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  1. 5plyguy is offline
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    #1

    Importance of pairing - Findings after months of equipment testing

    I am currently an intermediate player in the US with a USATT rating of ~1600 and have aspirations of reaching 2000 within the next few years. My goal in 2020 was to reach USATT 1800, but as we all know, the Universe had other plans. I play a moderately aggressive style game with an emphasis on service and third ball attack near the start of points and spin and placement later in rallys.

    Despite no match play in the past year, I have had access to a table and a return board for the past 8 months. In all of this downtime from match play I decided to spend some hard earned money on various blades and rubbers to really take my time to understand if I could find a combination that played significantly better for me than what I have used in the past.

    All in all I have read hundreds of reviews on blades and rubbers and have purchased or have access to the following equipment:

    Blades:
    Avalox Blue Thunder 550 (78g)
    Yasaka Goiabao 5 (87g)
    Nittaku Ludeack (93g)
    Yasaka Battle Balsa (77g)

    Rubbers:
    Palio Blitz 42 degree (Max)
    Palio Blitz 47.5 degree (Max)
    Xiom Vega X (Max)
    Xiom Vega Pro (Max )
    Yasaka Rakza Z (Max)
    Stigna DNA Pro H (Max)
    Donic Baracuda (2.0mm)
    DHS Hurricane 3 Neo (2.15 Medium Hardness)

    I have tried almost every possible combination of these blades and rubbers in countless hours of service practice and forehand and backhand looping/hitting against the return board.

    My findings:

    1. Equipment matters - honestly more than I expected it to. Some combinations felt more right and some combinations felt wrong. No matter how long I played with some setups they never felt right and I would immediately see higher spin, control, and consistency when switching back to a setup that had performed well in the past.

    2. Blade and rubber synergy is real - and most reviewers online seem to ignore this fact. Blades do not work without a rubber. Rubber does not work without a blade. I have become increasingly frustrated with reviews that do not mention the entire setup used for testing. For example for me Xiom Vega X played average to below average in terms of shot consistency, feel, and spin on almost every blade, except when paired with the Nittaku Ludeack. On that blade the Vega X on my backhand proved to be one of the best possible backhand pairing of any rubber / blade combination I tried.


    My recommendation for others who do not have this amount of free time or money to try so many different setups who do want to find a more ideal setup:

    1. Pick a blade in a weight range and composition that you think will compliment your particular style of play and stick with it unless you want to meaningfully change your style of play (ie: transition from a control based style toward a more aggressive looping style [lightweight 5 ply -> heavier, thicker 5 ply], or change from more controlled looping more toward faster looping with some blocking/hitting [heavier 5 ply -> 7ply or composite 5 ply], etc.). Blades in the 70g range are considered light and will tend to be slower, but with potentially more control than heavier blades, the 80g range is most common, 90g+ blades are less common but have their own set of properties that some people love.

    A general blade guide: 5 ply all wood and 5+2 ply inner composite blades will have higher throw angles, and will tend to shine for looping, while heavier 7 ply all wood blades and outer composite blades will have lower throw angles and will be more ideal for hitting and blocking.

    2. Test different rubbers. For every blade from the above list I was able to find a rubber pairing that complimented said blade very well for me. Sometimes I disliked a blade for months until I tried a rubber I had never really liked on any other blades, and then like magic - that particular blade and rubber paired well and I was back to consistent, fast, and spinny shots and serves. Unfortunately I have no silver bullet here and this is where I believe that having some time and money to use on testing new combinations can be very beneficial.

    3. If you are generally already happy with your current setup and only want "more speed" (a common statement I read on many forums), I would consider trying to find a blade that is somewhat heavier (+5-7g) and potentially slightly thicker than your current blade and keeping your rubber the same. Alternatively, if your current rubbers are not the max version of sponge, I would consider keeping your blade the same, but moving up to a thicker sponge of the same rubber you are already using.



    Too long; didn't read (TL;DR)
    Blades and rubbers have a clear synergy effect. I found that a rubber might not match well with some blades, but matched very well with other blades. If you are reviewing a specific rubber, please note the blade used (or better yet multiple blades!). If you are reviewing a specific blade, please note the rubber(s) used to make your evaluation.

