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  1. SFF_lib is online now
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    #1

    Dwindling number

    My inquisitive mind is bothering me so I had to ask this question.

    So it began with a conversation I had with my coach. He said back in the 1980s there was a huge demand for table tennis. They saw 6 people waiting in each table each evening. That was 6x12 = 72 people.

    Fast forward to 2010s, we sometimes fill all 12 tables, but the stadium is often half filled.

    His theory is that other sports such as tennis, cricket, hockey and badminton are easier to pick up. Hence the number of table tennis players dwindled over time.

    Do you see the same trend in your state/country? Why do you think so?

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    #2
    Quote Originally Posted by SFF_lib
    My inquisitive mind is bothering me so I had to ask this question.

    So it began with a conversation I had with my coach. He said back in the 1980s there was a huge demand for table tennis. They saw 6 people waiting in each table each evening. That was 6x12 = 72 people.

    Fast forward to 2010s, we sometimes fill all 12 tables, but the stadium is often half filled.

    His theory is that other sports such as tennis, cricket, hockey and badminton are easier to pick up. Hence the number of table tennis players dwindled over time.

    Do you see the same trend in your state/country? Why do you think so?
    My theory is: TT is one of the sports which is playable in higher age, and so it is perceived as not as demanding by parents. In young age you can also do demanding things, and other sports compete for parents decision. For example, my kids do Judo, and I am wholeheartedly convinced it is the best available sport for their's body development. I know that if my son would learn TT more it may benefit him later, but it is a question of focus and time.
    Last edited by latej; 12-07-2021 at 11:34 AM.

  3. NDH is offline
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    #3

    Yeah, it's exactly the same in the UK.

    Most noticeable is our local leagues, where some leagues had 7 or 8 divisions, they now have 2 or 3.

    Speaking to some of the older players, they put this down to the closure of lots of "working men" clubs - A lot of those sorts of clubs would have a team in the league.

    The leagues around me are now dominated by 1 or 2 venues, who might have 6 or 7 teams entered across the divisions.

    But ultimately, participation would appear to be dramatically down from 30 years ago.

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    #4
    There’s much more stuff competing for time, attention, focus now.

    I spent 5 or 6 days at the club when young. I had also finished just about every book in the library back then.

    We didn’t have a TV, some of that time. When we did, there were two or three channels, broadcasting for a couple of hours in the evening. There was no Internet, no smartphones. A few electronics engineers and researchers, and later some square-glasses hobbyists, had computers. The first Atari was in its infancy, and a rare luxury for a very specific class of neglected-in-luxury kids.

    It’s not like that anymore, and the things that changed did not change without consequence.

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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by NDH

    Yeah, it's exactly the same in the UK.

    Most noticeable is our local leagues, where some leagues had 7 or 8 divisions, they now have 2 or 3.

    Speaking to some of the older players, they put this down to the closure of lots of "working men" clubs - A lot of those sorts of clubs would have a team in the league.

    The leagues around me are now dominated by 1 or 2 venues, who might have 6 or 7 teams entered across the divisions.

    But ultimately, participation would appear to be dramatically down from 30 years ago.

    What is a working man club?

  6. SFF_lib is online now
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by yoass
    There’s much more stuff competing for time, attention, focus now.

    I spent 5 or 6 days at the club when young. I had also finished just about every book in the library back then.

    We didn’t have a TV, some of that time. When we did, there were two or three channels, broadcasting for a couple of hours in the evening. There was no Internet, no smartphones. A few electronics engineers and researchers, and later some square-glasses hobbyists, had computers. The first Atari was in its infancy, and a rare luxury for a very specific class of neglected-in-luxury kids.

    It’s not like that anymore, and the things that changed did not change without consequence.
    That’s a good point.

    I did a bit of search, statistics support your hypothesis. Yes less people play sport these days.

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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by SFF_lib
    What is a working man club?

    In my example, it can range from the Wikipedia definition as:

    Working men's clubs are a type of private social club first created in the 19th century in industrialised areas of the United Kingdom, particularly the North of England, the Midlands, Scotland and many parts of the South Wales Valleys, to provide recreation and education for working class men and their families. They also began at this time in Australia, with a small number in Ireland, primarily Dublin

    But also extensions of pubs and other places where Men would socialise.

    Smaller workplaces often had teams as well.


