Category: Table Tennis Equipment

Table Tennis Balls

How important are table tennis balls and do the characteristics and different ball companies, truly affect your game?

The History of Table tennis balls

Since I first began playing there has been two major changes to the ball, the size and the material of the ball. These changes can be seen both as a positive and negative. Nevertheless, they both have been implemented and thus we must all make best use of the current situation.

Table Tennis Makes and Brands:

The balls vary from brand to brand and depending on your ball purchase the quality will vary from little to greatly. Some brands such as butterfly have a glossy shine but depending on which class of butterfly ball you purchase, you will notice a considerable difference in texture and quality. Different brands produce and develop the ball slightly differently which can make it very hard to choose which ball to train or play matches with!

Table Tennis Balls
Same Brand Different Quality
Table Tennis Ball Variation and Characteristics:
  1. Texture: is the ball shiny, or smooth?
  2. Round: is the ball symmetrical?
  3. Bounce: what is the height and bounce, if you hold two different balls at the same height and drop them you may see a difference in the bounce of the ball? Is it the same or does one bounce higher? Is the weight or density different? Does one ball bounce longer because it’s denser? 
  4. Speed: does one travel faster due to a smooth surface?

You must understand how a ball can affect your game to enable yourself the best possible outcome. You will often hear people say, “it doesn’t matter what car I have as long as it gets me from A to B”. This statement is true if that’s all you require but if you have a specific requirement, any car just won’t cut it. For Example, if you want to go off-road, you may consider a Land Rover, if you want to win on a race track a formula 1 car is your best bet and if you have a big family, a 7 seater may be a good option.

Does a table tennis ball really matter or affect your game?

To a ping pong player (home, social club, or office player) any table tennis ball will suffice and rarely will you hear a complaint about a ball having a soft spot, or unsymmetrical! Yet a professional player will spend a good few minutes checking a selection of balls prior to his/her big match. As mentioned above any car will get you A to B but once you become proficient at anything your requirements become a lot more tailored.

A table tennis ball, does and can have a big effect on a players game and you must understand what, why and How.

What – If the ball has a soft spot, you will find variation in the ball (bounce) characteristics, some jump up too high, another may skid through. This will affect your timing and technique which can also affect your mindset.

Why –  You must try your best to train with high-quality table tennis balls, this develops technique, confidence (via consistency) and develops good timing.

How – Have a variety of high-quality tournament balls and vary your training by using different balls on any given occasion. Most importantly prior to an event or tournament, find out which ball brand is being used and practice with those balls as soon as possible. Each ball has a slightly different characteristic, therefore, the more practice you get with the ball beforehand the better you’ll manage on the day.

Over Thinking:

Table tennis is one of the most technical sports in the world and often due to its unthinkable variants, people overload themselves trying to out-think the sport. It’s nice and its good to know what’s best for you and your game but sometimes its just as good to just get on the table and fight with your heart. The elements are often shared and you can use them as your advantage if you just accept what’s in front of you while your opponent fights to beat you and the elements.

Try to create and have the best elements in your favour but if all that fails, then do what every dog in a corner (FIGHT), your way towards that winning edge.

Written by Eli Baraty

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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Table Tennis Evolution

Table tennis evolution could possibly be greater than any other sport?!

I don’t know for a fact if table tennis has evolved more than any other sport but it sure does feel like it.

Table Tennis History

Our game started with a wine bottle cork and some cigar boxes (primitive).

Today table tennis uses more variety of equipment than any other sport on the planet and has had countless rules and game-changing scenarios.

Many have their grips and yet most adapt to the ever-changing sport.

Modern table tennis game:

Today the game has super equipment technology, which allows players to spin the ball at Zero to 100revs per second. The ball can be hit with plenty of power and speeds.

Table tennis evolution has caused many issues for the sport.

If you don’t play you won’t understand the spin, you will see a few long-lasting rallies and dismiss those who seemingly miss the odd easy looking shot.

Stellan Bengtsson Blade
Modern technique advancements:
  1. Backhand flick: allows us to override spin and produce enough sidespin/topspin to take control of the ball
  2. Backhand: the backhand is a weapon used much more in today’s game and without it, it’s virtually impossible to be a world class player.
  3. Forehand topspin: due to speed modern top players play this stroke almost square now. They bend the playing hand knee, loading the leg with ground power. The waist can twist via this drop stance and this giving the player more time as opposed to bringing the playing hand leg slightly backwards (off square stance). This is of course mainly used close to the table to create efficiency in movement due to lack of time.
What does the future of table tennis look like?

No one truly knows but if you study the past and today’s game you will see how the game has evolved. This evolution can give you better insights into how the game will be shaped in years to come.

Develop modern strokes as a foundation for your game but be open-minded to adapt your game. This is because a change in table tennis may happen at any given moment.

Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)                          

Coach Me Table Tennis 
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How to Uplift Your Game by Having Table tennis Targets on the Table.

How I uplift my player’s games by having table tennis targets on the table. I’m going to explain the benefits of my methods below.

I love coaching and the more players I coach the more I learn. But one thing seems to stand out with 95% of the players I work with. They all fear the opponent standing on the other side of the table.

The 5% of players who don’t fear the opponent have a secret!

When playing someone of our level or above we find ourselves, feeling uncomfortable and going for a little extra which often results in unforced errors. We often complain by saying I played badly today but in truth it’s our awareness of the opponent that causes anxiety, making it hard for us to win.

Gregoire, placing his shots
Table Tennis Targets
Learn to win rather than lose:

We are not always beaten by players of our standard or slightly above our level but commonly LOSE tight matches to those players. What do I mean? We fear our opponent in most cases and we tend to make unforced errors hence a loss rather than the player creating winners and beating us. We think too much in an attempt to foresee the future which disables our execution or forces an overload of information causing a poor shot selection and ultimately deliver a weak or failed shot.

Opposition awareness

Being aware of a player’s ability is good but it should not override your shot selection. If we think that our opponent has an answer to all our shots, then we won’t be able to beat them mentally and that is often half the battle. The aim is to execute and deliver your game with the best strategy possible. A game plan (can be changed) and is adaptable according to the situation but we must give ourselves the best opportunity of beating a player regardless of their ability!

So, how can we give ourselves an upper hand in executing what we can do, regardless of the opponent?

Here are the simple secret top players use to focus on their capabilities rather than the opponent’s repertoire.
Please note: top players will and can manipulate the ball in many different ways and you will need to adapt accordingly.

3x Table Tennis Target Tips:
  1. You must focus on ball placement but it must be precise placement to ensure greater success. Pick a point on the table you wish to hit and aim there, in doing so your focus will shift away from your opponent. To enhance this skill place targets on a table and aim to hit them, notice what targets are easier to hit and take note of where you are hitting the ball from, (understand you angles) ‘scroll to the bottom of the page’. When you play a match, you can visualise the targets on the table and aim to hit one of them, depending on the ball given, your body position and angle you are hitting the ball form.
Target Focus

When focusing on a specific target your mind will hone in on the goal set and shift away from your opponent’s possibilities. You are only in control of your own shots and if you are unable to execute them due to fear of his/her reaction, then this will often lead to poor results your end. By placing targets in a practice session gives you the ability to visualise those targets in a real match which can help you to execute your shots. If the player can counteract your shots, then either you change placement or they are just too good on this occasion. Nevertheless, if you execute your shots at least you know where you stand rather than be dictated to, by unknown future events.

  1. Take the ball as early as possible, this will give you less time to worry about what your opponent will or can do and it will also give your opponent less reaction time.
  2. Lastly, use your peripheral vision, try to notice where your opponent is standing or itching to go towards then have your target in your mind and go to that specific zone.
These three tips will give you a more zoned mindset and provide a simple tool to beating players your level and above more often than not.

Place table tennis targets on the table when you train and make target hitting second nature when playing matches.

Here is a nice little target practice I use with my players (Filip Szymanski Polish International).

Written by Eli Baraty

eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis 
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Table Tennis, Reading Spin and the Amount of Spin?

Most players can read table tennis spin, for example when someone cuts under the ball, they know its backspin, when they hit the side of the ball they know it’s side-spin. But a large proportion of players struggle to read the amount of spin imparted.

We may misread what spin has been implemented when receiving high-quality serve’s. Players may struggle to read what spin is on the ball, due to deceptive movements or a slight variation of contact points.

Spin in table tennis is like no other sport
Table Tennis Spin

 

Why do so many people make unforced errors?

I coach many players of all levels and I’ve found that players miss due to a misunderstanding of revolutions. Meaning they miss read the amount of spin. A ball can spin up to 120 times per second and if we are unable to detect the approximate quantity, it will lead to an unseemly error.

So how can we detect and develop our awareness of spin quantity?
  1. Look at the ball carefully in mid-flight, can you see the logo? If not most likely it has a lot of spin. If you have good eyes you’ll see the ball fizzing with spin, use that indication to play the correct stroke.
  2. The flight of the ball: is the ball curling in the air? Is it kicking forward? All of them indicate a lot of spin which creates, those flight pathways.
  3. Sound: try to listen to the contact imparted by the opponent; is it a clunky/woody sound? Or a thin grip screech? The later generally indicates spin and vice versa.
  4. Watching the hand and arm prior and at contact point; is there plenty of backswing? Good follow through? Is the hand moving fast but the wrist is locked? Does the wrist snap just before the point of contact? Does the player decelerate before point of contact? They are all giveaway tails towards reading whether there’s a lot of spin medium amount or very little!
                                                             
  
A simple exercise to help you read the amount of spin

Do a backspin serve and ask the opponent to receive using: heavy/medium/little amount of backspin. You must look carefully using at all the indications mentioned above to identify how much spin is imparted. Then follow up with a topspin and adapt to the spin accordingly. E.g. if there is lots of backspin you will need to hit the back of the ball around 9pm contact point. You will also need to have a more open bat angle with and increase your arm speed enabling you to lift the ball up and over the net.  You will create (an override from the spin given) and will be transferred into your own topspin.

The better you understand spin the easier the game becomes.

And as my old coach always said, “Spin to Win”

A small video to help you develop thin contact on the ball imparting spin, click here.

Written by Eli Baraty
eBaTT (Eli Baraty Academy of Table Tennis)
Coach Me Table Tennis 
Instagram: _elibaraty
Twitter: @elibaraty
FB: Eli Baraty
W:  www.coachmetabletennis.com
E:   elibaraty@hotmail.com
M:  07900401144


Table Tennis Equipment – How Important Is It?

Table Tennis Equipment:

When I first began playing there was very limited table tennis equipment! Possibly 200 rubbers and 100 different blades (a wild guess). The main rubbers back then were Yasaka Mark V, Sriver L & FX, Mendo, Friendship, and then came Bryce (Tenergy of today, this was late 90’s). Blades included: Primorac, Korbel, Stiga Allround, and Donic Senso, and of course, Speed glue had a huge effect on the rubbers and the overall game.

eBaTT Brand
New eBaTT equipment coming soon!

Spoiler rubbers:

There was also a big percentage of players using various spoiler rubbers (long, medium and short pimples, anti-spin and tacky rubbers). This market has declined due to new rubber regulations and advanced power equipment. Nevertheless, today’s equipment industry has risen by ten folds and shows no sign of slowing down.

Players are always looking for an edge and to a certain extent, our playing styles and ability requires tailor-made equipment. The issue is how do we find the right equipment for us? Table tennis equipment is not cheap and if we want/need material that suits our unique playing style,

Andrew Baggaley Forehand Topspin
Andrew (Stiga) Player for many years – Pic courtesy of Roger Hance

What should we do?

1. Ask a coach,

2. Visit an equipment workshop,

3. Speak to an equipment expert,

4. Try to follow what the top table tennis players use especially if you have similar styles to them. 

Personally, equipment has never been a big issue for me, I have changed blades possibly 3 times in the past 15 years and I tend to go for modern offensive rubbers. I think the key is to understand your personal requirements and choose something in that range. I believe initially you should build your game upon; footwork, your technique using suitable equipment, serve and return and once you have passed this stage, then hone in on equipment that benefits and boosts your game.

Does Table Tennis equipment effect our sport?

Yes, it does! It’s extremely difficult to; understand spin, deception and verity of spin plus power placed on the ball by top players. It’s equally difficult keeping up with all the blades and rubber choices and knowing what each one does. Due to a massive variety and characteristics of equipment, it has caused big issues for a novice or non-playing Table Tennis spectators.

When watching a sport, it’s nice to understand exactly why something occurred and Table Tennis is very hard to work out unless you’re a proficient player yourself.

Should the sport cut back on mass production of material?

World Ping Pong Championships, is easy for the naked eye to understand! So, should we follow suit or should we continue developing new material to advance the game in terms of speed, spin and power?

Table Tennis is unique due to technology and not many sports have or can develop in such away Table tennis and its advancing technological equipment provides huge versatility but technology has also changed the game so much over the past 50 years. This has had a huge effect and possibly cost the game in terms of simplicity and roar skill. Today a rubber can produce a lot of effect with little shot implementation but then again, there is no world champion who just puts his bat in the way. All top players have exceptional skill, ability and athleticism but it’s not fully respected due to certain attributes provided by equipment and undetected/misunderstood by a non-playing spectator.

The key is to find a solution for visual simplification, alongside technological advancements.

Begin your journey to becoming the greatest possible player you can be…


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