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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 17:39 
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The following article is LOOOONG, I suggest you look for the style that describes you best and read that section, unless you’re a research student with nothing better to do for an hour or two.

Choosing the right equipment, not expensive equipment: a guide to choosing middle price range equipment for various styles

In modern sports, many players realise that if they wanted to reach the top, they’d require the help of their equipment. From the single spike on the sole of a football shoe to the engine of an F1 racecar, equipment has been formulated with the infinite wisdom from the models before. Equipment has allowed athletes to push beyond their personal best and attain newer levels of excitement. But for recreational players, who value the fun of the sport over absolute victory, our choices of equipment would invariably differ from the professionals.

What is defined to be ‘middle price range’?
Although different people are willing to spend different amounts on table tennis, here we are concerned with equipment that costs a couple of hundred RMB as a reference.

Does medium priced = medium quality?
Many store owners will tell you that the cheapest and the most expensive stuff are the store’s bestsellers. But in fact, cheapest equipment is advertised on its value, expensive equipment is advertised on its concept. The mystery of EJing is that equipment can be sorted by price, but this does not correlate to best to worst playing performance. High priced equipment usually contains exotic fibres or gluing methods that tend to excel its strengths, but leaves the weaknesses more noticeable. Most recreational players would aim to get medium-priced stuff once they have realised this.

Back to the topic, the choice of equipment must match the player’s preferences, because even the most talented player cannot use all types of equipment to perform their absolute best. In today’s game, the looping style has stood strong, and players’ strokes are becoming more precise and more aggressive. Recreational players have followed this trend, and now almost every club player is able to loop several shots. The equipment’s ability to defend and control can no longer be considered the ultimate factor, but rather its attacking ability is crucial. With this in mind, the styles we will look at are mainly looping based.

”Soft” looper
Mainly spin orientated and creates beautiful text book arcs accompanied by heavy spin. Most often this type of player doesn’t win on sheer speed, but rather forces their opponent to make errors via not carefully treating the spin of the ball. Usually very good at continuous looping, can vary the rhythm, and most likely to be accompanied by good placement of shots. Both penhold and shakehand are assumed to be 2-winged looper here.

In order to use the soft looping setup successfully you should be good at using your own power (ie, good weight transfer, larger motion), be physically fit (at least footwork wise) and using it mainly from close to mid-distance, that way you can truly take advantage of the higher dwell time. Once you have mastered strokes with more power, then adding speed to your already spinny loops becomes a breeze. You should focus on feeling the brushing of the ball, and consider contacting the ball at different places to add varying elements of heavy [side]spin to the ball.

Equipment specialty
Stick with the traditional, thicker middle ply construction. Look for a simple 5-ply at around 5.5mm. This way the whole blade’s deformation is more obvious, and would have high dwell. It should be light, and have a soft but bouncy feel. The rebound speed should be slow to average, vibrations should be more apparent. When loop-killing, you should be able to feel the ball stop on the blade, thus you’d be able to feel the blade’s full power and create enormous power. However this type of equipment choice would not be suitable for a punch-block stroke, as the ball would sort of float. Also the backhand becomes a support at best, due to the biology of Asians, their backhands cannot match the power of the taller, stronger European counterparts, this on top of the blade’s low rebound speed, would tend to make the backhand shots feel “meaty”.

On rubber selection, since you’d need to win the majority of the points with the forehand, it is better to use something with a harder sponge, preferably Chinese, to balance the blade’s lower speed. The backhand rubber can’t be too soft either, try for something medium to medium hard, to allow for better brushing to create arcs. But in general, try not to exceed the forehand rubber thickness, to prevent the feeling becoming unclear and also being harder to hit through.

Combinations
Shakehand:

STIGA Offensive Classic CR (480RMB); a traditional Swedish blade, with ample blade power, CR has increased the blade’s speed and also adds a layer of protection.

TIBHAR Samsonov Alpha (650RMB); a classic blade to play Samsonov’s “tai chi” style. Top plys are soft, middle plys are harder. A good choice for a soft looper.

