How my workplace went mad for table tennis

Hundreds of workplaces have caught the ping pong bug thanks to our Loop at Work programme. Steve Best, Change Manager (and table tennis player) at Phoenix Group, tells of his experience.

I used to love table tennis when I was younger and the annual Butlins tournaments were legendary.  I was actually quite a decent standard but life took over and I reluctantly hung up my bat when I was in my late teens.

I work for the insurance company, the Phoenix Group, and to my absolute delight they purchased a table tennis package from Table Tennis England for employees to use.  Now in my 50s, I was a little rusty but soon back into the swing of things and before long I was playing regularly and part of a growing number of regular players at work.

Me and my colleagues play whenever we have a moment, during the working day, after work or during lunch times. Recognising how popular table tennis was, our employers then decided to subsidise coaching twice a week to improve our game. This has meant that people who had never played before are now quite a decent standard.  It also meant that I was able to try out a few different techniques under the guidance of the coaches to minimise twisting and save my knees!

As a regular player, I love to encourage other employees to take part and the great thing about table tennis is that anybody can get involved, regardless of fitness or ability levels. Sometimes colleagues need a little help to get started but after a few weeks they generally get ‘the table tennis bug’ and then there is no stopping them.

There is always a relaxed welcoming atmosphere around the tables but once a year, things get a bit more competitive and we have an in-house competition that is great fun and a brilliant way to bring people together and raise money for charity.

If you enjoy table tennis then it is definitely worth investigating whether your place of work would like to invest in a Loop at Work package. It is a great addition to our workplace and the number of employees involved is growing week by week.

Are we spending too much time sitting at work?

It’s not rocket science, we all know that we need to be more active, but how do we find the time in our busy lives?

One solution is to introduce activity into the places we spend most time, and for a lot of us this means the workplace.

In a news article recently published by The National Centre for Sport & Exercise Medicine, teams from the University of Leicester and Loughborough University investigated solutions to reducing the amount of time workers remain static during the day.  The research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) involved a group of 146 office workers.  Half received a ‘Stand More At Work’  programme (which involved working at height-adjustable workstations and information/education), the remainder continued as before.

After 12 months of this regime, the intervention group spent 83 minutes less per day sitting than the control group.

The article goes on to quote Dr Charlotte Edwardson, Associate Professor from the University of Leicester, who said: “Those who received the SMArT Work programme reported improvements in their work performance, work dedication and engagement, quality of life and reduced levels of sickness presenteeism, feelings of fatigue and musculoskeletal issues, such as lower back pain.”

While the results of simply standing more during the working week are impressive, the Loop at Work team at Table Tennis England want to take this one stage further.

Our mission is to see people taking time out of their day to be a bit more active, to interact with each other and to simply have some fun.

The well-being benefits of a game of lunch-time table tennis are endless: from creating positive morale; elevating heart rate; reducing stress levels; reducing absenteeism, increasing creativity to improving productivity, the list goes on.

 

Starting from just £200, our Loop at Work table packages including everything required to introduce table tennis into the work environment.

The table packages, which are subsidised using funding from Sport England, are a cost effective way for employers to enhance the employee benefits packages as opposed to more costly enhancements such as gym membership or private health insurance.

To get your workplace #INTHELOOP or to find out more, please contact us

Get Active for Mental Wellbeing

Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for physical health, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health.

Getting active can have a positive impact on depression, anxiety and more. It can relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better and make you feel more relaxed and positive about yourself and your life.  The good news is, this isn’t dependent on hard exercise, even 10 minutes of moderate activity can make a difference.

 

Why Table Tennis?

Table tennis in particular is a fantastic pathway for getting active and lifting the spirits.  It can be played by anyone, of any age and with any physical limitations.  It’s sociable and simply everyone, even those who have never played before, can pick up a bat and have an enjoyable experience.  Not only that, it’s been proven that learning this new skill (or remembering a long forgotten one) can have a positive impact on those with memory loss problems and dementia. This could be due to an increase in the thickness of their cortex – the part of the brain associated with complex thinking and the part which shrinks most as we age *Stay young – with help from table tennis!

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Case study: Live at Home Leeds

South Leeds Live at Home tackles isolation and promotes independence and wellbeing, by tailoring its activities to suit its members. They’ve recently been running some ‘Bat and Chat’ table tennis sessions.  Nicki from the scheme told us:

Mr S is a member here at our scheme who has lost his wife and found himself quite lonely. He has starting visiting the scheme more frequently and has also got involved in a few of our other projects too. He has come to every Bat and Chat session we have had and thoroughly enjoyed it every week. It has brought back many memories of when he was in his 20’s as he used to play Table Tennis every day on his dinner break at work.

Although he hadn’t played in so long he was surprised how quickly he got the hang of it and for the first few weeks he was undefeated. After a few weeks another member managed to beat him with a score of 15-13 which was a great laugh to watch. He is always the first person here and really looks forward to it each week. He has no family that live close by but has really found it good to socialise with new people and have the same interest to talk about. Mr S visits his sister every week as she is in a care home a few hours’ drive away.

Previously we had got the impression that she wasn’t doing too well. On our first Bat and Chat session we had another member come along which happened to work with Mr S sister and her husband in a Factory many years ago. They also played Table Tennis on their lunch break which was great news for Mr S to talk about on his visits to see his sister. He told us that he stayed a lot longer than normal on his visit as they had so much to talk about. He has also told his sister that he is no longer the undefeated champion so it seems to have lifted not only his spirits but also his sisters.  Last week he had found some of his old bats and balls too which he has kindly brought in for anyone to use.

