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PostPosted: 18 Mar 2017, 09:35 
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ITTF President Thomas Weikert ensures work to improve quality of balls

17 Mar 2017
Since Tuesday 1st July 2014, the ITTF made the use of plastic balls instead of the traditional celluloid balls mandatory for all ITTF sanctioned and World Title events. Many players around the world have expressed their concern regarding the difference in characteristics of a ball sold by different manufacturers and brands. ITTF President Thomas Weikert opens up on his plans to tackle this issue.

By Neha Aggarwal
Since the change, the main issue that has been put forth is that a ball from different manufactures acts differently, thus making it difficult for the players to adjust to the change. The ITTF understands this issue, and has been relentlessly working to minimize such differences in order to provide the best equipment to the players.

Current situation
“The ITTF understands that the transition between the celluloid ball and the plastic ball has not been as smooth as we would have liked! However, we have been working very closely with our ball manufacturers,” admitted Thomas Weikert. “For example our World Tour ball sponsor DHS has been working hard to improve the quality of the balls and has been recently distributing new and improved balls to the top players, apparently the new balls are more resilient and the best thing is the price can be decreased.”

Currently there are 93 different brands of table tennis balls approved by the ITTF, including 35 celluloid balls, which gives the opportunity to a lot of different brands to have a presence in their respective geographical markets and ensures the availability of balls to be sold all over the world. However, different brands may have slightly different characteristics, making it a point of dissatisfaction from players.

“This is perhaps due to the wide range of materials currently allowed in ITTF’s rules, which is at the same time positive as it gives the opportunity to manufacturers to work with all sorts of plastic but at the same time difficult to ensure that all different types of balls have otherwise same or similar playing properties,” said Weikert.

Measures to improve quality
Thomas Weikert understands this issue, and thus, along with his entire team, he has been making efforts to reduce these differences.
“We know that our manufacturers, based on our strong encouragement, have been researching, testing and looking for new production technologies to improve the quality of the ball. At the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Korea Open, ITTF’s partner DHS will start supplying new DHS D40+ balls, which according to our feedback is preferred by a lot of the players compared to the DHS 40+ balls. Hopefully it will ensure more spectacular rallies and more durable balls for all table tennis players.” – Thomas Weikert

He further added, “We are currently investigating ways to evaluate the tolerances to ensure that all ITTF approved balls are of similar quality and characteristics, regardless of the type of plastic they are made or what manufacturer they are coming from.

Assurance
During the recent EC meeting in Dubai, the Japanese representative Mr. Maehara Masihiro expressed the dissatisfaction from manufacturers on the rule that allowed a larger tolerance in bounce of the balls.
“As ITTF President and to support my colleague, I have decided to look closely at this decision and to investigate whether we maybe need to go back to the original tolerance. We will look closely whether necessary and if yes at how to do that within the rule structure in the next weeks,” assured Thomas Weikert.

Explaining Tolerance Range
As mentioned in the chart below, seven properties are tested for a ball to be approved by the ITTF. Currently, the range of each property is high, which is sometimes responsible for a difference in the characteristics of a ball produced by different manufacturers.
Attachment:
Plastic-balls-QA.png
Plastic-balls-QA.png [ 119.57 KiB | Viewed 218 times ]


The ITTF is currently looking to resolve this issue to reduce these differences to promote similar characteristics in balls produced by different manufacturers.

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PostPosted: 18 Mar 2017, 10:10 
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The timing of this is rather convenient, just before an election. This should have been tackled years ago IMO, as players have been concerned with this for years!

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PostPosted: 18 Mar 2017, 10:40 
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Typical ITTF "spin" on a bad situation they created. Their whole false worldwide celluloid ban was smoke and mirrors to hide the transition to a new larger ball and has been mismanaged from the get-go. So corrupt.

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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2017, 08:13 
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The ball situation is slowly improving (which will become obvious as the new ABS balls from DHS and their rebranded versions become more widely available). But from the start this was not handled well, that is for sure. There were rumors about seamless patents and who held them and their relationship to people in ITTF that smelled bad -- as did really anything surrounding Sharara and his cronies. And of course, the goal all along was larger balls no matter what they claimed. Otherwise they could have mandated a change in material without also a change in size. I don't want to minimize the issue of safety at celluloid plants. I just don't really believe that ITTF cared as much about that as they claimed.

But like I said, we may soon be coming to a time when balls get a little less variable depending on brand.

Is Weickert's "work to improve ball quality" a real thing? He will claim it is. Spin for sure. Maybe taking credit for something he had little to do with.

I think the real work was done by engineers who actually figured out how to make a decent plastic ball -- the people who came up with ABS material (Nittaku was the first to sell them) and also the people who developed seamless balls. And those technologies should have been in hand and tested and known to be at least as good as they are now before mandating the change.

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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2017, 08:48 
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93 different brands is not the issue and as president he knows that. Forget brands, it's the number of manufacturers and that's only a handful who make the balls for others to brand as their own. So why the difference? Because in the ITTF's race to finally get a plastic ball out before the 2016 Olympics they allowed different standards for a plastic ball to a celluloid ball, allowed those standards to be temporary and allowed balls made before Jan 2016 still to be sold after jan 2016 even if they wouldn't meet the reinstated requirements. We now have lots of different balls with the same branding but from different manufacturing batches as manufacturers continue to develop the plastic ball. It - the plastic ball - should never have been authorised until it had been fully developed and met the original ball specifications. Anyone buying new plastic balls should insist on knowing their date of manufacture before buying them - or sellers should be required to display it on their websites.

The ITTF president is on to a winner. As the earlier "prototype" balls are all sold, the later developed ones will become the norm. By natural market supply and demand and him buying time for the development to be completed with his latest rhetoric the problem will solve itself and he can claim credit whilst distancing himself from the original decision to introduce them. He is on to a winner and he knows it or he would have kept quiet and let the ITTF equipment committee fall on their sword.

My question would be why have the 65 brands of balls been allowed to keep their ITTF authorisation if the ITTF openly accept there are still issues with the plastic balls? Who's randomly testing the balls you and I can buy. How many tests have been made and what were the results.

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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2017, 11:56 
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Debater asked:
Quote:
My question would be why have the 65 brands of balls been allowed to keep their ITTF authorisation if the ITTF openly accept there are still issues with the plastic balls? Who's randomly testing the balls you and I can buy. How many tests have been made and what were the results.


Yeah, I asked this as an off topic aside in the "Is the rubber supplied to us amateur plebs, low-level pros, high level non-CNT pros and CNT pros the same?" (my summary of what it sort of turned into :)) topic. I asked where were the reports of the randomly bought balls failing the tests (or even being tested for that matter) and what sort of sanction is there for failure (or is failure not an option?). Paging Torsten?

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PostPosted: 21 Mar 2017, 18:15 
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I do feel offended by the Weikert-statement. As already stated it's not the 65 approved balls but the previously poor quality and the very different characteristics of the balls from just 4 producers that should be noted. Then claiming that the plastic-ball is superiour just because of better (tighter?) tolerances is also just smoke & ruse, taking the audience for stupid fools.
He then crowns it by claiming that tighter tolerances will be set and that they'll look into the improvements. Smoke and ruse, once again.

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