Skip to main content

Table tennis’ challenges to bounce out of lockdown

  1. Home
  2. News and Events
  3. News, Features, Events and Campaigns
  4. Table tennis’ challenges to bounce out of lockdown

While not quite reaching the levels of demand for those elusive loo rolls and pasta, there was a surge in sales of table tennis tables during the early days of lockdown.

Shelves were emptied at suppliers such as Decathlon, Argos and Butterfly as savvy shoppers were keen to snap up activities that could keep them entertained during a lengthy spell of isolation at home.

Table tennis table sales were up 800 per cent across the UK, while pop-up nets that can easily be added to any kind of table also sold out. 

However, although the boom in popularity was welcomed, the sport still faces many challenges as it strives to bounce back to some kind of ‘new normal’ when we emerge from lockdown.

Table Tennis Wales is actively working through ideas for how the sport can be protected, adapted and kept safe once the current lockdown restrictions are eased.

Table tennis bats

Together with the Welsh Sports Association and Sport Wales, they are among the national governing bodies, local authorities and leisure trusts that are working collectively in Wales to develop guidance and protocols in line with Welsh Government regulations for the gradual return to training and competition.

A standard table tennis table is 2 metres 75cm long, so the current two metre social distancing rule won’t present any issues during play.

As with other sports, good hygiene practices will be essential to create a safe environment for table tennis to be played, as well as the limiting of shared equipment as much as possible. One idea being suggested is that players would each have their own set of table tennis balls, which they would write their initials on, and only ever handle those rather than their opponent’s.

You can’t use certain products to clean table tennis tables, as it marks them, so this is another important point which will need to be considered in any new regime of sanitising hands and equipment. 

As it’s primarily an indoor sport, facilities may need to be adapted to ensure safe play. There is also the possibility of some sports centres needing to be reconfigured in the coming months, with some hall space potentially used for gym equipment, so there are concerns over how table tennis could be affected by any such changes. 

Speaking about the current situation, and plans for the future, Rhian Pearce, the Chief Executive of Table Tennis Wales, said: “It has been fantastic to see so many people buying table tennis tables during lockdown and enjoying the sport at home. We’d love these new recreational players to continue playing for years to come.

“While the surge in demand for tables has been really positive, we’re also aware that less than 30% of the young players on our performance pathway have tables at home, and there are many more people across the country who play table tennis regularly but aren’t able to do so at this time.

“To help with this, we have bought dozens of pop-up nets, bats and balls which we’ve made available free of charge, and we delivered fifty of these packs last week alone. One of the great things about table tennis is the fact that it has always been a sport that all ages and abilities can enjoy, with particular benefits for people with dementia, so we’re really keen to see many of these packs going to care homes.

“Like all other sports, we’re working hard on how we can protect our sport, adapt, and still provide good quality opportunities for players in club and community settings. It’s obviously a huge challenge for everyone.”

At an elite level, Wales has five professional players - Charlotte Carey, Anna Hursey, Chloe Thomas, Callum Evans and Josh Stacey – as well as a talented crop of younger players on Table Tennis Wales’ performance pathway.

Before table tennis resumes in clubs and community settings, the first step (once Welsh Government restrictions allow) will to be ensure that those who make a living from the game can train – initially one-to-one with coaching from a safe distance rather than with a training partner.

Paying for Coronavirus testing is simply not an option for Table Tennis Wales due to the costs involved, so the return to international competition will have to be incremental.

The country’s top players have been using lockdown to not only maintain their physical fitness, but to also analyse past performances on video and study the nuances of the sport at the highest level to help them gain an edge when competitive play resumes.

Charlotte Carey playing table tennis
Charlotte Carey

Wales’ highest ranked women’s player Charlotte Carey usually trains in Sweden, but has been home in Ebbw Vale since lockdown began. Describing her last couple of months, Charlotte said: “It’s so strange for me as I’ve probably not been home this long without travelling to an event since I was 13! 

“At the start of lockdown I was really frustrated. However, now it feels a bit more like normality. I have my routines, a morning 5k run, a hiit workout, some weights, a long walk with my Dad and weather permitting I play outside on a table my friend gave to me with my robot provided by Table Tennis Wales and my sponsor, Tees Sport. 

“I’ve also used this time to recover from a back injury that’s been causing me problems and I’ve been trying to do everything I can to be in top shape for when I can return to the table. I’ve been studying sports psychology, so that’s really helped me think about the mental side of the game too and work on strategies that could benefit me on return. 

“My goals remain the same. It’s mentally tough having the uncertainty of when we’ll actually be able to get back to normal training but I know I’m really looking forward to it and have got to keep pushing on until that day comes.”

If you’d like to find out more about Table Tennis Wales’ supply of free pop-up nets, bats and balls, please email [javascript protected email address]

For further information about the sport, and links to coaching videos, please visit

Latest News

Team Wales athletes’ support for School Sport Survey

Team Wales athletes have taken time out of their Commonwealth Games preparations to encourage young…

Read More

Qatar 2022: "We are inspiring the next generation" - Rob Page

Rob Page believes he has seen the future for a bucket hat-wearing young generation being inspired to…

Read More

The loyal volunteers keeping south Wales’ race events running

Olympian Steve Brace believes volunteers are the bedrock for everything Run 4 Wales achieves.

Read More