OOAK Table Tennis Forum

ITTF President, Adham Sharara, answers questions PART1
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Author:  adham [ 23 Dec 2008, 14:31 ]
Post subject: 

Smartguy wrote:
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.

No, please, in my capacity as ITTF president I do not feel uncomfortable at all with you . On the contrary, I respect your views, it is just that we may have a different perspective on how to do things in this position. I am open for advice at any time, and I am open to criticism as well (mainly because I have no choice). I know that you seem to be very concerned with the exact applications of the rules, and I respect you for this. But I have a different approach, one that oils the machine so that it keeps on moving forward. So perhaps I have a higher tolerance than you regarding the exact application of rules, but I am just as strict as you in some cases where there is no room for tolerance. The real trick is to know when tolerance should be allowed and when it can not be allowed.

Author:  Smartguy [ 23 Dec 2008, 15:02 ]
Post subject:  Re: Tony Hold`s adhesive foil and the suchlike...

kagin wrote:
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. ...

Some questions can have implications, which are difficult to see at first glance. The question about "Dämpfungsfolie" is not mine, but I guess it's implication can be as following.

Here http://www.ittf.com/ittf_misc/Racket_Control_2009.pdf we can read this:
"The ITTF will be very strict with Manufacturers, Suppliers and
Distributors that are on the ITTF’s list of Authorized Racket
Coverings that still produce illegal materials such a VOC-glues,
or any type of additive such as Boosters, Tuners, oils, etc.
The ITTF is extremely disappointed with those manufacturers
who are secretly providing illegal substances for their sponsored players to use. This is totally UNACCEPTABLE and is
considered an illegal act and cheating
." (signed "Adham Sharara")

If the "Dämpfungsfolie" is illegal, ITTF could address the manufacturer about the issue. That's why it does make sense to ask Adham about it.

As for my questions about the service toss, the discussion about the issue in this thread is closed, as far as I understand. I can only tell you, that the implication was responsibility of the executive part of ITTF for the current practice.

By the way, you have just written about "the minimum friction limit". Perhaps you should know, that as an executive official of ITTF Adham is not responsible for that and has no powers to reverse the decision.

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 23 Dec 2008, 15:07 ]
Post subject: 

antipip wrote:
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.

You make some very good and valid points there Anti. You're right, the National bodies didn't poll the players they are supposed to represent when voting on this, but neither do government's conduct referendum's on anything that isn't changing the constitution. So it is always the people who get "stuck" with the rules of governments just because they voted for them because they liked some of their policies, or the way they look, or whatever reason. Now I know we don't even vote for the members of our national bodies, but someone must I guess. Perhaps Adham can enlighten us on how these people, including himself, get into office?

And yes, I liked the 21up game also. The 11up game seems to be over almost as soon as it begins lol.

Author:  antipip [ 23 Dec 2008, 19:43 ]
Post subject: 

Speedplay: Thanks I prefer the way you put what I wanted to ask.
Kagin: Enjoyed reading your posts
Reb: Good question. I do think 21 is a fairer game, it allows for more momentum changes and different tactics. Though I have to say I prefer finishing at 10 in the evening than 1:30.

Kagin / Smartguy: Regarding Dampfungsfolie and rulings. Rules are difficult to write and fully understand when read. The definition or classsification can make a huge difference to the interpretation. If Damfungsfolie was classed as a glue sheet, it would seem to be o.k. If it were classified as an additive it probably wouldn't. Adham may know how this product is viewed by the ITTF, we don't know how it is viewed; at the moment. In the general section someone has quoted an e-mail from toni hold suggesting he had asked the ITTF questions on this product and had no response so went ahead. If this is the case it wouldn't seem to be in secret for this particular product.

I am not currently using this product, but if it was legal I would use it. I'm not using at the moment as you could have all your league results turned into losses which would be unfair on the rest of my team. I think players need to know if a product is legal or illegal. It should be clear and not allowed by some umpires / leagues and not others. I'd like a ruling on it, maybe adham can help the ITTF to publish a ruling (1 way or the other) as he can see on here how it affects players who are wanting to use legal equipment and are not wanting to break a rule.

I would also like to use the toni hold new 40 which is marketed as 0x but said by the manufacturer to have a thin sponge. The legality of this product, probably rests with the definition of a sponge (its chemical compilation. We question it on the forum is it legal, isn't it legal but won't know until they rule on it. If they have already done so adham may well know the outcome of the ruling. That is why I would ask.

Adham: I'd really appreciate hearing the ITTFs view on these 2 items. (toni hold new 40 and damfungsfoile). If you could get a response from them it would be great.

Author:  Smartguy [ 23 Dec 2008, 20:16 ]
Post subject: 

http://www.tonihold.com/html/produkte.html :

"Diese Folie ... verringert die Geschwindigkeit"

That means, Dämpfungsfolie decreases Speed.

A sort of "antibooster". Not just adhesive.

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 23 Dec 2008, 21:31 ]
Post subject: 

Smartguy wrote:
http://www.tonihold.com/html/produkte.html :

"Diese Folie ... verringert die Geschwindigkeit"

That means, Dämpfungsfolie decreases Speed.

A sort of "antibooster". Not just adhesive.

Yes but I think the point is whether it adds anything to the sponge or just sits as a layer like a glue sheet. I think that would be the key test of whether its legal or not assuming it is 0.1 mm or thinner.

Author:  Smartguy [ 23 Dec 2008, 22:12 ]
Post subject: 

RebornTTEvnglist wrote:
Smartguy wrote:
http://www.tonihold.com/html/produkte.html :

"Diese Folie ... verringert die Geschwindigkeit"

That means, Dämpfungsfolie decreases Speed.

A sort of "antibooster". Not just adhesive.

