When I first went to interview at GrubHub for the Senior iOS Engineer role, I noticed there was a ping pong table in the office. This seems to be very normal for start up companies. Why is that? Who decided that there needs to be a ping pong table in the office? Fast forward and I met another engineer there while playing ping pong. I am not good at ping pong but I always had an interest in playing it. I got curious why we had a table. My colleague named Peter pointed out that his previous company had 5 tables. I felt a bit bummed out that we only had one but I still appreciate that we even got one. Returning to my curiosity, why do we even have one? The table tennis table and the video game system give an impression of a complete game room at our start up office. So maybe that was the practical reason, for recruitment purposes. Peter, at last, offered his take on this. He said that ping pong is good for the brain. I dig further and found out it was true. In addition to benefits to the brain, these are 5 benefits of why I am hooked today:
- Ping pong is good for health.
- There is no agism in ping pong.
- Ping pong is strategic.
- Ping pong brings people together.
- Ping pong is active.
Ping pong is good for health because it is good for the heart and the brain. Playing ping pong increases your heart rate. Engineers, like myself, spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer. So this is a good break in disguise. I sweat a lot when I play so I usually bring an extra set of clothes and tennis shoes to change after I finish playing. Ping pong is good for strategizing and long term memory. You can read up more about the benefits for the brain here: https://www.pongboss.com/tips/table-tennis-brain/
When I first saw people playing ping pong at a gym, I saw mostly adults or seniors. They were very good because you can barely see the ball drop to the floor. Peter and I end up picking up balls half of the time. So my next goal is to buy a handy ping pong pick up tool to save our backs. But you can find people as young as 7 years old and as old as retired folks in their 70s playing ping pong 🏓 at various table tennis clubs.
Ping pong is very social. I only met Peter because he was playing with an intern one summer. They sounded very professional while hitting the ping pong balls back and forth. And after awhile when his intern left, I saw that he stopped playing. I asked him if he wanted to play ping pong one day and that’s how we started. Ping pong is not only offer many good benefits but also keep you happy due to endorphins release from exercising. It is low impact so the risk of injury is lower. In conclusion, if I were to join another start up, the table tennis table is mandatory and it cannot be only an aesthetic piece. I like to rip off the benefits of balancing between productivity while in front of the computer and taking break while playing ping pong.