    If you have not spent much time trying to optimize your equipment I do think there is a benefit of finding a blade and rubber combo that just seems to "work" for you. Personally, I recommend selecting a blade based on weight and composition that generally matches your preferred playing style, sticking with it, and testing various rubbers with different properties (harder<->softer, grippy<->tacky) until you find a setup that "clicks".



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  2. Brs is offline
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    #2
    You could have saved yourself some money with a viscaria and 2x t05 or d05. And it isn't often I can say that.

    OTOH, your project sounds like a good way to maintain some excitement for table tennis in 2020. Maybe that was worth more than money.

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  3. lodro is offline
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    #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Brs
    You could have saved yourself some money with a viscaria and 2x t05 or d05. And it isn't often I can say that.

    OTOH, your project sounds like a good way to maintain some excitement for table tennis in 2020. Maybe that was worth more than money.


    Is this a recommendation just to 5plyguy or to everybody in the multiverse ??? ☺


  4. Der_Echte is offline
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    #4
    IN with my comment that at that stage OVER-ANALYZING things is a big waste of time - just get equipment close enough to zone of appropriateness, which would be any good feeling blade ALL+ to lower OFF and modern dynamic or modern control oriented rubbers.

    Simple as that.

    However, the big fight to stop this kind of over-thinking disorder is worse than stopping Cooties from spreading.

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  5. LilMunchkin is offline
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Der_Echte
    IN with my comment that at that stage OVER-ANALYZING things is a big waste of time - just get equipment close enough to zone of appropriateness, which would be any good feeling blade ALL+ to lower OFF and modern dynamic or modern control oriented rubbers.

    Simple as that.

    However, the big fight to stop this kind of over-thinking disorder is worse than stopping Cooties from spreading.

    I actually highly 100 percent agree with this. As long as you can find a good off blades with rubbers that you like, in my case (h3 and mark v), you are fine. Anything else is just a means to enjoy life, and that is the most important thing. Of course it won't make you better but at least you have fun. Not like we're becoming CNT here.

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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by LilMunchkin

    I actually highly 100 percent agree with this. As long as you can find a good off blades with rubbers that you like, in my case (h3 and mark v), you are fine. Anything else is just a means to enjoy life, and that is the most important thing. Of course it won't make you better but at least you have fun. Not like we're becoming CNT here.

    Bit this setup makes my loop better and then a day after, this setup is much better! 😁😂

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  7. LilMunchkin is offline
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    #7
    Quote Originally Posted by yogi_bear

    Bit this setup makes my loop better and then a day after, this setup is much better! 😁😂

    Don't forget: This setup is 5 times faster with 2 times the control. These rubbers help me beat everybody I could not beat before. The short game is infinitely more controllable, but I get easy power when looping. 😂😂

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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by LilMunchkin

    Don't forget: This setup is 5 times faster with 2 times the control. These rubbers help me beat everybody I could not beat before. The short game is infinitely more controllable, but I get easy power when looping. 😂😂


    What rubber is this? Can I powerloop against short push?


  9. LilMunchkin is offline
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    #9
    Quote Originally Posted by lasta


    What rubber is this? Can I powerloop against short push?

    Of course it can!! Its called tenicsane 30509c. It is a collab of BTFLY x DHS. It gets the best of both worlds(great power and short game with zero effort). Great short game because the rubber adjusts based on spin, full control and POWER and SPEED while looping because it provides the necessary dip, and when the short push is not out of table, you can just move to side of table slide it under then it changes its molecular structure to go through the solid table,then bam it just powerloops the ball. The rubber has infinite gears, and unlike several rubbers with several gears that are directly proportional to your strength, this one reads your mind on what you need, or looks at the ball then adjusts for you. I found it in a shop called womeitiandapingpangqiuFOR-THE-NATIONAL-TEAM-EXCLUSIVE-NOT-FOR-MERE-MORTALS. I can guarantee you that it is 100 percent legit.

    You cannot find it upon quick inspection on the LARC. You need to click the pdf ITTF logo then it will ask for the birthday of the founder of table tennis. Once you enter, it is rubber 00-000.

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  10. LilMunchkin is offline
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    #10
    ... but wait...

    Is there a cheaper alternative?

