Downgrade blade back to all-wood?

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Hello everyone,
I would like to hear your thoughts and advice on the following situation.

I started playing again about a year ago after a break of about 15 years.
I'm almost 40 years old now and my level is quite ok (around 1800-1900 US rating, or around 1600 German rating where I train sometimes in my business times and holidays).

When I started playing last year, I spent the first few months playing a lot with all-wood blades like Korbel or Primorac Japan versions.
After a while I switched to moderate carbon blades, first the Innerforce ALC.S and now the Victas Fire Fall FC for the last four months.
I used very light carbon blades (under 82g) because I didn't want to have much more speed, see explanation later.
I made the switch because I had the feeling that I wanted to have a little more power, especially on my very good forehand side.

Now that my first full playing season is coming to an end, I'm drawing a small conclusion and wondering whether switching back to for example Primorac Japan blade might not be the more smart step for me in the long term.
I want to make the best possible use of my strengths.

My game system is based on the following balls:
Rather short, slow serves with different spin variations. Usually either a lot of backspin, no spin serves, or light side topspin.
I try to open up the game very early with a very soft and spiny ball (loop and topspins). This ball must come very safely, with maximum possible spin and good placement. I play the opening on both sides, much slower on the backhand, a little more variable with the forehand, but usually very spinny.
In open play I still prefer to play with a lot of spin, especially on the forehand. With the backhand I prefer to keep the ball strategically in the game using good placement and more control orientated shots. Safety is more important to me here because I'm not particularly good at follow-up on the backhand.
In general, I prefer to keep the tempo a little slow, as I have weaknesses in fast rallys. I try to gain a lot from spin, placement and safety.
My two biggest weaknesses are service receiving (long spinny ones) and blocking. I make some mistakes there, which is why I want to play a setup that makes these situations easier for me.

In order to play my described system as best as possible, I had to choose softer rubbers on the synthetic fiber blades. On the backhand I play 40-42 degree rubbers (Ventus Limber / R7 Soft), on the forehand I felt most comfortable with medium 45 degree rubbers.
On all-wood blades, the rubbers could be a little harder, and I could still play the game well.

Now my honest question:
What type of setup would support my gaming system theoretically at best?
Should I choose a solid all-wood blade (such as the Primorac) with slightly stronger rubbers after the season?
Or should I stay with the moderate synthetic fiber blades and continue playing the slightly softer rubbers?

I am very interested in your opinion and look forward to a pleasant exchange.
Thank you
Marcus vom Sweden
 
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Hi Marcus

I have followed a similar journey and am now 2 years back in - I play a spin/offensive style game too. I have run through a number of inner and outer carbon blades and can play them reasonably well, however having switched back to an all wood 5 ply (Vodak) my consistency and control (and results) have improved. I prefer harder rubbers on FH (D09c) and mid hard on BH as this is my weaker side. I have not noticed a lack of speed or power - there is enough.

My 2c is that it is a good idea for you.

Peter
 
I restarted 2,5 years ago after more than 30 years, first using my old Primorac. I made several tries and upgrades, but finally downgraded my blade from DHS 301X to Tibhar Illusion Killer. This special concept with a thin Balsa core gives me much more control in the short and medium play. With full strokes, the core gives a nice boost, so I have no lack of power.

I agree with Tembel's recommendation, to try a hybrid rubber.
 
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I also came back to TT after almost 30 years out and, after testing a lot of blades, settled on a 5-ply allwood: Vodak Miroslav Hořejší Off EnTech.

I definitely play better in match situations with it than I did with the various fibre-reinforced blades that I tested. The fibre blades were fun to train with, but I get more shots on the table in match play with the allwood, and my attacking shots are more powerful than they were with fibre blades as I swing more freely, hit harder, and generate more spin more consistently with the allwood.

I've also been trying my son's Butterfly Korbel SK7 and have been enjoying that very much, as well as a Donic Persson Powerplay. Between my Vodak 5-ply and these two 7-plies, I could pick any one and play better in competitive situations than I can with a fibre-reinforced blade.

If Vodak introduces a Korbel SK7 equivalent I'll certainly be giving that a go—hint, hint, Jiří :)

If it helps, for reference purposes, I'm not far off 50 years old, and in the top third of the 1st division of my local league.
 
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I also came back to TT after almost 30 years out and, after testing a lot of blades, settled on a 5-ply allwood: Vodak Miroslav Hořejší Off EnTech.

I definitely play better in match situations with it than I did with the various fibre-reinforced blades that I tested. The fibre blades were fun to train with, but I get more shots on the table in match play with the allwood, and my attacking shots are more powerful than they were with fibre blades as I swing more freely, hit harder, and generate more spin more consistently with the allwood.

