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PostPosted: 02 Aug 2014, 19:02 
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abdulmuhsee wrote:
In all honesty, unless you're an elite player, your own ability will plateau before your equipment starts to hold you back.

Basically, your choice of equipment will only become limiting if and when you reach the top levels of the sport.

carbonman wrote:
Any attack against a decent topspin is extremely difficult and/or erratic. The bulk of your attacking has to be done against backspin balls.


I agree and somewhat disagree with this; personally I find topspin balls the easiest to attack, and it's much easier to smash through them than with inverted.

Sure, you obviously can't loop as well as with inverted, but you can loop. You can lift backspin balls, smash topspin balls, chop, block, etc., so there are plenty of options available to you.


Again, it is important to be sober and not romantic when assessing the pros and cons of hardbat. Limitations dont start to kick in only at the elite level, rather, they kick in almost from the start. Firstly, there are no advantages from spin serves, this is a HUGE area. Secondly, you can't push a backspin ball with any decent spin - this results in an easy ball to attack for a middling (not just an elite) player. Yes you can topspin a backspin ball but the topspin has no kick and is frequently an easy ball to attack for a middling player. DECENT topspins (ie loops that are reasonably heavy and deep) are difficult to attack with any great control/consistency as the timing has to be extremely precise. I could list other shortcomings but I wont.

Some years back a local Australian player (at least US 2350 - he went on to become a state top 10 player) went to train in Hungary. At the time Hungary had some amazing choppers and one of these choppers used to play this Australian guy for money and always won. The thing is that the Hungarian used a plank of wood! I relate this story to illustrate that yes, one can become a reasonably player with a hardbat but that is because the player is a GOOD PLAYER and not because there are no serious shortcomings with the equipment. I am assuming no one would argue that there are no shortcomings playing with a plank of wood even though it is possible for SOME players to play at a decent level with one.

So again, if you love it go for your life and play with a hardbat but just be realistic about what is involved.


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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2014, 00:23 
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LordCope wrote:
abdulmuhsee wrote:
In all honesty, unless you're an elite player, your own ability will plateau before your equipment starts to hold you back.


This has been my view... I think what the coach is suggesting is that I'd plateau sooner.

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I'm assuming the people that beat you while you're using hardbat will also beat you if you're using inverted, LP, or whatever.


Right - the people I struggle against are division 2 or division 1 players - I'm a division 5 player, but improving. The difference is I have more fun losing with hardbat :) And actually, I have more fun when I win points.

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In any case, I play at least as well with hardbat and have quite a bit more fun in the process; I like being able to feel the ball with each hit and putting my whole body into strokes.


This. Now, I suspect that at least at division 2 level, the people who beat me are quite beatable with hardbat. They don't move especially well, they don't spin the ball a terrifying amount... they're just decent players with more experience and skill than me. My theory is that if I focus on fitness, movement, and good placement, I ought to be able to work towards beating them. Now, I think that the coach (and carbonman) are probably suggesting that this is absolutely right, but that I'm limiting myself - I could do that and more with a more modern setup. That might be true, but I am attracted to the idea, and like the restriction.

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Personally I find topspin balls the easiest to attack, and it's much easier to smash through them than with inverted. I would define hardbat as a jack of all trades, but master of none as opposed to a narrow "one way to play"; it has a broad variety of ways you can play with it, but it doesn't really shine in any one application.


This is what I'm finding too.

I have to totally agree with all of this. I'm a 69 YO recreational player who is never going to progress to the 2000 level, or likely even the 1500 level. In the 4 years since I've started playing, I've tried many rubbers - tacky inverted with 1.5, 1.8, 2.0 and 2.15 sponge, non-tacky inverted with 1.0 and 1.5 sponge, Pogo and 755-2 LP, Peacekeeper and various SP OX, 1.5 and 2.0 sponge.

I did well with inverted against the one player who hits mostly hard topspin drives, but had trouble with his backspin serve. I also had trouble against a couple of heaver choppers, one who used a very spiny side spin serve. I was able to attack several other players, but made too many mistakes. Even though I hit a lot of winners and won most times against the ones who didn't use a lot of spin, the large number of mistakes made playing less fun. Also, the points were often 1 or 2 hits.