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    #8
    Yeah I think people in general play less sport and all sports are seeing less numbers.

    TT I think is one of the most accessible sports in terms of people required to play, equipment and facilities.

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    #9
    I think the sport in the UK has a specific image and accessibility problem that might not be the same in other countries. As NDH said, our local leagues have been in decline for many years, average player age is massively up. We had a golden period where working men's clubs, youth clubs and places of work all had tables, decent numbers of casual players, and enough activity to feed through into the more serious competitive side of the game. More formal TT clubs tended to have their own small venues spread all over the area, some not in great condition.

    Now we don't have the feed-in from wmc, youth clubs and workplaces. They just don't exist any more in meaningful numbers. What remains is the smaller venues, and they don't look very professional or, let's be honest, in some cases even very welcoming to parents who are thinking about getting their kids involved. TTE have done some good work with investment in larger, more central venues in sports halls / arenas but by their very nature this means a lot of travelling from areas in the middle of these large venues, which will inhibit their use.

    Add to that a league system where matches happen once per weekday, start at 7pm and sometimes don't finish until midnight and it's a very hard sell to parents. It's one thing to say there are so many distractions for kids these days, but it's another to not even present a viable, practical options for parents to consider to compete with these distractions. Things are changing for the better but it will take time and (hopefully) less resistance from the old guard to make it stick.

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    #10
    There are too many distractions. TV and video games for one. People are "busier" now. In my case the club is 1 hr away or more depending on the traffic. Traffic is awful now. It wasn't that bad 10 years ago. I have a very good TT setup at work. People close by would rather play at my place than fight traffic in the big city.

    Also, young people tend not to be joiners and often just want to go to the gym to work out as they want, when they want. In the US there are many social clubs like the Elk's club, Lions, etc. They are closing down or shrinking. Many had a gym but few would go to these clubs to work out.

    The Oregon State championships are this weekend at the Paddle Palace. I am not going to go to watch. It is too far away and little parking.

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    #11
    My Son plays football/soccer, the club he plays for, has 2 teams in his age group, 11yr old , when I was his age the same club only had 1 team per age group, so if anything football seems to be pretty popular, but whether the number of clubs has dropped is another thing, this I’m not sure about??
    xbox/play station, online games with their friends just rules these days!!!

    Local TT league has 3 divisions, maybe it was 4 divisions 30yrs ago, overall standard possibly weaker.
    Since the gradual easing of COVID restrictions some clubs have folded, many field less teams, with league rule restrictions lifted so players can play for any team their club fields, playing up or down to make up the numbers. Rather than being registered for a team, not being allowed to play down, and only able to play up 2 times Before being tied to the higher level team.
    Whether the players that have decided not to play league matches (due to COVID concerns, many venues are small etc) will come back is unknown. Easy to fall out of a routine, hard to get back into it!!

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    #12
    a good friend said : Kids are very very keen to do sports, as long as it can be played with the gadget and using the 2 thumbs

  13. SFF_lib is online now
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    #13

    Dwindling number

    Quote Originally Posted by lodro
    a good friend said : Kids are very very keen to do sports, as long as it can be played with the gadget and using the 2 thumbs


    The VR Eleven game will suit them

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    Last edited by SFF_lib; 12-08-2021 at 09:19 AM.

  14. SFF_lib is online now
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    #14
    Quote Originally Posted by AndySmith
    I think the sport in the UK has a specific image and accessibility problem that might not be the same in other countries. As NDH said, our local leagues have been in decline for many years, average player age is massively up. We had a golden period where working men's clubs, youth clubs and places of work all had tables, decent numbers of casual players, and enough activity to feed through into the more serious competitive side of the game. More formal TT clubs tended to have their own small venues spread all over the area, some not in great condition.

    Now we don't have the feed-in from wmc, youth clubs and workplaces. They just don't exist any more in meaningful numbers. What remains is the smaller venues, and they don't look very professional or, let's be honest, in some cases even very welcoming to parents who are thinking about getting their kids involved. TTE have done some good work with investment in larger, more central venues in sports halls / arenas but by their very nature this means a lot of travelling from areas in the middle of these large venues, which will inhibit their use.

