on one side of the table then hits the ball across the net to two players on the other side. The player who makes contact with the ball on the receiving end then lightly taps it to the player next to him, who must then hit it back to the server.
Balloon Ping Pong: This requires some arts and crafts, making it ideal for first time ping pong players and birthday parties. Each child creates his or her own paddles using paper plates and craft sticks, then balloons are used instead of ping pong balls. The game can be played with or without a ping pong table. For another fun spin, have the kids make a pyramid out of styrofoam cups then take turns batting their balloons at the cups to knock them down.
Hazard Maze: Don't have a ping pong table? All you need for this game is one ping pong ball and a big, sturdy box lid. Cut several ping-pong size holes in the lid. Then challenge your kids to steer the ball by tipping the lid, from one end to the other, keeping it from falling through any of the holes. Mix things up by taping a cup to the bottom of the lid under one of the holes. Then change the rules so that the first kid to steer the ball into the cup wins.