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  11. 5plyguy is offline
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    #11
    I see the jokes - but here I come, Summer Olympics!! Especially once I get my hands on some 30509c no one will stop me.🤣


    But really - this is the equipment thread, right? What's wrong with talking about equipment? Some of it does help or hinder your game.
    Last edited by 5plyguy; 1 Week Ago at 02:54 PM.

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    #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Der_Echte
    IN with my comment that at that stage OVER-ANALYZING things is a big waste of time - just get equipment close enough to zone of appropriateness, which would be any good feeling blade ALL+ to lower OFF and modern dynamic or modern control oriented rubbers.

    Simple as that.

    However, the big fight to stop this kind of over-thinking disorder is worse than stopping Cooties from spreading.

    Spending time with new table tennis gear in my garage gave me something to look forward to in 2020. Like Brs pointed out this was a great way to maintain some excitement for table tennis in 2020. How exactly is that a waste of time?

    I really don't appreciate my first thread being dismissed like this from someone so prominent on the forum. I have read hundreds of your comments and it has had some influence on how I think about Table Tennis.

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  13. 5plyguy is offline
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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Brs
    You could have saved yourself some money with a viscaria and 2x t05 or d05. And it isn't often I can say that.

    OTOH, your project sounds like a good way to maintain some excitement for table tennis in 2020. Maybe that was worth more than money.

    It was worth every penny! And not all of this gear was acquired this year - I have had some of the blades for over 7 years now.

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  14. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #14
    One of the big things that should be understood in this is, different people have different touch and feeling. Something that could be useful for you, something that works and feels great for you, a combination of wood and rubber that is good for the way you contact the ball, might not be the same for someone else.

    And a player at one level, with technique at that level, may present info based on their technique and feel that is valid for them and totally besides the point for a player at a different level, whether higher or lower.

    There is nothing wrong with the endeavor. There is nothing wrong with exploring and experimenting with equipment. I think that has been quite useful for you and it sounds like you feel that is the case as well which may be more important than what anyone else thinks.

    In general, I also think that "reviews" are flawed for reasons similar to what I said above. But it doesn't mean you should not explore and try and understand as much as you can. And if reviews are thought of as something someone else has experienced, with an understanding that the same may not be your experience, then review can be put in a box where they have their flaws and their benefits.

    I, personally, have not read product reviews in so long, I can't remember the last time I could sit through reading one. So it is worth noting that, your experiences with TT equipment through your experiments, can be presented but should not be presented as a universal experience that everyone will have.

    I remember, years ago, when my technique was pretty low level, a friend presented two blades to me to try and see what I felt about each. Both blades had T05 on them. There was also a mutual friend who he was having test each setup. One blade was a 5 ply Hinoki blade. The other was a 5 ply blade that had a Hinoki top ply with a Limba medial ply and an Ayous core. The mutual friend was a pro player and a coach.

    I tried both rackets and I liked one. It felt better, faster, more easy to control, and I felt I got more spin with it. I totally hated the other blade. It felt awful to me. It felt slow and unresponsive. The blade I liked was the one with Limba and Ayous. Our friend's response to the blade with Limba and Ayous was: "I don't know why I would want to use a blade that is so slow and has such bad control." And her response to the all Hinoki blade was: "This blade is good. It is much faster, it gets much more spin, and it is way easier to control. This is a much better blade."

    I was mystified. I had no idea how we could have such different experiences. But I also realized, she was really effing good and I really wasn't.

    Years later I tried the same all Hinoki blade, (the same friend was still using that same all Hinoki blade) and my technique was way different and I was playing at a moderate level but way better than when I had first tried the blade. When I tried this time, the blade felt like magic. And I could not figure out why I was not able to feel it years ago, except that my technique was so much better and my contact and feel were so much different.

    The other blade that had a Hinoki top ply with Limba and Ayous under it....I have not tried it in a while but I have tried it recently enough to say it is a fairly mediocre blade and I would agree with my friends assessment that it is too slow for a blade that is not that easy to control.

    So, even the same person, years later, with more developed technique could feel the same equipment completely differently years later.

    Again, this is not to devalue the testing and exploring of equipment you did. I would say it is a highly worthwhile venture. But it is worth understanding that what you feel from equipment now, may not be the same as what you feel from equipment as your skills improve and develop. And what you feel now, may not be the same thing as what other people, whether more or less experienced than you feel while using the same equipment.