Penhold:

YASAKA Extra (825RMB); the blade that is most suitable for modern RPB users. Modern versions are

Forehand:

DHS Hurricane Series (98RMB); the forehand rubber that you can’t go wrong with. Power is sufficient, text book arcs, but works infinitely better with glue.

Backhand:

PALIO CJ8000 Tension speed type (52RMB); medium hard sponge, good speed, better price.

”Hard” looper
Compared to the previously mentioned “soft” looper, “hard” loops do not carry unbelievable amounts of spin, instead they have increased power and speed. The kick off the 2nd bounce is more pronounced and usually drops lower than the 1st bounce. This is a more theoretically advanced style, and this is reflected in the more balanced hitting to brushing ratio. Since the blade has increased mass, you are now applying more pressure on the opponent [than the previous style], forcing them to their spin and rhythm, and really testing their counter-looping and defending skills.

The hitting to brushing ratio requires many hour to perfect, however once mastered you’d be able to combine speed and spin like never before. Most recreational players do not have the solid basic strokes, this plus the equipment they choose are usually too fast, often loop balls that are much faster than they are spinny. This is an example of hitting more than brushing.

Equipment specialty – all wood choice
All wood blades still maintain the best feeling when looping, their light vibrations bring about a clear and sharp ball contact, this is the reason many players still prefer all-wood over composite blades.

5-ply blades with thick middle ply needs to increase its solidness/stiffness for a “hard” looper, thickness must be at least 5.6mm, to ensure the blade does not undergo unbelievable deformation. The power would increase dramatically, and naturally so would the speed. Some blades exceed 5.8mm, and some are even 6mm and thicker. Thickness is the tradeoff for 5-ply blades in order to gain higher power and speed. It is now much easier to borrow your opponent’s power. Although the backhand is still not a strength, it is no longer a weakness. You can now BH loop off the bounce and BH counter most balls. However if you intend to RPB, it is better to keep the thickness below 5.9mm.

Traditional 7-ply fast attack blades have becomes today’s “hard looping” baldes. Their thicknesses have lowered to around 6mm, the speed is faster than a 5-ply, solid feel on hits, the trajectory is long and low, and punching is crisp. However the weight is not light, plus the thickness of the blade, we must consider the strain on our wrist before choosing these blades, especially for RPB players. Of course these blades are still suited to the fast attack game and hitters.

The choice of matching rubbers is very high. You can put almost anything on a “hard looping “blade. Usually a harder, tacky forehand rubber and a more bouncy European rubber for the backhand.

Combinations
Shakehand and Penhold:

MILKY-WAY MC-2 (178RMB): good price to performance ratio, popular in the China market, classic 5-ply construction.

DHS Power G3 (165RMB: Being similar to the Hurricane King, this is well worth your money.

DHS Hurricane Hao (480RMB): Especially designed for Wang Hao’s RPB game, this piece of work can also win you points if you punch block.

Forehand:

DHS Hurricane Series (98RMB), Skyline Series(118RMB); feeling is solid and powerful, excellent power from close to table to mid-distance. It also allows you to choose the level of tackiness and hardness of sponge from a large series.

BUTTERFLY Sriver (235RMB); A classic rubber, its topsheet bites the ball well, and has amazing attacking properties.

Backhand:

PALIO HK1997 Tension speed type (128RMB); The bite of the rubber is close to other more popular European rubbers, good rebound speed ensures backhand speed and power.

DONIC Coppa JO Gold (290RMB); The lowest priced German tensor, great speed, and loud sound. Perfect BH rubber.

Forehand and Backhand:

YASAKA Mark V series (from 300RMB); Classic Japanese rubber. Great power and very stable. Good at rallying and often chosen as a RPB rubber, suits harder blades.

