Some random notes & observations

 

  1. “Ping-Pong” is a sad derogatory misnomer for the modern “sport” of “table-tennis”
  2.  Ping-Pong refers to a silly mindless basement “game” (played in North American basements / bars)
  3. Table-tennis is an athletic Olympic sport , undisputably (for better or worse) the most complex individual sport
  4. Informed people will not use the phrase “ping-pong” in the context of table-tennis and look cluleless
  5. Table-tennis was played with rackets with pips out rubber without sponge before 1952
  6. Modern table-tennis is mostly played with rackets that have smooth rubber & sponge
  7. Smooth surface rubbers (not old) create lot more spin than pips-out rubbers
  8. Smooth rubbers are for (mostly) “spinning” the ball; pips-out rubbers are mostly for “hitting”
  9. Smooth rubbers provide more control (better error margins) via spin
  10. Since almost every player in table-tennis somehow a professional table-tennis athlete ( champion of their state or old country etc) , we will use the definition of a player as being over about 2600 for men and about 2300 for women and classify the rest as amateur players, when references to professional & amateur players are made going forward below 
  11. Most of the time the contact angle with the ball is near orthogonal for short pips (with sponge) for hitting. However for top-spin loops the racket is more open and upward (90 degrees to 60 degrees up from the table) using short-pips but more closed and forward (45 degrees to 5 degrees up from table) using smooth rubbers.
  12. Most of the time the contact angle with the ball is closed tangential for smooth rubbers
  13. Most of the time the contact angle with the ball is open tangential with long-pips rubbers
  14. Smooth spinny rubber is a huge liability for older players (who don’t loop). You are wasting your time in table-tennis
  15. Smooth spinny rubber is ONLY for younger players (who loop like mad from both wings)
  16. Older players are much better off using short and (medium or long) pips (ideally long or medium pips on backhand & short pips on the forehand).   
  17. Pips-out rubbers provide more control via pip design.
  18. Peer pressure (& bullying) to use just smooth spinny rubbers (half out of sheer ignorance & half out of calculated bigotry)  regardless of individual style is the biggest disease infesting table-tennis due to lack of diversity education (needed from ITTF).
  19. For most players forehand is very different from backhand for many factors such as consistency, style. Player A may have a great forehand loop but a hitting backhand. Player B may have a chopping forehand and looping / lobbing backhand Player C may have slow looping forehand and power looping backhand. Player D may have looping forehand and a blocking forehand . etc etc etc. Every single player in table-tennis is unique. If you cannot identify your style and match your racket design (forehand and backhand rubber types which will be most likely for most players) you are wasting your time playing table-tennis unless you are just playing for pure exercise & mindless fun rather than to play to your maximum potential.  
  20. Sandpaper was NEVER EVER legal in ITTF tournament play
  21. Don’t choose your grip ( penhold or shakehand or American style grip etc) just because everyone thinks this grip is superior to that grip or whatever. You are born with your grip. Generally most shakehanders cannot switch to penhold but most penholders can also play decent shakehand .
  22. With the development of reverse penhold technique, Chinese penhold (or c-Pen) is clearly the superior grip if you are lucky to have been born with it.  (Reasons discussed in another paper at this website).  If you are a c-pen player you may want to consider switching to reverse penhold style if you are now using traditional old school c-pen grip (This is not to suggest everyone switch to c-pen because unless you are born with it it is not going to work for you.
  23. Every player is blessed (or cursed) with their unique style. Don’t try to imitate a professional player unless you are a fun & exercise player. To realize your maximum potential you need to identify the best racket design that matched your style that you are born with and there is no way around it.
  24. It is psychotic to believe that table-tennis will return to days of hardbat table-tennis as most rational players understand that sponge domain table-tennis accommodates better to individual styles by choosing almost exact racket design to match a unique style given that every single player is unique in table-tennis. Time has come for older players living in the past and worse interfering with the development of children & let children move on.
  25. Most amateurs spend most of their training working on their strengths. This is a HUGE mistake. An amateur in NEVER going to reach the consistency level of a professional (this is a pipe-dream). Amateur players must still spend some time trying to improve on their stronger strokes but bigger focus should be on diversity of stroke production. Learn as many strokes and serves as possible, which is not only beneficial but also makes playing the sport more enjoyable, even if you are playing only for exercise & fun.
  26. Obsessing over what racket a professional player uses and/or trying to imitate their playing style is borderline psychotic, mostly because in most case your natural playing style may be totally different. Also, you are not going to find the same exact racket that a professional player uses because in most cases it is probably highly customized though it looks like stock equipment for sponsorship purposes.  So find a racket that matches your own playing style not a professional player.