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    Last edited by UpSideDownCarl; 1 Week Ago at 04:47 PM.
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  15. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #15
    BTW: the story I presented above, I think, somewhere in there is information about how players at lower levels so frequently end up with equipment that is not so good for their development without realizing it.

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    #16

    For all the good-natured teasing (😉), 5plyguy's main point is a good one: Combinations matter! Some blade/rubber combos feel 'right' (in a very subjective way that will differ from player to player, and may also differ for the same player as skill/experience improve) and others don't.

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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by 5plyguy

    Spending time with new table tennis gear in my garage gave me something to look forward to in 2020. Like Brs pointed out this was a great way to maintain some excitement for table tennis in 2020. How exactly is that a waste of time?

    I really don't appreciate my first thread being dismissed like this from someone so prominent on the forum. I have read hundreds of your comments and it has had some influence on how I think about Table Tennis.

    I appreciated your post and found it valuable 5ply, thanks for making it. I particularly liked the part about blade / rubber synergy.
    I understand that people, myself definitely included, can get too hung up and obsessed with equipment, but finding a decent / optimal blade and rubber combination for one's level of play is fundamentally important to a lot of people,
    Other decent players are not too concerned with the process. I'm one of the former group but respect the latter.....
    I think you made good use of your time and am glad you shared it on the forum. Cheers....

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  18. IB66 is offline
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    #18
    Hi 5ply,

    like yourself, I’ve tried out a fair amount of rubbers and blades over the last year!!
    it’s been enjoyable and educational.
    Chinese rubbers, learnt how to boost those as well!! ESN rubbers, BTY rubbers etc, tacky, hybrid grippy, even tried a med pips rubber!!
    Blades, mainly all wood blades, but some with some carbon / some sort of fibre fleece!!

    Lockdowns, lack of competitive play, lack of club nights, lack of actually practicing with people has been and still is, a real pain.
    So bought a table and robot, lockdown has given me the chance to try all the equipment without the chopping and changing of gear really having an adverse effect on performance in matches etc.

    Around Christmas I started to slow down on getting new gear, I’ve bought more of the same, because I found I liked, say rubber ‘a’ and only 2 rubbers that I hadn’t tried, which have been briefly used and set aside!! 1 blade, which is an Acoustic inner, I already had an all wood Acoustic, wanted to see how much faster the inner carbon version is!!

    Now, I have decided to slow things down even more, rubber choice has been whittled down to 2 (or possibly 4) rubbers and 2 blades.
    Donic Dotec Ovtcharov Off,
    Nittaku Acoustic Inner.
    R48, Rakza Z, ( Skyline 3 provincial blue sponge FH / H3 Neo 37 provincial BH, both boosted) I feel confident with either R48 on both FH/BH ditto Rakza Z, or a mix of either combined. The DHS rubbers are an unlikely 3rd choice.
    For the last 2-3 weeks I’ve solely practiced with the Acoustic inner and Rakza Z, this is likely to be what I will used to train and play matches with in the future.

    When all is said and done, you’re not going to ‘know’ 100% how a rubber or blade will actually play until it’s in your hand hitting balls!!

    It’s also a totally personal experience, because it’s ‘personal’ and relative to ability, playing style, technique etc how each individual evaluates the traits of equipment is not how another person may evaluate it.
    As Carl mentioned, how equipment plays and feels also changes as players evolve!!

    Enjoyed your post!! Try not to become a total EJ though!!

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  19. Der_Echte is offline
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    #19
    Quote Originally Posted by 5plyguy

    Spending time with new table tennis gear in my garage gave me something to look forward to in 2020. Like Brs pointed out this was a great way to maintain some excitement for table tennis in 2020. How exactly is that a waste of time?

    I really don't appreciate my first thread being dismissed like this from someone so prominent on the forum. I have read hundreds of your comments and it has had some influence on how I think about Table Tennis.

    MAYBE, you were not over-analyzing (like great majority of people who write a post where they make up a mile long list of candidates and hundreds of their minute specific properties down to the thickness of a hair on a gnat's azz).

    Maybe you were, like you said in the quoted post, just enjoying your numerous purchases. In that regard, both you and the TT makers will luv you sum. Nothing wrong there. I COULDA added a disclaimer that those who simply want to spend big bucks on many self-presents and enjoy them while learning firsthand what they all do is an individual freedom and nothing wrong. Since I have over years said this countless times, I did not think to write that. Personally, in my early days, I actually did what you did on a less expensive scale with less expensive equipment.