Equipment specialty – composite choice
If you think the all woods are too slow, or to compensate the lack of physical strength, then consider a composite blade. Now the blade has a bigger sweet spot, higher stiffness and unprecedented speed. The feel is hard, and you now have to focus on the brushing to create a nice arc on your loops. A heavy carbon blade is not easy to control, thus the introduction of various fibres and soft carbon blades. 1-ply blades are more common in the penhold market. They allow for loop-killing over the entire table, lively push-block, and the traditional penhold backhand attack. For a 1-ply blade, choose a thickness of at least 9mm and be prepared to pay a fair bit more.

The blade is now hard enough, the matching rubber doesn’t need to be so hard, or you’ll end up with the legendary “metal racket” with little feel. But if you choose something too soft, something that is much much softer than the blade, then you’d lose the speed gained by the blade. Medium hard is the way to go, and something that is easy to hit through would be excellent.

Combinations
Shakehand and Penhold:

PALIO TN (275RMB); A nice 7-ply carbon blade that isn’t too thick, but with sufficient power.

MILKY-WAY T-2 (170RMB); Another good valued blade, with a 3+2 construction that has good dwell and high speed, this is a great choice for a player’s first composite blade.

Shakehand:
SWORD RG2002C (378RMB); Similar to Sanwei’s carbon blades, but the Sword offering gives higher dwell, making it an excellent “hard loopers” blade.

DONIC Waldner Senso Carbon (600RMB); Waldner’s blade, it combines the speed of carbon with an all-wood feel.

Japanese Penhold:

BUTTERFLY Senkoh FT (495RMB); Good a value for a player’s first 1-ply blade. A typical blade that 1-ply users have used before selecting their top-of-the-line choice. Pairs up excellently with Japanese rubbers. Don’t complain about the price, you already reduce the costs by using only one sheet.

Forehand:

729 God-favored SST (59RMB); Medium hard sponge, tacky topsheet. Its strength lies in its spin, slap it on a hard blade to ensure the speed is not lowered too much.

PALIO CJ8000 Tension looping type (58RMB); Slightly softer sponge, slightly more bouncy. Good dwell and easy to hit through.

BUTTERFLY Sriver EL(235RMB); Medium hardness, good for backhand and forehand.

Backhand:

729 Focus 3(90RMB); Transparent topsheet, a very Euro-like Chinese made rubber.

PALIO Macro (325RMB); German made tensor rubber, high rebound speed, rewards brushing strokes with ample speed and spin.

Balanced Player
Perhaps you’re not interested in using huge attacks to win the point, but rather indulge in the joy of changing rhythm and spin when rallying. Or perhaps you like to try out different styles and techniques, and gain pleasure from disrupting your opponent’s robot-like play. Or perhaps you prefer to patiently wait for the right moment to play out your massive attack. Or perhaps you’re a beginner and you’re unsure of what to choose.

Whatever the reason, this style focuses on control, solid blocking and counter-attacking.

Equipment specialty
With this sort of racket, it has no strengths in anything, but are above average in it all. Their strength is balance, suitable for all kinds of techniques like loop, hit, push, block. Because of their “lack of strengths” these blades are often neglected. Most of these are hard, thick 5-plys or soft, thin 7-plys, at roughly 5.8mm thickness. The blade deforms little, but displays good bounce, feel, spin and speed.

To match such an all-round blade, you should pick all-round rubbers. Basically you should avoid extreme tackiness or bounce or hardness etc. which all run against the style of balance.

Combinations
Shakehand and Penhold:

DONIC Persson Power Play (320RMB); Persson’s earlier blade, crisp feel good bounce, easy to use.

BUTTERFLY Korbel (348RMB); Butterfly’s classic 5-ply, very easy to use, good speed even from mid-distance, solid feel, perfectly suited for RPB.

STIGA Tube Offensive (480RMB); A rather thick 5-ply blade, but has strong attacking abilities. Countering off the bounce is especially good. But perhaps too thick for a RPB game.

Forehand:

729-2 (NEW) (66RMB); Softer sponge than the God-favoured series, medium tackiness, a rather balanced Chinese rubber.

