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PostPosted: 11 Sep 2014, 07:47 
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Torsten, thanks for taking the time to reply. All of your answers are clear and understandable. We'll await developments as the random testing program proceeds.

Two more questions if you don't mind--is there a formal announcement when a ball that previously was approved is no longer approved (suspended)? Or would you just have to keep up with the approval list and notice if a brand that was formally on that list is no longer on the list.

And what happens if a brand is suspended--are they knocked off the approval list for a certain period of time or can they immediately begin a new approval process in an attempt to get re-approved?

Thanks again.

Larry


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PostPosted: 12 Sep 2014, 08:23 
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Of course.

As to #1, I will strongly suggest to ITTF professional staff (who are keeping the list) to indicate a suspended brand on the list. We never had such a case yet, but not only would this be the most reasonable service to all players and officials, but also our own advantage: It helps to ensure that the suspended brand is no longer used. If you do not recognize such a brand, you will continue to use it ...

As to #2, as such cases are -up to now- expected to be exceptional, it will be a decision of the Equipment Committee (= my team) together with the Executive Committee (= Thomas Weikert's team; the latter because only this body can take up legal issues, if any). But talking of the two extreme options, the tendency goes rather towards "brand can never be used again" than to "reapply immediately". This means the manufacturer would have to reapply with a new brand name, which under marketing perspectives is of course kind of a fine to them. The procedure is however currently being formalized and I will keep you updated as soon as there is a public document.


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PostPosted: 12 Sep 2014, 12:30 
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Do you have any concerns about ball durability? It is not one of the criteria for approval, but this is looking to be a serious problem for grass roots players.

I am also very concerned about strange bounces that we are seeing with the seamed polyballs. This is happening far too often. And in any type of bounce test, they are coming up lower than celluloid balls. I for one don't mind the fact that they are a little bit slower and less spinny, and many of the players at my club, including some national team members, are making a good faith effort, but the bounce is a deal killer. You really need to try to push for improvement in that. (The ones we were mostly using today were manufactured in June, so I hope that is just an early production and that we can hope for something better soon). Again, the seamless balls do not have that issue, although we have had several of those break quite early on.

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PostPosted: 14 Sep 2014, 12:08 
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PREVENTING IRREGULAR BOUNCE OF THE PLASTIC BALLS..

Weird (=irregular) bounce is surely begot from the ball having an uneven thickness all over the shell. Just have done a spinning test to sort the wobbling balls away.

NB//
Nittaku used to have a thermal pressure processing on the ball's either hemisphere to prevent the uneveness. This is why Nittaku balls will offer almost perfect regularity in bounce.
On the other hand, the extra processing leads to extra costs.

Some technical knowledge will save your money, hahahahahahahaha.


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PostPosted: 15 Sep 2014, 00:13 
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Baal wrote:
Do you have any concerns about ball durability? It is not one of the criteria for approval, but this is looking to be a serious problem for grass roots players.

Yes. This was one of the issues in Step #2 which we addressed with the Athletes' Commission (Vladi Samsonov) immediately after the manufacturers managed to complete Step #1 (technical criteria for approval met successfully). Precisely their feedback lead to the release of the specs for weight, bounce and hardness until end of 2015, in order to leave the manufacturers an immediate improvement of durability - for example by increasing shell thickness.
And will durability decrease again in 2016? No, because the expectation of both ITTF and manufacturers and players is that the further research & development done until then will resolve this matter - because it is done for exactly this purpose.

As to your bounce concerns: We will of course monitor it during the random testing which has begun these days, and if bounce falls below 240mm then this will be a fail. But recall that we have a 2cm bounce tolerance. This means, a seamless ball may bounce 2cm higher than a seamed ball. Indeed we have seen in approval that the relation is mainly like this, with a difference of roughly 1.0cm - but this is OK according to ITTF standards and is not going to be changed.


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PostPosted: 15 Sep 2014, 02:59 
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Torsten wrote:
Baal wrote:
Do you have any concerns about ball durability? It is not one of the criteria for approval, but this is looking to be a serious problem for grass roots players.

Yes. This was one of the issues in Step #2 which we addressed with the Athletes' Commission (Vladi Samsonov) immediately after the manufacturers managed to complete Step #1 (technical criteria for approval met successfully). Precisely their feedback lead to the release of the specs for weight, bounce and hardness until end of 2015, in order to leave the manufacturers an immediate improvement of durability - for example by increasing shell thickness.
And will durability decrease again in 2016? No, because the expectation of both ITTF and manufacturers and players is that the further research & development done until then will resolve this matter - because it is done for exactly this purpose.

