March 25, 2011

ITTF Seminar in Maryland

We're up to ten confirmed participants (and a number of maybes) in the ITTF Coaching Seminar to be held at the Maryland Table Tennis Center, April 16-17 and 23-24, with a Paralympics session on April 30. (Schedule each day is 9AM-Noon, 1-4PM.) Here is the info flyer, and here is the USATT news item. If you are a player interested in becoming an ITTF coach, or learning how to coach, come join us! There's already a wide range of coaches, including several USATT Regional and State Coaches, and others who are not yet certified. I'm hoping to get 14-16 participants. If interested, please email me.

Straighten the belt, and the rest falls into place.

I bet you have no idea what this headline means or how it pertains to table tennis. Imagine when playing that your body is a belt. If your feet are in the wrong position, or if your grip is off, then it affects everything in between. If your foot positioning and grip are both correct, then like a belt that's been straightened, everything in between falls into place. Isn't that a great analogy? (Let me know if you have a better example than a belt.)

As a coach, I've noticed that the majority of technique problems do come from improper foot positioning or grip problems, although players (and some coaches) often treat the symptoms instead of the root cause. When you fix the root cause - often the two ends, i.e. the foot position and grip - the rest often falls into place. Not always - longtime problems with foot positioning and grip can create bad habits, and they can be hard to break. But getting the two ends right is a great step in that direction, and one of the top priorities with new players so they develop good technique from the start.

Long Pips and Color Rule Revisited

It was interesting yesterday seeing some of the online comments in other forums about my blog on frictionless pips. There were quite a few that attacked me for stuff I didn't write, especially in one particular forum. I wrote a lot of words - 1270 of them - so you'd think people who disagree with what I wrote would argue against the words I wrote, but instead some changed them, and then attacked me for words I didn't write. It's not worth responding to their posts directly since if a person is going to attack me for things I didn't write, they'll attack any response I make in the same way, and it's all very time consuming and tends to get nasty. I'm going to go over a few of the postings, and then at the end I have a question for you. (See the bolded part at the end.)

One wrote that because I was for the color rule back in 1983, I thought Dan Seemiller and Eric Boggan "sucked" - despite the fact that Seemiller was ranked in the top 50 in the world with the two-color rule and was U.S. Men's Champion the very first year they had the rule, and that Eric actually went up in the rankings to his highest world ranking ever (17th) after going to two colors. (His overall ranking went down some over the next few years, but he stayed in the top 40 or so.) It's easy to attack without getting the facts first. If they read the blog, then they could have simply posted the question, "Larry, if you were against the color rule, did you think Dan Seemiller and Eric Boggan sucked?" and I would have emphatically said no. They are arguably the two greatest U.S. players in the sponge era, i.e. the last 50-60 years.

I was accused of thinking that Peter Chen "sucked" just because I'm "somewhat skeptical" of the long-pips blocking style. Players like Chen and Olivier Mader, who play with the long-pips blocking style but with little attack, are very good players - it takes practice and skill to reach their levels - just not athletic ones, as most would probably agree. But that distinction that I wrote about was lost on those who read the blog with an agenda. If someone disagrees with what I wrote about athleticism, fine, but not one person actually made an argument against it. "Somewhat skeptical" does not mean I think those with the long-pips blocking style "sucks." To paraphrase a famous movie quote, I don't think those words mean what they think they mean. (They actually imply that I'm not sure and am open to persuasion - see my question about this at the end.)

Another wrote, "I guess he knows more than Waldner, who thinks FLPs is harmless and shouldn't be banned." And yet nowhere in the blog did I write that frictionless long pips (FLP's) should be banned, only that they were illegal, which is a fact. I really have no firm opinion on them other than that they shouldn't be used if they are illegal, and can only shake my head at someone claiming I wrote something that I absolutely did not write. Plus, of course, it's a silly bait and switch to say I think I know more than Waldner, and then bring up a value judgment that has little to do with actually knowing more than Waldner. (On a related note, does this mean that anyone who disagrees with Waldner on a table tennis subject thinks they know more than Waldner? Waldner also said that he was naturally talented from an early age. Does this mean that those who do not believe in talent are wrong because Waldner disagrees, and they should be refuted sarcastically by saying, "I guess he knows more than Waldner"?)

It was posted that "S-Jan" (an infamous Internet table tennis troll from the past) was "right about me," but it never specified what he was right about. Considering "S-Jan" made zillions of made-up accusations against numerous people during his trolling years in the '90s, it's a rather vague accusation to make. Plus, as I said in the second sentence of the blog, my thinking on long pips has evolved over the years, and so what he wrote in the '90s is somewhat meaningless to the discussion.

And just for the record, that wasn't me in the background in the video of Olivier Mader vs. John Wetzler saying something like, "Olivier's forehand is zero to negative rating and backhand of 1200 with double inverted rubbers." (According to Mader's posting, it was Cory Eider, though I don't really know - but it wasn't me. I was busy watching the player I was coaching, and barely noticed the other match or the discussion going on about Mader.)