I then tried using inverted against some and SP against others, but the difference didn't allow me to get familiar with either. The heavy choppers would beat me when I used inverted, but I would win with SP OX. I recently played a 1550-1600 player who uses a lot of spin. I started to play with an ALL blade with non-tacky inverted and he beat me 11-0 2 games. I switched to my wife's Allplay with A-1.2 both sides and got 5 and 3 points the next 2 games. He said that I hit some very good shots using that blade. The points that I won were winners and all points lasted longer. I think that the games were more enjoyable for both of us.

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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2014, 01:26 
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SeniorRecPlayer wrote:
I did well with inverted against the one player who hits mostly hard topspin drives, but had trouble with his backspin serve. I also had trouble against a couple of heaver choppers, one who used a very spiny side spin serve. I was able to attack several other players, but made too many mistakes. Even though I hit a lot of winners and won most times against the ones who didn't use a lot of spin, the large number of mistakes made playing less fun. Also, the points were often 1 or 2 hits.


This is exactly what I've experienced. When I play inverted against inverted, I find the reaction of the spin on my bat so severe that I make all sorts of mistakes that spoil the game for me. I'd rather lose in a few more shots because the opponent was able to force a weak return from me and hit a winner, than that I hit the ball into the net or off the table on the serve or on shot 2 or 3. That just spoils the game for me, and I feel miserable about it. I don't doubt this just means that you and I simply need to learn to be better at reading and handling heavy spin, but for now I'm ok with the compromise of using a less spinny bat.

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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2014, 17:47 
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LordCope wrote:
I don't doubt this just means that you and I simply need to learn to be better at reading and handling heavy spin...

Yes, reading and handling spin are just part of a players development. Its the same as learning to push or smash - they are skills that must be learnt. EVERY PLAYER, even Ma Long, struggles against spin in the beginning but it doesnt take long to get on top of it. A good coach can explain the theory to you in 15-20 minutes and after that its just a few weeks practice and you have it. Its best not to try to take shortcuts as it catches up with you not far down the road. No matter what rubber you use you need to learn how to understand and handle spin...besides, its one of the things that makes the game so interesting and complex.


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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2014, 21:49 
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OK... just suppose I took this to heart... the summary being:

Plus points:

- Exceptional control
- Like the feel of playing with it - can feel the shot
- Great fun playing it
- Compensates for inability to read and handle heavy spin
- Unusual nature wins some points against inexperienced players

But:

- Not enough spin to challenge stronger players
- Not able to vary the spin enough
- One dimensional - once a reasonable player works it out, they're in control
- Compensating for poor spin play with equipment is short-sighted

Suppose I agreed, and wanted the best of both worlds, which seems to be to add more spin and variation, how can I best do this whilst retaining what I love about hardbat? I'm thinking specifically:

- Should one opt for hard or soft sponge?
- Should one go for very thin sponge?

I say this because when I played with double inverted (which I have rarely done), I've used 2.0 or more thickness of sponge with Chinese rubbers. This feels massively different, and I feel I have way less touch and control. I notice some rubbers are available with 1.5 or 1.0 (or thinner) sponge. Would something like 1.5 or 1.0 sponge with an all-round rubber be a good compromise? I notice I could get Mark V in both 1.0 and 1.5 mm.

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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2014, 22:04 
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If you really enjoy playing with hardbat that is great and I would encourage you to stick with it. You dont need any further justification. If you find you have plateaued and want to progress further you can always switch to something else. Using a hardbat should actually encourage clean technique and good footwork amongst other things so it is not an entirely bad thing to start with.

If you are interested in not being stuck in the middle grades and one day being able to perform at a reasonably advanced level well then just get ONE dual inverted bat with decent control and set about learning how to play first without thinking any more about equipment for a considerable period of time. One you learn how to play you will be in a postion where you will know which step you should take next.

I only wrote what I wrote in order that your decisions would be based in some form of objectivity. Whichever path you choose I wish you well.


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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2014, 22:59 
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LordCope,
I would suggest a non tacky inverted with 1.0 or 1.5 sponge. I've tried various tacky Chinese rubbers and all were very sensitive to incoming spin. I would suggest Yasaka Original, which has soft 1.0mm sponge or Yasaka Original Extra, which is basically the same rubber but with 1.5mm sponge. Both are control rubbers and priced quite reasonably at $21/sheet US. Reflectoid is a control rubber, but it is tacky and more sensitive to spin.

