OOAK Table Tennis Forum

ITTF President, Adham Sharara, answers questions PART1
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Author:  antipip [ 25 Dec 2008, 01:41 ]
Post subject: 

Thank you, I had missed the point on Tennis . The point on sponge adding is great as I could add sponge to The '0x' reversed rubber if it is deemed illegal by the experts. Merry Christmas.

Author:  kagin [ 27 Dec 2008, 10:17 ]
Post subject: 

adham wrote:
This proves my point, which I mentioned several times. With good technique the change of equipment will not affect you that much. The players you listed above must be players with good technique. Actually it is interesting to see one of them actaully progressed, very intersting.


The argument that good technique wins can be used to back any rule change. If we were to switch to 60mm balls, or double the length of the table, or apply a 25uN maximum friction level to rubber - the players with good technique will still be better than those with poor technique, but that fact doesn't mean we actually should switch to 60mm balls.

Furthermore, that argument is normally presented as logic to placate those who complain about sweeping changes such as the size of the ball, or speed glue. Almost all professionals used speed glue, and certainly all of them used the 38mm ball, so the rule change affected everybody. However the number of players using low friction rubber is a minority, and to use such an argument to describe the situation seems to avoid the real issues.

As i said, and as illustrated by the progression of the two professionals who had been using low friction long pips, the impact of such equipment at the professional level is almost negligible. Removing authorization of those rubbers has almost no effect on the professionals (where the ittf has jurisdiction) but a significant effect on amateurs (where the ittf has no jurisdiction). Why is the ittf making changes that only affect non-ittf players?

(From what i understand the success of akerstrom is based partly on him changing his playstyle to a more orthodox chopper as a reaction to his forced equipment change. I hope tt-total.tv will eventually show recent video of his new style.)

Also, the friction rule adversely affects those who used the affected rubber, and nobody else. Yes those players may be able to adapt (some will not be able to), but should they? If a new rule were added outlawing backhands, kreanga would probably be able to adapt and continue to play well, but should he? What would barna have done? The fact that some players are capable of adapting distracts from arguing the real merits of such a change.

I have no doubt that i would play at a higher level if i were an orthodox shakehand looper. I also have no doubt that i would quit playing if that happened as i don't find it very fun. I have refused to adapt to a technically superior style because there are more important things than winning. Personally, i don't really care so much if my relative play level goes up or down; what irks me more is the thought that people believe this change makes the sport better.

We have yet to hear the real reason for the change. The official line - that the play surface should be uniform - is a completely separate issue. Every former low-friction long pip user that i know of wants pips with uniformly low friction.

Also, from what i understand this was not an AGM vote by the associations but rather a vote by the board of directors. Is this incorrect? Because it is somewhat strange to read that the associations voted in favor of this change when they didn't; only the board of directors did.

Author:  adham [ 28 Dec 2008, 02:41 ]
Post subject:  Technique and rules

To Kagin:

First let me explain some facts to clarify some points:

1. Board of Directors: This body is elected by the AGM (over 50 members) to deal with all matters in Chapters 3, 4 and 5 of the ITTF Handbook. In fact, the BoD acts on behalf of the AGM with regards to these 3 chapters.

2. Rule 2.4.7: This rule regarding the racket covering and the illegality of making any alterations after ITTF authorization is passed directly by the AGM.

3. Minimum friction level: This decision was made in order to be able to detect post-factory treatment (coating) of LP rubbers. The coating would render the top of the pimple at very low friction, while the sides of the pimples would have a higher friction. Because the pimples bend, then we would have a surface with 2 different friction levels. This violates the exisitng ITTF rules (2.4). However, how to detect such a violation? This problem was given to the ITTF's Equipment Committee who made several tests and analysis and established a minimum friction level as a reference and as a standard. Unfortunately during the research period, some manufacturers and distributers started to produce rubbers with very low friction levels as a ready-made product. When the minimum friction level of 25mN was implemented these rubbers became illegal. This is exactly what heppened when sponge had no limitations (before 1959) and some sponge was more than 2 cm (20 mm) thick and more. In order to stop that trend, a limit was established at the time of 4mm, which is now totally accepted. The same applies to the low-friction level. This is why the term "ban" of frictionless rubber makes no sense. There is no frictionless rubber, we have very low friction rubber, we have varied surface friction rubber, etc. The setting of 25mN establishes a controlable limit and a measure as a directive to the manufacturers so they know what is the limit they need to adhere to.

ITTF players as opposed to non-ITTF players: In fact there is no such thing. All players belong to their national associations,. There is no such thing as an ITTF player. The ITTF is composed of member national asociation. What you probably mean is ITTF events and non-ITTF events. At ITTF events, all players must be entered by their National Associations. Players cannot enter an ITTF even directly. At ITTF events, players must adhere to ITTF rules. At national events players must adhere to their own national association's rules. Most national association adopt ITTF rules, but they are not obliged to do so (England does not adopt the ITTF rules for all levels).

