For the last 12 weeks or so, I have played almost exclusively with polyballs and I have spent a lot of money trying various brands, also letting people at my club, ratings from 1500-2600, try the balls that I buy. Also, at this point, nearly everyone at my club has switched to polyballs to get ready for national tournaments. I am around 2100 myself, and play pretty standard two wing spin game, and have been playing a really long time (I am in my 50s). I went through the 38 to 40 switch, the speed glue ban. Everything. The first time I played Dan Seemiller he had the same color rubber on both sides of his racket (it was legal then)
. I play with a Butterfly Viscaria with T05 on both sides, usually on Tibhar Smash 28 tables in Houston Texas. (I mention this because maybe the table you use makes a difference, I'm not sure).
All of the polyballs are a little slower and a little less spinny because of their greater size
. Their weights are close enough to the same that the difference in the feel
of the weight is almost certainly not due to the weight itself. (Think about how when you kick a half-inflated football, it feels heavier). They will all tend to sit up a bit on pushes. Some people say the XSF ball feels heavy, some say it feels light. I don't notice any issues with ball weight.
Among the plastic balls, the XuShaoFa (XSF) ITTF approved ball is clearly a superior product
-- as things stand now. I would actually say vastly
superior. This is because unlike all of the Chinese seamed balls, the bounce is as high as celluloid. They provide a consistent playing quality. Their roundness is also superior. And there is absolutely no comparison regarding durability, the XSF balls last much longer than any other plastic ball, and that part is not even close. They are also cheaper at least in North America. This is not based on a small sample. I now have a bucket of about 60 of them. When they break, which does occasionally happen, they fracture completely, sometimes in the middle of a point, which is different from celluloid. But if they don't fracture, they wear a long time. By the way, this opinion is shared by every single member of my club who has tried the XSF seamless balls. In fact, the better the players are, the more strongly they express the preference for seamless. One recent US National team member in fact told me that actually he didn't want to play with the XSF balls because he knew after about five minutes that he would like them better and then it would annoy him to play in tournaments where the crappy seamed balls were being used. But then today he got so angry that he asked me to give him a few of the XSF balls.
The seamed balls I have used the most are DF, DHS, Joola, TSP, Nittaku SHA (which is made in China). They are on average all the same more or less, although for some reason the Joola and TSP ones seemed unusually bad, but maybe that was just the luck of the draw. All of these seamed Chinese balls have a quite low and inconsistent bounce, and poor durability
. I would gladly join Der Echte in torching all of them. There are several buckets of DHS and DF polyballs at my club so my sample of these is pretty large too. The low bounce is much more difficult adjustment than the reduced speed and spin. Sometimes the ball more or less slides and too often it's just not where all logic and experience says it should be, and this is not a problem with XSF once you adjust to speed, which is frankly quite easy.
By the way, I have used all of these balls in all sorts of playing situations. Drills, matches against many types of players, and also coaching, where for example I am just blocking for people, or feeding balls, etc. The problems with seamed balls are a lot more apparent in match play than when you just loop and block or do some drill where you pretty much know where the ball is going.
I also need to emphasaize that I was very skeptical at the beginning about seamless balls
, because the earlier versions we got were truly dreadful. Horrible sound bad play, just crap. So, if you have only had experience based on some of the older non-approved seamless balls, that is not the way things are with the current ones. I have no commercial interest in any equipment or ball either, and I don't know anyone who does.
I should maybe mention that the seamless balls I have tried have all been sold with XSF label and all are ITTF approved
, and based on stamps on the box (XCAD and XDAD) were manufactured in March and April of this year. For some reason ALL of the Chinese seamed balls I have tried were made in June of this year. So maybe in time they will improve.
I have received word from Iruiru that my Nittaku Premium (Japan) polyballs have shipped. I have only played with one of those balls, it was pretty good. Better than Chinese seamed balls for sure. But truth be told, I still preferred the good XSF balls. And the Nittaku Premium are going to be really expensive.
Hopefully that is the information you were looking for. Obviously this is just my opinion (supported by a lot of different people at my club and elsewhere).
Oh, one last thing. Some people have said that this will hurt choppers and loopers. I doubt it, not in the long run. One of my playing partners is a short pip penholder, and he really likes the polyballs, pretty much all of them, and he is tougher now with these balls. I agree with people who say this style might make a comeback.