On the subject of long pips, one person write, "In order for you to know if a rubber performs completely different from new can only be made if you actually have a new sheet to compare it with." That's simply not true. If a sheet of long pips is frictionless, and you know that it was not frictionless when new due to ITTF regulations, then you know it performs differently than a new sheet.

I could mention other postings, but it's not worth it. Not one person actually refuted the facts and rules I presented about frictionless long pips being a judgment call by the referee. Some really believe that an experienced referee, coach, or player can't tell whether it's frictionless, which of course they can - though, as I noted in my blog, you can only tell if it's not borderline. It's a judgment call, like many other calls a referee has to make.

It's the price of public blogging; there will always be people with an agenda twisting your words.

Now here's a serious question. Yesterday I wrote, "I'm somewhat skeptical of the pure long-pips blocking style, especially when a player basically covers the entire table by just reaching out and blocking everything back dead with long pips without sponge. In my opinion, it simply isn't very athletic, and table tennis is a sport."

As I wrote, I'm somewhat skeptical about this style because of its lack of athleticism, and from the very strong returns that can be made by passive blocking. Keeping in mind that I also wrote, "But it's legal, and as players and coaches, it's our job to figure out how to play against any legal surface," make your (civil) case as to why I shouldn't be "somewhat skeptical." You have the soapbox, if you so choose.

***

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Re: March 25, 2011

I guess my question is "what is it you're skeptical about?"  Is it that you personally don't like to coach it, or you think that a player using that style will never reach an international standard, or that lps blocking is somehow bad for the health of table tennis as a sport? 

Personally I'm in favor of the lps blocking style because it increases the diversity of the table tennis community and makes the sport accessible to a wider variety of players.  Although it's not a very athletic, elegant, or dramatic style I think ultimately table tennis is much better off with lps blockers than without. 

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Well said. As I wrote, I'm somewhat skeptical because of the lack of atheticism, but I'm willing to rethink that. I'll have to ponder the value of athleticism vs. the diversity and other arguments. (I have coached the style.)

Re: March 25, 2011

I will say that I feel it is much easier to make a strong return with inverted rubber on a passive block (against a loop) than it is to do with long pips. I feel that this is because a passive block with inverted allows you to use the opponents own top-spin and pace to send their return right back on the table, provided the correct bat angle is used. Since a passive block with inverted returns topspin, the ball comes down on its own. However, with long pips, a well executed loop is incredibly hard to return low as we have to use a variety of techniques to mitigate our opponents pace. Combine that with the fact that backspin floats, rather than diving as topspin does, and you have to respect a long pips player at least a little bit. All of the above statements are made regarding long pips WITH friction. When you wrote "and from the very strong returns that can be made by passive blocking", what about the lp return makes it strong? The degree of backspin produced? Or is backspin considered a stronger return than topspin in this scenario?

With regard to athleticism, I think it is fair to state that the long pip blocking style of play does not REQUIRE athleticism.  Some can even take it one step further when they point out how much easier serve return is with long pips. However, I find that these players can add so much to a club as playing them is a good way to measure how you react to different types/degrees of spin and how well you can execute your game against a steady player who is very good at imposing his game on you. We also make good warmup partners for that very same reason. An older gentleman saw me sitting in between divisions at Nationals and asked if I could help him warm up. I said that I would, but apologized to him for being a long pip player as this might hinder his warm up. He said it was no problem. It didn't take long into the warmup for me to realize he was a much better player than me. Afterwards, he thanked me for the warmup and commented how great it was to hit with someone who could block so consistently. Turns out, the man was Dell Sweeris xD. I heard he did pretty good in his matches after that too.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Hi PipProdigy,

I think a long-pips block of a loop, with the heavy backspin, is generally harder to deal with than a standard inverted block, unless the inverted block is punched aggressively. It takes more timing to punch a loop hard with inverted and keep it on the table than to dead block with long pips, where you are both blocking slower and the spin isn't taking on the surface. If you block passively with inverted, i.e. just stick the racket out, then you get a rather weak return that most intermediate players can hammer. They can't do that against the heavy backspin of a long pips block.

Also, with inverted, to make a good block, you have to really get in position. You can't reach for the ball and effectively punch it. With long pips, you don't need to punch the ball, so you can get away with reaching for the ball and blocking passively. I do this in training with students (though not much recently). I don't think there are many players under 2000 who can beat me if I just stand and block with long pips (no sponge). Who knows where I'd be if I actually trained at it, and combined with my regular forehand.

The problem with the long pips blocking is that it limits your options, in particular forcing somewhat predictable defensive returns. However, within those limits, except against strong or experienced players, it is highly effective. That's why the style is so effective.

Congrats on getting to hit with Dell Sweeris! He was a U.S. team member during the 1970s. I worked and practiced with his son Todd quite a bit, and he made the Olympic Team twice. I use to spend Thanksgiving at his house every year along with Todd, then continue to the Teams in Detroit before it moved to Baltimore in '98.

