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PostPosted: 12 Jun 2013, 00:55 
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Here's the collected three part review with some minor mods.

Part 1

You can now purchase Palio 3 Star plastic balls on ebay for about $10. Yeah, I know. That price is ridiculous. But it is a price that will trap the curious like me. I ordered a box and received them last week.

These are not ITTF approved balls, but my understanding is that Palio will be looking to get their balls approved by the ITTF. They are seamless, not the seamed type that will likely be first used in ITTF tournaments. But they are the new size and they appear to be made of the new plastic material. The have an outside texture very similar to what we see with celluloid. When played with they have the same "cracked" sound that so many people have complained about and have commented on. I dropped the balls alongside the current ball from over two feet onto a granite countertop. The Palio ball bounces ever so slightly higher than the current ball. You don't notice it really on the first bounce, but after the balls are allowed to continue to bounce you can see the difference adding up.

So it seems very likely that the Palio ball is a good representative of the current state of the new plastic ball and is probably very similar to the balls being tested and trialed by the ITTF.

So Matt and I played a few "points" with the ball Monday. We were not happy. The ball does not "come out" when hit with underspin. It is noticeably slower. It's easier to get a short underspin serve to just stop. In short, the ball plays slow. Much slower than I expected. And I don't like it.

So Saturday I finally played a full match with the new ball. This time I played at the Via Linda Senior center and played on an older Stiga Expert Roller rather than the new Butterfly Centerfold we played on at the club. The Stiga has a glossier top surface and the ball seemed to come out a bit more. But it was still clearly slower. Keep in mind that I play with hardbat, so my experience may not jibe with those of an inverted players. After four games I concluded that:

1) Even though the ball is bouncier on the table, it seems deader off the racket. Touch shots routinely ended up short until I made adjustments.

2) With hardbat, I have to generate the power to make a strong offensive shot. I get little help from the rubber. It was noticeably harder to hit through my opponent with the new ball. You really need to flatten out the shot to hit with high speed.

3) The glossy Stiga surface made the slowness of the ball less of a problem.

4) It is easier to make a slow "control loop" with the new ball - at least to the extent than any hardbat shot is a loop.

5) It is easier to make an offensive shot, but it is harder to make that shot effective.

Part 2

I was surprised at how slow the new ball really was. It is supposedly a 40.2mm ball - though my calipers put it at 40.132mm. I was so surprised at how slow it was that I ran some numbers through my ball speed calculator. I ran number for three balls, 37.65mm (38mm) 39.65mm (40mm) and 40.2mm. I used those numbers because those are the typical numbers I see reported. My actual measurments of the three ball types were 37.465, 39.624 and 40.132 - which were lower than the commonly reported number. So maybe my calipers are off a bit.

I calculated the expected difference in speed and distance traveled after 0.3 second using three different initial speeds of 25, 35 and 55mph. The upshot is that what I observed shouldn't have been such a surprise. The new ball size represents about the same dip in speed as we saw from the move from 38mm to 40mm. That may seem surprising, but there are two important things at play here.

1) While the diameter changed only 0.55mm the surface area increase for the new plastic "40mm" is a larger increase than the surface area increase from the old "38mm" ball to the celluloid "40mm" ball. [Edit - this is incorrect. I screwed up the calculations - Jay 6/12/13]

2) There was no increase in ball weight. The ball weight specs and tolerances remain unchanged.

Image

Speed in MPH. Distance in feet. http://www.jayandwanda.com/tt/ballspeed_calc1.html



Part3

So the upshot to all of this is that by changing the ball tolerance, the ITTF is able to effect a change in ball performance approximately equal to the change from 38mm to 40mm - something that required a rules change. Some people have questioned the motivation behind the change, and there certainly is enough performance difference that it would make sense that the desire to change the performance was a significant motivating factor. There's enough difference that it matters.

All this said, the difference isn't so great that I think it will ruin the sport. It's just that I don't think it will help either. In fact, I think it will hurt it a bit. I also think that the way this change was implemented (misinformation, conflicts of interest, etc) has probably hurt the sport from the perspective of the players. A lot of time and effort has been put into tweaking the ball in the last decade or so and the net result is of little consequence to growing the sport. You want more TV viewers, bigger prize money, greater sport importance? Yer not going to get it by fiddling with the ball size. You need to grow the sport's participation levels. The sport simply is not enough of a spectacle to get viewership on the basis of spectacle alone. That's true for baseball, American football, football, tennis and hockey as well. All of those sports have current yearly participation levels in the neighborhood of 1M or more people in the U.S. But growing the sport is way more difficult than fiddling with ball specifications. Even more difficult if you disenfranchise players worldwide with your fiddling.

