How to Find a Place to Play Table Tennis

Table tennis can be played by people of all ages, on indoor or outdoor tables. It is a good way to stay active while having fun in a social environment. If you don’t have your own equipment, a question that often comes up is, where can you play table tennis? 

Where Around Town Can You Play Ping Pong or Table Tennis? 

If you are looking for places to play ping pong (also known as table tennis), there are a variety of options available in most towns and cities. Let’s take a look at some of the places where you’ll be most likely to get in a few games of table tennis. 

A good place to start is the USATT (USA Table Tennis Association) website. USATT is the governing body that was established for the world’s top table tennis players. The association is also responsible for maintaining and promoting table tennis in the United States. USATT is recognized by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the governing body in charge of table tennis in the rest of the world.

The website lists all of the major clubs within all 50 states of the USA. But even if you cannot find what you are looking for there, there might still be a few other places where you can play ping pong, because that official list has only a small fraction of the actual table tennis facilities available in huge countries like the USA. The next step is to try some of these types of places, which often have amenities like billiards tables, pool tables, foosball tables, or ping pong tables:

  • Elk halls or VFW facilities
  • Community colleges
  • High schools or universities
  • Sports and fitness mega-centers
  • Malls
  • Gymnasiums
  • Sports bars
  • Sports clubs
  • Pool halls
  • Hotels 
  • Public parks 
  • Outdoor gathering areas
  • Recreation centers 
  • Churches

It is a great idea to simply visit or call these places up and ask about any activities or sports that they have going on. Remember to ask specifically about table tennis or ping pong, because those are the preferred terms that are currently being used for the game in most American towns and cities. 

Interior of an empty sport bar

Some sports bars will have ping pong tables so you can enjoy a game while you wait for your pizza or beer to be served!

Sports Bars or Clubs

Many big cities have dedicated sports bars such as the Dave and Busters chain. It is a good idea to try a few of these types of places. For example, in Washington DC, you find Penn Social. Just a few blocks from the Capital One Arena, this 13,000 square-foot subterranean club has a full bar and it is a fun place for sports thanks to a game-focused setup that includes a selection of ping pong tables, trivia nights, cornhole leagues, beer pong tournaments, shuffleboard, karaoke, foosball, and a giant Jenga.

Local Recreational Centers 

You can often play table tennis at local recreational centers. Recreational centers are some of the best places to play the game of table tennis because other people are often trying to do the same thing. They usually have good facilities and sports equipment and some recreational centers can also be found in community colleges and institutions. Recreational centers can also be used as fitness centers for other family members and friends who want to play too. 

Actual Table Tennis Clubs 

You can sometimes learn to play table tennis at an actual table tennis club. Table tennis clubs are the best places to play table tennis and to meet good table tennis players. You will also be able to arrange table tennis coaching at these types of table tennis clubs and you can even start participating in local table tennis tournaments.

A lot of these clubs are sponsored by various groups and they are non-profit organizations, so the cost to join the club will not usually be very high. One of the best-known table tennis companies is Butterfly. Butterfly actually supports many table tennis clubs and pro shops located throughout North America. Butterfly sponsors these high-level table tennis clubs with paddles, tables, balls, and other equipment.

If you are looking for a fun, unique place to go on the weekend or if you want to compete against other skilled table tennis players, Butterfly table tennis clubs are the perfect choice when you are looking to get into the game of ping pong. Do some searching online to find out more about a club or shop near you.

Best Places to Meet Other Players 

In general, games of table tennis involve two or four players. That is, two players for the singles game and four players for double games. Apart from looking for places to play table tennis, it would be best to find opponents to play and practice the game with. If you are serious about improving your game, try to find a table tennis club near you and register to become a member. 

Table tennis clubs are perfect for beginners because it enables them to have the opportunity to practice with other players and also play in local table tennis tournaments. Most national sports centers have all kinds of up-to-date and international standard training equipment. If you can’t find a table tennis club, you can practise table tennis in a national sports center near you.

Check Out Other City Directories 

Another good idea is to check out the City Directories in your town because there may be relevant information on a range of possible sites, such as the actual Chamber of Commerce website for the town. The old thick Yellow Pages books might still be available in some areas, and they would be sure to list this information. You can also scroll through a variety of local table tennis forums and general discussion boards such as Reddit or one of the many other resources online.

Indoor Recreation Options

If you still haven’t found a suitable place to play, you might consider getting your own table to put in your garage or basement if you have enough space. A ping pong table provides plenty of indoor recreation options even when the weather outside is not that great.

Indoor tables do take up a large amount of space, so you will need ample room at each end of the table to volley the ball back and forth. For a full-size table that is 9 feet long and 5 feet wide, you will ideally need a clear area of space of at least 19 feet long and 11 feet wide to play without feeling cramped. 

The competition play rules as laid out by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) state: 

  • The playing space shall be rectangular and not less than 14m long, 7m wide, and 5m high, but the 4 corners may be covered by surrounds of not more than 1.5m lengths.