Re: March 25, 2011

I don't disagree that a long pips block is "generally" harder to deal with than a standard inverted block. However, you mentioned how easy it is to make said return. I feel that against a loop, I can passively block away from an opponent with relative ease and use their own speed and pace against them. However, this return is rather weak if it is not taken right off the bounce. When addressing that heavy backspin is harder for the players to hit than a topspin return, I think this is an issue that is largely dependent on the fact that players are far more familiar with topspin. Better players who are good at hitting backspin or topspin find the slow pace of the long pip blocks to be like a "lollipop".

I think we may be using different interpretations as far as the incoming loop is concerned. I am assuming a fast loop is coming deep. If you find this an easy stroke to return, you may need to start training with long pips. I can also not block this kind of loop by reaching for it. It must be taken in front of me or it will fly way off the table. I also have to find a way to kill the pace.

I agree 100% about the limitations of the long pips blocking style. It is these limitations that have caused my game to constantly evolve so that my play can one day get to the higher levels.

I really enjoyed playing with Dell Sweeris. Todd is actually my favorite player from his generation and I was a bit starstruck getting to play with his dad. He was incredibly nice and couldn't have been more complimentary of my game and the level of play I have reached in such a short amount of time.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

I sure wish I could really switch to long pips and play as a blocker for a long period of time to see what level I could reach that way. But I can't, since I'm a full-time coach, and to be a better hitting partner, I have to use inverted. I bring out the long pips and other surfaces for them to practice against, but to really see how effective I could be with it I'd have to focus on it for a time, as I did as a long pips chopper in the 1990s (2180+ after nine tournaments), with a hardbat, and (as some might know about) with a clipboard. After I finished my weekly sessions, I could bring out the long pips, but I don't have the energy to keep playing at that point. Right now I can barely do the needed hours due to back problems, not to mention knee, leg, and shoulder problems after the Cary Cup from playing hardbat.

Re: March 25, 2011

That is understandable. I can't coach using a long pips racket. I have a double inverted racket for coaching.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

By the way, I notice that the forum that I was quoting from (OOAK) has deleted all the postings I quoted. I think they did this before my blog, so I'm not claiming they did it in response. I'm glad they recognized the problem with those postings, as I wrote about above.

Re: March 25, 2011

The posts were moved to a section not visible to regular users ;-)

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Olivier, the moderator ("Speedplay") posted, "The previous content was removed due to getting way of track, while causing plenty of flames. Lets no go down that route again." This seems to contradict your statement above.

Re: March 25, 2011

What I said is correct.. The posts were moved to another section, only visible by moderates and spam fighers (like me).  That's a group of about 10 - 12 people that can view it.. It's not being posted to.. It was removed from the PUBLIC view!

Re: March 25, 2011

You are using the same type of argumentation that activist judges do at the Supreme Court of this country.. I don't want to hijack this argument with politics, but I think that this is a valid comparison.. In the Supreme Court Cases of DC vs. Heller, 4 of the SCOTUS judges ruled that owning a gun is not a individual right while the constitution says: The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia is essential for a free state..

Nowhere does it say that you have to be in a militia to be allowed to own guns. It's made up. Of course, just like activist judges in the court of law, there can be activist referees that ignore what the rules actually say.

Of course, the intend of the frictionless ban was to ban frictionless pips.. No doubt about it.. However, the ITTF board of directors does NOT have the authority to apply this regulation to players. Only the AGM has that authority.. (that's a fact, just read the ITTF bylaws).  Eberhard Schoeler knew that he would not be able to get the AGM to support the ban as a rule and therefore he went the easier route to prevent manufactorers from making frictionless rubbers.  IF he would've been certain that it would pass the AGM, he should have requested a rule change that would require any rubber to be used at a tournament to be required to be above a certain amount of friction AND provide a method of testing that. However, they did NOT do that and if a rubber is worn due to use and not treatment (and that includes inverted and anti too), and it is uniform, there is NO rule that would prevent you from using it. A very well player from the Northeast (and I'm not as disrespectful and mention a name and accusing him of anything without proof) has been playing a inverted rubber that played like anti for many years and I do not recall that you or anybody else tried to slander and question the character of that person. The rules regarding that have not been much different back then. They actually became more LENIENT after they removed the "as authorized" clause.

Sure, you can use your influence to get Referees to make activist rulings just like 4 SCOTUS judges did in the Heller vs. DC case but that still doesn't make it right. The rules are written in the english language and the way that the specific rules are worded are very clear.. Of course, you can go and say that they didn't mean what they wrote..  If they didn't mean what they wrote, then they should go and amend the rules just like Congress should pass a consitutional amendment to eliminate a individual right instead of judges trying to legislate from the bench..

While politics and TT really don't have too much in common, I do think that the example that I provided illustrates my point!