BTW, if the ball we end up with is typically 40.2mm we still don't have a "true" 40mm ball - one of the claimed goals. From a historical context, it has apparently been many decades (if ever) since we had a ball that was "true" to the nominally stated diameter. 38mm balls were about 0.35mm undersized - same as for the 40mm celluloid balls. That seems to have been the modern tradition. So I see no particularly compelling reason that we now need a ball that is "true" to its nominal size just because the material has changed? And a specification designed to yield a "true" 40mm ball would have been made with a lower end tolerance slightly below 40mm anyway. Surely history shows that manufacturers tend to make the smallest ball practical within the specifications - which seems to be about 0.15mm larger than the smallest spec. So if the goal was to have the ball produced at a size as close to 40mm as practical, then a lower end specification of 39.85 would seem to be ideal, not a specification of 40.0mm. The 40mm lower end spec virtually guarantees that manufacturers will overshoot 40mm by a bit. And ITTF officials wonder why many of us distrust what they say ...

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Last edited by wturber on 13 Jun 2013, 03:07, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: 12 Jun 2013, 01:36 
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PostPosted: 12 Jun 2013, 12:53 
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I'm just excited for the ITTF to finally get to see the wraith and opinion of the playing public after the most massive rule change of the social media era. At the least the game will never recover at most the ITTF will be replaced. But I'm excited to see all this unfold. In either case its going to be ugly.

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PostPosted: 12 Jun 2013, 13:26 
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Alright, alright, alright, go ahead and burn me at the stake, but I'll put forward an argument FOR the plastic ball. (Still hope Sharara doesn't read this and use it as ammunition :P )

With longer rallies and shots in general being less effective, couldn't that make it more of a "thinking" sport than a "motor" sport? Not everyone would even like that change, but I would. I like the thinking aspect.

Just a thought....

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PostPosted: 12 Jun 2013, 16:30 
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foam wrote:
I'm just excited for the ITTF to finally get to see the wraith and opinion of the playing public after the most massive rule change of the social media era. At the least the game will never recover at most the ITTF will be replaced. But I'm excited to see all this unfold. In either case its going to be ugly.


I think a big difference this time is that most players have had experience of a change in ball size. Generally I find, of those that were around for the major changes, most players support 11 up now, most are happy with the 2 colour rule but most would prefer the 38mm given a choice. I think the killer stat is that each 2mm (or whatever) rise in ball size gives rise to a more than linear increase in surface area. Common sense if you think of it, but this is a bigger change than most realise.

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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 03:01 
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so_devo wrote:
I think a big difference this time is that most players have had experience of a change in ball size. Generally I find, of those that were around for the major changes, most players support 11 up now, most are happy with the 2 colour rule but most would prefer the 38mm given a choice. I think the killer stat is that each 2mm (or whatever) rise in ball size gives rise to a more than linear increase in surface area. Common sense if you think of it, but this is a bigger change than most realise.


Well, I screwed up the surface area calculations. The increase isn't as dramatic as I stated. I used an online calculator and must have plugged in a wrong value somewhere. Here are the correct calculations.

Surface of a sphere is 4*pi*r^2
Code:
Diameter mm   Surface Area sqr.mm    % Increase
37.65           4453.2782722982        0
39.65           4938.9684965432   10.90635246%
40.2            5076.9393919073    2.79351641%

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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 04:42 
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In my opinion, it isn't the (only slightly bigger) size of the ball that makes the difference, but the change in material from celluloid to plastic. The feeling and grip is just very different and spin creation is significantly less. The ball hardly makes an arc. When you're playing hardbat, you will only feel a little part of the effect of the changes, compared to playing with inverted or even long pimples... I'd even think the new ball benefits (or at least doens't harm) the hardbat game

PS: I'm talking about the Palio ball which probably (and hopefully) isn't going to be the approved ball

wturber wrote:
so_devo wrote:
I think a big difference this time is that most players have had experience of a change in ball size. Generally I find, of those that were around for the major changes, most players support 11 up now, most are happy with the 2 colour rule but most would prefer the 38mm given a choice. I think the killer stat is that each 2mm (or whatever) rise in ball size gives rise to a more than linear increase in surface area. Common sense if you think of it, but this is a bigger change than most realise.


