Alex Vanderklugt writes:
Greg, I’m a TT player (DIV 1) in Adelaide and I found your article on long Pimples very informative.
Being a LP player myself (837 OX) I was hoping to find some information on sponge thicknesses and what the effects are. I personally use no sponge which gives me good control and the best ‘LP effect’, but it’s hard to attack with or play against deep chops/ pushes. I’ve tried 1mm, but this seemed to not trouble my opponents at all.
What are you thought on this? Do I need to try say 0.6mm sponge, or perhaps a different LP rubber?
Any comments much appreciated!
Good question – there really isn’t much information out there regarding long pimples and sponge thickness. Here are my thoughts on the subject:
Long Pimples With No Sponge
The traditional point of view is that long pimples with no sponge is best used for close to the table play. I’d tend to go along with this, as trying to chop from a distance using long pips with no sponge is possible but hard work.
You also get better spin reversal (but not ‘wobble’, IMHO) since the sponge won’t act to help kill the spin when blocking – since the pimples can’t be pushed into the sponge in all directions, but instead are fixed to the blade directly and can’t move as much. (See my article on Why do Long Pimples Wobble? for more of the theory of wobbling.)
Not using sponge also slows the ball down, which makes it easier for you to drop the ball short enough to bounce twice on the table and make it difficult for your opponent to attack with power.
Long Pimples With 1.0mm Sponge
Putting sponge underneath long pimples changes things a fair bit – for an example of how much, check out this thread on the About.com forum, where a player put sponge underneath a sheet of Hallmark Dr Neubauer Super Special, and reported his opinion on the results.
I find that the 1.0mm sponge, which I use myself with my own medium pimples, gives more power at the expense of spin reversal, but actually helps with my attempts to make the ball wobble, since it helps me to kill the spin.
0.5mm sponge falls somewhere between no sponge and 1.0mm sponge, while thicker sponges (I know one player who is using something like 2.0mm sponge under his long pimples!) tend to make the control of the ball more difficult on pushing and chop-blocking, while making counter-attacking drive-style strokes easier.
Based on the information above, I’d suggest a few different options:
- Learn to twiddle – in my opinion the best way to handle those long pushes/chops is to be able to twiddle the bat in the blink of an eye and backhand loop or hit them.
- Use an attacking push with the long pimples – stroke mainly forward and slightly upward, with a slightly open racket face – this produces a fast stroke with a bit of topspin. This is easier to do with pimples that have good spin reversal.
- Hit the ball with a loop stroke – can be done with any type of long pips, although I personally prefer using pimples that have a little bit of grip to add to the spin. Works better with long pips and sponge though.
- Chop the ball back – the secret to this stroke is to treat it just like a regular chop with smooth rubber – you swing fast and brush the ball with the long pips. The idea is to bend the pimples, so that you kill the spin – this gives a return which looks like a heavy chop, actually is a float, and goes fast over the net and gets popped up a lot by opponents. Remember – you must swing fast and brush the ball enough to bend the pimples – if the pimples don’t bend the ball is going to go high and long! Done right it’s an easy stroke which is very safe. It works better with the flexible pimples that bend a bit, since it’s more difficult to bend the stiffer long pips.
Depending on which of these options appeals to you more, you may wish to try a different type of long pimples. Dean Stretton’s website has a very good article comparing different long pimple types that I would recommend you look at, which includes the 837 pimples as well.