Table Tennis Tidbits #12a

By Robert Ho | March 11, 2018, 11:37 p.m. (ET)

Tidbits 12a


TABLE TENNIS TIDBITS # 12   By Robert Ho  6-9-17

Rule the Roost with the Right Rubber and Racket

J. Q. McGillicuddy is a beginner in the sport of table tennis and must determine what blade and rubber(s) he will use.  He’s decided to be a serious (not just recreational) player and hopes to dominate his “basement competition”.  Using the ‘17 Summer/Fall catalog from Paddle Palace, he notes there are 10 brands of (shakehand) blades (286 different blades) and 10 brands of rubber (301 varieties of rubber); these numbers do not include the variations in blade handles and rubber thickness.  J. Q. computes more than 86,686 combinations and permutations of bat-rubber combinations he might use.  If he were to try each possible combination for, say 6 months each, before deciding what enhanced his performance the most, he might be ready to polish his finally identified “game” as a very senior citizen.

Being in a bit more of a hurry, he decides to review the virtues of the various products as described in the catalog.  He focuses on what 2015 and 2017 World Men’s Champion Ma Long employs: Hurricane Long 5 blade for “great power and control”; FH rubber DHS Hurricane 3 “for players who mainly adopt a controlled playing style or have relatively weak attack”.  Hmmm, as a beginner he thinks, “I definitely want ‘control’ and my attack would be relatively weak as a beginner but is that true of the World Champion?!”  J. Q. was not able to determine what Ma Long used on the BH, but heard rumors that many Chinese players use European or Japanese rubber on the BH.

Seeking more details on equipment, McGillicudy enters the jungle of Toomuchenfrmayshn: every blade and every variety of rubber promises wondrous effects and results.  Maybe it doesn’t matter what he uses, he’s sure to be a success!  On that assumption and at random he selects a Nittaku Ludeack blade ($99.95), Tibhar Ellen Defense 1.5 red for his FH (29.95), and Yasaka Rising Dragon 2.0 black 42.95 for his BH..

So equipped, J. Q., with muted confidence, slowly begins to reign supreme in his basement.  He is amused that his basement-mates have trouble coping with him especially when he returns the ball with long pips.  At the same time he has to admit to himself that he has difficulty understanding what’s happening when he uses his long pips—at times the ball goes into the net or flies long off the table for no obvious reason.

After dominating his competition at home for a period of time, he decides to seek stronger competition at a local table tennis club he’s heard about.  There he signs up for regular league play.  After the league director watches J. Q. warmup with another player who, much to J. Q.’s surprise, seems not to have any difficulty against the long pips, J. Q. is assigned to Table #7 (of 8 tables , #8 having the weakest players and #1 the strongest).

Over the course of the following 6 months, through trial and error and some coaching, J. Q. begins learning about stroke technique, properties of different rubbers and blades and moves up to Table #6.  He is pleased he is not the “lowest man on the totem pole”.

And this is the start of the long story of how J. Q. McGillicuddy became an ongoing table tennis fanatic.