As to your bounce concerns: We will of course monitor it during the random testing which has begun these days, and if bounce falls below 240mm then this will be a fail. But recall that we have a 2cm bounce tolerance. This means, a seamless ball may bounce 2cm higher than a seamed ball. Indeed we have seen in approval that the relation is mainly like this, with a difference of roughly 1.0cm - but this is OK according to ITTF standards and is not going to be changed.


Thanks for responding. If I understand you correctly, the current bounce height for seamed balls is what we can expect moving forward? Most people find that pretty bad, but the more pressing concern is the regularity of the bounce in real play. I wonder if you have a way to assess that quantitatively? Hopefully manufacturers will improve that and market pressures will drive improvement there if ITTF cannot. In that regard, one concern I hear a lot at my club, including from a national team member, is that while there is pretty much unanimous agreement that the seamless balls approved at the moment are very much better to play with, and also come at a good price, players fear that because they are produced by a smaller company without much "pull" at ITTF, few tournament directors will adopt them, and we will be stuck using inferior seamed balls.

In fairness, most of the balls in the US that people are receiving from vendors still have June production stamped on the box (thanks for telling us how to determine that), so maybe there has been improvement since then that we have not seen. Unfortunately, when you order on line you have no way of knowing what they will ship you.

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PostPosted: 15 Sep 2014, 07:39 
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Torsten,

Who can we talk to about the "political issues" to do with the way that the plastic ball has been introduced? Many of us here believe that the initial reason put forward at the BOD or AGM a couple of years ago is now thought to be "false pretences", so what is done about that? Also about how the size of the plastic ball is increased over the celluloid ball via a change to T3, not a more general voting process.

I did raise some of this with my national association, but got nowhere.

Thanking you again.

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PostPosted: 15 Sep 2014, 22:54 
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Baal wrote:

(...) the more pressing concern is the regularity of the bounce in real play. I wonder if you have a way to assess that quantitatively?

These thoughts were indeed discussed, but in the end that would require a "standard table tennis playing surface". But what is that? If it is required to be brand new, then one would have to replace it every year in the labs; if it is not brand new, then aging will influence the bounce height. Also, different types of tables will have a different bounce height. Therefore, if we assess it on a, say, one year old Cornilleau table, the result still will not help you on a 6 year old Joola table. This is why the standard steel plate was chosen - not because we'd claim the same bounce heights on a TT table, but as a unique reference on a non-aging surface for comparison between all balls in the world, were the baseline is the c-ball testing results at the beginning.

Quote:
Hopefully manufacturers will improve that and market pressures will drive improvement there if ITTF cannot.
Exactly this is the expectation, because other than ITTF the manufacturers have both the motivation of market competition and the ability to fine-tune the product.


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PostPosted: 15 Sep 2014, 23:17 
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Retriever wrote:
Torsten,

Who can we talk to about the "political issues" to do with the way that the plastic ball has been introduced? Many of us here believe that the initial reason put forward at the BOD or AGM a couple of years ago is now thought to be "false pretences", so what is done about that? Also about how the size of the plastic ball is increased over the celluloid ball via a change to T3, not a more general voting process.

I did raise some of this with my national association, but got nowhere.

Thanking you again.


The "bad news" is that you have already chosen the right way. Of course you could write directly to the ITTF president or any member of the Excecutive Committee or the Board of Directors - the e-mail-adresses are published here: http://www.ittf.com/_front_page/ittf2.asp?category=directory_e . But they will probably all tell you the same thing: They are bodies controlled by the Annual General Meeting (AGM), which is the assembly of representatives of the National Associations (NA) of which the ITTF consists. ITTF staff is not a supervising body to the NAs, but just the other way round. Therefore, in order to influence a political decision, the way leads through the NAs and ultimately through the assemblies of its regional bodies and the clubs. If they "refuse" to take your issue (be it by not responding or by explicitely defeating a proposal), that's it.