I've also been trying my son's Butterfly Korbel SK7 and have been enjoying that very much, as well as a Donic Persson Powerplay. Between my Vodak 5-ply and these two 7-plies, I could pick any one and play better in competitive situations than I can with a fibre-reinforced blade.

If Vodak introduces a Korbel SK7 equivalent I'll certainly be giving that a go—hint, hint, Jiří :)

If it helps, for reference purposes, I'm not far off 50 years old, and in the top third of the 1st division of my local league.
I "Downgraded to the PPP to get back to spinning first ball over driving... mission accomplished... and if I decide to go ground-pound dog pound... then I can bring the Quarter Pounder to the ball.

I do not miss any of my former faster bats... I would say 6-12 months on the PPP I could play them better if I use them.
 
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Thank you all for your opinions und help.
as I can see, a step back to a slower 5ply wood can be a good thing, even or especially for an offensive player.
I really would love to train and develop my strokes, and I guess that a slower blade can be very helpful for that.

Now, coming from a Fire Fall FC or Butterfly ALCs with 83g I think I want to look out for a 5ply wood that is even slower.
but it shouldn’t be much more flexible.

primorac is very thin (5.5mm) and the Korbel is to fast.
maybe a Nittaku Acustic could be interesting. Slower and not that thin with 5.7mm.
a friend of mine is using the Donic Persson Powerallround, but I never played with it before.
the yasaka Sweden extra is often mentioned as well in that area?
 
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Yasaka Sweden Extra is a great blade providing lots of control, although might feel a bit slow when you start using it. Donic Persson Powerallround & Powerplay serie is a very decent set of blades at a very reasonable price. Coming from a fiber/carbon blade, the drop in speed with Powerallround is pretty big. The Powerplay Senso V2 might be a better choice.

And by the way, moving from carbon/fiber to all-wood is not a downgrade :)
 
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I've downgraded from my W968 to a 5.5mm Stiga Ulf Carlsson.

You know what, my mate always beat me 3-0 or 3-1 when I used W968. I beat him 3 matches yesterday with my all wood Stiga blade.

I've used other 5-ply which feels really hollow and empty when looping from mid distance. My suggestion is to find a heavy all wood, my Carlsson weighs 97g. From mid distance, I can loop with a huge safety margin, as well as power (thanks to the weight and 41 degree H3)
 
Thank you all for your opinions und help.
as I can see, a step back to a slower 5ply wood can be a good thing, even or especially for an offensive player.
I really would love to train and develop my strokes, and I guess that a slower blade can be very helpful for that.

Now, coming from a Fire Fall FC or Butterfly ALCs with 83g I think I want to look out for a 5ply wood that is even slower.
but it shouldn’t be much more flexible.

primorac is very thin (5.5mm) and the Korbel is to fast.
maybe a Nittaku Acustic could be interesting. Slower and not that thin with 5.7mm.
a friend of mine is using the Donic Persson Powerallround, but I never played with it before.
the yasaka Sweden extra is often mentioned as well in that area?
My ALC.s is slow already it may be my slowest blade. The one reason I’m not using it is the heavy weight 95g !

To me is definitely an all blade.

Cheers
L-zr
 
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You can go even slower if you want!! Def / Def+/All- blades can still pack a punch, especially for close to table rallies.
close quarter stuff, max speed is not necessary. depends on level of players, but for most intermediate level players good precision with spin is likely to win you more points than out and out speed.
 
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I wonder how this translates onto unknown opponents though?

Good point. How I beat my mate is that I was able to vary my shots very well. I lob and counterloop and he just couldn't beat me in that aspects.

When I played another two opponents later, it almost makes no difference in 1 but better with the other. The one with no difference has much better footwork so my shot variation only got me 1 game
 
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I guess I am the naysayer here after years of promoting using slower blades. Ultimately, a blade will not hurt your playing level unless
1) you have a specialist style that doesn't work with it (maybe you are a long pips blocker or chopper)
2) you can't get sufficient arc on tricky shots because the blade is way too fast (usually T5000 or pure carbon with no innerforce design with a rubber that doesn't allow for easy arc)
3) you can't relax enough to let the blade do work for you so you squeeze the blade tightly most of the time.

My own thing is that if you train enough, just use a Viscaria or innerforce ZLC type blade and practice your blocking and touch game. Use hybrid rubber if you can. It takes a lot of work to swing and get pace with an all wood blade and as you get better, speed of play becomes a huge determinant of your ability to pressure opponents, especially in the passive game. Obviously, if you are at a level where consistency matters much more say USATT 1000-1600 or TTR 700-1300, by all means, go slower, but a point will come when you need to change unless you are just so athletic it doesn't matter, but most athletic players will enjoy what a faster blade gives them.

