Neck Cooling Improves Table Tennis Performance amongst National Level Young Players
This study aimed to examine the effects of neck cooling on table tennis performance. Eight young, National level, male table tennis players (age 16 ± 2 years, height 1.77 ± 0.08 m, body mass 67.54 ± 10.66 kg) were recruited. Participants attended four testing sessions separated by a week. Session one determined fitness levels, and session two was a familiarisation trial. The final two sessions involved completing the table tennis-specific protocol either with (ICE) or without (CON) neck cooling for 1 min before each exercise period (bout: 80–90 shots), which represented an individual game. The exercise protocol required completing three bouts to represent a match, each simulating a different skill (forehand, backhand, alternate forehand and backhand), against a mechanical ball thrower. Performance was measured by the number of balls hitting two pre-determined targets. Heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), and thermal sensation (TS) were measured. Total performance scores (shots on target) were significantly greater during ICE (136 ± 26), compared to CON (120 ± 25; p = 0.006) with a 15 (±12)% improvement. Effects for time (p < 0.05) but not condition (p > 0.05) were found for RPE and all other physiological variables. TS significantly decreased with cooling throughout the protocol (p = 0.03). Neck cooling appears to be beneficial for table tennis performance by lowering thermal sensation.