The Ping Pong Parlour craze is really taking off – and clubs and leagues can benefit from getting involved.
There are now 27 Parlours in shopping centres across the country, with at least a dozen more in the pipeline.
Ping Pong Parlours are informal table tennis venues for people to pop into and play, free of charge and without having to book, and typically occupy empty retail spaces in shopping centres.
They are open to everyone, but are particularly aimed at those who would not normally play sport, and provide people with an introduction to the sport in a relaxed, informal setting in a place where they already spend time.
Table Tennis England notifies the local league whenever a new Parlour opens and many leagues and clubs have benefitted from visiting their local Parlour.
Some have delivered free coaching sessions, while others have held charity events or simply talked to visitors and provided them with information about how and where to play more regularly.
Table Tennis England’s Head of Mass Participation, Keely Armitt, said: “The hope is that visitors will enjoy playing so much that they will play again – whether in a similar informal setting or by joining a club – and get active by playing and enjoying our sport.
“So while Ping Pong Parlours are not intended to be clubs, there is an advantage to local clubs and leagues to pop along from time to time to chat to the visitors and make them aware of other opportunities to play.”
One league to organise coaching sessions at a Parlour was the Basildon League, whose secretary Lin Roff is a Level 2 coach.
She said: “We’re hoping to get more people, particularly youngsters and women if possible, into the local league and we’ve had an awful lot of interest.
“The Parlour is busy all the time. There have been a lot of youngsters because of it being the summer holidays, but also older people and those who used to play and who want to get back into it.
“We’ve left some leaflets there for people to get in touch with us, and we’ve received some of those back. It’s a great initiative and the uptake has been amazing.”
Research shows that 74% of visitors to Parlours are classed as inactive and 54% are female. A range of ages visit Parlours, but the most common group is 16-24 years old, who account for 25% of visitors.
If your club or league would like to get involved with the local Parlour, please email firstname.lastname@example.org