In conclusion: the ITTF set a norm for the level of friction in order to detect post-treated rubber, in order to set a limitation that could be controled, in order to provide precise directives for manufacturers seeking authorization from the ITTF and in order to avoid inconsistent friction for LP rubber (top and side) which would already be against ITTF rules. This is no different than setting a maximum thickness of 4 mm for racket covering.

Future: The ITTF may choose to set controlable norms for the sponge, and perhaps the blade. This would be to establish standards just as the two mentioned above. This would be done only when found necessary.

The main principle to remember is that manufacturers seeking to use the ITTF logo on their equipment must produce the equipment in question according to the ITTF standards, norms and rules. The ITTF does not impose its logo on any manufacturer. However, if a manufacturer wishes to have the ITTF logo on its equipment, then they must produce this equipment according to the ITTF's criteria.

Now let me take you as an example:
- in order to play in an official event in your country you must follow the rules in your national association
- if you wish to play in an ITTF event, your national association must enter you and you must use ITTF authorized equipment and the organizer must provide ITTF approved equipment .
- if you play outside the above two scopes then you can use whatever you like.

Final effect:
- we shall see how this rule affects Table tennis in general over a period of one or two years. If it has a negative effect, then it may be changed. If it has a positive effect, then it will be maintained. Who will decide the effect? The AGM and the BoD, so the majority of these bodies will decide.

The majority eliminated the very thick sponges, the majority established the minimum friction level, and the majority banned the VOC-glues.

We must accept and move on.

Regarding "technique", if players focused more on strengthening their technique rather than relying more on equipment, they would be affected less and less by any rule change. I do agree with you though that these are separate issues. Most rules changes are made to establish controllable norms or to improve the games (as imagined by the rule makers). My point was that good technique will reduce the effect of any rule change on a player. But I do agree with you that these are separate issues.


Author:  Smartguy [ 28 Dec 2008, 19:59 ]
Post subject: 

kagin wrote:
...Also, from what i understand this was not an AGM vote by the associations but rather a vote by the board of directors. Is this incorrect? Because it is somewhat strange to read that the associations voted in favor of this change when they didn't; only the board of directors did.

On this topic:

http://forum.tt-news.de/showthread.php? ... ost1335933

Author:  haggisv [ 28 Dec 2008, 20:35 ]
Post subject: 

Thank you smartguy, that is indeed a very good post...since you've already acknowledged the source, I guess it's OK that 've pasted the content below:


In my humble opinion, establishing "the minimum friction level" by the Board of Directors is illegal. Even if it was designed "to detect and make illegal" post treatment of rubber. The latter is still questionable to me, but let us concentrate on the main point.

Only Annual General Meeting (AGM) has the right to establish the minimum friction level, not the Board of Directors. This is the central point. If AGM had made the decision (75% majority of all the 205 National Associations required), it would be legal, but AGM didn't do that. What we actually have, is a decision of the Board of Directors only.

Now let me explain, why AGM only has the right to establish the minimum friction level, not the Board of Directors.

According to ITTF Constitution in the ITTF Handbook, "Amendments to the Constitution and the Laws of Table Tennis shall be made only at a General Meeting" (http://www.ittf.com/ittf_handbook/ittf_hb.html, 1.20.03).

And establishing the minimum friction level is in fact an amendment to The Laws of Table Tennis. ("The Laws of Table Tennis" are described in the Chapter 2 of the ITTF Handbook.)

I said "in fact", because in "The Laws of Table Tennis" there is no mention of "friction level" at all. We can only find it in the Technical Leaflet T4: "Friction for pimples out. The minimum friction level is 25 mN" (http://www.ittf.com/ittf_equipment/p...ings_2007+.pdf).

Let me explain why establishing the minimum friction level is in fact an amendment to "The Laws of Table Tennis".

The description of the table tennis racket is given in the Chapter 2.04 of "The Laws of Table Tennis". There is no word there about any friction level of rubbers. That clearly means, that any friction level is legal. That's why all the "frictionless pimples" were authorised by ITTF and had ITTF Logo. A change from "any friction level" to "certain friction level" is an amendment to "The Laws of Table Tennis". And this amendment is exactly, what the Board of Directors has no right to do, but has actually done in violation of the Constitution of the ITTF. To me - clearly illegal, regardless of where this amendment was placed.

I would greatly appreciate your comment on that.

Author:  RebornTTEvnglist [ 28 Dec 2008, 21:51 ]
Post subject: 

If this is true, which it appears to be, that is outrageous. However, I was under the perception it was voted by the AGM because they had 90% acceptance. So I would very much like to hear what Adham has to say about this.

Author:  Smartguy [ 28 Dec 2008, 22:24 ]
Post subject: 

RebornTTEvnglist wrote:
If this is true, which it appears to be, that is outrageous. However, I was under the perception it was voted by the AGM because they had 90% acceptance. ...