This might seem like a huge amount of space, but these official measurements are for professional players who are playing most of the game far away from the table tennis table. Most amateur players will not need this large amount of space. 

It is possible to play with less than five feet of clearance at each end of the table and three feet on each side unless you are hosting players who are more experienced and aggressive, who may often want to stand much farther behind the table. But this is not likely to happen among a bunch of amateur players. The position of the table within the room in relation to your furniture and lighting can also be important.

Chairs and sofas might get in the way of the game, and low-hanging light fixtures above the table may be hit by stray balls or even with ping pong paddles. You should also think about what types of things might be on the side of the table, as well as on your opponent’s side because you’ll find yourself running along the sides and back of the table more often than you might think.

The playing background is also an important factor. Fast swinging balls become almost impossible to judge and return if your vision is at all impaired. To avoid any kind of “blind spots”, you’ll need to make sure that the background behind each end of the table is a dark color such as black or green. Any dark color is fine, but try to avoid white or orange since many of the latest ping pong balls and paddles are either of these colors. 

The color of the background can easily be changed by painting the walls behind each end of the table with the same color. But if you are playing at home and also care about the look of your walls, hanging curtains can also be an effective alternative. Sticking color wallpaper patterns on the walls can also be an effective and economical way to solve any background problems.

Colleagues having fun in the backyard while playing table tennis

Playing table tennis outdoors is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise!

Outdoor Table Tennis Tables 

If you really don’t have that much space inside but you do have plenty of space outdoors, there is an incredible great range of outdoor table tennis tables available. In many neighborhoods, a lot of the houses can be quite small inside but they are often built on big plots of land. If you live in a neighborhood like this, then an outdoor table is another excellent option for playing table tennis. 

Again, big cities will often have ping pong tables set up in outdoor recreational areas. This is very common in Europe and it is becoming a little more common in North America. For example, Bryant Park in New York offers ping pong tables on the 42nd Street side of the park near Sixth Avenue. You can test your skills and find casual opponents to play against at these two state-of-the-art tables.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is another New York spot that can be a lot of fun. Discover Pier 2’s outdoor ping pong tables along the beautiful Brooklyn waterfront. Here, you don’t even have to worry about equipment because you can borrow paddles and balls for free from the Pier 2 Roller Rink counter. Best of all, Brooklyn Bridge Park is free to enter and so you’ll be able to spend a few hours having a lot of fun on the cheap.

Some other considerations that come up with outdoor ping pong tables like these are how to prevent the tables from getting damaged (often with a hard table tennis covering) and what to do when the weather gets too nasty. Their all-metal construction and resilient powder coating let them stand up to the elements so they’ll be in top shape most of the year.

Outdoor tables like this are durable and mostly weather-resistant and they can even be used all year round if you live in a place with a climate that is mild enough. Best of all, when planning an outdoor ping pong table, you usually don’t have to worry about the amount of available space at all. 

To enjoy your outdoor space and learn a few tips that can improve your progress as a player, try watching some of the very best table tennis players at ping pong tournaments. There are plenty of tutorials that you can find on Youtube, and you can also attend some table tennis matches or ping pong games in person at clubs or bars. 

Watching some of the best professional players in action in international tournaments or even every four years at the Olympic Games can really inspire you to improve many of your own skills and use your own table tennis table (or the one that you can most easily access) as much as possible. The more you watch the professionals, the more you will learn how to play ping pong at a higher level.

Getting Deeper Into the Sport of Table Tennis

A final thing to consider as you get into the game is the table tennis equipment you will need. At the very least, you’ll need balls and a few paddles, depending on how many people are playing. As an amateur player, it is best to simply pick up these few pieces of basic equipment at Walmart or online from Amazon.

As you can probably tell from all of this information, there is no perfect answer regarding where to play table tennis, simply because there are so many different variables you will need to consider and so many factors that might affect your decision. So think carefully about which option might be the best one for you as you start getting into table tennis. One major advantage of the game of table tennis is that it constantly gives your brain a good workout.

Simply spend a few hours behind your end of the table, keep an eye on the ping pong ball, and think about all of the helpful mental benefits you will be getting from the game. After all, you will find that one of the most important benefits of the game is going to be for your overall mental health.

The amount of speed, spin, and placement of the ball are crucial factors in the game of table tennis, and professional players like the ones in the Olympic Games often set up shots that involve these three attributes. Much like the game of chess, ping pong can often be a strategic exercise that stimulates the brain.

You’ll learn how to plan for a variety of future possibilities in the game, assess the skill level and intentions of your opponent, and predict what types of shots he or she might be thinking of playing next. This is all part of the strategic planning you’ll learn when you get better at the game.

You will start giving your brain a good workout when you play table tennis. Simply spend a few hours behind your end of the table, keep an eye on the ping pong ball, and remember all of the benefits you are getting from the game.

Riley Draper

Avid table tennis player, world traveler, and content creator. Follow on Twitter. Connect on LinkedIn.