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    1. Top | #1
      Joo Se Kev is offline
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      A 38mm PLASTIC ball?

      Matt Hetherington made a post on FB about the modern trend towards the conformity of styles in table tennis and Richard McAfee chimed in with some interesting thoughts on the matter:

      "Now that we have better television cameras and balls made of plastic, it would be interesting to experiment with playing with 38mm plastic balls. This would produce a better balance between spin and speed and allow some styles (especially away from the table) to make a comeback."


      "The switch from the 38mm to the 40mm ball was done to improve visibility on TV and to slow down the game. However the biggest impact was on spin production with a decease measured at around 18% . The manufactures quickly made up for the speed decrease but physics would not allow them to make up for the loss spin. Again when we moved to the plastic ball is also was a small increase in ball size and another negative reduction of spin. When I was a player, someone with good spin production could control play. A heavy chop or slow heavy topspin was a real weapon. In the 1980s-90s, there were at least 8 styles of play at high level. With the ball changes that has been reduced to just 3. I think that a 38mm plastic ball would be somewhat slower and less spinney than the old 38mm but it would still be a better balance between spin and speed and allow for a wider variety of styles and more interesting play."


      What do you guys think?


      As a spin addict myself, I would love to see a change like that...


      But perhaps there would be some unintended, knock-on consequences as well?


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    3. Top | #2
      lasta is offline
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      Considering we can watch 4k 60p on youtube, I wouldn't mind going straight back to 38 celluloid.

    4. Top | #3
      Creek is offline
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      I personally think that the intention of both ball was to make the game more spectacular and more appealing for non-addicted table tennis players/watchers. Most people connect this to „making the game slower“ which seems obvious due to the increase of ball size which physically slows down the speed when using the same material and same stroke.
      anyway it turned out that the change of ball material and size mainly decreased spin and offered the opportunity to rather hit the ball fast instead of the need for a slow ball with much spin.

      all in all the ball changes increased the speed of the game and the rallies instead of decreasing it. Anyway, today’s table tennis is definitely much more spectacular and has much more interesting rallies than is had with 38mm celluloid ball!!! All changes worked very well for non-addicted watchers.

      even though I also like spin a lot and still win a lot of points with spinny shots, I think that it would be horrible for the sport to go back to a more spinny ball. Watching some old games of legends like Waldner, klampar, liu guoliang, etc makes me feel like watching bad slow motion games of 3rd class players today. Everything is so slow (due to increased spin and sensitivity) and most rallies last for maximum 3 strokes per player. With serves covered by the body and arm, good servers with increased spin of the ball were able to win 20-40% of their serves directly... awful to watch!

      in conclusion: although spin is an integral part of the game, I would rather go for another increase of the ball size to slow it down even more and make it more attractive to watch than goin back to 38mm!

    5. Top | #4
      Baal is offline
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      We actually had them back then. I cant remember which brand, but there was at least one that was not celluloid. Halex maybe?

      And I agree, 40+ was a step too far.
      Last edited by Baal; 1 Week Ago at 01:07 PM.

    6. Top | #5
      JustANoob is offline
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      Yes, Yes and YES.

      More spin == more fun in so many ways.

      Hopefully they go with it. In a way now its the perfect time with this pandemic for some courageous decisions. As in "Well that did not work out as well as we thought, lets go back".

      And hopefully they dont do something like "Lets try a 39 one", you know half-measures that annoy both parties that want 38 and ones that want to stay at 40.

    7. Top | #6
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      I may be wrong but wouldn’t the spin be roughly the same if the current ABS plastic would be used?

      The effect would only be that speed would increase making the game even more unattractive to watch for non TT nerds.

    8. Top | #7
      Matt Hetherington is offline
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      I think it's a great idea for something to trial, Richard is such a clever man!
      Pro Table Tennis Coaching Blog at - MHTableTennis

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      yogi_bear is offline
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      Isn't that contradictory to what tje ITTF is trying to achieve of slowing the ball down?

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      sampletext is offline
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      NOoooooooo. I get that people miss the old ball, but you can't just change the rules every couple of decades, keep the game consistent!

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    12. Top | #10
      JustANoob is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by yogi_bear View Post
      Isn't that contradictory to what tje ITTF is trying to achieve of slowing the ball down?
      They should've informed the equipment manufacturers too, since they seem to be making faster and faster equipment for the most part

    13. Top | #11
      Baal is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by mart1nandersson View Post
      I may be wrong but wouldn’t the spin be roughly the same if the current ABS plastic would be used?

      The effect would only be that speed would increase making the game even more unattractive to watch for non TT nerds.
      No. I believe spin is more related to ball size than material. Most "40 mm" balls were 39.2-39.5. The 40+ balls are around 40.5. So the change to plastic also resulted in an increase in ball diameter and weigh almost as much as switch from 38 to 40. (Back when we were first going through those changes I made a study of it, hard to believe five years has passed). If we had ABS balls the exact same size as 40 mm balks, we would have more spin. This was a conscious decision by ITTF to sneak in another increase in ball size. I think it was a mistake and I personally find the styles most optimized for 40+ less interesting to watch and style diversity is reduced.
      Last edited by Baal; 1 Week Ago at 01:15 AM.

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    15. Top | #12
      yogi_bear is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by JustANoob View Post
      They should've informed the equipment manufacturers too, since they seem to be making faster and faster equipment for the most part
      Well imagine the smaller ball and the faster rubbers we have now.

    16. Top | #13
      goodhand is offline
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      I started playing TT again a couple of years ago, after a 27 year hiatus, and was really surprised how quickly I regained and surpassed my old form while in college 40+ years ago. Thinking about it I'd guess part of it is because of the larger ball that slowed down the game, and another part is the better equipment.

      The slower speed allows me to sustain longer rallies, and generally improved almost all aspects of my TT skills. So from a purely enjoyment of the game perspective, the larger ball probably is better for the average player, IMHO.

    17. Top | #14
      JHB is offline
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      Quote Originally Posted by Baal View Post
      We actually had them back then. I cant remember which brand, but there was at least one that was not celluloid. Halex maybe?

      And I agree, 40+ was a step too far.
      From what I can recall, it was the Dunlop balls which were not celluloid. Most players even at the lowest levels did not like these balls and Halex and Nittaku were the order of the day - possibly TSP as well. Of course, memory can always be faulty.

    18. Top | #15
      anchorschmidt is offline
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      Let's go back to 40- . 38mm might be too big of a change.

    19. Top | #16
      anchorschmidt is offline
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      Kind of unrelated but this reminds me of a Waldner anecdote, in which he stated that Liu Guoliang's serves in the 2000 Olympics were so spinny that he hurt his back trying to return them. That's such a different receive game than what is possible today with the 40+ ball (flicking everything).

    20. Top | #17
      Tommy16 is offline
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      I think those plastic 38mm were Barna or Dunlop Barna balls with horrible seam.

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