Well, I screwed up the surface area calculations. The increase isn't as dramatic as I stated. I used an online calculator and must have plugged in a wrong value somewhere. Here are the correct calculations.

Surface of a sphere is 4*pi*r^2
Code:
Diameter mm   Surface Area sqr.mm    % Increase
37.65           4453.2782722982        0
39.65           4938.9684965432   10.90635246%
40.2            5076.9393919073    2.79351641%

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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 05:04 
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Pipsy wrote:
In my opinion, it isn't the (only slightly bigger) size of the ball that makes the difference, but the change in material from celluloid to plastic. The feeling and grip is just very different and spin creation is significantly less. The ball hardly makes an arc. When you're playing hardbat, you will only feel a little part of the effect of the changes, compared to playing with inverted or even long pimples... I'd even think the new ball benefits (or at least doens't harm) the hardbat game

PS: I'm talking about the Palio ball which probably (and hopefully) isn't going to be the approved ball


I was playing against an 1800 level player and a 2300 level looper. Both used inverted both sides. So I got the full effect of the change from the balls I received. Also, I generate a lot more spin with hardbat than you might realize.

The bounce/rebound of the poly is very similar to celluloid. If anything, it is bouncier/faster.

So I think the differences results from:

1) Higher polar moment of inertia makes it a bit harder to impart spin on the ball.
2) Increased surface drag (with same mass) causes a more rapid loss of spin to the air.
3) Increased surface area (with same mass) slows the ball velocity down more quickly.

My bet is that at the same size poly and celluloid would play very similarly.

Right now I think the new ball harms the hardbat game a bit by making it harder to hit a winner but at the same time easier to initiate an attacking shot. Chops will "sit up" more and will be easier to attack. The poly ball is a step in the same direction as the 40mm celluloid ball, and most hardbat players saw that change as a net negative. I think it is a clear negative for playing hardbat against inverted.

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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 06:12 
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wturber wrote:
Right now I think the new ball harms the hardbat game a bit by making it harder to hit a winner but at the same time easier to initiate an attacking shot. Chops will "sit up" more and will be easier to attack. The poly ball is a step in the same direction as the 40mm celluloid ball, and most hardbat players saw that change as a net negative. I think it is a clear negative for playing hardbat against inverted.


My colleagues and I have said before that looping will be king with the new 40mm ball when 38mm balls were replaced... We were right. The same trend will continue with the larger poly ball. Monster speed, power AND spin are needed to play the modern game at the highest level, unless of course "spin" is to be limited by new rules. I simply don't see that happening.


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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 18:55 
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wturber wrote:


My bet is that at the same size poly and celluloid would play very similarly.



I don't think this would be the case. And again, playing hardbat is different than playing inverted (especially for looping) so your conclusions will be different too.

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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 19:47 
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wturber wrote:
so_devo wrote:
I think a big difference this time is that most players have had experience of a change in ball size. Generally I find, of those that were around for the major changes, most players support 11 up now, most are happy with the 2 colour rule but most would prefer the 38mm given a choice. I think the killer stat is that each 2mm (or whatever) rise in ball size gives rise to a more than linear increase in surface area. Common sense if you think of it, but this is a bigger change than most realise.


Well, I screwed up the surface area calculations. The increase isn't as dramatic as I stated. I used an online calculator and must have plugged in a wrong value somewhere. Here are the correct calculations.

Surface of a sphere is 4*pi*r^2
Code:
Diameter mm   Surface Area sqr.mm    % Increase
37.65           4453.2782722982        0
39.65           4938.9684965432   10.90635246%
40.2            5076.9393919073    2.79351641%


Even so, each time the diameter is increased the surface area increases by approximately twice the percentage of the diameter increase. Consider these two tables.....which hopefully will paste OK from Excel....