Perception is such a thing... :)

adham wrote:
...Sorry for taking a long time to answer, I wanted to check the Minutes first and I am spending a lot of time at the hospital. I did check the Minutes about the 25mN, you will find the decision in the Minutes of the Board of Directors of February 2008 in Gaungzhou, China, Item 11.2 as follows:
11.2 Limit of friction level
It was decided to request the Equipment Committee to study the friction of treated rubbers further. However, it was agreed that the friction level of racket coverings would be fixed at -25 mN

This decision was taken after about 2 years of research and experiments to find an acceptable minimum level of friction. At the meeting we received a detailed account and the recommendation made by the Equipment Committee and the reasons given. The decision was made unanimously. Then a draft technical leaflet was produced that was later approved by the EC. ...

(http://forum.oneofakindtrading.com.au/v ... 1518#61518)

Author:  adham [ 29 Dec 2008, 08:13 ]
Post subject: 

Dear friends,

I am addressing this subject for the last time. I have posted answers, explanations, procedures and clarifications in the Forum and in at least 2 other forums on the following subjects:

- VOC ban
- Boosters, tuners and additives illegality
- Minimum friction level of 25mN

I will provide one last time a short summary on the above and then I will ask the Forum Administrator to close this thread, and I will open a new thread in which I could answer questions about any subject except the above three listed subjects.

VOC ban
- The ban on VOC-containing substances was proposed by Japan to the ITTF’s Board of Directors (BoD) in March 2004. It was passed with a great majority with an implementation date of 1 September 2006
- The implementation date was postponed twice by the BoD to 1 September 2007 and finally to 1 January 2008 for all ITTF Junior events and 1 September 2008 for all ITTF events.

- According to rule 2.4 “The Racket” all additives are illegal. Only the components of the racket as listed in rule 2.4 of the Laws of Table Tennis are legal. Although this rule was very clear, it was felt that it needed to be made even clearer.
- At the 2006 Annual General meeting of the ITTF (AGM) the rule was clarified further and rule 2.4.7 was passed with more than 90% acceptance.
- Rule 2.4.7 forbids altering the racket covering in any way after it has been approved. This “explicitly” prohibits any substance that will alter the shape, size, thickness or characteristic of the racket covering after approval (post factory treatment)

Minimum friction level
- According to rule 2.4 and rule 2.4.7 (passed by the AGM) a racket surface cannot be altered or treated and the racket surface has to be uniform
- For many years, as reported by the Equipment Committee, and as presented by some national associations at both the AGM and the BoD, the issue of treated rubber, more specifically treated long-pimpled rubbers (LP) was brought to the forefront
- It was reported that LP were treated rendering the top of the pimple and the side of the pimple at two different friction levels. This is illegal according to rule 2.4.
- In order to control and detect the so-called post-treated rubbers (post factory treatment) by the players and by the distributors, the BoD of the ITTF asked the Equipment Committee to research the matter and to make a proposition to the BoD
- The BoD is the body within the ITTF that approves the Technical Leaflets
- Technical Leaflets (TL) are detailed explanatory documents that are an extension to the rules and are designed primarily as tools to help implement the rules. Technical Leaflet may contain explanations of the rule, interpretation of the rules, parameters to control the rule, and standards set to control the rule or better define the rule. The content of the TL can never contradict the rule, but could supplement the rule as long as the BoD approves such a supplement.
- The Equipment Committee proposed the minimum friction level of 25mN (after experiments and analysis), which was accepted by the BoD and introduced to the relevant Technical Leaflets (Racket and/or Racket Testing).
- This was for the purpose of having a reference and a standard in order to be able to detect post-factory treatment, but more important to give to the manufacturers a clear standard to follow.

- Committees have the responsibilities to produce the relevant Technical Leaflet, and the BoD has the responsibility to approve them.
- The BoD acts on behalf of the AGM in all matters concerning Chapters 3, 4 and 5 of the ITTF handbook as well as dealing with all matters relating to Technical Leaflets, Junior Commission and other commissions that report to the BoD and not to the AGM
- Most Committees, with a few exceptions, report to the AGM
- The Equipment Committee reports to the AGM and its annual written report (sent 2 months in advance to ALL member national associations) is presented for approval at the AGM.
- As far as I know, all Equipment Committee reports have been accepted by the AGM.

As you can see from the above, all decisions made by the ITTF have followed due process and have passed (or not) according to the ITTF’s rule and are legal.

I have posted more than 400 posts in various Forums in less than 2 months. It would be easy to miss some of my posts, and it would also be easy for a reader to mix up quotes and posts, and definitely possible for me to cross answers or to make errors in references. In order to avoid any misunderstandings and false interpretations, I am posting this brief explanation as a last attempt (I made several attempts before) to put this matter to rest:

1. VOCs are illegal
2. Additives of any kind are illegal
3. LP racket coverings must adhere to the minimum friction level

This subject is now closed.

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