Overall I think the Bat and Chat has really benefited Mr S and he will carry on coming to every session. He’s keen to get involved and also keeps track of the score for me if I need him to.

 

 

For more information about Bat and Chat, please email us

How Ping!’s doorstep approach can bring positive change

Table Tennis England’s Marketing Officer, Julie Snowdon, explains how a public ping pong project tackles inactivity by bringing the game into places people are already spending time.

What is Ping!?

Ping! is a street table tennis project managed by Table Tennis England. It is funded by Sport England and delivered by city councils, local authorities and county sport partnerships. Since 2010 the initiative has expanded to over 24 towns and cities and several million people have taken part.

The project takes ping pong to places the public already spend time, removing all barriers to participation and making the game more visible, accessible and relevant. The public can play on Ping! tables for free, and bats and balls are provided.

We’ve developed the Ping! model to engage as many people as possible, using table tennis to inspire people to lead more active lifestyles. Table tennis can be part of everyday life and people of all ages, genders and abilities can play.  It’s fun, competitive and energetic, and you don’t need any previous experience or level of ability to play and enjoy the game.

The project begins in new cities as a summer festival but once the season is over, attention turns to creating more sustainable infrastructure. This includes places to play, table donations, strategic partnerships and building communities that support active habits.

Positive Change

In 2017 there were a staggering 1.56 million visits to the tables.  62.7% of participants were inactive before their visit and 98.9% said they would play again.  We’ve found the project is a launch pad for long-term change.  The tables become a permanent fixture and are in constant use all year round, with many regular meet-ups and social groups emerging.

Despite being a popular holiday destination Blackpool has some of the worst economic and social deprivation in the country.  While it would be easy to place Ping! tables in high-profile tourist locations, our focus was to bring the tables into disengaged communities. Because of Ping!, regular social ping pong sessions and family play sessions have started and will continue all year round.

Bradford was a new Ping! city in 2017. 10 tables were placed across the city and a full events calendar delivered Ping! sessions to the community.  These sessions continue at The Alzheimer’s Society, Shipley College, Bradford University and Bradford College. Links are also being made with other community centres and religious groups.

Ping! is just one initiative delivered by Table Tennis England to inspire people to be more active by bringing table tennis to people and communities.  Loop offers subsidised table packages to businesses and community groups and Ping Pong Parlours transform empty shop spaces into lively, community venues.

To find out more about these initiatives or how we could help your organisation bring positive change, please contact us.

Our websites: www.pingengland.co.uk  www.keepintheloop.co.uk  www.tabletennisengland.co.uk

Care about the mental well-being of your colleagues?

Mental health can still be a taboo subject and masked in a veil of silence.  But there are simple steps you can take to make your workplace a mentally healthier place to be!  To mark World Mental Health Awareness Day on 10th October, we explored how introducing a table tennis table into your work environment can help your colleagues stay healthy in mind and body! Click on the image below to enlarge.

 

 

Why play makes good business!

We all know we should eat healthily, get active and take time to relax, but with the ever-growing pressures of a busy life, and with every minute of our day accounted for; it can seem impossible to fit in any ‘down-time’.

There is, however, a movement of forward thinking employers that recognise the benefits of having a healthy, happy workforce and are finding ways to help their staff; whether it’s providing a free fruit bowl, a bean bag filled chill out area and the one we naturally love, a table tennis table in the office!

Our Loop at Work table tennis initiative helps businesses create a place people love to work.

By inspiring a balance between work and play, where everyone makes social interaction and activity priorities every single day, we’re improving people’s quality of life and creating a workplace culture which inspires collaboration and creativity.

Don’t just take our word for it!

With over 350 workplaces already #INTHELOOP, we thought we’d ask our participants for their views of table tennis in their workplaces and we discovered …

82% felt that Loop at Work improved their well-being

36% stated they were active less than once a week before their workplace introduced a Loop table

85% who were previously inactive or active less than once a week, increased their physical activity levels

The majority of Loop participants stated table tennis encouraged them to become more active.

Our workplace participants said they loved playing to be with other people, to be part of something and to feel fit and healthy, some also enjoyed improving their game and the feeling of winning, including beating the boss!

We loved these comments …

The table has given me the most fun I’ve ever had in the workplace! I’m addicted, but still not very good!

It’s a great  way to take that break from your desk and gets you moving and thinking

Lunch time and after work hours are fun. More social within the office

The chance to temporarily take a break and refresh, before heading back to my desk to work

 

It has brought the wider office team together, provided lots of laughs and also encouraged participation from quieter members in the office

So well done to those employers that are making it as easy as possible for their workforce to be healthy and active and keep it up to all those employees embracing the opportunities!

The Loop Team at Table Tennis England would love to help more workplaces introduce table tennis and to hear from those that already have!

So get in touch.  You can email us  loop@tabletennisengland.co.uk, tweet  @loop_tweets or visit www.keepintheloop.co.uk

Danny comes to play!

On Wednesday 10th May, the Shakespeare Martineau’s Litigation league’s Team Birmingham invited Double Commonweath Games medalist table tennis supremo Danny Reed to come to their penultimate playing session and share some of his knowledge and skills!

After showing off his medals and signing the wall in the office (there’s a picture of him – so it only seemed fair) he managed to find some time to help the team out with some hints and tips.

Competition remains fierce as the teams continue to battle it out to be the one of two winners of the Birmingham heat and go through to the semi-finals at the conference in June.

As well as providing hints and tips, Danny was happy to take any questions ranging from how he is funded, the Olympics, his current studies and getting the better of siblings.

All in all a great and informative evening.

Danny will be visiting the Leicester offices this week to put the team through their paces!