  27. If using smooth (spinny) rubber, your primary mindset should be all about spinning the ball (by “brushing” the ball) like mad , not “hitting” the ball.  If you don’t loop and use smooth spinny rubber it is a huge liability especially if you are older. Yes you can definitely ALSO hit using smooth rubber but that is not the primary purpose. If you mostly hit, switch to short pips.
  28. Basement game of “ping-pong” may be played just using your backhand  but “table-tennis” is primarily a forehand dominant sport. Yes backhand is equally important as you get better table-tennis but backhand in itself nowhere close to a sufficient and necessary condition to get to be decent table-tennis player. You are highly unlikely to walk into a tennis club and ask the coach just to teach you backhand only. Likewise thinking that you can dominate in table-tennis just with your backhand is just as absurd. Even if you happen to be maybe 5% to 10% of the human who have a better backhand than forehand, you are not going to get anywhere in table-tennis just with your backhand ONLY
  29. A professional player using smooth rubber instinctively knows when to hit instead of spinning (and a professional player using short pips instinctively knows when to spin instead of hitting). But a lower level smooth rubber player must initially sacrifice hitting and must focus on spinning, as this is the simply nature of smooth rubber by design. Biggest mistakes that lower level players using spinny rubbers make, is to go for speed (watching professional players) . Smooth spinny rubber is for “spinning”. When you start learning to play with smooth rubber, goal should be to maximize spin at minimum speed. You speed will improve as your level improve but don’t push it but let it come to you as improve.
  30. If a ball crosses your end-line, the error margin gets worse and worse if you are using smooth rubber. So unless the ball is VERY high you want to loop (top-spin) your return.
  31. If the incoming ball is very high and you can reach it inside your end-line, you may want to chop-kill the ball rather than straight-kill. This makes it harder for your opponent to counter-kill.
  32. If you are learning to loop first, you will initially miss 90% to 95% of your tries. This is normal as this is the nature of the stroke, since the contact angle for “brushing” the ball the ball is very acute and tangential  (as opposed to “hitting” the ball where the contact angle is vertical. Even the professional players miss upto 5% of their loops, which can be identified by them hitting the ball straight up with the racket edge, 30 to 40 feet up into the air (in tennis 50 to 60 feet)
  33. It may not make too much sense to go very wide against tall shakehand players, their weakness is towards middle inside of forehand near the body. On the other hand penhold players maybe stronger in the middle and weaker wide to the sides especially if they are not playing reverse penhold    
  34.  If you are using (short or medium) pips your primary mindset is all about “hitting” the ball , not spinning it
  35. Any (smooth) rubber that produces more spin will also react more just as equally to more incoming spin
  36. There is no universally perfect rubber that can provide everything : spin, speed & control
  37. Control is very relative concept. It means different for a professional compared to an amateur
  38. No such thing as the best rubber for all styles. No rubber can do it all as marketing gimmicks claim
  39. You racket is mostly open if you use pips or anti ; mostly closed if you use smooth rubber
  40. In terms of table-tennis speed, closing back & forth forehand to backhand is a major consideration
  41. Lighter rackets allow for quick hand movements but less speed
  42. Heavier rackets give more speed and better control
  43. Carbon (or composite) rackets have bigger sweet spots and more speed but produce less spin
  44. With other things equal all wood blades provide more spin and less speed
  45. Control is provided by different mechanisms in all wood or composite blades
  46. All wood blades provide better control by feel and more spin (with other factors being equal)
  47. Composite blades provide better control via material design and larger sweet spots
  48. If your rubber & blade) does not closely match your playing style, quit playing table-tennis
  49. Don’t use a rubber (especially smooth) just because everyone else is using it or says so
  50. Start with smooth rubber if you are young and then move to pips if your style dictates
  51. Start with (short or medium) pips out rubber if you are much older and move to smooth if your style dictates
  52. If you are older and don’t loop , smooth rubber is a HUGE liability
  53. If you are young and don’t hit , (short / medium) pips is a HUGE liability
  54. Forehand and backhand can be VERY VERY different for most players.
  55. You can (MUST) use VERY different rubbers on your backhand and forehand if your style dictates so.
  56. To loop you need smooth rubber ; to hit you need short/medium pips rubber; to chop you need long pips
  57. It is psychotic to think you can chop with smooth rubber both sides in modern table-tennis
  58. There are in general 2 types of long-pips : One for classic away from table chopping, other at the table blocking
  59. There are 100s if not 1000s of players on this planet who can beat a (long) pips player of more or less equal rating . So if you lose to a (long) pips player of more or less your equal rating, you only have yourself (or your technique, your wrong racket not matching your style, you paranoia etc) to blame.  So if you think a long-pips player at your level (whom 1000s of players in this at your level can beat) is pathetic , I guess that makes you even more pathetic
  60. Learning all types of blocking is essential : simple touch blocks,  muff clocks, power punch blocks & side-spin blocks
  61. If you have trouble keeping heavy top-spin returns on the table (and they shoot off the end), switching to American grip just to block may be a solution 
