If you are reading this article, you are either:
- using long pimples already and hoping to improve your game; or
- thinking about using long pimples in the future.
If you are a conventional rubber player looking for the secrets of how to play against long pimples, back slowly and carefully away from this page, and try the above link instead.
In Brief – Which Table Tennis Players Should Be Using Long Pimples?
I’ll go into more detail later, but if you answer ‘Yes’ to any of the following questions, you should give long pimples serious consideration.
- Have you got a natural affinity for chopping, and want to maximize your chances of winning?
- Are you naturally a retriever of the ball, who likes to take whatever his opponent can throw at him and keep putting the ball back on the table?
- Are you finding that age or injury is preventing you from getting around the court like you used to, and opponents are taking advantage of this?
- Are your reflexes slowing down as you get older, but you want to stay competitive?
- Have you been watching Joo Se Hyuk and find yourself wishing you could play like that?
- Are you someone who enjoys the battle of wits with your opponent as you fight for each point?
- Are you a natural showman, and like nothing better than having the crowd watching your game and cheering you on?
In Brief – Which Table Tennis Players Should Not Be Using Long Pimples?
Again, I’ll expand on this later, but if your reason for using long pimples is listed below, you are probably using them for the wrong reason.
- Are you too unfit to move around the court?
- Have you got a flaw in your technique that you are hoping to hide?
- Are you poor at reading spin, and hoping to cover it up?
- Are you hoping to win easy points because your opponents won’t be able to play against your long pimples?
In Depth – Why Should You Use Long Pimples?
Now let’s take a more extensive look at the reasons you might decide that long pimples are for you.
Just as there are natural born loopers out there, you may be a natural chopper or defender. If you find yourself with an aptitude for backspinning the ball, then you may wish to take advantage of this and use the best materials for your style. Due to the power and spin given by the speed glued bats of today’s attackers, most choppers use a medium to long pimples (mainly on the backhand) to help them control the ball when defending, and to generate heavy backspin to help set up their own counterattacks. Choppers using normal rubbers on both sides are few and far between, for reasons we’ll look at in later articles.
Some players simply enjoy the process of wearing an opponent down by taking the best he has to offer and continually putting the ball back on the table. These ‘brick wall’ type players will benefit from the improved control a long pimpled rubber will give them, and the extra variation it provides.
Players who are restricted in their movement due to age or permanent injury can help compensate for this by intelligent use of a long pimpled rubber. It can be used to slow the speed of the game down, thus allowing them more time to move to the ball. Long pimples can also allow the player to maintain a position closer to the table, by providing a racket surface capable of absorbing the power and spin of the modern game at short range.
Players with slower reflexes than normal, or players whose reflexes are slowing down due to age, can compensate for this deficiency by using the long pimples to slow down the pace of the game, thus giving them more time to react to the opponent’s strokes.
Those of you who have watched the likes of Joo or Matsushita and wish to emulate their feats at whatever level you can, might also put a sheet of long pimples on your bat and copy your heroes. Be prepared for a long, hard struggle (it’s fun too though!), but who knows, maybe in 10 years time young players will want to be the next you!
If you like the “table tennis as athletic chess” aspect of the game, then you may want to play with long pimples as well. Having the two different rubbers on your bat opens up whole new strategies and tactics to experiment with and master. Finding the particular crack in an attackers game, then applying the pressure until his game goes to pieces can be an immensely satisfying experience. Just be aware that they’ll be trying to do the same thing to you!
If the roar of the crowd spurs you on when you play, then long-range defending and counterattacking may be the style for you. A good battle between an evenly matched attacker and long-range defender gets the crowd going like nothing else. People will be packed around the court cheering your returns from off your shoetops, the barriers, and the next court. And being the defender you are naturally considered the underdog and will have the crowd on your side!
In Depth – Why You Shouldn’t Be Using Long Pimples
While the brotherhood of long pimpled players is always happy to have new members, it may be better for your table tennis career if you are thinking of using long pimpled rubbers for any of the reasons below.
Lack of Fitness
If simple lack of fitness is preventing you from playing your best table tennis, then you owe it to yourself to get fitter and play your natural style. You’ll be a better player in the long run than if you stay unfit and try to play a style that compensates for your laziness, but hurts the rest of your natural game.
Flaws in Your Technique
This is probably one of the most touchy subjects when the topic of long pimples is discussed, and I’m pretty 50/50 about it myself. It seems these days that anybody who uses long pimples to cover a weak shot with normal rubber, such as a poor backhand, is instantly dismissed as a craven coward, too scared to be a man and learn how to play properly. While I agree that a player should do all he can to improve his technique to get rid of weaknesses first, I also feel that if you have worked hard for years on improving your flaws (i.e. you have gotten coaching and trained hard) and they stubbornly remain, then you should feel OK about putting some long pimples on your bat and seeing whether your game improves. After all, there is nothing sacred about playing with normal rubbers – maybe your ‘flaw’ with normal rubber will be a strength with long pimples!
Inability to Read Spin
If you have problems reading spin, and think that long pimples will help you, you are both right and wrong. Some types of long pimples will help you ignore the spin on the ball to a large extent. The problem is that unless you are going to use the long pimples on both sides of your bat, there is no way known that you are going to be able to twiddle your bat around fast enough to cover both forehand and backhand with the long pimples whenever you want. Sooner or later you will be forced to hit a shot with the normal side when you don’t want to, and you will have to read the spin on the ball. Using long pimples to help you ignore the spin will only make your ability to read the spin get worse, and you’ll make a mess of those balls you are forced to hit with the normal rubber. Concentrate on improving your ablity to read spin instead – you’ll get further.
Hoping for Easy Points
Those players looking to use long pimples to win easy points are going to be disappointed sooner or later. At the beginner’s level, you will win a number of points simply because your opponent doesn’t know how the long pimples work. At the intermediate level, your opponent will have a fair idea about how long pimples work, but you may still get a couple of easy points just from the difference in speed and bounce affecting your opponent’s timing. You can also get an extra few points from twiddling regularly and taking advantage of the fact that your opponent won’t notice or won’t react to the different side fast enough.
But as you go to the advanced levels, forget it. Your opponent will know how your long pimples work, and he will notice which side of you bat you have used and adjust accordingly. The slower speed of the long pimples can actually work against you, as your opponent’s rhythm won’t be affected and he will use the extra time to set up for more powerful shots. There are still ways to get points using the long pimples, but none of them are the cheap fixes you were getting at the lower levels. You’ll have to work just as hard, if not harder, to earn your points against advanced players. And at the pro level, just forget it. Who’s the last professional you saw casually standing there at the table, twiddling his bat and winning effortless points? The professional long pimple players are the Energizer Bunnies of the table tennis world, bounding back, forward, and sideways in their quest to earn a point. Cheap points – fuggeddaboutit!
Having made my case for why you should or shouldn’t be using long pimples on your table tennis bat, feel free to ignore all the above advice. After all, the main rule should be this: “Do you have more fun using long pimples or not?”. Unless you are going to make table tennis your career, this simple question is probably the best rule of thumb to go by. But if you are anything like me, you generally have more fun when you win (!), and a bit of careful thought about the above issues may help you to choose the right path when deciding what table tennis rubbers and style are right for you.
If you have decided that long pimples are for you, congratulations! Just let me ring the bell to signal another convert.
Next: What Styles Should Use Long Pimples?