    The context of what I said is clear. (and I very frequently say this position) The waste of time is for a developing player in spending inordinate amounts of time over-analyzing many different possible setups that majority of them are already in zone of appropriateness that will provide no real major advantages to their development.

    Maybe the difference is in the intent of all the purchases and evaluation. There is a difference between buying a bunch of stuff for fun and enjoyment (personal choice and enjoyment reasons), and buying a bunch of stuff in pursuit of trying to discover a magical combo. (That is EJ reasons) (Funny you see me discouraging EJ-ism and I am a seller of equipment)

    Maybe ONE or TWO possible things you could gain a bigger or better fit for what you do within the same class or even brand/model of rubber is to discover what sponge firmness or softness is more suitd to your strokes. This can be discovered on own, IF you come accross enough rubbers. Ditto for the blade in same class - vibratey or crisp for same relative speed. If you do not have access to other players' rubbers, then the only way is to buy and try... which can be pricy and take some time. Another one is the kind of topsheet/sponge class - eg Modern Dynamic, early gen modern, old school.

    I was very lucky that one of the world's largest EJs was my friend and had me try an endless amount of every suitable rubber or blade free of charge, since he always brought a different dozen to the TT hall every day. (Yes, his collection was so large it would take over a decade to try everything at the rate of 12 per day - he had THOUSANDS) Through this I discovered which class of rubber for each wing and which spnge softness(es) worked on each wing given my stroke.

    Knowing that really saved me a lot of time. Now, it is as simple as say getting a 90g+ OFF wood or Composite blade with a certain property and FH slapping on modern dynamic soft sponge rubber and BH a modern dynamic soft or med.. or old school soft rubber.

    If I had not known that, I would have been wondering why it was difficult to open heavy slow topspin using Calibra LT Hard with a composite OFF blade when my appropriate zone was with a little slower, softer, more dynamic stuff.

    MANY players, like 90%+ of them IMO, would be much better served in their development (which would greatly enhance their enjoyment) to simply get stuff in the zone of appropriateness for what they do most and stay with that kind of stuff until they get much better. OF COURSE, this is NOT... say again NOT THE ONLY WAY... other ways work... however, the pursuit of many purchases does spend a lot of time and effort and money, which could be made more effcient by determining zone of appropriateness and getting gear in that zone without worrying too much if one is significantly better, because at the end of the day, none of the rubbers/blades are significantly better for development that those in same class similar poroperties. That is where the waste of time is.

    Now if a player simply does not care about the expense and time to discover using this way, more power to them.

    I say for the purpose of developing from USATT average player into more advanced player, that worrying/evaluating excessively about the particular rubber or blade given if it is appropriate enough, is a waste of time. I have frequently said that and will likely continue to say that.

    I have frequently said, and will continue to say that the way of the pundit is not the only way, but many ways of the pundit position have been time proven.

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  20. UpSideDownCarl is offline
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    #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Der_Echte

    I actually did what you did on a less expensive scale with less expensive equipment.

    Is Der continuing to put his foot further and further into his mouth while still making a valid point?

    For the record Der, I think your Dart Board, cue cards with blades and rubbers on them, and the drunk model in the mini-skirt blindfolded throwing the darts to choose the blade and rubber by which cue cards the darts hit, is a much more effective way of explaining your point: any blade manufacturer's version of a blade of a certain category and rubbers of a certain category will be fine. The specific brand, the specific blade, the specific rubbers, they don't matter as much as it being equipment in a class that will work for the development of the player in question.

    IE: for an offensive minded 1600 level USATT player who is developing skills, a 5 ply Off- or All+ (or slower Off) blade that is all wood; Rubbers that are middle of the road, offensive minded and easily controllable would be useful.

    Even if you were really trying to highlight your frugality, or downright cheapness, it could sound like something else instead.

    In the end, I know you and I know you are trying to help save the OP some cash long term. But sometimes someone's words are easily misinterpreted in spite of the intentions.

    The Following User Likes UpSideDownCarl's Post:

    Der_Echte

    Last edited by UpSideDownCarl; 1 Week Ago at 02:33 AM.
    Spin Everything.

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