  62. Almost every player (even at professional level) has a problem style that is his / her nightmare
  63.  If everyone can just win using (long) pips, everyone would be using long pips but it is just not for everyone.
  64. Table-tennis is not figure-skating. No style points for your pretending to be a two-winged looper.
  65. Consistency is a myth for an amateur player (hacker) .
  66. Long-pips have a virtual “amplification” effect when returning (but only when returning) a looped ball.  The total spin is the reversed spin of the opponent’s top-spin added with the choppers’s backspin but most importantly the amplified (back)spin created by the storage of energy due to long dwell time of the ball due to bending of the long-pips. This heavy spin can seem very deceptive to a new looper who has no prior experience playing against long-pips which in most cases may be due consciously avoiding practicing against long-pips ending up clueless in a tournament.  
  67. The heavier the top-spin of the incoming loop, lot lot more heavier is the returned back-spin from a long-pip chop.
  68. When using a combination racket with long pips & smooth spinny rubber, the returned back-spin is much less from the spinny rubber side (usually forehand in most cases) compared to from long-pips side (usually from backhand). Maximizing the effectiveness of a combination racket to achieve this effect is exceedingly difficult and has rarely been seen at any level.
  69. Returning a loop with long-pips with even slight wrist action creates lot more amplified back-spin compared to wrist action
  70. Thin slicing of the chop with (0 degree to floor racket angle) can produce tremendous back-spin even with non-long-pips rubbers but requires a perfect stroke and foot-work and positioning. If you observe closely you can note this difference chopping techniques between the top 2 choppers Joo Sehyuk & Chen Weixing. Then again every chopper is different as is any table-tennis player compared to another.
  71. OX rubbers (or no sponge rubbers) give lot more control at lower levels. OX long pips can also be more deceptive. However OX rubbers may not of much help at levels above about 2100 level (master level), because the loops carry such heavy top-spin that the ball may bounce off the wood and this is also why higher level players use maximum sponge under their long-pips…..even then the ball may sometimes dig deep past the even heavy sponge and bounce off the wood due to the glued & boosted up incoming loops     
  72. Diversity of strokes and serves (over consistency) is the only salvation for an amateur player (hacker).
  73. An amateur must recognize their saturation point of consistency for each of their best strokes and spend least time on those strokes and move on to maximizing consistency on other strokes that they are not as good  as much as possible because attempting to maximize your consistency on your best strokes is an exercise in futility if you are an amateur player, because you will never ever achieve the consistency of a professional player, however hard you try and that is reality……so move on to diversifying wide arsenal of strokes in table-tennis and have fun learning. A sad & glaring example of failure in this context is when two players spending hours mindlessly counter-driving for hours, fantasizing to be professionals. If you are an amateur player it is ok to do this for a few minutes but then move on to learning or improving (your consistency) of your less consistent strokes.     
  74. Playing for fun (& exercise) is great but is not the same as playing to your potential which is far more complicated.
  75. It’s ok to play for fun (& exercise) with wrong racket / rubber mismatched to your style but don’t whine about losing.
  76. More than 50% tournament players are using rackets / rackets mismatched to their style but whine
  77. If you are a coach & allow to a young player to start with pips (first) , that is coaching malpractice
  78. If you recommend a smooth rubber for an older player who cannot loop, that is coaching malpractice
  79. If a coach recommends to a classic chop defender to use smooth spinny rubber both sides, that is coaching malpractice
  80. Short-pips are shortest & stiffest ; long-pips are longest and most flexible ; medium pips in between
  81. Pips with rough tops / sides create more spin & least deceptive
  82. Pips with smoothest (as legal) top and sides create less spin and are more deceptive
  83. Pip rubber deception is based on a combination of several factors not just one though one may dominate
  84. Professional defenders prefer the least deceptive (meaning most controllable) long-pips not most deceptive (meaning least controllable)
  85. Two amateur players with long-pips don’t play against each other to pleasure your royal highness, that is the job of professional defenders
  86. The highest probability of an exciting match for spectators is when a professional defender plays an attacker
  87. Highest probability of a dull match with fewest rallies is when 2 loopers face each other, more so at lower levels.
  88. A match between 2 loopers at lower levels is more error prone and dull than a match between 2 long-pippers.
  89. A professional player can beat a top amateur with any rubber or a shoe but that does not prove a professional player can beat another professional player (at about same level) with any rubber. Point being, every player can play their best only with rubber / racket that best matches their TOTAL playing style (backhand & forehand)
  90.  Short-pips is NOT designed to be a chopping rubber. Short-pips is a block and smash style rubber. Smooth rubber is a looping rubber NOT a chopping rubber. Simply because it is possible to chop with smooth or short-pips rubbers, it does not mean they are the best for chopping. IT JUST is not possible to have any one rubber surface to do everything (except that manufacturers will advertise that each of their rubbers can execute all strokes perfectly LOL)
  91. To realize your potential use synergistic combination of two different type rubbers that matches your style
  92. RobotNazis, who cannot play using pips do NOT want you to use pips either because most of them cannot play against pips or have developed a mental block over time due to endless brainwashing by other robotNazis.
