Table tennis is experiencing a surge in participation rates worldwide in the post-pandemic era. Member associations, such as Table Tennis Australia and Table Tennis England, have seen encouraging spikes in their numbers in recent reports.
Table Tennis Australia registered a record 47% increase in participation rates in 2022, crossing the 200,000 mark for the first time in its history. Meanwhile, Table Tennis England reported that its participation rates have steadily increased since the end of the pandemic, with 373,300 people aged 16 and above in England taking part in table tennis at least twice a month from November 2021 to November 2022, up from 222,800 in the previous 12 months.
Table Tennis England has continued to ramp up participation rates in recent years through various creative initiatives.
In 2021, the “Return to the Table” campaign provided table tennis players, coaches, volunteers, and officials with the confidence and motivation to get back into the sport despite the lengthy periods of restrictions. The association also continued its Ping! initiatives, which included placing Ping Pong tables on the streets of towns and cities all over England for people to play free-of-charge.
Other programmes involve specific outreach to people of different age groups – namely the TT Kidz programme which aims to get children aged between 7 to 11 involved in table tennis via a fun manner, and the Bat and Chat Programme, which targets individuals over the age of 50 to get them to enjoy table tennis socially in a friendly and relaxed environment.
Additionally, Table Tennis England froze membership fees to encourage people to hold on to their membership, a move that has since paid off as its participation rates continue to rise.
In October 2022, Table Tennis England also launched Table Tennis United, which forms its strategic plan to develop more opportunities for further growth and continued improvements for the sport in the future.
Andrew Wilesmith, Head of Development at Table Tennis England, praised the efforts of clubs and volunteers, saying, “It’s great to see that participation levels across England have recovered and is continuing to grow at a good rate. A lot of effort has been put into developing initiatives and working with clubs and partners to help the game recover and grow those numbers. All these initiatives have resulted in active local table tennis communities being built through participation by people who have never picked up a bat or not played in many years, and there is certainly still room for improvement and increased participation rates.”