 

Olivier

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Olivier, I almost deleted the above because of the political nature, and I still might. In the Forum rules, there's a listing of things that might be moderated, which includes, "Contentious discussions that aren't specifically related to table tennis, such as politics and religion." I probably need to put that up somewhere as a guideline for blog responses as well. For now, I'll leave your political posting. The problem is that many people, myself included, disagree with some of the political stuff you wrote, which I believe is misleading and biased. But if someone responds, we're off to the racetracks with a big political debate, and that's not going to happen on this table tennis site. So be warned to please keep the political discussions and political examples out of future postings, even if you believe they are good comparisons. This is not the place for them. Thank you.

Regarding the player from the northeast who you say uses inverted rubber that plays like anti, I believe you are referring to Rich DeWitt. I've never coached against him, and only played him once. His backhand is not at all like anti, but it is relatively dead. If what you say is true, some might say it is illegal; I don't know. However, the key difference is that his rubber plays like a legal surface, while yours plays like frictionless long pips, which cannot be used legally, since it means you either broke the ITTF regulation, or broke the USATT rule about treating a surface by letting the long pips bake in the sun or heat to make them frictionless.

Re: March 25, 2011

It's not his backhand but his forehand rubber ;-)

He recently got a new sheet but he has been playing with a very old one that played like anti before.

My entire point with my post was that the wording of the RULE is very clear..

Here's the rule:

 

 

2.04.07  The racket covering shall be used without any physical, chemical or other treatment. 
2.04.07.01  Slight deviations from continuity of surface or uniformity of colour due to accidental damage or wear may be allowed provided that they do not significantly change the characteristics of the surface. 

I'm actually a IT Systems analyst and its so clear that I can code from those rules:

IF TREATED

    ILLEGAL

END

 

IF DEVIATIONS FROM CONTINUITY OF SURFACE OR UNIFORMITY OF COLOR DUE TO ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE OR WEAR

    IF PROPERTIES CHANGED SIGNIFICANTLY

         ILLEGAL

    ELSE

        LEGAL

    END-IF

ELSE

     LEGAL

END-IF

Now, if it can't be determined if a rubber reached a certain state  due to treatment or wear,  the 2nd part comes into play.

My rubber does NOT have any DEVIATIONS FROM CONTINUITY OF SURFACE OR UNIFORMITY OF COLOR DUE TO ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE OR WEAR

and therefore, it would fall into the ELSE branch of my if statement..

Again, unless you can prove that the rubber got to the condition that it is via treatment, it falls under the 2nd part of the rule

and my rubber clearly would not be illegal based on that.. Of course, you can send someone to prison because he looks like a criminal.. but in a real court of law that usually doesn't and shouldn't happen. So, just like that, you can also declare a rubber illegal even though it wouldn't be illegal based on the rules

 

 

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Since I haven't examined Rich DeWitt's blade or played or watched him play (at least closely) with the rubber on his forehand that you say is illegal, I have no idea if it is or not. If what you say is true, it could be called illegal; it's the referee's judgment. Similarly, if in the referee's judgment (and judgment is not a court of law) your rubber has been treated, then it is illegal. What is treatment? Wine is aged, and that could be considered a treatment. Since you have posted many times about the heating of long pips to make them frictionless, a referee could very easily judge that you have treated it. Nope, he can't prove it, but if you read my blog, you saw where I quoted how he can use the spirit of the rules and regulations.

Re: March 25, 2011

Again, the regulations in the friction rule are regulations for manufactoerers to get rubbers approved. Those regulations are decided by the ITTF board of directors. However, the board of directors does NOT have the authority to pass RULES that apply to players. SO, if the spirit of the REGULATION  was to outlaw pips below a certain friction level, they should have gotten the AGM to pass a RULE that requires a rubber to be at or above the legal limit. However, they were very much aware that they would not have gotten the majority needed at the AGM to pass anything regarding that at the AGM. It really doesn't matter what the spirit of it was. It matters what the bylaws of the ITTF say and regarding them, those regulations apply to manufactorers and a actual rule would have to be passed to make it apply to players. It's the same way with catalytic converters on cars. The spirit of the federal requirement to have a catalytic converter is to keep emissions low. However, if a state does not have a emission testing or emission requirements, it's 100% legal to drive with a worn out catalytic converter that pollutes the environment.. Sure, it was the spirit of the law to reduce emissions but its not illegal in Florida to drive with a worn out catalytic converter...  A police officer can't just pull me over and give me a ticket for polluting just because the spirit of the law was to reduce emission.. It does not work that way.. It would work that way in a dictatorship where you make up rules as you'd want them. However, in democracies, there is a way to pass laws and rules. The ITTF is run as a democracy and just like we have house and senate in our political system, the ITTF has AGM and board of directors to make certain decision..  What you would like to see is that cops could pull over a car, test the emissions and fine the driver if he doesn't meet the emission requirement, even if the state doesn't have one because the spirit of the catalytic converter requirement was to lower emissions.. This is the exact logic that you are using.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Olivier, you are STILL harping on the frictionless long pips ban being a regulation, not a rule, which nobody is disagreeing with. The point is that it 1) breaks the rule about treating a surface, since you heat the long pips to make them frictionless - as you have already admitted to doing in your garage (though then legalistically challenging us to "prove" that the particular sheet you are using was made frictionless that way, as opposed in some other "non-treating" way!), and 2) that it breaks the rule's intent, i.e. the spirit of the rules. You wrote, "It really doesn't matter what the spirit of it was." Since, as I've pointed out several times, the Tournament Guide EXPLICITLY  says, "In making decisions that are not fully covered by the rules, the referee should consider in turn: ITTF and USATT rulings, precedent, and the rule's intent," you are simply wrong on this, and I wish you would stop making claims that are obviously factually incorrect. The rule's intent is the spirit of the rules, and the referee is EXPLICITLY told to take this into account.

