Ah, the joys of spring. May is high time for rolling out the barbeques, long days in the park and making the most of the brief Welsh sunshine; unless, of course, you’re a student. For twenty percent of the city’s population May in Cardiff will likely mean all-nighters in the library, drowning in post-it notes at home and generally more stress and worry than anyone should be expected to bear when everybody else seems to be gearing up for summer.
We at Cardiff City Table Tennis Club hear the howls of existential horror ringing through Cathays. We can ignore the cries of our beleaguered student neighbours no longer. You need a break and we know just the thing; free table tennis throughout the month of May!
Every weekday afternoon from 1 until 5 Cardiff’s student community are invited to use our international standard facilities in the heart of Cathays for absolutely free. We’ll supply the bats, the balls and the tables; all you need to bring is someone else to play with! Whether you’re a seasoned player or a total novice, whether you’re here for ten minutes or bedding down for the afternoon, dragging along one mate or bringing your whole friendship group, you’ll be welcome to our tables for some stress-relieving down-time.
The club is located at the bottom of Maindy Road. (The road that Lidl is on) It’s Wales’ only full-time table tennis centre and is less than five minutes walk from most of the Cardiff University campus, even closer to the Talybont student residence and just a stone’s throw from all students living in Cathays and Roath.
Worried about your time away from the grindstone? Think a study break can only mean making a cup of tea? Let us make the case for why you need a little time-out, and why table tennis is the best rest going.
- Everyone needs a break.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and there’s no way you’re going to smash out that essay in a twelve hour unbroken slog at it. Experts agree that breaks are essential to your optimal learning process, with studies even showing that more information can be retained in four hours than in six whenever each hour is separated by an effective break.
But what kind of break is most effective? Nowadays that question matters more than ever. Checking your phone, scrolling through your favourite social media feed or catching ‘just one episode’ on Netflix are all easy options, but do they actually do you any good? It seems not. The professional advice is unanimous; the ideal break is a break from the screen. Rest your eyes along with your mind, get some movement through those study-stiff limbs, and most of all have fun! You’ve earned it.
- Exercise is good for your brain.
When you study you expand your mind, and we mean that quite literally! The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for the retention of information and brain scans have shown that this area increases in volume when a person exercises. At a neurological level all learning new information is simply a case of forming and strengthening connections in the brain. (Makes it all sound so simple, doesn’t it?) For cells to grow and connect in this way your brain needs a good helping of oxygen, which is pumped into your brain whenever your heart rate increases, and a smattering of the right kind of hormones, the kind released when your body is put through a workout.
“Cardiovascular health is more important than any other single factor in preserving and improving learning and memory,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Thomas Crook. “You’re working out your brain at the same time as your heart.”
Sure, if you want to take the dull option you can always grow your brain by doing cardio at the gym, but with all the rapid tactic formation and hand-eye coordination required by table tennis, the sport has gained a reputation as a unique brain-training exercise in itself. Heralded by fans as a kind of “aerobic chess” and by healthcare professionals as “the world’s best brain sport”, table tennis can make you smarter in your study break.
- Feel the stress slip away!
Juggling exams and coursework with whatever still remains of your social life, we know that student living come May can mess with your head. Last year Endsleigh Insurance surveyed thousands of students across the UK and found that sixty percent were concerned about how university life affects their mental health and wellbeing.
Stressed students clearly need an outlet and sport presents an easy and direct way to get those endorphins flowing again. Where sky-diving requires an aeroplane and football is no fun in the pouring rain, table tennis is an inexpensive sport that anyone can play right on most students’ doorsteps in Cathays. Its highly accessible character contributes to the image of the game as a popular stress-reliever, increasingly utilised in the corporate world where tables are increasingly found in offices rehabilitating over-worked employees from Cardiff city centre to Silicon Valley.
According to Benjamin Clarks of tabletennis101.com, Ben’s sport offers “an excellent means to blow off some steam. Ping pong can relieve stress and ameliorate the symptoms of depression as well. The act of hitting the ball with the paddle in itself is able to promote feelings of satisfaction and happiness. Another feature of table tennis- through which it is able to reduce stress levels- is that it distracts the players completely from stress factors coming from the external world.”
So come along and get lost in the now, in the beats of a rally, between the ping and the pong, the stroke and return, in a constant, steady rhythm. Now, doesn’t that sound peaceful?… “What exams?”
Free play for students is only available 1-5 on weekday afternoons so students will still need to pay to attend any of our evening sessions. Non-students are welcome at the afternoon sessions but will need to play the usual ‘Pay as you Play’ price of £1.50 per hour for members and £2.50 per hour for non-members. You’ll need to show a valid student card if you want to play for free. There are almost always tables available in the afternoon but if you want to make absolutely certain then call Lawrence on 07837947928 before you come down.