Incremental
mm diameter- surface area mm sq- % incr in diameter- % incr in surface area
37.5 - 4417.8647
38 - 4536.4598 - 1.3333% - 2.6844%
38.5 - 4656.6257 - 1.3158% - 2.6489%
39 - 4778.3624 - 1.2987% - 2.6143%
39.5 - 4901.6699 - 1.2821% - 2.5805%
40 - 5026.5482 - 1.2658% - 2.5477%
40.5 - 5152.9974 - 1.2500% - 2.5156%
41 - 5281.0173 - 1.2346% - 2.4844%
41.5 - 5410.6079 - 1.2195% - 2.4539%
42 - 5541.7694 - 1.2048% - 2.4242%
42.5 - 5674.5017 - 1.1905% - 2.3951%
43 - 5808.8048 - 1.1765% - 2.3668%
43.5 - 5944.6787 - 1.1628% - 2.3391%
44 - 6082.1234 - 1.1494% - 2.3121%

Cumulative
mm diameter- surface area mm sq- % incr in diameter- % incr in surface area
37.5 - 4417.8647
38 - 4536.4598 - 1.3333% - 2.6844%
38.5 - 4656.6257 - 2.6667% - 5.4044%
39 - 4778.3624 - 4.0000% - 8.1600%
39.5 - 4901.6699 - 5.3333% - 10.9511%
40 - 5026.5482 - 6.6667% - 13.7778%
40.5 - 5152.9974 - 8.0000% - 16.6400%
41 - 5281.0173 - 9.3333% - 19.5378%
41.5 - 5410.6079 - 10.6667% - 22.4711%
42 - 5541.7694 - 12.0000% - 25.4400%
42.5 - 5674.5017 - 13.3333% - 28.4444%
43 - 5808.8048 - 14.6667% - 31.4844%
43.5 - 5944.6787 - 16.0000% - 34.5600%
44 - 6082.1234 - 17.3333% - 37.6711%

I have used 'round' half mm increments to illustrate a point. The first table shows the effect I described for each step. However, the cumulative effect is rather like compound interest and is a bit greater.

-In approximate terms the first change was from 37.5mm balls to 39.5mm balls - 5.33% increase in diameter, 10.95% increase in surface area....

-In approximate [cumulative] terms the next change will be from 37.5mm balls to 40mm balls - 6.67% increase in diameter, 13.78% increase in surface area....

(So a 'tolerance' change has led to an increase of about 2.8% in surface area.)

If the weight of the ball is unchanged then the same amount of material has to deal with the increased surface area requirements, and will hence be thinner / weaker (granted we have had a material change)

Should 42mm balls happen the diameter/area percentage increases are 12% and 25.44% ....

Ever wondered why those 44mm balls play so dreadfully ?


EDIT: THE TABLE DIDN'T PASTE WELL SO I HAVE PUT DASHES BETWEEN THE FIGURES

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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 20:48 
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wturber wrote:
The bounce/rebound of the poly is very similar to celluloid. If anything, it is bouncier/faster.

I also felt that it is bouncier, but faster? I don't agree on that.


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PostPosted: 13 Jun 2013, 21:46 
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Very good information so_devo! :up:

yes I felt the ball was bouncier as well. I found it hard to judge the speed, as flight curve of the ball felt quite different.

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Coxeroni wrote:
wturber wrote:
The bounce/rebound of the poly is very similar to celluloid. If anything, it is bouncier/faster.

I also felt that it is bouncier, but faster? I don't agree on that.


Faster only in the sense that a blade is fast. In other words, greater rebound means a faster bounce. But no, it doesn't play "fast" at all. It plays "slow."

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Pipsy wrote:
wturber wrote:


My bet is that at the same size poly and celluloid would play very similarly.



I don't think this would be the case. And again, playing hardbat is different than playing inverted (especially for looping) so your conclusions will be different too.


But you don't say why. I think they would play similarly because the ball bounce seems similar and the texture is similar. So if the size and weight were also the same, why would I expect a different performance? The key thing to figure out is if the bounces are actually similar across a wide range of impacts. If we knew more about that, we could draw better conclusions.

And again, I played against inverted players. My conclusions are drawn not just from my contacts with the ball, but also from the shot I received when hit by inverted players as well as their comments about the ball.

This table shows the different rotational moments of inertia for the 38mm, 40mm, and 40mm poly balls. The higher the number the more the ball resists changing rotation. In other words, the harder it is to get it to spin. This increased by a whopping 27% when going from the 38mm to the 40mm ball. The new poly ball increases this by a still quite significant 12%. So we can point to three things that make the poly ball slower and spin less without considering the material itself.

1) Higher rotational moment of inertia
2) Higher drag on linear motion due to larger frontal area
3) Greater drag on rotational motion due to larger surface area

Code:
Diameter & weight  Rot Mom Intertia
37.65mm & 2.5g  -  5.551e-7 kg/m^2
39.65mm & 2.7g  -  7.076e-7 kg/m^2
40.20mm & 2.7g  -  7.938e-7 kg/m^2

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