OOAK Table Tennis Forum

ITTF President, Adham Sharara, answers questions PART1
Page 28 of 31

Author:  adham [ 22 Dec 2008, 13:41 ]
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mynamenotbob wrote:
adham wrote:
I have a question for you guys (and gals). In one of the posts one of you reminded me that at the lower levels there should be more freedom to use a variety of equipment to help the lower level player perform better. My understanding is that the "majority" of the lower level players are in favour of the low-friction levels, and that the minority is very angry about it.

I don't know about the majority, but I think there are three camps. The players that use "material." The players who don't care what the opponent uses. And players who complain because they can't beat "junk" players. I personally don't think low friction rubbers should be restricted to lower levels. In golf a player is free use game improvement clubs all the way to the pro tour if he wishes. Of course, the better players find other types of clubs more valuable so it's a moot issue.

It's the same in our sport. Past a certain level, the frictionless equipment is generally not found. However, I don't really see low friction rubbers as a game improvement device to cover a weakness. In fact for lower rated players, these rubbers are no help whatsoever. Frictionless rubbers are a useful weapon in middle ranges 1200-1800. At those levels, frictionless drop-shotting is a skillful, viable strategy that well-rounded table tennis stars of tomorrow should learn to be able to overcome as they move up the ranks.

To draw an analogy with our mother sport, tennis is played on many different surfaces: grass, clay or hardcourt (several varieties) each of which provide different challenges. While our game utilizes a uniform playing surface, we get diversity from the different surfaces that cover our blades.

I think that's healthy and adds a further thinking dimension to the game.

Yes, I can see your point. The analogy with Golf is good, but it just struck me that in Golf your opponent is not affected directly by which club you use, so it's easier to implement. But I see your point.

There are two schools of thought, quite well entrenched, those that say the rules should be the same at all levels, and those that say that the rules should be more liberal at the lower levels.

It will be interesting to see how the players that used to play with low friction pimples will adjust to their new equipment over time.

Author:  adham [ 22 Dec 2008, 13:46 ]
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By the way, in England they do not apply the ITTF rules all the way. In fact, they only apply the ITTF rules up to a certain level. This is fine with the ITTF.

Author:  mynamenotbob [ 22 Dec 2008, 15:05 ]
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adham wrote:
By the way, in England they do not apply the ITTF rules all the way. In fact, they only apply the ITTF rules up to a certain level. This is fine with the ITTF.

That is sensible. Perhaps the ITTF should recognize the England's initiative on this issue with some type of award. That might inspire other associations to think about things as opposed to just automatically following in line.

Author:  Smartguy [ 22 Dec 2008, 15:28 ]
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adham wrote:
...By the way, are you an umpire as well?

@ Adham

No, I have never been an umpire and I'm not going to become one.

Because you asked me this private question, I think, I may tell you something private .

I really like everything you have written in various forums as a player and as a coach. But you also are an ITTF executive official. And I see some serious problems with the executive part of ITTF. May be also some problems with the legislative part of ITTF, but I know, you have nothing to do with this part.

So, maybe I like a private person Adham, but as the highest executive official of ITTF you will perhaps sometimes feel uncomfortable with me. But again, this has nothing to do with you as a player, as a coach and as a private person.

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 22 Dec 2008, 21:14 ]
Post subject: 

mynamenotbob wrote:
adham wrote:
By the way, in England they do not apply the ITTF rules all the way. In fact, they only apply the ITTF rules up to a certain level. This is fine with the ITTF.

That is sensible. Perhaps the ITTF should recognize the England's initiative on this issue with some type of award. That might inspire other associations to think about things as opposed to just automatically following in line.

Great idea NB...but not a crazy one! :wink: :lol:

Author:  GrumpyJoe [ 22 Dec 2008, 21:47 ]
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You can please some of the people some of the time. But you can't please all the people all of the time.

Author:  antipip [ 22 Dec 2008, 23:23 ]
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Adham: Just a quick question: Why is it that you see frictionless long pimples as covering up a weakness as oppossed to playing to a strength?

If I were to play devils advocate I would say: Sticky rubbers help a player 'pick up the ball' and play powerful loops. Should this be banned and they be told to improve their looping technique with 'normal' rubbers (grip lighter to allow for more speed, accelerate the wrist more, make a more brushing contact with the top of the ball, use the part of the racket that is travelling fastest)? Should the penhold style be banned since it does not allow for effective backhand looping techniques?

I don't believe so: Rubbers and grips all have strengths and weaknesses and for me all have a place in the game. I believe that frictionless are more limiting than they are helpful and would not want to start of somebody with one of these rubbers. To develop a wide range of shots and understand spin ,reverse rubbers (for me) should be the starting point for all. I don't think it's a coincidence that no top players use or used these rubbers. However, people should be allow to specialise.