    Add to that a league system where matches happen once per weekday, start at 7pm and sometimes don't finish until midnight and it's a very hard sell to parents. It's one thing to say there are so many distractions for kids these days, but it's another to not even present a viable, practical options for parents to consider to compete with these distractions. Things are changing for the better but it will take time and (hopefully) less resistance from the old guard to make it stick.
    In my city of 150000 population we used to have a business competition. We had about 10 teams enrolled. There was definitely some interest out there in the working class. I was actually asked to teach a PE department because the teachers wanted to enrol in that competition.

    But that program is long gone. I am not sure why.

  15. jammmail is offline
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    #15
    Quote Originally Posted by AndySmith
    I think the sport in the UK has a specific image and accessibility problem that might not be the same in other countries. As NDH said, our local leagues have been in decline for many years, average player age is massively up. We had a golden period where working men's clubs, youth clubs and places of work all had tables, decent numbers of casual players, and enough activity to feed through into the more serious competitive side of the game. More formal TT clubs tended to have their own small venues spread all over the area, some not in great condition.

    Now we don't have the feed-in from wmc, youth clubs and workplaces. They just don't exist any more in meaningful numbers. What remains is the smaller venues, and they don't look very professional or, let's be honest, in some cases even very welcoming to parents who are thinking about getting their kids involved. TTE have done some good work with investment in larger, more central venues in sports halls / arenas but by their very nature this means a lot of travelling from areas in the middle of these large venues, which will inhibit their use.

    Add to that a league system where matches happen once per weekday, start at 7pm and sometimes don't finish until midnight and it's a very hard sell to parents. It's one thing to say there are so many distractions for kids these days, but it's another to not even present a viable, practical options for parents to consider to compete with these distractions. Things are changing for the better but it will take time and (hopefully) less resistance from the old guard to make it stick.

    Yeah agree with this - and the point about the UK from NDH and IB66. Accessibility and venues are big issues. Plus it's not that 'cool' as a sport, especially if outside of age specific tournaments - you're playing a load of old guys most of the time (no offence to the older guys - especially as being closer to 40 I'm almost in that camp).

    I started playing after/during school as there was a table you could play on before being picked up, also played at a youth club, before getting into it seriously. So there were just tables and opportunities about. I do think kids enjoy it and would play more if exposed it - but when its 7:30 on a dark winter night for a league game, why would you have the motivation in todays world?


  16. NDH is offline
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    #16
    Quote Originally Posted by jammmail

    Yeah agree with this - and the point about the UK from NDH and IB66. Accessibility and venues are big issues. Plus it's not that 'cool' as a sport, especially if outside of age specific tournaments - you're playing a load of old guys most of the time (no offence to the older guys - especially as being closer to 40 I'm almost in that camp).

    I started playing after/during school as there was a table you could play on before being picked up, also played at a youth club, before getting into it seriously. So there were just tables and opportunities about. I do think kids enjoy it and would play more if exposed it - but when its 7:30 on a dark winter night for a league game, why would you have the motivation in todays world?

    The UK league is such a difficult thing to balance.

    One of the stronger leagues near me (Kettering) has adopted a new format this year.

    Still the same 3 person team with 9 singles and a doubles, but each match is just 3 ends (with each end counting as a point).

    I dislike this for 2 reasons.

    1. A 2-1 victory does not feel like a victory.
    2. I would have to travel between 35 mins and an hour (venue dependant) to play 3 short games - Which just isn't worth it IMO.

    The idea behind this new format is to get earlier finish times and therefore encourage more juniors and women into the league.

    Which may well work in the long term, and I'll just have to be a casualty of it for now!

    I completely get why they are trying something new, because the idea of doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is well documented!

    But for me, there needs to be more junior accessibility if you want to grow the sport properly.

    I live in a county where there are EIGHT leagues 100 plus teams) all within half an hour drive. But the number of places a junior can get coaching is perhaps 1 or 2.....

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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by NDH

    The UK league is such a difficult thing to balance.

    One of the stronger leagues near me (Kettering) has adopted a new format this year.

    Still the same 3 person team with 9 singles and a doubles, but each match is just 3 ends (with each end counting as a point).

    I dislike this for 2 reasons.

    1. A 2-1 victory does not feel like a victory.
    2. I would have to travel between 35 mins and an hour (venue dependant) to play 3 short games - Which just isn't worth it IMO.

    The idea behind this new format is to get earlier finish times and therefore encourage more juniors and women into the league.

    Which may well work in the long term, and I'll just have to be a casualty of it for now!