Faster blade largely means Viscaria or at the extremes, a Jun Mizutani. Primorac Carbon is probably an extreme, but players who use that know why they are using it and it is a good blade. THe plastic ball responds much better to all these blades than people realize, and spin is not as purely effective with the plastic ball as it used to be with the celluloid ball.
 
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I guess I am the naysayer here after years of promoting using slower blades. Ultimately, a blade will not hurt your playing level unless
1) you have a specialist style that doesn't work with it (maybe you are a long pips blocker or chopper)
2) you can't get sufficient arc on tricky shots because the blade is way too fast (usually T5000 or pure carbon with no innerforce design with a rubber that doesn't allow for easy arc)
3) you can't relax enough to let the blade do work for you so you squeeze the blade tightly most of the time.

My own thing is that if you train enough, just use a Viscaria or innerforce ZLC type blade and practice your blocking and touch game. Use hybrid rubber if you can. It takes a lot of work to swing and get pace with an all wood blade and as you get better, speed of play becomes a huge determinant of your ability to pressure opponents, especially in the passive game. Obviously, if you are at a level where consistency matters much more say USATT 1000-1600 or TTR 700-1300, by all means, go slower, but a point will come when you need to change unless you are just so athletic it doesn't matter, but most athletic players will enjoy what a faster blade gives them.

Faster blade largely means Viscaria or at the extremes, a Jun Mizutani. Primorac Carbon is probably an extreme, but players who use that know why they are using it and it is a good blade. THe plastic ball responds much better to all these blades than people realize, and spin is not as purely effective with the plastic ball as it used to be with the celluloid ball.

I do think you have a point with this especially for someone at the level of the OP. And you have given a good idea of who would benefit from slowing their equipment down. So....what NextLevel has said above is worth understanding for the OP and for people trying to give advice to the OP.
 
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I guess I am the naysayer here after years of promoting using slower blades. Ultimately, a blade will not hurt your playing level unless
1) you have a specialist style that doesn't work with it (maybe you are a long pips blocker or chopper)
2) you can't get sufficient arc on tricky shots because the blade is way too fast (usually T5000 or pure carbon with no innerforce design with a rubber that doesn't allow for easy arc)
3) you can't relax enough to let the blade do work for you so you squeeze the blade tightly most of the time.

My own thing is that if you train enough, just use a Viscaria or innerforce ZLC type blade and practice your blocking and touch game. Use hybrid rubber if you can. It takes a lot of work to swing and get pace with an all wood blade and as you get better, speed of play becomes a huge determinant of your ability to pressure opponents, especially in the passive game. Obviously, if you are at a level where consistency matters much more say USATT 1000-1600 or TTR 700-1300, by all means, go slower, but a point will come when you need to change unless you are just so athletic it doesn't matter, but most athletic players will enjoy what a faster blade gives them.

Faster blade largely means Viscaria or at the extremes, a Jun Mizutani. Primorac Carbon is probably an extreme, but players who use that know why they are using it and it is a good blade. THe plastic ball responds much better to all these blades than people realize, and spin is not as purely effective with the plastic ball as it used to be with the celluloid ball.
Thank you SO much for this wonderful and really helpful post.
There are so many helpful points, and I guess I have learned and understood a lot to think in this way

@UpSideDownCarl
you are absolutely right.
do you see it in a similar way as @NextLevel argues?

I will give some feedback from my two training sessions this week, where I was able to test to normal 5ply woods.
My experiences might be interesting for you! Love to hear your feedback!
 
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Luckily, I was table two test a Butterfly Primorac blade this week for two times and around six hours in the training hall.
I could use it with my playing rubbers, Yasaka Rakza 7 2.0 on forehand and Rakza 7 soft 1.8 (42,5 deg.) on backhand.

The basic idea was to get more control in the game, lesser unforced errors.
However, I have to say that the opposite happened in the six hours that I was able to play with it.
It made passive (and active) play even more difficult for me, especially passive or direct blocking doesn't work for me at all.
Normal backspin pushing and receiving different spin varieties on serves were very bad, indirect and totally uncontrolled.

Overall, I have no feeling for the ball at all, although it is always said that you get more feeling with a solid 5ply blade like this. For me it is rather very disturbing that the wood vibrates so much in comparison and is, in my opinion, much more lively. No linearity.
It may be that the pace is slower, but it actually feels much more uncontrolled to me. Rarely have I had so many balls go high or far behind the table, even though I put little to no pressure on the balls myself.