Bringing up cases about gas emissions is irrelevent and silly, since I don't think they have it coded into their rules that the rule's intent or spirt of the rules should be taken into account. (Which means your conclusions about what you think I think are wrong.)

Now, when you bring up what the AGM should have done to pass this as a rule instead of a regulation, there you make a better argument. I'd have to hear the AGM's side of it to form an opinion on this, and perhaps at some point later on I will look into it. That's a separate issue than the issue I blogged about. If you want to argue that it was a mistake for a rule's intent to be included in the Tournament Guide, that's another argument you could make, though denying that wording is there is not an argument since it IS there.

It really would be helpful if you kept your arguments to table tennis rather than bring up irrelevent cases that others may not have studied. They may mean something to you, but in a table tennis site, few want to research or talk about catalytic conversions or car emissions, or why those particular rules were made. Please try to stick to table tennis. Thanks.

Re: March 25, 2011

Larry, I did not say that I leave my table tennis equipment in the garage to make it age faster.. I have elaborated on why.. Furthermore, I really don't know if leaving my stuff there is responsible for the faster aging or the fact that I play outdoors TT in my driveway for most of the year as it's too hot in my garage most of the year here in Florida. I actually looked at some rubbers that were just stored in the garage and they are not much different than new.. However, those that I played outdoors seem to have changed noticeably. Neither can be considered intentional treatment. There is no rule that prevents me from playing outdoors.  As for rules and regulations, the right thing to do would've been that the ITTF should've passed a rule and a regulation if they want to be consistent but Eberhard Schoeler, the architect of the ban, knew that he wouldn't get the needed majority, so they only passed a regulation for manufactorers in order to get their rubbers authorized. If they'd pass that rule, I personally think that it would not be too difficult to enforce IF the ITTF would specify what the maximum friction level at the table should be and a method to measure it.. The method could be as simple as having a ball, filled with a specific weight dragged by a device that has a readout.. A german guy actually came up with a testing device that does that and has a readout (manual and not digital). However, his device would only consider the weight of the ball and no additional weight/force on the ball as in the official ITTF test. Now if ITTF wants to pass the rule  and comes up with a low cost device that can be used to enforce it, I would be 100% in favor or that. What I'm not in favor is for people to make up their own tests that are obviousely not accurate. Saying that sliding the ball over the ball WITHOUT pressure is a accurate measurement is absolutely wrong. I do not have one of each aproved sheets of long pips and neither do you have them. In order to say that if a rubber fails that test, that it has to be illegal can only be made if you have made that test on all rubbers to know that all of them would pass that test in their original condition. There was a rubber that remained legal after the ITTF fricitonless ban and it was HALLMARK Super Defence. This rubber hat very slick pips tops but very grippy necks.. If you'd slide a ball over that rubber without pressure, you would feel no resistence, yet the ITTF approved that rubber, saying that it passed the friction test. The reason why the rubber was discontinued was NOT due to the ITTF banning it, it was due to the fact that HALLMARK stopped selling it as it did not sell well..   However, if it would have sold well, it would probably still be legal.. There might be other rubbers like that as there are hundres of different long pips rubbers..  If you don't believe me, do some research on HALLMARK Super Defence and get a old sheet yourself and see that it would not pass your test but it did pass the official ITTF test.. That's why tests should be performed in a standardized, scientific way so that no unfair subjective results are created. I'm all for enforcement, but do it objective.. Sure, many things in table tennis are judgement calls, like in a match to determine if a serve was legal or not.. However, when you are looking at a rubber, it's not like a serve that happens in a matter of a fraction of a second.. You have it right in front of you and ITTF should come up with a way to clarify the rules and a mechanism to enforce them.

Here is the video of this inofficial test:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lvEjRGXcbU

This test doesn't use a specific weight for the test, but if it did and the weight would be standardized, we would have a fairly accurate way of testing friction.. However, first it has to be determined on what friction a rubber may have (or what percent of friction it is allowed to lose before being illegal). Right now, there is no clear definition and the ITTF shoud do something to end the current situtation, in one direction or another..