Backhand:

YASAKA Zap tension speed type (80RMB); guaranteed good speed, allows very stable balls to be hit and has a high accuracy percentage.

Pimples Focused
With the penhold pips-out style fading out of popularity, pimples rubbers, especially long pimples are most likely to be located on players’ backhands nowadays. This can be used to disrupt the rhythm or spin, giving the opponent a hard time. There are also players that like to use short pimples on the backhand, punching for a direct winner. There are also highly skilled players who like to twiddle between their pimple and inverted. And finally there are the 2-sided shakehand pimples player, which is considered the hardest to master.

All these styles require a wealth of experience, and many older players prefer these rubbers. These “weird” rubbers can drive an unsuspecting opponent crazy, especially if they are inexperienced to the rubber.

Equipment specialty
Pimples rubbers typically come with a much thinner sponge than inverted rubbers. This may lead to a hollow feel and strong vibrations. Thus we would require the blade to be stiff and solid, which means a certain thickness must be reached to provide for stability. Hence many 5-plys are not suitable, giving rise to the popularity of 7-ply blades and composite blades.

If your style is largely dependent on the pimple, then you should choose the blade according to the pimple’s needs, before finding the inverted rubber. Conversely if you are intending to use the inverted more, match it to the right blade before finding the right pimple. Usually this type of player chooses a harder inverted rubber to allow for a hitting style, which compliments the “hit more brush less” philosophy of the [short] pimple. The pimple choice will not be discussed here, as just like the inverted rubber, everyone has their special requirements.

Combinations

STIGA Clipper Wood (530RMB); Although the clipper has been redesigned many times during the last decade, it still remains as the first blade many would recommend to a pimples player.

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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 17:54 
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Nice... Great job & thanks for doing it... What would be other words for the translated "deform(ed)" you used above?

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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 17:58 
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Keep up the great work! :thumbup:

Interesting article in all, makes you want to rethink about your kit and your reasons for choosing particular equipment.

Rok, it might mean flex/trampoline effect, or that's how I read it. :?

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Last edited by Yuzuki on 12 Oct 2008, 18:05, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 18:00 
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lol, I just use the physics in me to translate that, it simply relates to how much the blade flexes as a whole (but not quite in actuality).

I think you can safely assume 'deform' = 'flex' but it can get complicated when the Chinese decides to start talking about partial deformation and holistic deformation :S

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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 18:18 
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great article! thumbs up for you :)


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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 18:24 
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Your right about the Clipper being a Fave!!! for the long pips chopper Geko,

One of the choppers here recently bought 9 clippers in one go from CST(OZTT)

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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 20:24 
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A good piece of information Geko, thanks mate! :wink:

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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 20:31 
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Looks a bit too Yasaka-biased to me. Yasaka isn't the biggest in rubbers, but gets recommended in 3 of the 4 styles .

Anyway, nice piece of information, although I think the selection is too narrow. I bet Silver can recommend 10 more rubbers and 5 more blades per category.

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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 20:49 
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Actually, I've always thought the Tube Off deserved more recognition than it gets. It was my 2nd cpen blade. Unfortunately I snapped it.

I also wouldn't really call it Yasaka biased. It refers to blades that have been on the scene for a while and have a solid reputation.

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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 23:00 
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Great work gekogark1212! A very informative article!

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PostPosted: 12 Oct 2008, 23:16 
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Silver,

What would be your top 5 picks for both Shakehand and Penhold of each category? :D


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PostPosted: 13 Oct 2008, 09:03 
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Thanks! Interesting.

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PostPosted: 13 Oct 2008, 13:10 
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Deform = flex, thought so but wanna clear that up.
Got it.
Thanks.
Keep up the good works...
:D

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PostPosted: 16 Oct 2008, 23:19 
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bump to be moved into archives! :P

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PostPosted: 17 Oct 2008, 08:44 
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Great work, Mr. Spy :!: I have cut and saved a copy of the article. Very useful and will make good reference.

Cheers.

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