As a tennis player first and foremost, playing table tennis was always and sometimes still is, an afterthought. It is one of those options available to you when you become sick of playing too much of tennis. However, that was during a time a few years back. Today, I make it a point to play at least once every week. Why the drastic change, one may wonder? The reason for such is that as I played the game more, I understood and actually began to feel, the benefits table tennis would bring, regardless of the skill level of the player.
Here are the top benefits table tennis bring that draw me to it:
(1) Improves your reflexes
The need to constantly be reacting in short amounts of time, to hit balls within a short length of distance, works both your gross and fine muscle movements. The cycles, or bursts, of exertion and recovery, are very short, and thus will develop your fast-twitch muscles. All these physical enhancements would lead to greater reflexes - a skill crucial in tennis too.
(2) Improves your hand-eye coordination
The constant pressure that a table tennis session puts on you to constantly track balls zipped fastly back and forth, enhances mental alertness, concentration and split-second (or even less) tactical strategy. All these qualities contribute to greater hand-eye coordination, a skill enhanced much greater in table tennis, but of equal importance in tennis.
(3) Keeps your brain healthy
There is a scientific experiment which proved that 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. What more is there to say about this! When anticipating an opponent’s shot in table tennis, a player uses the prefrontal cortex for strategic planning. Also, 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 memory.
(4) Improves balance
Table tennis shots are fired in what to the mind would seem like random fashion. Balls are hit back to you not only fast but in unpredictable loops, curves and angles. The need for the body to constantly adjust to such 'disruptions' without going off balance would improve drastically your ability to stand firm under fierce volatility - a skill important in tennis.
(5) Game creativity
In table tennis, you are forced to react, and to come up with a variety of shots within a very short distance of time. This point is best understood by trying to make a comparison between table tennis and tennis. I cannot give a definite verdict on the amount of variety which each game has in comparison to the other, but in table tennis you definitely need to respond to such variety in a much shorter period of time, given the much faster speed at which the game is played, and this is a plus. As each kind of shot requires a different response, this naturally increases your repertoire of shots, and hence 'in-game' creativity. It is rumored that Roger Federer is a table tennis fan..
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