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Ah, just saw this buried deep in the middle of the long paragraph: "Saying that sliding the ball over the ball WITHOUT pressure is a accurate measurement is absolutely wrong. I do not have one of each aproved sheets of long pips and neither do you have them"

The logical disconnect in the second sentence here is that you forget that you can assume that the original sheet is NOT frictionless, since there's a regulation against that. So there's no need to have an original sheet if the current sheet is frictionless, since that would mean it has been treated in some way to make it frictionless. As to the first sentence, yes, rubbing a ball over the pips isn't a highly accurate way of measuring friction; it's just a rough way. If the long pips are well over the line that defines frictionless, however, you can tell. (If you want a scientific test for everything, then prove at the next tournament that your rubber is red and black. Do we really need to bring color spectometers to tournaments, or can we rely on the referee's judgment in most cases?)

To use a simple example, at the Cary Cup, Raghu Nadmichettu told me last night that before his match with you he ran a ball across your long pips, realized that they were frictionless, and asked you about them. You admitted they were frictionless, and said it was because of the heat in your garage. So yes, in many cases you can easily tell. That doesn't mean most umpires or referees will call it, just as most don't call illegal serves. But just because it isn't called doesn't make it legal.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

[Hold on while I struggle through a single 24-line, 665-word paragraph. It doesn't make for easy reading.]

Much of the stuff here makes sense, as it's your opinions on the ITTF ban, and since I'm not as familiar with that part of the situation as you apparently are, I don't have much to comment on. However, early on you wrote, "Neither can be considered intentional treatment." Sorry, but the rule about treatment doesn't differentiate between "intentional" or not. It's like saying it's okay to put something on the surface of inverted to make it grippier and claiming it's okay to use it because you accidentally dropped the stuff on the surface. (Prove it wasn't an accident!) If you leave your long pips in the heat or play outdoors in the heat, and that changes it into frictionless long pips, then you have treated it with heat, thereby making it illegal.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Above I wrote, "If you leave your long pips in the heat or play outdoors in the heat, and that changes it into frictionless long pips, then you have treated it with heat, thereby making it illegal." Note the three references to heat that I bolded, and where I specifically said it was the heat that was a treatment? Over in another forum, Olivier Mader wrote, "Sure, there are people like Larry Hodges who think that playing outdoors is treating but I believe that he would be in the minority with that view." Maybe I'm living in the clouds, but I just don't get people who will misquote someone like that. When you have to change someone's words to make a point, you've lost the argument while saying a lot about yourself.

If I were to say, "It's dangerous to go outside in freezing cold unless adequately dressed," would it be honest for someone to claim I said, "Larry Hodges says it's dangerous to go outside"? Of course not. It's lying by omission.

Another person wrote that I had said I was "skeptical of the pure long-pips blocking style." Actually, I wrote I was "somewhat skeptical of the long-pips blocking style." He took off the "somewhat" to (falsely) make a stronger point, and so instead of quoting me accurately, he only quoted me "somewhat" accurately. The fascinating thing is these people actually read my blog, and only saw the negative they wanted to see. When I invited them to make the case why I shouldn't be somewhat skeptical of that style, i.e. do something positive, where were they? (And watch how fast my words will now be misquoted or taken out of context! Some people simply cannot exist without enemies, real or imagined.)

Re: March 25, 2011

I think that opinions my greatly vary about IF playing outdoors can be considered treating. Accidently dropping ANY substance on a rubber can hardly be considered to be the same as using a rubber to play. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion.. I did think that leaving my rubbers in my garage had also something to do but I did check some of the rubbers before yesterday and noticed that the rubbers in the garage still had about the original friction, and only the ones that I played outdoors have low friction. So, I was wrong when I talked with Ragu. It was only speculation on my part on why the rubber is the way it is. Anyways, there is precedent at the ITTF level that the rubbing test is not acceptable. There aren't too many examples at the ITTF level as there is only one player who still plays the long pips at the table defense and like I said, this happened at a ITTF even in moscow where the Umpire did the rubbing test and declared the rubber illegal and when Akerstrom appealed the Umpire's decision to the Referee as the rubbing test was not a official test, the Referee allowed the use of the rubber. There's actually also USATT precedent.. In 2009 at the NA Teams, a player complained about my rubber and suggested to the referee to make the rubbing test on my rubber and the referee refused as the rubbing test is not a official test. The referee visually inspected my rubber very closely, checked it on the list and declared it legal. My rubber has been checked be referees a few times and I have never been rejected to play with it. I'm actually not aware of anybody being DQ'd or anybody who was refused to play at a USATT event due to the rubbing test.. I am aware of people who have had a visible treatment (i.e. super glue, epoxy, paint) that have been rejected to play but not due to a inofficial rubbing test.  Again, I do favor a fair and objective test, especially one that I could do myself to my rubber to test it to be legal (once the ITTF defines what is actually legal at the table). If there is a way for me to objectively tell if a rubber is legal or illegal, I will not play it in a sanctioned event if it tests illegal, even if the tournament does not have the equipment to test the rubber. BTW, there is LEGAL frictionless ANTI rubber that acts just the same way as frictionless pips did... and this is 100% legal.. For example, Dr. Neubauer A-B-S is 100% frictionless, yet 100% legal.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

BTW, there is LEGAL frictionless ANTI rubber that acts just the same way as frictionless pips did... and this is 100% legal.. For example, Dr. Neubauer A-B-S is 100% frictionless, yet 100% legal.

This has been in the back of my mind all morning. I've played and experimented with anti rubbers for years. I don't think a "frictionless" antispin plays like  frictionless long pips. With long pips, the ball slides against the "frictionless" long pips. But with anti, even if the surface is very slick, the ball sinks into it, and that removes some of the spin - it's just a lot more surface contact. While I haven't played against Dr. Neubauer A-B-S specificially, the slightly less friction of other antis return a ball that's nowhere close to long pips. So I doubt if you get the same near 100% spin reversal with a flat "frictionless" anti as with "frictionless" long pips. If you did, there'd be more players in the U.S. using the stuff - anti is easier to control than long pips, and so it'd be a huge advantage.

This reminds me of when you argued that Rich DeWitt's inverted plays like antispin. I asked players at my club who have played him recently, and they said neither side is anything like antispin, just a relatively dead inverted, like the old D-13 before Sriver came about. This concurs with my experience when I played him a couple years ago. I don't know if it's legal, but it plays like a legal surface, so few people care about it. It's when people get an advantage by breaking the rules that people tend to take notice.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Oh, there's no question that the rubbing test hasn't been accepted yet in the U.S., even in extreme cases where it shows the long pips is obviously frictionless - Raghu could tell immediately when he rubbed a ball against your long pips that they were frictionless. (It's the borderline cases that are tricky to judge.) As has been posted in other forums, it has been done in Europe, but there is no standard on this yet. And as I've posted, just because a person gets away with cheating doesn't change the fact that it is cheating.

You didn't answer my two questions, so I'll ask them again.

1) Were you using fricitionless long pips at Cary Cup, as you apparently privately admitted to some players? (And yes, we've already been over the rules vs. regulations thing.)

2) If yes, how did they get that way? However, you have said you aren't sure, so we'll pass on this one.

I do have a third question for you. I've been told, and now have copies of online postings, where you say you use a UV light machine or lamp to make long pips frictionless. For example, you wrote, "The best way to treat pips is with a high intensity UV-A light. Something like that will get any rubber frictionless in 30 minutes to 2 hours with no visible evidence." You also refer to a 400 Watt UV-A light that you own. Do you have such a UV light machine or lamp that you use to make long pips frictionless?

Of course, I've read your postings where you say that just because you treat long pips to make them frictionless doesn't mean you actually use them in tournaments, and that until someone proves you are actually using the long pips you have treated in tournaments, you are innocent. Does this accurately portray your beliefs?

Re: March 25, 2011

--1) Were you using fricitionless long pips at Cary Cup, as you apparently privately admitted to some players? (And yes, we've already been

--over the rules vs. regulations thing.)

I assume and am pretty certain that my pips were below the 25mN  level that the ITTF requires manufactorers to abide by but I can't be 100% sure as I do not have a accurate way to measure it. What is clear is that my rubber had less friction than a new sheet, no doubt about that.

 

--2) If yes, how did they get that way? However, you have said you aren't sure, so we'll pass on this one.

I'm pretty certain that the rubber got that way from playing outdoors. I do play indoors from December to February but I do play outdoors on weekends from March to November as it gets too hot in my garage (where my table sits) in the hotter months.. Florida is very hot.

--I do have a third question for you. I've been told, and now have copies of online postings, where you say you use a UV light machine or

--lamp to make long pips frictionless. For example, you wrote, "The best way to treat pips is with a high intensity UV-A light. Something like

--that will get any rubber frictionless in 30 minutes to 2 hours with no visible evidence." You also refer to a 400 Watt UV-A light that you own.

--Do you have such a UV light machine or lamp that you use to make long pips frictionless?

Yes, I do have a UV light (actually a DYMAX 2000-EC to be exact) to treat rubbers that I'm selling via Ebay Germany to Europe as training rubbers, not to be used in tournaments! It is a way to make a  little extra money to buy equipment etc..  Having the knowledge and equipment is not the same as using it to produce rubbers for my own use. Anybody who read my posts could go and get a UV light and treat rubbers. If they do it for training or for sanctioned events is something that they have to decide based on their morals. The Experimental section is clearly labeled in a way that it's clear that it's not meant to encourage people of using those things in touranments.. Actually, boosting etc. is also discussed there just like treating pips.

--Of course, I've read your postings where you say that just because you treat long pips to make them frictionless doesn't mean you actually

--use them in tournaments, and that until someone proves you are actually using the long pips you have treated in tournaments, you are

--innocent. Does this accurately portray your beliefs?

Yes, that is correct. If you'd like to bring a lie detector and a professional operator to a tournament, I'm willing to take a lie detector test to the regard of the pips that I'm using having been under my UV light or not..  NONE of my PERSONAL rubbers have been under the UV light that I use for my Ebay auctions. I'm also very clear on those auctions that the rubbers should not be used in sanctioned events.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

I think readers have enough info at this point to judge these issues on their own.