I have 2 issues with the frictionless ban.
1 - It's retrospective
2 - IMO no case has been made to ban them. I would like to know the real reason behind the ban. Similar to speed cameras. The rules here allow them to put up a camera within a specific radius of an accident blackspot. 3 accidents occured, some on local roads. The camera went on the motorway. Actions speak louder than words. Not a speed camera (sorry safety camera lets spend millions of your money in propoganda to mislead you) a greed camera.

1- I am on record on here as saying I don't like retrospective rules. I don't it's unfair on people whose game has developed playing these rubbers. In answer to an earlier argument you made about changes - Yes orthodox rubbers were basically wiped out by sponge and a lot of players quit the sport as a result. Their rubbers weren't banned though!

2 - You put in earlier an anwser that frictionless rubbers were considered detrimental to the game (by the national associations - I think). This is what I would like to here. If the ITTF believe that, let's hear them make that argument fully out in the open. If you believe and have studies to show they're hurting the game tell me I could be converted, to be honest I probably would be!

Another telling comment was regarding an answer to another question (might have been sandpaper) The comment was along the lines of - oh is that the reason they gave (implying a hidden reason could be possible). This is a little of how I feel regarding the new frictionless regulations. I read of the majority of players wanting this ban. This hasn't been my experience when talking to other players, though I have heard some in favour of it.

I both appreciate you and respect you for coming on the forum, none of this is personal. It's good of you to put your thoughts out here and gives us a chance to undrstand decisions taken in the game. I have learned a lot from this. I applaud the decision on doubles where it could have been lost but was at least kept it in the team game. I like it that you are open to the idea of changing service patterns in the doubles.I've not yet been convinced on the frictionless ban yet.

I play in England i'm still using them this season, but am looking to change them as soon as possible; even if they continue to remain legal in England at the level I am playing at. Money is tight and it's expensive for me to replace my unused sheets and trial various alternative. 8 years with 1 rubber and it's difficult to start playing with any other. It's also difficult to make a change when you are at a small club with next to no practice opportunitites. The only reason I'm playing at all is without the additional body we would lose a team which as a club we can't afford to do.

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 23 Dec 2008, 00:38 ]
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Anti, I think in an earlier post Adham did discuss the introduction of the minimum friction rule, which is a frictionless ban by another name. I can't recall a reason given, I would have to go back and re-read the post. I can't see why it was done really either because the ITTF doesn't have much (or any?) involvement at the level the frictionless rubbers were/are used at. It would seem it could only be pressure on the ITTF from lower governing bodies to want this. The pressure surely must have come from people who have little understanding of the game other than as an offensive type game. I doubt Adham would have been in huge support of the ban personally being a defender. Not saying he necessarily used FLP, but I'm sure as a defender he would have a greater appreciation of why some people may prefer them. (Comment Adham?). Anyway, I think that the use of such a rubber should be allowed because it can really introduce some interesting game characteristics and variety, and require players to come to terms with all sorts of game styles. And I think it can help some people stay in the game when they otherwise might not, and that can't be a bad thing...surely!

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 23 Dec 2008, 00:49 ]
Post subject: 

adham wrote:
mynamenotbob wrote:
Dear Mr. Sharara,

Welcome to the forum.

Here is an issue that has been troubling a lot of players on this forum. Since the pros don't use frictionless rubber there is no chance of the style appearing on TV matches and if there are no health issues, why the need for this minimum friction level that had caused so much unhappiness to players, manufacturers, associations and the ITTF itself?

If the rule was simply to eliminate "treated" rubber, then why doesn't the rule directly address that very issue?

You yourself have admitted on another forum that "it is better to learn how to play against a certain style than to ban the equipment that the users of that style employ."

And you are right!

So how do we get this fixed? Please don't suggest we go through our local associations. As you know but can't admit, most of these groups are 'yes men' who would rubber stamp almost anything they're lobbied to approve. The fact is there are certain activist associations that push the agenda and it's no secret that Eberhard Schöler and the German Association are behind this wrongheaded policy.

It can be argued that the minimum friction requirement will open up the ITTF to lawsuits such as that by TTMaster. And if TTMaster prevails and collects damages, legal problems with Dr. Neubauer, Hallmark and other companies are sure to follow.

Immediately rescinding this useless friction level policy that hurts the sport so much would make the issue go away.

I realize you can't criticize the powerful Schöler lobby on a public forum like this, but for the good of the sport perhaps something can be done behind the scenes.

I have the highest respect for Mr. Schöler as a player and official. We may have disagreed on many issues over the years, but I fully respect his knowledge and his integrity.

