End of 2017 newsletter
End of 2017 Ipswich table tennis newsletter
The club organised a Ping-Pong-a-thon event on October 20 and 21. This is a charity event to raise funds for children in Asia who are in bad situations. The current total raised is $5,147. This was a great achievement as our goal target was $2,000. Special thanks to Michael Anderson who stood up to be the organiser of this event and managed to get quite a few of his friends, family and workmates to participate. Thanks to all the club members who helped out, whether it be by participating or helping Michael by running induction sessions in the early hours of Saturday morning or moving the tables from our Riverview centre to the dart clubs on Friday afternoon and bringing them back on Sunday afternoon. Thanks to Noel Scudds and Gerard Marsh for providing their trailers for this.
In conjunction with this, the club held a demonstration at Booval Fair on Saturday October 21 between 10am and 1pm. This was a successful event and while it didn’t raise a lot of money for the Ping-Pong-a thon, over 40 of our flyers were picked up by interested people. There has already been 2 people come along on a Tuesday night as a result of this. Thanks to Manish, David, Gerard, Noel, Kym, Roshan and Matt who came along and played. Special mention to Matt who did the 10pm-4am session at the darts club and backed up at Booval Fair.
The Brisbane teams’ event was held on September 30 and October 1. The team of Navneel, Chad, Kurt and Wayne found the going tough against some of the teams but still managed to win 3 out of their 6 matches. It was quite hot on the Saturday and the Brisbane venue has no air conditioning so all the players did well.
The club break-up barbecue and trophy presentation will be held on Saturday December 2 from around 3.30pm at the Riverview Community Centre. There will be a sheet out so people can let us know if they are coming and how many they are bringing. If you are coming please bring a plate of snacks or dessert. The BBQ will start around 5pm with the trophy presentation to start after that.
It is quickly coming up to finals time for the current season. A Grade semi-finals are on Monday November 13 with the final on November 20. The B Grade final will be on Wednesday November 22. The club will remain open the following week for people who still want to come out for a hit. We will re-open in January 2018 in the week starting on Monday January 16.
A social match was played against the Sunnybank club on Tuesday 7 November on two tables. We won both tables by 8-3. The matches were shortened to best of 3 sets instead of 5. On table one, Manish Uchil, John Leggat and Shane Shipperley all won 2 singles and both doubles. On table two, David McCosh won 3 singles, Sam Park won 2 and Matt Williams 1 and again both doubles were won. Everyone enjoyed the night and there may be more matches played in the future.
Equipment Update – 2
Well the end of the year is quickly approaching and it is a good time to consider reviewing your equipment; pondering possible changes for your game for next year and more importantly getting in your orders for Santa’s deliveries. So sit back for a beefy read.
A little while ago now we discussed what was and wasn’t legal regarding table tennis equipment, bats and rubbers. In this newsletter we will briefly review commercially available options for table tennis equipment with the benefits and disadvantages of those options. Once you venture into this space the possible combinations of blade, the wooden part of the bat, and rubbers run into the many thousands.
I think the first point to be made is equipment selection is no substitute for proper technique and that for every significant benefit there is an inevitable disadvantage. There is no magic solution. Having said that I think much can be gained by selecting equipment that appropriately fits a person’s playing style and mental approach to their game. It should be recognised that often games are won by a critical point, won here or lost there and that every point does count.
A number of premade bats are available ranging in price from $20 up to approximately $300. Premade bats below $100 offer a good starting point for players however once the cost is above about $150 I think a better option is to go for a separate blade and rubbers. A number of suppliers will assemble blades and rubbers at no charge if purchased at the same time and the finish of the bat is very professional. The benefits of a premade bat are cost and relatively limited combinations of blades and rubbers. At times the unlimited combinations can be overwhelming. The down side is the combinations available to fit an individual’s style are limited and the performance of a bat outside “average” is unlikely.
Made to Order Bats
Before we move into the individual components of the bat it is probably best to define what is meant by the performance of the bat, that is the blade and rubber combination, and how it fits into a game structure.
Bat performance at the highest level is defined by speed, spin and control and frequently these offset each other as there is a compromise between the three, although when you read the manufacturer’s sales blurb they will have you believe this is far from true. There are always exceptions to the rule, however bats that are extremely fast have significantly less control than slower bats. Likewise very spinny bats usually result in significantly less control. Also if the bat is capable of producing a large amount of spin or speed then it will also receive a large amount of reactive spin or speed in return, you cannot turn spin and speed off as the ball hits your bat and reacts with it. But this can also be largely operator dependent.
Speaking of operators; consideration must be given not only to player capability but also player mentality and what type of game they wish to play or can play. It will only end in serious frustration, at best, if an inherently defensive player continues to use a blisteringly fast bat and likewise if an inherently attacking player is forced to use a very slow bat because they “like the feel of it”. At worst, and this is usually the case, stroke production suffers and is crippled as the player attempts to modify their strokes to compensate for the equipment that is inappropriate for their game. Made to order bats are all about getting equipment combinations, and living with compromises, that best fit how players wish to play and enjoy their game.
The range of blades commercially available is staggering and conservatively would number close to 1,000. The greater portion of these are mass produced coming from the major equipment manufacturers, Butterfly, Stiger, TSP to mention a few ranging in price from $50 - $500. The biggest difference in blades is firstly in their speed and secondly the feel of the blade, not just how it feels in your hand but also the feeling as the bat hits the ball. Also a number of the newer blades offer significantly greater control at higher speeds.