Re: March 25, 2011

Despite the rather immediate negatives that have arisen due to your posting, I am rather glad that you decided to blog about an issue that I feel is of importance to the table tennis community right now. More and more people seem to be taking up arms against the rules by using what can only be termed as technicalities. When you wrote "The USATT Tournament Guide specifically states that the referee 'Is the final authority on interpretation of the rules and regulations as they apply to the tournament.' Note the reference to regulations, which would include the ITTF regulation on frictionless long pips. The Tournament Guide also says, 'In making decisions that are not fully covered by the rules, the referee should consider in turn: ITTF and USATT rulings, precedent, and the rule's intent.' And it's pretty clear that the intent of the frictionless long pips regulation was to ban frictionless long pips.", I had no real argument for this. As has been mentioned before, you can't argue with a person's judgement if they are given that power. Many people will claim this is unfair, but it is a rule put in place to cover the possible exploits of loopholes within the rules. However, I will state that there are many methods of treating, some of which will not seem frictionless if a ball is rubbed across them. They will still play frictionless though. I do not know if the referee can rule that a rubber is frictionless by watching gameplay, which would probably not go over well...

I myself did not agree with the ban of frictionless long pips and still do not. However, myself and the long pip players in my area moved on and are now playing at a much higher level. Not everyone will be able to do this, but the sport shouldn't be about the past. If you were the greatest player during the single color era, then noone can take that away from you. If you were the greatest FLP player your club had ever seen, again noone can take that away from you. We should concentrate on the advancements we can make to this sport within the realm of the rules.

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Good points, PipProdigy. I'm still undecided on the frictionless long pips ban, but it does bother me when someone makes the type of argument some have made about it actually being legal to use, or that's it's okay because others are also abusing the rules about treating your surfaces. (Perhaps it's okay to rob banks because others do so?) If someone wants to protest the rules, that's fine. I'd respect Mader more if he very publicly declared he was using frictionless long pips at a tournament, made his arguments there, and challenged the referee to ban his racket. That would be a protest based on principle, as opposed to abusing the rules and using them for personal gain by rationalizing in such legalistic fashion while ignoring the holes in the legalistic argument.

Re: March 25, 2011

Hey Larry, this is Olivier! You are refering to a rule that frictionless long pips is illegal.  Care to provide the link or wording of that rule? The T9 technical leaflet is a regulation on what properties a rubber has to have to get the ITTF approval. This is in no way a requirement for players to abide by.

There is NO rule that requires a rubber to have a certain amount of friction AS LONG as the rubber is uniform and has not been intentionally treated. If a rubber reaches such state without intentional treatment and it is uniform, there is NO rule that would prevent use of such rubber!

If you think that there is, please feel free to post it! The rules are not about what you'd want them to say.. They just say what they say!

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Olivier, two questions:

1) Were you using frictionless long pips at the Cary Cup Open?

2) If yes (and I believe you have already admitted they were frictionless), how did they become frictionless?

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

You are refering to a rule that frictionless long pips is illegal.  Care to provide the link or wording of that rule? The T9 technical leaflet is a regulation on what properties a rubber has to have to get the ITTF approval.

Olivier, see the bolded part above. Please show me where I referred to the frictionless long pips regulation as being a rule, as opposed to a regulation. I didn't; you simply made that up to support your argument. The only times I referred to rules were in reference to the color rule and the rule that the racket covering shall not be treated. I referred to the regulation about frictionless long pips six different times. Did you read what I actually wrote?

  • "The ITTF made a regulation a while back that they are illegal."
  • "The USATT Tournament Guide specifically states that the referee 'Is the final authority on interpretation of the rules and regulations as they apply to the tournament.' Note the reference to regulations, which would include the ITTF regulation on frictionless long pips"
  • "The Tournament Guide also says, "In making decisions that are not fully covered by the rules, the referee should consider in turn: ITTF and USATT rulings, precedent, and the rule's intent." And it's pretty clear that the intent of the frictionless long pips regulation was to ban frictionless long pips."
  • "If a sheet of long pips is frictionless, and you know that it was not frictionless when new due to ITTF regulations, then you know it performs differently than a new sheet."

How could you possibly have missed all this? 

Re: March 25, 2011

Where you go wrong is that regulations do NOT apply to the players, they apply to manufactorers.. They are NOT applicable!

Larry Hodges's picture

Re: March 25, 2011

Where you go wrong is that regulations do NOT apply to the players, they apply to manufactorers.. They are NOT applicable!

Olivier, please read what you respond to before responding. I completely agree that regulations apply to manufacturers, not players, and would challenge you to show where I wrote otherwise. (And I note you were not able to show where I called it a rule, as you falsely claimed I had.) If you read my blog, you'll see where I explained that if your long pips are frictionless, then you have treated them to make them so, and that breaks a USATT rule. I never said you broke a regulation, so please stop making things up to support your arguments.