It is traditional in sports journalism to immediately zoom in on the winners of any given sporting event, be it the humble local fixture or the more exulted national and international contests. It's all about the winning and the rest is merely background noise. That is the norm and we rarely deviate from it. And in that tradition, London Academy Table Tennis Club should be heartily congratulated for their near clean sweep of trophies in the inaugural London Ping Community Ranking Tournament. Of the six bands on offer, only one band eluded them. The rest were firmly under their control. Like their all-conquering parent - The London Progress Table Tennis Club - the London Academy has become no stranger to the art and science of consistently winning table tennis trophies. Under the consummate coaching and management leadership of Bhavin Savjani, the London Academy has simply gone from strength to strength. But, without detracting in any way from London Academy's magnificent achievement last weekend, it must be stressed that the real winners of the tournament were the 130 participants that, on a boiling hot day, gave their all to make this first community tournament a roaring success.


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Table Tennis is good for the brain.

There is a lot going on in table tennis, says Wendy Suzuki, a tenured professor of neuroscience at New York University and author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life, a new book exploring how sport generally and table tennis specifically can affect the human brain. Attention is increasing, memory is increasing, you have a better mood. And you are building motor circuits in your brain. A bigger part of your brain is being activated. Furthermore, according to Professor Suzuki,

There are three major areas affected by this high-speed game. The fine motor control and exquisite hand-eye coordination involved with dodging and diving for the ball engages and enhances the primary motor cortex and cerebellum, areas responsible for arm and hand movement. Secondly, by anticipating an opponent's shot, a player uses the prefrontal cortex for strategic planning. Thirdly, 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.


Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 April 2018 07:52 )

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Hammersmith Ping Pong Parlour: A Joy to Behold.

I'd heard rumours of this one for some time, not only from the kids but also their mums and dads. It was time to check it out. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, along with a fellow coach, I arrived with a more or less open mind and my bat in my bag. It didn't take very long to realise that this was to be an experience close to the very essence of not only West London Ping but of Ping England itself. Three tables in a disused and unloved shop in the Hammersmith shopping mall with nobody in charge and a queue for every table. I was there the best part of four hours and the tables were never empty. On the contrary, as people left, they were immediately replaced by new faces. Hammersmith Shopping Mall may be suffering terminal neglect from being in the shadow of the Westfields mega shopping complex, but this ping pong parlour was offering something that Westfields could only dream of  authenticity and joy.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 April 2018 07:54 )

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Table Tennis England: Still asking the wrong questions.

I understand the governing body of table tennis are in the midst of a root and branch examination of their governing structures. This was forced upon them by some of the old guard kicking back against the modern era being imposed on the organisation by Sport England who bluntly told them  modernise your structures or loose all your public funding. Quite right. By the old guard I refer to the League and County committees who, hiding behind the fake banner of democracy, resent having Sport England meddling in their decades old control of the sport. Not for them the 21st

century and the bracing winds of modernity, accountability and transparency. I have no idea how the exercise will pan out and to be honest I, and most table tennis enthusiasts, don't actually care. This is all set to be a token consultation that has no intention of asking the key question: How is it that of all the tens of thousands of youngsters that have been drawn into the sport over the past years, only a tiny handful are still playing? And if you don't ask the right sort of questions you have precious little chance of yielding the right sort of answers.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 April 2018 08:03 )

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Prison Ping: Coaching to a Captive Audience

Got an invitation recently to help out with a table tennis coaching session at one of Her Majesty's maximum-security prisons. I duly accepted the invitation, grabbed my bat and ball and set off down the road. This was to be part of an ongoing project to get the best ping players in the prison up to scratch and ready to take their official Level 1 coaching badge. From there, they would fan out across the prison wings, passing on their newly acquired skills to anyone and everyone that cared to learn. And, as an added bonus, when they had done their time, they would leave prison with a marketable skill which just may help with their reintegration into the outside asylum. I was arriving about mid-way through the project so I would get a fairly good idea of how it was all going.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 03 May 2018 12:21 )

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