Even though Yasaka Original is less sensitive to spin, it's the rubber that I used on a control blade and lost 2 games 11-0 to the 1550+ player.

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PostPosted: 03 Aug 2014, 23:43 
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LC, consider to simply truck on with what you like. If you learn how to adapt your approach to taking the ball quickly off the bounce, with the right placement, you will give a lot of players fits when they miss. I do not see why you cannot potentially become a Div 2 player if your game grows and you go about it right. Div 1 and above... they are too good vs that kind of game, forget about it. But lets get real. How many 2x inverted players out of 1000 make it to Div 2 or above? Probably not a lot of them, prolly 10%ish if that.

Even if you do not grow another inch and remain in Div 5, by all accounts you are having a blast, so have it I would say.

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PostPosted: 04 Aug 2014, 01:35 
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Der_Echte wrote:
LC, consider to simply truck on with what you like. If you learn how to adapt your approach to taking the ball quickly off the bounce, with the right placement, you will give a lot of players fits when they miss. I do not see why you cannot potentially become a Div 2 player if your game grows and you go about it right. Div 1 and above... they are too good vs that kind of game, forget about it. But lets get real. How many 2x inverted players out of 1000 make it to Div 2 or above? Probably not a lot of them, prolly 10%ish if that.

Even if you do not grow another inch and remain in Div 5, by all accounts you are having a blast, so have it I would say.


True. Do whatever gives you the most enjoyment. If becoming a 2400 player is what will make you the happiest then get lots of coaching and practice for hours a day and learn to use the best equipment available properly. However, if just playing well and not making dumb errors or getting frustrated always hitting the ball into the net or long, then accept that you will stay at a lower level but enjoy playing. It seems that both LordCope and I are the latter. I would much rather lose a point because my opponent hit a winner off of a good shot from me than hit a relatively easy ball into the net or long because I couldn't read some spin or couldn't control my more advanced equipment.

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PostPosted: 04 Aug 2014, 22:13 
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carbonman wrote:
Using a hardbat should actually encourage clean technique and good footwork amongst other things so it is not an entirely bad thing to start with.


This is an interesting observation. The first time I played with hardbat (see blog) I felt my technique *had* to be better, and my footwork. Fellow players at the club say that my footwork is *much* better when I play with hardbat. I don't know why, but psychologically it seems to have that effect.


Quote:
If you are interested in not being stuck in the middle grades and one day being able to perform at a reasonably advanced level well then just get ONE dual inverted bat with decent control and set about learning how to play first without thinking any more about equipment for a considerable period of time. One you learn how to play you will be in a postion where you will know which step you should take next.


What you've said has given me serious pause for thought... to the end that I'm considering quite seriously doing just this... although whilst trying to retain some of what I love about the hardbat experience.

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I only wrote what I wrote in order that your decisions would be based in some form of objectivity. Whichever path you choose I wish you well.


Thanks - I appreciate it.

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PostPosted: 05 Aug 2014, 01:23 
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Der_Echte wrote:
LC, consider to simply truck on with what you like. If you learn how to adapt your approach to taking the ball quickly off the bounce, with the right placement, you will give a lot of players fits when they miss. I do not see why you cannot potentially become a Div 2 player if your game grows and you go about it right.


Interestingly the hardbat player who first lent me his spare bat has just been promoted to division 1. Will be curious to see how he gets on....

Quote:
Div 1 and above... they are too good vs that kind of game, forget about it. But lets get real. How many 2x inverted players out of 1000 make it to Div 2 or above? Probably not a lot of them, prolly 10%ish if that.

Even if you do not grow another inch and remain in Div 5, by all accounts you are having a blast, so have it I would say.


I was thinking about this this afternoon. It's a curious thing... I compare it to... Landrover Defenders. I have one. I love it. Yes I *know* it's a 60+ year old design. Yes I know it's slow and it rattles and it's unreliable and it's inefficient. But it's *gorgeous* and I love it. I feel the same way when I play hardbat. I know it has its weaknesses, but it makes me smile!