    I completely get why they are trying something new, because the idea of doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is well documented!

    But for me, there needs to be more junior accessibility if you want to grow the sport properly.

    I live in a county where there are EIGHT leagues 100 plus teams) all within half an hour drive. But the number of places a junior can get coaching is perhaps 1 or 2.....

    Yeah i agree - i don't think the format should be played around with - otherwise you end up with really fast games as you say and it doesn't feel like a match.
    Similar in cricket with Test/County, 50overs, 20/20 and the Hundred - it looses its magic and I don't think the change in format helps players - see the Ashes score this morning!

    I don't know what the answer is - but I don't think it should stay the same as the trend is only going one way.

    With the shorter formats – though the end time might be more appealing to a wider audience – someone who has played for a long time and has that experience (and tricky serves) will win in that shorter format before the newer player has worked out what to do. I don't see how it will even the field/or help create upsets.

    Last edited by jammmail; 12-08-2021 at 12:13 PM.

  18. NDH is offline
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    #18
    Quote Originally Posted by jammmail

    Yeah i agree - i don't think the format should be played around with - otherwise you end up with really fast games as you say and it doesn't feel like a match.
    Similar in cricket with Test/County, 50overs, 20/20 and the Hundred - it looses its magic and I don't think the change in format helps players - see the Ashes score this morning!

    I don't know what the answer is - but I don't think it should stay the same as the trend is only going one way.

    With the shorter formats – though the end time might be more appealing to a wider audience – someone who has played for a long time and has that experience (and tricky serves) will win in that shorter format before the newer player has worked out what to do. I don't see how it will even the field/or help create upsets.

    A few summer leagues I play in use the 2 person team best of 7 format.

    I would prefer this to be honest, and the only games that last until 10:30 ish are the super slow (or long) games.

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    #19
    Quote Originally Posted by NDH

    A few summer leagues I play in use the 2 person team best of 7 format.

    I would prefer this to be honest, and the only games that last until 10:30 ish are the super slow (or long) games.

    Nice - or 3 people teams but you only play two games – could work also. Even maybe a shift to the summer league being more competitive when people have more time than the winter? Though I guess the reasoning is holidays.

    Do other countries have two leagues a year - summer and winter? With the winter being the main competition and the summer being more of a practice/feeder/less competitive league?

    Would one longer league work better that plays more through the summer - almost the opposite way round to the Premier League football - with the gap over xmas and New Year.


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    #20
    Of the 3 leagues I play in, 2 have dropped the doubles, 9 singles of 5 ends are played, the other league still allows the doubles to be played as well as the singles. Match durations still basically the same as previous years!!

    2 of the leagues don't have many juniors playing in the matches, the exceptions being Ellenborough in the SHAW league, where they have started bring 2 or 3 juniors into matches this year at Premier division level, so its a good standard. Hertford and District league has no juniors I have seen in matches that I have played in.
    The North Herts league has one club - Warren springs, that run coaching sessions for juniors and run about 8 teams throughout the 3 divisions, of which maybe 4 teams are based mainly on junior players, the juniors usually play all the home matches and 1 junior might play in the occasional away match. this is a pretty good set up, keeps a match night shorter as far as travelling times etc are concerned
    Warren Springs have around 9 to 12 juniors playing in matches, I've played 3 away matches for Warren Springs and twice comments from the opposition have been similar to 'So this is the club that have some good juniors coming through'. Nice to hear comments like this!! and an excellent reflection on those involved in the junior coaching at that club.
    Ellenborough TT Club is a very well know club, perhaps on a national level as they have teams in the British National League, they have a strong junior section as well, being based in North London they may enter more juniors into leagues in that area, rather than the SHAW league, which is more on the extremes of their catchment area. I don't play in the London area so not sure if more of their juniors play in that area.
    I help out at SPINS, (I'm1/2 way through the Level 1 coaching course, couldn't complete the course because I had COVID and was isolating on the final day of the course.) SPINS runs 2 sessions a week, this year we have had about 8 or 9 new juniors start, but none of the pre-COVID juniors have returned, why? not sure!!
    SPINS just coaches both juniors and adults at present and currently doesn't run teams in any leagues. we do get adult players attending from a variety of different local clubs, looking to sharpen up and improve technique. Can be a handy training and practice facility for keen league players whose clubs don't offer coaching. along with new adult players learning from beginner standard.

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