As to Technical Leaflets, they need to be approved by the Board of Directors. Who are they? According to the ITTF constitution, 1.5.2: "Between AGMs, the work of the ITTF shall be managed, in accordance with policy decided by the AGM, by a Board of Directors, referred to elsewhere in this Constitution as “Board”, to which the AGM may delegate any of its powers; on the request of at least one-quarter (1/4) of the Associations not in arrears, the AGM may decide to deal with a matter normally delegated to another ITTF body or decided upon by this body. The Board shall consist of the President, Executive Vice-Presidents, Presidents of Continental Federations or their appointees, the Chair of the Athletes Commission or his or her appointee and 32 Continental representatives."
That says that the T3 is ultimately controlled by the NAs. At least I am regarding it this way - the T3 is not my personal power and if the AGM had withdrawn any specification of the T3, everybody including me would have to accept that. But if they don't, for any reason, that's it.


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PostPosted: 16 Sep 2014, 07:52 
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Thanks again for your considered response to my inquiries, and thanks for taking the time to visit this particular part of the table tennis internet. Be assured that it is much appreciated.

It just seems that a lot of the initiatives taken by the ITTF with regards to our sport are not well thought out and appear to be almost antithetical to the majority of amateur players. This is dismissed by saying that many of them only apply to competitions directly run or sanctioned by the world body, and that it is up to the national associations to either endorse or ignore such initiatives. Unfortunately, the national associations mostly just inherit the changes by inertia, or are forced by circumstance to endorse them.

One such recent example was the US Nationals ball decision. This looked to be one by circumstance as US players looking to play on the international stage would be wanting to practise with the plastic ball, while the majority of the rest would not have had much chance or inclination to do so.

Another is how most national associations follow the ITTF rubber decisions. Most associations just rubber stamp (see what I did there?) this with the exception of the US which up until recently allowed hard bats with a limited number of rubbers to have the same coloured, same rubber on both sides.

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PostPosted: 17 Sep 2014, 12:05 
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Torsten, I guess the main thing I was getting at was the occasional really bad bounce during free play that just can't be explained except by bad balls, since they don't happen with celluloid (as often). Not so much the height of a single bounce in a standard test. I am kind of thinking out loud, but also re-iterating the complaints of players who are using them. I can't say that I have any brilliant suggestion as to how to test for that.

I also hope that ITTF will take the quality of the ball into consideration more than anything else when they choose in the future what balls to use for major competitions. The DHS 40+ balls were seeing are quite frankly an inferior product, and I think the ITTF has a contract with them.

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PostPosted: 19 Sep 2014, 07:14 
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OK - if I understand correctly what you address with the word "bad", it means that the differences are too big so that something unexpected is happening too often. For this, the best idea to detect it is probably still the regularity definition in the Technical Leaflet. With this, we do not measure the height of a single bounce, but the difference between bounces within the same brand. That should give an idea how uniform the ball quality is. In the random testing we will test ALL brands in the lab (regardless whether is is a manufacturer or supplier), so there will be more seamed balls tested than in the initial approval. That should lead to the kind of monitoring which you are thinking of.


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PostPosted: 19 Sep 2014, 10:16 
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Torsten wrote:
OK - if I understand correctly what you address with the word "bad", it means that the differences are too big so that something unexpected is happening too often. For this, the best idea to detect it is probably still the regularity definition in the Technical Leaflet. With this, we do not measure the height of a single bounce, but the difference between bounces within the same brand. That should give an idea how uniform the ball quality is. In the random testing we will test ALL brands in the lab (regardless whether is is a manufacturer or supplier), so there will be more seamed balls tested than in the initial approval. That should lead to the kind of monitoring which you are thinking of.


Yes, I didn't write that very well, but that is what I meant. The seamed polyballs give a much higher frequency of just strange bounces that run counter to all intuition from years and years of playing. As you say, unexpected stuff, things that are not explainable. This is not just me saying this, it includes some former national team members at my club. I think that may be something different from what you would determine by measuring the variation of bounce height within a batch of balls. Perhaps it could be detected by measuring variation of bounce height for different trials of a single ball, and then doing that for a bunch of balls-- but maybe you would have to drop from somewhat greater height to simulate what is happening when balls are hit harder.

Anyway, right now my two main concerns are durability and what I think is a miserably bad bounce for most seamed polyballs. Maybe when we start getting some of the balls made in August we will see some improvement.

Again, thanks again for taking the time to interact with us. I appreciate it a lot, sometimes it feels like nobody listens.

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PostPosted: 19 Sep 2014, 20:41 
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PostPosted: 19 Sep 2014, 20:55 
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Thank you so much for all the time and effort you spent here discussing these issues with us Torsten! Much appreciated! :clap: :clap: :clap:

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