I need you to understand that in fact you are in the minority. The majority of national associations, more than 90% think that the minimum friction level established is good for the sport. You may not believe this and you may think exactly the opposite, but the REALITY is that this rule was proposed and voted upon and passed. Now we must respect it. In fact the majority won. The majority does not want frictionless LPs and they got their way. If you were in the majority, then this rule would not have passed and probably never even introduced. You guys have to wake up and accept this fact. Once you accept this reality, then what should you do? I believe these are your choices:
- quit TT
- wallow in your own sorrow and hope that by some miracle the rule will be reversed
- form your own group with your own rules and enjoy TT the way you like it
- find new equipment and set a new goal and practice

Maybe other choices may present themselves to you of which I could not think.

As for manufacturers taking ITTF to court. This is their right. If they believe that the ITTF did something wrong to them, then of course they have the right to go to court. On the other hand the ITTF believes it did things right. Then it's up to the court to decide. This is normal. This is why we have courts.

I just went back and found the relevant posts. This one pretty much encapsulates it all. And I think while Adham is unable to say how he perhaps feels personally about the minimum friction rule, the fact is it was voted in by a large majority. And in a democratic society majority does win (unless minority lobby groups overcome a nonchalant majority). I guess perhaps FLP users needed to band together and do some heavy lobbying before this rule was passed and maybe there would have been a different outcome.

Not sure if this even happened like this, and they just couldn't apply enough counter-pressure. I guess if they didn't they could always try to lobby for a reversal of the rule, but I suspect this would be even harder to achieve. There is however more thn one way to skin a cat, and by stealth over time FLP's could be worked back into the game by targetting things like the Vets events to being allowed FLP's for example. :wink:

In the meanwhile, I guess finding a rubber that comes as close to 25nM might be the answer perhaps?

Author:  mynamenotbob [ 23 Dec 2008, 01:16 ]
Post subject: 

Word on the street is that Ebby Schöler was the catalyst behind behind the aspect ratio change and the frictionless ban (excuse me, minimum friction requirement), both of which greatly hurt pip players (ironic since Schöler was a pip player himself). The way I understand it, the argument for the aspect ratio change which resulted in a lot of popular long pips being banned circa 1999, was that these pips produced unpredictable effects. For frictionless, the argument was it takes no talent (i.e. you just stand there and hold the bat).

I'm sure Schöler wasn't the only proponent of these changes, but rightly or wrongly, in TT circles he widely gets the credit. Admittedly I wasn't there although I am somewhat piped in to the scuttlebutt. Adham was there first hand, so perhaps he can shed some light on what people perceive took place. I realize this is a sensitive subject.

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 23 Dec 2008, 01:32 ]
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From small seeds big things grow NB! So Mr Scholer may well have slowly sown seeds of doubt about FLP in the right people's mind and its funny how observations of reality become stronger when your focus is directed toward them. So perhaps from there it simply snowballed into becoming a majority thought. They do say that if you can get enough people to think the same thing, pretty much anything in the universe can be accomplished! :wink:

Author:  antipip [ 23 Dec 2008, 01:34 ]
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Reb / Adham: I've seen the posts saying the majority support this just not why it's supported. This is all i'm after. The reason why it is thought to be detrimental to the sport and banning it is in the interests of the sport. I accept the decisions been made. If they feel the majority of players would support this there should be no problem with explaining their decision. It should be majority rule in a democracy.

Reb just because a body supports it doesn't mean the players they represent do. I was never asked were you?

Case in point : My government won't let me vote on europe despite a manifesto pledge that they would on the grounds of the treaty been changed (most would accept they've been minor changes). Why won't they ask the question, a cynic or is that a realistic person would think it's because they won't get the answer they want and believe is best for the majority (or themselves more likely). Even worse in Ireland they have been told to vote again as they got it wrong (and will get certain appeasements for voting 'correctly'. At the very least our government should give us a vote to get our share of appeasements too. Oh and so we can still say no.
Sorry to be political here, but it's agood analogy. I don't believe this is the way a democracy should act and note I am not suggesting the ITTF are like my politicians.

I am however concerned about how the sports governing body have acted. People are elected and in charge and need to make decisions. I have no problem with that but a retrospective ban is one decision I feel that should have neccessitated a mandate from all current players to be passed. It wasn't to my knowledge and is now gone. I accept it, i don't like it but I do accept it.

My own feeling is that it was banned because it required a 'passive' technique, easy to learn, effective up to a certain level, but ultimately limiting your level and indeed own ability and development of shots. No top players used it so I wouldn't have thought the image of that type of game would affect it. Therefore I suspect people (beginners, new players who didn't understand the rubber and techniques to use against it were been put off because they were losing to people with no perceived skill as opposed to losing because they had no skill. I would understand those reasons (skill development and numbers) for banning the rubber. It's a business, not a sport any more, like so many other games and is ultimately about numbers. I would like table tennis to survive in some form.
This is off topic but I don't like 11 up. The better player wins less often, serves and luck are more important. Tv only shows it from 8-8 anyway insteasd of 16-16. badminton had it forced on them and have compromised getting the game back to a more 'fair' point total (They play to 21 like we used too). I think we should have fought harder. For me sport has always been about improving yourself and playing your best. I want the best player to win that's why I prefer 21up.