After the first three hour sessions I thought it would be only a bad day, or uncommon situation. But in the second session it became even worse. I really had a feeling of control when receiving services or in any passive play situation.

Since some of you had already pointed out that the idea might even be the completely wrong approach, and that the opposite might even be the case, I'm surprised to have found this out.
Are there any experiences here similar to mine?

I would really love to hear your thoughts on that.
Thanks again to @UpSideDownCarl and @NextLevel for giving me signs to this direction.
 
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There's a guy who plays with me from time to time and he learned this idea that he needs a slower rubber to properly grip the ball, "to really roll it on the rubber" — all this. But he already has a great loop: very spinny and fast, and this loop is defined by his stroke mechanics, rather than a racket. If anything, he'd be worse with any other racket than his current (r7 glued with speed glue on some moderate but hard top ply wood). I managed to dissuade him for a time being, but…

As others have said many times, control per se probably doesn't exist. The blade very much defines your shot selection and the game plan, though. I have harimoto szlc with 2×D09c and it's awesome on most of the shots: short game, blocks (especially important is the fh block), chiquita, fh flick, fh smash and spinny loops. But I can't smack loop drives, like I was able with acoustic+boosted h3 (and would be able with W968)—with my stroke the ball hits the net. This latter racket was worse in fh-blocks and chiquitas. I figured out that hari szlc is more controllable in matches, because I'm often caught in defense on fh and my chiquita is a direct point if I manage to connect with the ball. And so I play with hari szlc.

There was one last thing: what to do with with the opening fh loop? I've decided to adjust the stroke mechanics for short spinny loops (this was long time on my todo list) and now I can land 20% of loops within one foot from the net and ⅔s within the first third of the table during the training (adjust for wishful thinking, but the result is really satisfying). In matches it's often a straight winner, since landing the ball into the short forehand breaks everyone's patterns: the ball drops before the opponent, he contacts it long after the apex and the loaded ball just shoots off—again, very satisfying. Mind you, it's super fast, super stiff hari szlc. Well, I actually think that the stiffness of the blade (and the softness of the rubber's top sheet) are the key here.

It took me a couple of months to get here. Some ten sessions and ten hours of actual training of the stroke, plus a lot of thinking and watching videos to learn how to do that.
 
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Luckily, I was table two test a Butterfly Primorac blade this week for two times and around six hours in the training hall.
I could use it with my playing rubbers, Yasaka Rakza 7 2.0 on forehand and Rakza 7 soft 1.8 (42,5 deg.) on backhand.

The basic idea was to get more control in the game, lesser unforced errors.
However, I have to say that the opposite happened in the six hours that I was able to play with it.
It made passive (and active) play even more difficult for me, especially passive or direct blocking doesn't work for me at all.
Normal backspin pushing and receiving different spin varieties on serves were very bad, indirect and totally uncontrolled.

Overall, I have no feeling for the ball at all, although it is always said that you get more feeling with a solid 5ply blade like this. For me it is rather very disturbing that the wood vibrates so much in comparison and is, in my opinion, much more lively. No linearity.
It may be that the pace is slower, but it actually feels much more uncontrolled to me. Rarely have I had so many balls go high or far behind the table, even though I put little to no pressure on the balls myself.

After the first three hour sessions I thought it would be only a bad day, or uncommon situation. But in the second session it became even worse. I really had a feeling of control when receiving services or in any passive play situation.

Since some of you had already pointed out that the idea might even be the completely wrong approach, and that the opposite might even be the case, I'm surprised to have found this out.
Are there any experiences here similar to mine?

I would really love to hear your thoughts on that.
Thanks again to @UpSideDownCarl and @NextLevel for giving me signs to this direction.
Yes, your experience is what I feel when I use 5 plies for short practice periods. Again I am not saying they do not have offsetting advantages. I am even going to experiment with a 7ply with Mark V for a hitting style I want to investigate and I have seen someone develop an extremely effective style with flextra where he can take power off really strong loops and remain extremely consistent. I have also seen people develop good games with Acoustic and boosted H3 and short pips backhand close to the table and for chopping away from table. I am just pointing out that if you don't wallop the ball, or actively stroke, the slower blades keep you a sitting duck, and when you step back from the table, you can't be passive with these blades - you have to refine your approach to blocking and short strokes to use them. But since no one was pointing out the other side of using these blades ans you are already over 1600 USATT, I had to bring it up. Because as you get better, shot quality and speed is just as important as consistency and passive shot quality matters too.
 
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