Our bodies were made to move: Young – Middle Aged – Old.
Originally posted in 2011
The trick is to find out what movement suits whom, where, when and how. For a lot of us: high diving, wrestling, fencing, football, skating, skiing, boxing, are somewhat out of reach, sometimes, even tennis. However, batting a small, white ball across a green table and net; ping pong, or, in its highest form, table tennis, is not… All sports, obviously, involve the mind as well as the body, and played well, the mind is a strong component of the game. After you have hit the ball you may be able to pick up hints, providing you are watching your opponent as well as the ball, as to their next move by reading his or her body language
Ping pong can be a mild, pleasant hand and eye co- ordination with concomitant mild, aerobic, cardiac affects or, table tennis at its best, as one of the fastest sports extant, the arm, hand and eye coordination. with reflexes so swift that the ball can be barely seen, not to speak of the workout involved. In other words, there is room for all gradation of players.
The game is a tactical one. The comparative proximity of the opponent makes the reading of the body language easier, than let us say, tennis, and therefore the decision to attack or defend, the observation of the weakness or strength of the opponent becomes more accessible.
The satisfaction of slamming the ball at your opponent, and, therefore willy nilly releasing a lot of aggression (and pent up hostility) can be enormous, along with the knowledge that you cannot really harm them with a little celluloid (& today the plastic poly) ball. By the same token, playing defensively can add to the ego by being able to save oneself. In other words, we have aggression without guilt and defense with pride.
For example: a shy teenager who would rather veer away from being observed by onlookers doing anything remotely solo, can become so involved in the game that without particular awareness, the body begins to move gracefully in the effort to reach the ball, even sexuality may express itself, and without planning it the teenager will have an increase in self-confidence despite performing in front of spectators. Again, it can become a good prescription for alleviating social handicaps, and, as an added bonus, greatly increased dexterity.
One gentleman I know plays table tennis four times a week. He stated that the stresses he experiences in his home are so great that playing obviates his need for prescription drugs to counteract his attacks of depression.
In today’s world quick reflexes are very important since we do not know from where an unpleasant or mortal blow may surprise us. The cardiac benefits, of course, have been mentioned.
The satisfaction of playing well and winning, offset by the possibility of losing but living to play another day, and learning more, reflect a miniaturized emotion of life itself. The rhythm of the sound of a good volley is a soothing and satisfying accomplishment for both players. In time the reflexes become automatic, and in the learning process the body takes over and, hopefully, brain and body work smoothly as one. After all, is not that one of our goals in life?
Because of the swiftness of the game (due to the lightness of the ball and the strength of the hits) total concentration is involved. The eye must be on the ball and the opponent at all times. Serves, spinning balls and chopping motions often involve an almost pre-cognitive stance thereby obviating a lot of troublesome worries, sending them, for the while, into oblivion. We cannot ask for more from a sport.