Author:  kagin [ 23 Dec 2008, 13:27 ]
Post subject:  Re: Tony Hold`s adhesive foil and the suchlike...

adham wrote:
igorponger wrote:

Dear Adham,
The T4 does set a number of strict limitations on the PSA sheets.
http://www.ittf.com/ittf_equipment/pdf/ ... s_2007.pdf
Page 5
Point 1.2.2 "....PSA may not be more than 0.1mm thick and may not be cellular.
It may consist of...a plastic film or a cellulosic paper."

Sometimes player may use a "handy-made" adhesive sheet of non-standard sizes and materials (foamed polyethilene, metallic foil, synthetical fabric, etc) to achieve the "disturbing" effect on his racket.
The Umpire should be able to see in a moment that the PSA sheet inside the racket is a legal (factory-made) product.
That`s why we do insist that all the PSA sheets, ITTF approved, should bear a producer`s LOGO + ITTF LOGO clearly visible all over the sheet`s surface.


Yes, the description is to avoid an "added" second sponge, or an additive. Is the PSA sheet in question thicker than allowed? I have never seen it. Does it not meet all the requiremnets?
As for having logos on it how would the umpire see it if it already applied and is in between the racket covering and the blade?
Sorry, I am not very familiar with PSA sheets.

While i wouldn't presume to regulate the questions people ask here, i have to wonder about people who pose this particular type of question to adham. If you show up to play a tournament with a racket that has this particular device on it, the judgment of whether or not it's allowed will be up to the tournament referee. Asking adham rhetorically just to see what he's thinking - fine, but don't think that his answer can help you when the referee declares your racket illegal. Likewise with the repeated, dogged questioning about the service toss, it seems kind of pointless; the umpire will either call the fault or not, and that's based on their own judgment not adham's.

If you show up to my tournament this weekend (killerspin holiday open) and present a racket with dampfungsfolie on it, i'll ask you to bring out your spare. Likewise if you come to play with toni hold anti 0X or a metallic-painted kreanga carbon. By the way this past weekend i was presented a sheet of 0X long pips that was legal except there was so much glue that the effective rubber was over 2.0mm thick. Fortunately that was a voluntary check rather than an official one.

Author:  kagin [ 23 Dec 2008, 13:49 ]
Post subject: 

adham wrote:
Slow down the Anti? My God, you will be getting negative speeds. If the ball will be that slow, I am confident I will beat all of you guys.
Seriously, what is the advantage of such a slow racket?

This hints at one of the many problems with the minimum friction limit that was recently imposed. The advantage of such a slow racket is superior control; the disadvantage is lack of versatility and lack of offensive capability. Table tennis is a game of speed and spin, and i'm with you in your sentiment - i am also confident that you will beat all of us if the ball is that slow. The lack of capacity to produce spin and speed is a huge disadvantage that a balanced player can learn to exploit; i'm pretty sure i've never lost a match against a player using frictionless long pips. But if someone chooses to use such equipment, why would we want to prevent that? Using such a crutch may help them extend the rally when they're on the defensive, but the better player will still win.

Author:  kagin [ 23 Dec 2008, 14:07 ]
Post subject: 

adham wrote:
It will be interesting to see how the players that used to play with low friction pimples will adjust to their new equipment over time.

The top male player formerly using frictionless is akerstrom; here is his world ranking history:
6/1/08 - 327
7/1/08 - friction minimum introduced
8/1/08 - 321
9/1/08 - 301
9/14/08 - flanders open
10/1/08 - 292
11/1/08 - 277
11/23/08 - german open
11/30/08 - polish open
12/1/08 - 249

The top female player formerly using frictionless is solja; her ranking history:
6/1/08 - 130
7/1/08 - friction minimum introduced
7/20/08 - european youth championships
8/1/08 - 133
9/1/08 - 131
10/1/08 - 132
10/12/08 - european championships
11/1/08 - 132
11/30/08 - polish open
12/1/08 - 131

Based on these numbers, frictionless appears to have been a non-factor for professionals.

For non-professionals on the other hand, i know many players who have quit playing; others have spent many hundreds of dollars looking for rubber they can comfortably use, and are close to giving up the sport. This is ironic considering that the ittf has no direct jurisdiction over these players.

Allowing frictionless in some age categories but not others is not really possible in a small country (by table tennis standards) like the usa. Breaking from the ittf in this matter is not an option.

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