Table Tennis Ecosystem

Key Facts:

Project summary:
Outdoor concrete table tennis tables which can be located singly or in a group of several tables if there is sufficient space. Some tables have small boxes underneath with cheap bats and balls or they are sold by local shops and cafés nearby.
N.B. This case study is one of the elements for the ecosystem case study.

Location: Outdoor table tennis tables through PING! located in various cities throughout England

Informal use, people use the facilities by themselves, free of charge, whenever there is space.
People often organise their own informal competitions
Can be used for regular or one-off skills/ coaching sessions

Initiator: English Table Tennis Association (ETTA)
Local authorities – typically parks sections

Project Duration: Maximum of four weeks from ordering to installation.
Life expectancy of at least ten years for each element

Lead in Time:
Minimal lead-in time for table tennis tables.
Possible need for a tarmac surface to be laid in advance otherwise installation over 2-3 days.
If artificial surface is installed this work is carried out at the same time as the installation of the tables.

Site Area: 8 x 8 metres with a height of at least 3 metres per table

Client Team: ETTA in partnership with LA

Project Team: ETTA and representatives of the local authority, often parks or sports development team

Funding Sources: Grants such as Sport England small awards grants. ETTA is willing to support grant applications

Project Costs (Build): Labour included in the installation of tables. Construction Materials: £2,345 plus VAT per table. Possible additional cost of tarmac surface or artificial matting costing £150

Project Costs (Operation): Staffing: £12 per hour for one qualified coach but optional, as little staffing or as much as wanted

Profitability/Loss: None as no revenue programme operating. Could involve cost of coaches if wanted

Permissions / Permits: None

Local Links: Link to local shop or café to buy bats and balls. Can link to local table tennis club or to local leisure centres for further playing opportunities.

Publicity/advertising: Websites, local advertising, use of media

Project Evaluation:

Site Details & Ownership:
No ownership issues as usually on park sites or open spaces owned by local authorities

Project Reach / Visitors / Target Audience:
All ages, men and women and all levels of playing ability. Seen as an accessible opportunity so attracts sporty and non-sporty people. Research has shown that it attracts one-off users but also establishes informal regular use, both individuals and informal groups of friends/ work colleagues. Easy to play table tennis, don’t need to know the rules and only need two people to play. Research shows that it removes many of the barriers to participation

Problems Encountered / Overcome:
Need to ensure that the location feels safe to everyone, so not in isolated locations. If in a visible location, this will make it more likely that the table will be well-used.

Location needs to be sheltered and out of the wind (so that it doesn’t affect the ball in play!) and not near trees (leaves falling on the table and on the ground)

Possible removal of chewing gum and graffiti in a few locations (very little evidence of vandalism)

Potential for adding a canopy or floodlighting to extend playing time during the winter evenings

Feedback from users / staff:
“They all love it”. “It’s brilliant, as soon as we saw the tables, we went off to buy some cheap bats. We’re regular players now” “We’ve been down every night since they were installed and sometimes you have to queue to get on. One night it was so busy we didn’t even get to play.” “They love the informality of it and the fact that they don’t have to plan – no booking structure, no reception to ring”.

What next?
Some Ping tables were located initially in temporary locations within the major cities and have now been moved to permanent locations in parks, leisure centres and shopping centres. Some Ping tables have remained in their initial location and are well-used. Long life span with low maintenance costs.

Complementary Programmes:
Some one-off, drop-in coaching clinics run by clubs

Project Website / Further Info: