Which Long Pimples Should You Use?

Photo of Joo Se Hyuk

What pimples does Joo Se Hyuk use on his backhand? A common question on Table Tennis Internet Forums.

Photo by: Gerry Chua, courtesy www.ittf.com

We have talked so far about whether you should be using long pimples, and which style of play would best suit you. Now it's time to discuss which long pimples would be the best choice for the way you play.

Once again, I'll break the styles of play into the 4 categories of classic defender, modern defender, push/blocker, and hitter. If you have chosen a style that is a mix of one or more of these styles, then you may wish to either choose a long pimpled rubber that best suits your dominant style, or pick a long pimples that provides the ability to do everything that you want. Keep in mind that depending on what style or styles you choose, you may not find a perfect long pimples for the way you play. You may be forced to compromise and use a long pimples that does all the things you want adequately, rather than perfectly.

Modern Defender

For the modern defender, I would suggest using a long pimples with excellent spin variation to help set up attacks (not spin reversal), and with good to medium control. The speed of the long pimples is not such an important factor, although I would not recommend using long pimples with no sponge, as the modern defender generally needs some sponge to help give his chop returns and attacks a reasonable amount of pace - a return that is too slow is not good.

In order to meet this criteria, look for a long pimpled rubber with most of the following characteristics:

  • a rough pimple top and grippy pimple sides, to allow more spin variation via technique;
  • flexible pimples rather than stiff, again to allow more spin variation;
  • thin to medium sponge (around 0.5mm to 1.5mm) to provide an adequate amount of pace without sacrificing too much control;
  • the length of the pimples can vary depending on personal taste. The great Chinese chopper of the 1990's, Ding Song, used a relatively short pimpled rubber, while the current defensive players Joo Se Hyuk and Chen Weixing are using long pimples. I personally prefer a medium type pimples which can both attack and defend, but I can't claim to be in the same class as those players mentioned above!
  • The overall control of the long pimples should still be relatively good to help cope with the speed glued loop, whilst allowing the user to vary the spin as desired. The emphasis is on using the long pimples as a weapon to set up the counterattack, rather than hoping the opponent will make the first mistake in a loop to chop rally.

Classic Defender

The classic defender needs more control than the modern defender, and the ability to vary the spin is probably not quite as important, although still very useful. There is no need for too much speed from the long pimples, so choosing to not use sponge can be a valid option.

The classic defender should be looking for a long pimpled rubber with the the following properties:

  • the pimple tops and sides can be chosen according to personal taste. A rougher top and grippier sides will allow more spin variation but have slightly less control, while the 'glassy' smooth type long pimples will have better control and spin reversal, but less ability to vary the spin;
  • again, the flexibility of the pimples can vary depending on the desired result. A flexible pimples will allow better variation, while stiffer pimples should give more spin reversal.
  • The sponge should be thin or not used, to provide maximum control.
  • The length of the pimples should be medium to long, to get the best effects from the rubber. The less they will be used to attack with, the longer they can probably be.
  • The overall control of the long pimples should be excellent, as the user will need to be able to consistently return the ball against the most powerful of loop drives, in order to have the opponent make the first mistake.

Push/Blocker

The push/blocker's choice of long pimpled rubber will depend on whether the user wishes to be aggressive or defensive with it. The aggressive push/blocker will be looking for a long pimpled rubber that is a bit easier to hit with, while the defensive push/blocker will be looking for that extra control of the ball to help handle the powerful attacks of their opponent while staying close to the table.
  • The aggressive push/blocker should find the following long pimple characteristics useful:
  • rough pimple tops and grippy sides will help provide more grip and better ability to hit the ball for attacks;
  • flexible pimples will also allow more spin variation when attacking;
  • a thicker sponge of 1.0mm to 2.00mm can help with attacking. However, don't simply write off using long pimples with no sponge. Since you will be close to the table, you can often get away with using no sponge since you don't need the extra pace. I would recommend trying a few different thicknesses to find the one that you like best.
  • The length of the pimples should be long enough to produce some of the traditional 'wobble' from long pimples, whilst still being short enough to attack with;
  • Speed glue could also be used to provide that bit of extra venom.
  • The level of control should increase as the user hits less with the long pimples.
The defensive push/blocker will generally want a long pimpled rubber with properties fairly similar to the classic defender. In both cases, maximum control is generally wanted, with the push/blocker wanting to use the varied speed and spin of the long pimples to allow him to stay close to the table and disrupt the rhythm and timing of his opponent, whilst being able to attack with his normal rubber himself.

Hitter

The hitter is more of an extreme case of the aggressive push/blocker, and as such will generally be looking for a long pimpled rubber with similar characteristics to that which the aggressive push/blocker would use.

Conclusion

So these are my recommendations for long pimples depending on the style you wish to play. If you are using a type of long pimples that is not suited to your style, you might want to give serious thought to changing to a rubber that could suit you better, or at least trying one out to see if there is a significant difference. As always, the recommendations above are just my opinion, and you may find that the 'wrong' rubber works for you - which is fine as long as you are happy.

Since the process of trying out new rubbers can get quite expensive, it can be handy to check out some of the forums on the Internet for other people's opinions - just remember to take everything with a grain of salt. Another useful article that compares different types of long pimples can be found here, which has been written by Dean Stretton. Two thumbs up to Dean for taking the time to write such a comprehensive review!

That's it for now - I'll be back soon with the next article in this series, where I'll discuss the issue of twiddling, and look at how you can get the most benefit from doing it - and whether you should!

Next: The Art of Twiddling

COMMENTS

Thursday 20th October 2005

Derek Brooke-Wavell wrote:

Greg, your articles are first rate - I do wish more people would follow your example.

All your comments on "which long pimples?" seem dead right. What I want is fast, springy long pimples with rough tops and sides, just as you recommend. I have just come back to table tennis after 20 years, and it turned out I had a bat with exactly such a rubber on it, which I bought in September 1984. But of course it was not ITTF approved, so unfortunately I can't ise it.

I have now bought two different rubbers which I hoped would be the same, judging from the adverts and Dean Stretton's reviews. Yet both turned out to have smooth pimples! (They were Tibhar Grass Offence and Friendship 755).

I don't want to have to buy every single rubber in order to find out which ones have rough pimples. Please let me out of my misery - what is the name of your ideal long-pimpled rubber?

Greg replied:

Hello Derek,

Glad you like the articles - I guess they are really my opinion only but I've been playing for a while and they are how I think things work.

Speaking of rough pimples, some ones you might want to consider are Hallmark Frustration 2mm - http://www.hallmarktt.co.uk/e-long.php . One of the people I coach uses this - it's very springy in the 2mm version (which he uses), with rough tops. Good for attacking, and good wobble and reversal. Not really for long-range defenders.

TSP Curl-P2 - what I use. A medium pip with a rough top. Good all-rounder.

Feint Long III - one of the juniors I coach uses this. A more traditional defensive rubber with rough tops. Good for choppers in the thin sponge version- maybe not so much for attacking. Could be OK for what you want if you get a thicker sponge.

Feint Soft - not quite as long as the Feint Long III but a bit springier.

Another good option would be to go the the About.com forum at http://www.tabletennis.about.com/ and ask the guys there about it - you'll get quite a few replys from the equipment junkies in that forum!

Regards,

Greg

To which Derek answered:

Dear Greg,

Many thanks for the fast response. I'll certainly look into the rough-topped long-pimpled rubbers that you mention.

Though actually, after writing of my disappointment that both Tibhar Grass and Friendship 755 had smooth pimples, I glued them both on blades and tried them out. What an amazing difference between two surfaces that, on paper, look to be just the same! Both had 2.0 mm of sponge, incidentally. And both were fine at flat smash on weak backspins, which was what I really needed most of all - just as good as my normal, short-pimpled bat.

However, the Tibhar Grass Offence, despite being quite shiny in its baldness, behaves as if it has rough pimples - one can lift topspin and one can even loop with it. Pretty much everything I can do with short pimples - plus all sorts of extra long-pimpled unpredictability when playing short. So I think I will explore this one more before looking further. The Friendship 755, on the other hand, is useless at lifting backspins, and behaves as you describe the smooth pimples.

Anyway, once again, congratulations on your web pages. It would be really good if your example could inspire other similarly knowledgeable people, to contribute their wisdom.

With best wishes,

Derek Brooke-Wavell

Comments   

 
0 #1 RE: Which Long Pimples Should You Use?DCJ 2012-05-31 05:53
I agree, the Grass at 2mm is an amazing rubber, i use as if i were playing with a normal inverted rubber, and its that fact that makes this rubber great, as its so easy to block with, get back spinny serves and drop shots is easy, also i love to flick and backhand smash, it does that great to, in fact its a good rubber and it forces everyone to push or play the ball to my forehand, and im a great smasher on forehand and topspinner, and they play right to my strenghts, great i love it.

Not a great to spin rubber, blocking smashes is easy, lifting spins easy, chopping is rubbish, but then who chops??? only people from the old game and soon they will all die out as they are 80 now already, no one in there right mind chops and pushs anymore, its not tabke tennis, its boring and rubbish to play and watch, so aggressive offensive play is table tennis now, and in ten yrs time when all the chopper/pushing folk are dead, proper athletic table tennis will be the only game as its the modern game, but this rubber at 2.0mm is great for attacking and messing about your opponants. good rubber.
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