Get your paddles ready, as a new ping pong outpost is set to open in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn.
PingPod, a fully automated table tennis space, is opening their new location on Feb. 15, on Fulton Street. The space will feature four ping pong tables equipped with technological features that will stay open 24/7 offering private ping pong sessions, classes, hosting tournaments and parties.
The curved glass street front spot on the corner of Ashland Place is designed to create a high quality professional environment, but it welcomes beginners and casual players to the beloved game of table tennis.
“We want to change the perception of ping pong in the United States,” said David Silberman, co-founder of PingPod, who has been playing ping pong since he was five years old. “It’s an Olympic sport, which a lot of people don’t realize. Some think of ping pong and they think of their garage. We are putting ping pong on the ground floor of this pretty prime real estate so that people can look inside and see what ping pong can be like.”
Table tennis has been part of the Summer Olympic Games since 1988, and has a rabid, and growing, fanbase around the world. Currently, more than 20 million Americans already play annually, according to the USATT.
“Ping pong is a sport that requires a huge amount of focus due to the rapid pace of the ball,” said Silberman. “You can’t afford to not pay attention. There’s something extremely captivating about the sport —the intensity, the the sound that the ball makes when it hits the table and when it hits your paddle— it’s kind of like meditation. It’s a blend of mental focus and physical intensity.”
The PingPod system works through online reservations that grant players access to the site through their phones after setting up an account.
Some of the technological features the in the space include an automated recording system that overlooks the matches. Each table has an iPad installed where players can choose to crop a clip of a play and have it sent to their phones to save or share it on social media. Some locations, including the one in Williamsburg have a robot table that serves to one or two players and gathers the ball with a net around the table after each hit.
Since its first opening back in 2020, over 35,000 accounts have been created. The company has brought together a Slack community of over 2000 people.
“It’s a social outlet for me all wrapped into one activity,” Silberman said. “Even in New York where all of this diversity resides, unless you have the outlet, it’s hard to be part of it. You can get siloed. Before PingPod, I was somewhat siloed with my same friends from New Jersey, who kind of look like me and share all my similar interests and my friends and colleagues who, but PingPod has really opened up my world. I’ve met so many diverse people from so many different backgrounds of all ages and backgrounds.”
There are now opened locations in New Jersey, Philadelphia and five in NYC. Two more have been announced to open in Manhattan and one in Miami coming soon.
Silberman founded PingPod with his partners Ernesto Ebuen and Max Kogler. Ebuen is a six-time Philippine National Table Tennis Champion and was rated number one among U.S. players in 2016, while Kogler has extensive experience managing organizations in sports, media, education, finance and technology.
PingPod hosts four league seasons for beginners, intermediates and experts at their different locations throughout the year, which span for two to three months.
“I noticed there weren’t that many places to play ping pong in New York City and I figured there were a lot more people like me, ping pong lovers,” said Silberman. “The only reason that ping pong isn’t more widely played is due to a lack of supply.”