Yes but I think the point is whether it adds anything to the sponge or just sits as a layer like a glue sheet. I think that would be the key test of whether its legal or not assuming it is 0.1 mm or thinner.

I don't think, it adds anything to the sponge. But this thing absorbs pressure.

Author:  Dark horse [ 23 Dec 2008, 22:17 ]
Post subject: 

Smartguy wrote:
RebornTTEvnglist wrote:
Smartguy wrote:
http://www.tonihold.com/html/produkte.html :

"Diese Folie ... verringert die Geschwindigkeit"

That means, Dämpfungsfolie decreases Speed.

A sort of "antibooster". Not just adhesive.

Yes but I think the point is whether it adds anything to the sponge or just sits as a layer like a glue sheet. I think that would be the key test of whether its legal or not assuming it is 0.1 mm or thinner.

I don't think, it adds anything to the sponge. But this thing absorbs pressure.

It adds control then :)

Author:  antipip [ 23 Dec 2008, 22:26 ]
Post subject: 

All glue sheets slow the blade down (I think I'm correct in that statement). However, this one is specifically designed for it. It may still meet the definition of a glue sheet. It also may not. This is all we're asking. I don't think anyone on this forum can speak for the ITTF, hopefully Adham can pass on the query and / or get an answer for us. I think we're just going in circles with our arguments.

Author:  igorponger [ 24 Dec 2008, 01:54 ]
Post subject:  Tony Hold`s adhesive sheet is certainly LAWLESS...

No two ways about it -- this given product is certainly illegal to use AT OFFICIAL EVENTS.
First, it is a PSA sheet, not a normal adhesive, and therefore falls under the T4 specifications..
Second, Its total thickness is 0.18 mm, which is over the limit of 0.1mm set down black-and-white in the T4 Leaflet.

The problem is that this unlawful PSA does evade any visual control when applyed onto the racket.
It looks much the same as any other PSAs, and it has no visible markings over its surface for identification.
It is hoped, Mr.Sharara will deal with the "PSA issue" with all due attention.

Author:  rmaxwellusn [ 24 Dec 2008, 03:18 ]
Post subject: 

In all honesty, how do you measure .08 mm. This seems very, very absurd.

Author:  adham [ 24 Dec 2008, 05:27 ]
Post subject: 

antipip wrote:
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.

Very good question. Of course this is just my own way of thinking. I consider that if I modify my equipment from the "base", which is what I use primarily, in order to give me additional confidence, additional comfort, a bit more spin, or a bit less sensitivity to spin, as an enhancement, as long as I can always revert to my base, using the same technique at any time, then it's OK. Without the enhancement I may need to increase my effort, use more or less force, and adjust slightly, but my base remains the same. On the other hand, if I use an equipment that makes a major change to my technique, and I become totally dependent on this changed equipment, and I can not get back to my base game easily without it, then I consider it a "dependence" and basically a cover for my weakness. This is just my personal thoughts. As a coach, I know how to test if any particular technique is solid or not. Let's take a FH tsp as an example. I will ask the payer to hit it as hard as possible, then medium power, then very slow. If all three balls land exactly in the same spot, then the player has good technique. Equipment enhancements are great, as long as they do not overshadow the technique itself.

All the examples you give are easy to answer. Is the special equipment enhancing my performance but not affecting my technique? If you answer yes, then I consider it a good move. If it changes your technique, then I consider it a cover-up of a weakness. In this case, as a coach I would rather fix and strengthen the weaker technique than use a specialized piece of equipment that will cover it up and at the same time set many limitations to the player.

Frictionless: Since this has surfaced again, even though I was sure that I answered all possible questions: Why? How? When? Who? and Why? and Why? again", etc. I will post a separate post again explaining the whole thing, then we should really put it to rest. It's becoming an ugly obsession.

Author:  adham [ 24 Dec 2008, 05:40 ]
Post subject: 

RebornTTEvnglist wrote:
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!

I will post a separate post on this subject. I did it in detail already in this or another Forum, but I'm happy to do it again. I just want to clarify something, I am neither in favour nor against the so-called "Ban of Frictionless Long Pimples". There is no "Ban" per se, nor does "frictionless rubber" really exist. What we have (we may or may not like it) is a limit on the level of friction, just as we have a limit on the thickness of rubber. We do not call the 4mm rule "Ban on thick attacking rubber". The 4mm rule was introduced a long time ago to set a limit on the thickness of the sponge used since there was no limit. Players using very thick sponge did not like it, but it was not a ban on attacking players. It was a majority rule introduced by the ITTF, just like the low friction rule, to set a standard and to set a limit in order to keep the game within certain acceptable parameters. Acceptable to whom? In these two cases acceptable to the national associations members of the ITTF.

Now, a lot of variety exists, even with this low friction rule. In fact manufacturers van produce rubbers very close to the established minimum friction level.

Author:  adham [ 24 Dec 2008, 05:43 ]
Post subject: 

RebornTTEvnglist wrote:
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?

Very wise, also let's give this rule sometime and then see the overall effect. If the majority wants low-friction LP back, there is a process to follow through your national association. The ITTF is always open to change (as you all know already and complain about it).

Author:  adham [ 24 Dec 2008, 05:48 ]
Post subject: 

mynamenotbob wrote:
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.

Please do NOT blame Ebby Scholer. He cannot decide anything on his own, just like I can't either. Mr. Schoelr has my highest level of respect. How many of us could say that we reached the final of a WTTC? And as a defense man? he loves TT, he fights for what he believes is best for TT and of course what is best for German TT. We have many arguments and we disagree on many things, but he only thinks about what is best for the sport. This I can guarantee you. Many associations supported the minimum friction rule and many supported the VOC glue ban, no one could do it single-handed.

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