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Welcome to the world of table tennis! Whether you're a complete beginner or looking to improve your skills, this short introductory guide will help you get started and develop a solid foundation in this exciting sport. Follow these steps to learn the basics of table tennis and embark on your journey to becoming a skilled player.

Understanding the Basics:
Familiarize yourself with the basic rules of table tennis, including service rules, scoring system, and gameplay principles. Knowing the rules will give you a solid foundation for playing the game.
Learn about the essential equipment used in table tennis, such as rackets, balls, and the table. Understand the different types of rackets and choose one that suits your playing style. Get acquainted with the table's dimensions and markings.

Mastering the Fundamentals:
Master the correct grip and stance in table tennis. The shakehand grip, where the racket is held like shaking hands, is the most common grip. Maintain a balanced stance with your feet shoulder-width apart and your body facing the table.
Start with the fundamental table tennis shots: forehand drive, backhand drive, forehand push, and backhand push. Practice each shot separately, focusing on proper technique, control, and consistency. Gradually increase your shot power and speed as you gain confidence.

Developing Footwork and Movement:
Understand the importance of footwork in table tennis. Learn to move your feet efficiently to position yourself for each shot. Practice quick, small steps and weight transfer to improve your agility and court coverage.

Engaging in Practice Drills:
Engage in practice drills to reinforce your skills. Rally back and forth with a practice partner, focusing on consistency and control. Practice controlled shots, footwork exercises, and reaction drills to enhance your overall game.
Strategic Thinking and Game Awareness:
Develop game strategies by observing your opponent's weaknesses and adjusting your shots accordingly.
Experiment with different spins, learn to vary your shot placement, and maintain good ball control. Analyze your opponent's movements and anticipate their shots.

Fun and Friendly Matches:
Participate in friendly matches or mini-competitions to apply your skills in a game setting. Embrace the competitive spirit while having fun. Learn from each match and use it as an opportunity to improve your game.

Congratulations on getting through our Introductory Beginner's Guide to Table Tennis!

By mastering the basics, developing your skills through practice, and embracing strategic thinking, you're well on your way to becoming a proficient table tennis player. Keep practicing, stay motivated, and enjoy the exciting world of table tennis!

History of The Sport

From its upper class beginnings where it was played primarily as an after dinner parlour-game in Victorian England, to the alleged historical make-shift variations developed by British forces in South Africa, one of the more key figures in Table Tennis history is Ivor Montagu, the then ITTF president. 

Montagu received at Cairo airport

Montagu received at Cairo airport

Born in 1904 to a wealthy banking family, he was a notable figure in the early days of the film industry and a key left-wing journalist and author. He was also a propagandist and for a period a spy for the Soviet Union. His achievements in Table Tennis are remarkable: a key figure in the rejuvenation of the sport in England, leading to his setting up the English Table Tennis Association in 1921 and the codification of the rules. He was also a prime mover in the establishment of the ITTF in 1926, where he was the first chairman and then president from 1926 to 1967.

More significantly however, was Ivor Montagu’s rejection of the apartheid systems of inequality. In South Africa there were two associations: the multi-racial South African Table Tennis Board (SATTB) and the whites only South African Table Tennis Union (SATTU). Montagu opined that the latter was the larger and probably had a higher standard of play, but the whites only rule was clearly in breach of the ITTF Constitution’s clauses around equality irrespective of colour, race or creed.

Montagu describes a visit in 1948 by a representative of SATTU seeking ITTF membership, which would open the door to official tours and participation in ITTF events. Montagu remembers the crucial question posed by a member of the ITTF Committee, ‘What proportion of the population do your players represent?’

The SATTU representative listed the population of South Africa with 1.5 million Europeans and 11.5 million non-Europeans, adding, ‘That is why we have to keep separate or we should be swamped.

The ITTF questioner was flabbergasted and exclaimed, ‘…you have the impertinence to come here expecting us to recognize you as “South Africa” when you represent such a tiny minority!’

ANC President (1956)
Albert Luthuli

In 1956, Albert Luthuli, the then president of the ANC, addressed the Natal Branch of the ANC, saying,

‘When a people come to the realization of their plight and begin to fight back unitedly there is surely room for jubilation and optimism. The fight equally is being fought on every front. The fight has been won by the S. A. Table Tennis Association [Board], which has gained international recognition.’