  93. Ball diameter increase was meant speed of rallies but rallies now are actually faster due to more powerful rackets.
  94. Lowered aspect ratio of pips, 40 mm ball and plastic ball had reduced back spin significantly for defenders while unenforceable glue and booster fake rules provide ever increasing spins for defenders
  95. For long (& top-spin) serves, the server must drop the ball on server’s side nearest to the server’s end-line
  96. For short (& back-spin) serves, the server must drop the ball on server’s side nearest to the net (on server’s side)
  97. If you can read the logo on the incoming ball (especially incoming serves) , then the ball has minimal spin
  98.  Good foot-speed with bad reflexes > you may be an away-from-the-table-style (lob, chop) player using smooth rubber and/or long-pips
  99. Good reflexes > You may be able to play at-the-table-block-and-smash-pips-out style rather the away from the table
  100. Coaching malpractice > Trying to coach every student to be your mirror image when not a single student will ever be your mirror image because every single player in table-tennis has their unique style
  101. Unless you are defensive player you may want to top-spin each and every single serve or ball. Even if it is extremely short on your forehand, the new trend is to step around and banana loop it. This is because if you are an attacking player, you want to prevent the opponent from initiating the first (big) loop.
  102. Every return you make must have a purpose even if you are caught out of position. Don’t just try to lob the ball for instance. Try to lob deep . Try to lob with side spin. If you are blocking or chopping see if you can block with side-spin.
  103. As the saying goes, not taking any risk at all may be the biggest risk you take. An example of this is when you see defensive players attack all out when it is deuce.
  104. Unless you are K-Pen (Korean penhold with extreme emphasis on forehand) player with ridiculous foot-speed+reflexes, everyone has moved on to using an equal backhand whether shakehand or C-Pen (with reverse penhold). Even at amateur levels it is no longer to play the K-pen style that even some top C-pen or even shakehand player played (stepping around to play like a penholder).
  105. Players at the amateur level play for their own fun & exercise and not to entertain you, which is the job of professional players. So it is absurd to argue that it is boring to watch two amateur long-pips players. On the other hand at the professional level a far more entertaining match happens when a long-pips defender is involved , while more often than not a match between two third-ball attackers even at professional level is a comedy of errors.
  106. It is childish to argue that any player can use any rubber as long as they have the proper technique (they just can’t) just because a professional player can easily beat an amateur player with any rubber (or a shoe or frozen fish). That proves absolutely nothing because when you compare two players (of different styles) you need to compare them at more or less equal skill levels (not an amateur against a professional etc).  A professional player being able to beat a high level amateur player using a frozen fish for a racket does not prove the same professional player can beat ALL professional players using long-pips etc for example. Yet this is the childish and silly argument presented by robotNazi hatemongers to justify their disgust for any pips etc.  
  107. If I am an amateur player, learning all possible strokes (diversity) is my only salvation over making my dominant strokes more consistent  but you also tell me I am born with my style. So how does it matter what rubbers (racket design) I use ? Very good question . My point is that you should FIRST choose a racket design that matches your dominant style and THEN learn all possible strokes and serves using that while also spending some time (but not a lot) maximizing your stronger strokes, if you are not already at saturation point of your consistency. As an example it is quite difficult to loop using long-pips but everytime you do you will most likely win the point because the ball has little spin (dummy loop or fake loop) and all the table blockers will put the return in the bottom of the net. On the flip side, it is relatively harder to chop these days against a powerful loop using smooth rubber but if you can chop with variations using smooth rubber , the ball will float long. And yes you can loop with short pips effectively or hit effectively with smooth rubber but you have to choose your racket design before you get to the issue of working on your diversity (of stroke production) over wasting minimal time striving in futile for consistency on your stronger strokes      
  108. Don’t just throw the ball up there on the table hoping the opponent will somehow miss. Examples :- If you lob , lob deep . If you push or block , place the ball to points where the opponents cannot attack easily but feels awkward. Most important, add side-spin to every stroke if possible such as a side-spin push or side-block or fade-loop sor hook-loops etc as straight spins are usually easy to handle even at lower levels but side spins are not