That said... I do have ambitions to win some cups... so I might need to find that compromise :)

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PostPosted: 17 Sep 2014, 01:30 
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I disagree with some of the points posted here, and would like to offer an alternate viewpoint on a few of them:

Myth #1 - "To get better, you will need to switch to inverted at some point". While this is true for someone with the talent/training to compete at a world class level, I am convinced that at the amateur level, many players would actually get further with a hardbat. I certainly am one of them. I struggled for almost 20 years from the time I was a teenager with inverted and never got past 1400. If anyone had told me that one day I'd be 1800, I would have laughed. 15 years ago I switched to hardbat, and last year I passed 2100. No, that isn't going to win any titles - but the fact is there is no way I would have ever gotten over 2000 with inverted. I just don't have the talent or athleticism, and inverted was keeping me overly focused on looping the ball and distracting me from developing good footwork, a decent table game, balance, and shot selection.

Myth #2 - "You can't generate enough spin with a hardbat". While it is true that the hardbat inherently cannot generate as much spin as inverted, you can still generate quite a lot of spin, particularly off of certain opponents' strokes, and you can more easily vary and disguise the degree of spin you employ. Below the 2300-2400 level, most games are decided by who makes the most mistakes - and mistakes are caused primarily by misreading the degree of spin, not by who gets the most spin.

Myth #3 - "All shots can be done better with inverted". Again, true at the world class level. However, at the level of mortals where 99.9% of us reside, there are several shots that are easier to execute with a hardbat. A great example is topspin-flipping against a short push. That is a really hard shot to do with inverted, which means that most club players who use inverted get caught in pushing duels. With a hardbat that shot is much easier, meaning ironically that it is easier for some players to take the offense with a hardbat than with inverted. Certainaly true for me. Another example is disguising a dead ball... much easier to do with a hardbat.

Myth #4 - "Hardbat limits the variation in your game". I strongly disagree with this one. Many of my opponents tell me that the most difficult thing about playing me is the variety of stuff I throw at them. Sure, in theory, the plethora of modern surfaces should lead to more variety. But the reality is that a super-fast-super-spinny paddle severely limits the number of shots that most club players (and by this I mean up to about 2200) are able to reliably execute. The hardbat is more forgiving, and as a result I feel as though I have a wide variety of shots to choose from at any given moment. I can also place the ball (both side-to-side and short-long) more easily with a hardbat. When I was using inverted, my game was limited to push - push - push - opening loop - counter/block. Now I combine a wider range of shots, and a wider range of combinations of shots, with much greater variation and strategy.

Myth #5 - "Playing hardbat is not keeping up with the times". The march forward in equipment power (and rules, for that matter) is driven exclusively by Olympic level play. As the manufacturers provide the elite players with faster and spinnier technologies to match their ever-improving capabilities and fitness, there seems this strange assumption that club players must follow suit. As a result, we see middle-aged 1200 players who can barely read the spin on a push using Hurricane on a carbon blade, trying to get that loop in, and not getting any exercise. I think "the times" have nothing at all to do with us, but rather reflect successful marketing. There are many ways to play, and rather than keeping up with the times, I think a better idea is keeping an open mind as to which of the many equipment options is a best fit for your personality, fitness, talent, and goals.

I haven't even mentioned "fun", because it's a more personal thing. But that of course should factor in as well. For me, I get more fun out of playing hardbat - partly because, but not limited to, the reasons listed above.

By the way, much of what I wrote above applies to sandpaper as well.

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PostPosted: 17 Sep 2014, 02:57 
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To scottgordon: I like your post. I'm doing much better with short pips than with H2, and since short pips could be seen as part of the way toward hardbat, I can see all of your points.


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PostPosted: 17 Sep 2014, 04:27 
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Zhaoyang wrote:
To scottgordon: I like your post. I'm doing much better with short pips than with H2, and since short pips could be seen as part of the way toward hardbat, I can see all of your points.

You could consider it the first step in a 12-step program, leading inexorably to hardbat :D

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PostPosted: 17 Sep 2014, 08:47 
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The problem with sponge rubber for rec players has always been the "invisible" spin component, on both incoming and outgoing shots. A hardbat takes a lot of spin off the ball and requires a much more deliberate stroke to generate any. Frankly for players who've been <1600 for a while despite practice (eg. the forever-1500 EJ) hardbat would be a better choice since they aren't getting much advantage from spin and probably losing a lot more points because of it.


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