Bats are typically classified in speed ranges from defensive (slow) through to offensive (very fast) and the difference between these is significant and very noticeable.
The feeling of the bat, that is as bat hits ball, is generally defined by the hardness of the blade and also to some extend the blade stiffness. Some like the very hard rigid feeling of ball hitting bat that is typical of many carbon fibre blades and some like the very soft, or as I find it, vague or spaghetti like feeling typical of most balsa blades. With respect to blade stiffness, most blades exhibiting a high degree of stiffness are fast and typically, but not always, lack a high degree of control. On the other end highly flexible blades are reportedly capable of imparting higher levels of spin, typically have a higher degree of control and are usually on the slower side. I am in two minds about the higher spin levels. For me it is all about how the bat feels when it hits the ball and how does it feel in your hand, is it balanced or head heavy?
Of late there have been a number of custom made suppliers entering the market, Re-Impact and Ross Leidy to name two. These blades are individually made, not mass produced, and can be made to meet your requirements, although they do have a range of blades with defined characteristics to choose from that have been tried and tested. For what they are these blades are reasonably priced, $150 - $350. So what do or can you get from these blades? The answer is pretty much whatever you like however a note of caution you do need to know and understand what you want. So unlike mass produced blades you can get blades that are significantly faster on one side say the forehand than the other the backhand. It is possible to get a very light balsa blade that does not feel like a soggy piece of spaghetti or you can weight the head if that takes your fancy or make the playing surface larger than standard, it is really up to your imagination. A second note of caution, be careful what you wish for and beware these blades do tend to change the typical characteristics of some rubbers with some of the manufacturers recommending for and or against some rubber types. I would only recommend these blades for players that have specific highly defined requirements that have some level of understanding of what they were getting or those with lots of money and have a panache for experimentation.
While the range of blades is large the range of rubber combinations is enormous and growing daily and it would be fair to say the variants are in the tens of thousands.
The rubber is comprised of two parts, a top sheet which is always present and a sponge which may or may not be present. The sponge can range in thickness from 1 mm up to 2.4 mm and most manufacturers will offer four sponge thicknesses for most top sheets. So what does the sponge do? The conventional wisdom is the thicker the sponge the faster the rubber, more spin and the less control. Again this is not always true and there are exceptions to the rule but it is a good starting point. Rubbers with no sponge are used almost exclusively by defensive players.
While we are talking sponge there are also a number of variants here as well with the Chinese type rubbers having a very hard sponge while the European rubbers tend to be softer. The harder rubbers give a very direct feel and force the ball to interact more directly with the top sheet. The softer rubbers allow the ball to sink into the rubber react longer with the top sheet and tend to have more of a trampoline effect.
Top sheets come in two basic variants, pimples out rubber, usually called pips, and pimples in often termed “normal or inverted rubbers”.
Pimple Out Rubbers
There are three types of pips, short, long and medium. The primary advantage of pips is the reduced impact on the player of the opponent’s spin. Therefore conversely the down side is that in comparison to inverted rubbers they also can not generate significant amounts of spin. They do have other advantages however.
Short pips are generally very fast and used by attacking players playing close to the table. They impart little spin and the shots are very direct or linear. There is little arc on the ball’s flight and they appear to spear in at you because of this. They are difficult to content with because of the pace of the ball and the absence of any top spin makes blocking the attacking shot more difficult with passive blocks going into the net and more active replies appearing to fly high or long due to the pace.
Long pips are the domain of defenders and their claim to fame is the ability to hold and return the opponent’s spin back to them, or as some erroneous call it spin reversal. Therefore a backspin ball struck with a long pips rubber will be returned effectively as top spin often sailing long and likewise an attacking top spin ball blocked back by long pips will be returned as heavy chop. This effect is reduced with greater sponge thickness with no sponge long pips being absolutely lethal in the hands of a skilled practitioner. This effect can be very disconcerting as the returned ball is very slow, there is typically no pace or weight on the shot, can have a very low trajectory across the net but be absolutely loaded with spin opposite to what is expected. One might think this is the perfect rubber however many years of serious training is required to master these rubbers and at the higher levels users get picked apart as they generally have a limited ability to inflict damage, you do it all to yourself. The old heavy push long slap the return is a common tactic against long pips.
Medium Pips as expected are somewhere in between the two offering the ability to generate reasonable pace and some ability to attack in conjunction with a level of deception that is highly variable depending on how the shots are played. However these rubbers can not offer anything like the speed of a short pip or high level of deception of the long pips. They are easier to play with although some serious training will be required to become somewhat proficient with them.
The garden variety rubbers, and by and largest the greatest number available and again with a large range of speeds, spins and control available. There are a couple of unique inverted rubbers worth mentioning. Some have a very tacky top sheet, so much so that a ball can stick and be held by the rubber. These rubbers usually have a hard sponge and are capable of generating enormous amounts of spin but be aware the mechanism for this is different to non-tacky rubbers. They also react strongly to incoming spin so what you give you also receive. Anti-spin inverted rubbers have a top sheet that is very slippery and these offer no friction and impart no spin to the ball. Similar comments apply as per the long pips.
Apologies for the long read and for such a short review on such an extensive topic. Even if you are not looking to change your equipment some level of equipment understanding is required if you are to effectively compete against it when you next meet it at the table. You can bet your cotton socks that if your opponent has long pips on one side and short pips on the other you will not be facing a rabid looper and in a game where every point counts this is important pre-game information. All the best for the festive season and I look forward to seeing you in 2018.