pimple advantage and disadvantages:
Long pimples style is very popular with some table tennis players as it allows them to slow down play and to put the focus on strategy and using their hand skills rather than movement and power to win points. Playing with this kind of rubber can be a lot of fun, but also takes a lot of time to master. In the lower grades this kind of rubber can produce a lot of cheap points. At the higher grades and top grades player will usually understand how these rubbers work, and may work out way of using it against you. In the higher grades it takes just as much skill (if not more) to use the long pimpled rubber successfully, as it takes to play with a more conventional rubber.
The main benefits of long pimpled rubbers are:
- great control against spin, spin has little effect on these rubbers
- can reverse or take off the spin producing awkward returns and draws errors
- can produce some randomness in the amount spin returned, drawing errors
- big change in pace compared to most smooth rubbers, providing good contrast
If you have limited mobility or body movement, these rubbers can offer another way of winning games, ie. strategy instead of just power.
I think this is one of the greatest assets and benefits for the sport of
Table tennis, as it allows people to plays and be competitive despite
any physical deficiency.
The main disadvantages are:
- hard to control against no-spin balls
- you have less control over what spin you return
- cannot generate much spin (spin gives you control)
- they are generally slow, giving you opponent more time to react
harder to attack with
The key to playing with (or against) long pimpled rubbers is understanding spin. There are basically 2 types of long pimpled rubbers:
1. Frictionless (with varying degree) long pimples
2. Grippy (with varying degree) long pimples
1. Frictionless long pimple rubbers have very little grip on the ball, meaning that whatever spin is on the ball will continue after you hit the ball. This is called 'spin reversal'. This effectively means that if someone gives you topspin, the ball will continue spinning the same way after you return it, generating backspin. Similarly if they give you backspin you will return topspin. Note that it does not matter what type of stroke you play (or pretend to play), the spin will be your opponent's spin reversed. This is where a lot of cheap points can be won, especially in the lower grades, because for example if you chop (with a chopping action) your opponents backspin, you will actually return topspin. If your opponent treat it as a backspin shot, they will probably pop up the next ball, allowing you to go in for the kill.
These rubbers can be extremely effective, particularly close to the table, where you can block a heavy topspin loop, and generate a short heavy backspin return.
Note that the ITTF, in their great wisdom, have
decided to ban the majority of frictionless long pimples as of July 1st
2. Grippy long pimple rubbers can actually impart/change some the spin of the ball, but due to the small contact surface of the pimples, will still produce a fair amount of spin reversal, depending on the stroke and how grippy the pimples are.
So you might ask why would I use a grippy long pimpled rubber if the spin reversal is not as good as that of a frictionless one? Well the great benefit of grippy long pimpled rubbers is that you actually have much more control over what spin you return.
Say for example you play with a frictionless long pimpled rubber against a player that has a good understanding of what this rubber does. Then by putting the appropriate spin on their shots, they can actually control what spin is returned. This means the only weapon you have left is the placement and pace of your return, as you cannot change the spin.
Now grippy long pimpled rubbers can actually either reverse the spin, take the spin off, or actually generate a moderate amount of spin, all by changing the action of your stroke. So you can learn to disguise the spin you return, and thereby drawing errors. The downside of this is that because the pimples are more grippy, it's a little more sensitive to incoming spin, so basically you sacrifice some control for being able to have more control over the spin you return.
An added benefit of the grippy long pimpled rubber are that they are a lot easier to attack with. Because they do have some grip, you can produce some spin, which is what gives you control in your attack.
Note that most long pimpled rubber do not fall completely in the frictionless or grippy long pimpled category, but somewhere in between. Some of the rubbers have smooth (almost frictionless tips), but the sides of the pimples are a little grippy. This means that if you stroke the ball a little harder, you'll bend the pimples and generate some spin (or grip the ball more) with the sides of the pimples. There are a wide variety of long pimpled rubbers, all with their unique characteristics. The main parameters of these rubbers are:
- pimple tip surface rough or smooth
- softness or how flexible the pimples are, determines how easily they bend and the amount of grip they have
- space and size of the pimples
- thickness and softness of the sponge
The effect of these parameters is a BIG subject, that I might leave for another article. If you're quite new to table tennis and are interested to try long pimpled rubbers, I suggest you try a cheap and fairly easy to control one first, just to see if you can get use to the, and if it suits your style. Something like the Friendship 837 or 755 are decent all-round long pimpled rubber, and are relatively cheap to try.