June 28, 2017

Equipment Reviews and Why I Don’t Do Them
Recently USATT has started doing “USATT Equipment Reviews,” by Matt Hetherington. Here are the first two:

Here are some other good places for equipment reviews. I’m sure there are others – feel free to comment below.

Some may have noticed that in 6.5 years and about 1500 blogs, I’ve almost studiously avoided doing equipment reviews. I’ve talked about equipment in general a number of times, but very rarely discuss the specific brands. I think there are only two times where I’ve actually done anything resembling equipment reviews. On Oct. 14, 2015, I had an entire segment on Emulating the Equipment of the Top Players, where I wrote about whether we should use the equipment used by the top players, and used Tenergy 25 (which I use on my backhand) as an example of a sponge not used by many top players but which many should probably be using.

On March 23, 2017, I wrote about my equipment, and also extolled on the virtues of Tenergy 25 and why more should use it, despite the lack of world-class players using it. I wrote:

“While I don’t write about specific equipment in the Tips, I can blog about my own equipment. For the record, I use a Butterfly Timo Boll ALC FL blade, with Tenergy 05 black 2.1 on forehand, Tenergy 25 red 2.1 on backhand. Tenergy 05 is great for looping, and makes it easy for me to loop over and over with power even at age 57. I use Tenergy 25 on the backhand because, while it’s also easy to loop with, it’s great for counter-hitting and blocking. Few world-class players use Tenergy 25 because it’s not designed for players who take a big swing at the ball, as most world-class players do, but for players under 2000, and really well beyond that, unless you loop all-out on the backhand, I’ve always thought Tenergy 25 was the best one.”

I’ve done a few Tips of the Week on equipment in general, such as:

But these covered equipment in general, not specific types. So why don’t I do more equipment reviews? There are four reasons.

  1. Conflict of Interest. I’m sponsored by Butterfly. I don’t want to turn this into a Butterfly equipment column, but at the same time I don’t want to be reviewing equipment by companies that are rivals to my own sponsor. Plus, if I give a good review to Butterfly or a bad review to non-Butterfly, there will always be that suspicion of bias.
  2. Not Knowledgeable about non-Butterfly. It’s a simple reality that I know most of the Butterfly sponges, but not non-Butterfly. Sure, I could spend time trying them out – I’m guessing the major companies would even send them to me for free in return for reviewing them. But I just don’t have time to add more things to my todo list. I’ll let Matt and others do equipment reviews.
  3. Not Really Good at Them. You have to do something a lot before you become good at it. Since I don’t do regular equipment reviews, guess what? I don’t think I’d be very good at them. I’d have to do a lot of them before I’d really have a good feel for the specific types of equipment and how they differ. It’s like table tennis itself – you can’t be good at it without doing it a lot. I fear my equipment reviews would be like a basement player trying to tell the pros how to play table tennis!!! Okay, I’m probably not really that bad at equipment reviewing, but besides practice, you have to be really interested in something to do well at it, which brings us to. . .
  4. Lack of Interest. Anyone who knows me knows that I pride myself on being able to play at a high level with just about anything – hardbat, sandpaper, a clipboard, cell phone, whatever. I’ve even beaten people using a towel (you have to hold it really tight), an ID card, and an ice cube!!! (Use glove or it’ll melt too fast.) There’s no question that I’m better with Tenergy on both sides than some less bouncy sponge, but I find it far more important to develop a strong foundation to your game than to spend huge amounts of time trying to find that “perfect” sponge. I’ve always advised players to try out what’s out there early in their careers, find what they like, and then generally to stick with it. In my “Suggested Equipment” Tip above, I wrote:

“Beginners and others not that familiar with what's out there need to go through a period where they try out the various rubber and rackets just so they know what the choices are.”

“Once you find something that fits your game, generally stick with it unless your game changes or there's a major equipment breakthrough.”

There will always be EJs (Equipment Junkies), and I have no problem with that. However, if the goal is to improve, that should always be secondary to developing a strong foundation to your game. Great equipment is like special effects in a movie – it can enhance a good movie, but it can’t make a bad movie good.

Excitement Continues to Grow as T2 APAC Player Selections Revealed
Here’s the ITTF article. “Which side has your backing? Are you TeamJJ, TeamMaze, Team Rossi, or TeamPersson?”

  • Team JJ: Jiang Jialiang, Vladimir Samsonov, Tomokazu Harimoto. Chuang Chih-Yuan, Wu Yang, Jeon Jihee, Matilda Ekholm.
  • Team Maze: Michael Maze, Timo Boll, Feng Tianwei, Chen Chien-An, Alexander Shibaev, Yang Haeun, Hina Hayata.
  • Team Rossi: Jörg Rosskopf, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, Elizabeta Samara, Cheng I-Ching, Georgina Pota, Shang Kun, Paul Drinkhall.
  • Team Persson: Jörgen Persson, Ding Ning, Bernadette Szőcs, Suthasini Sawettabut, Jun Mizutani, Joo Saehyuk, Mattias Karlsson.

Ask the Coach
Questions answered at PingSkills.

USATT Establishes Youth Ambassador Council to Promote Grassroots Programs
Here’s the USATT article.

Commanding Display from Kanak Jha Closes Out Proceedings in Buenos Aires
Here’s the ITTF article.

History of U.S. Table Tennis, Volume 19 (1991-1992)
Here's chapter fourteen! Or order your own print copies at TimBogganTableTennis.com, as well as Volume 19!

2017 SuperMicro US National Championships "Final Table Celebration" Bounces into Silverton Casino Hotel
Here’s the USATT article by Richard Finn on the location of the Men’s and Women’s Finals at the upcoming USA Nationals.

Wu Aims for First National Championship Singles Title
Here’s the USATT article by Matt Hetherington.

Dima's Wild Win
Here’s the ITTF article on Dimitrij Ovcharov’s crazy (6-10 down match point) win at the China Open.

Mixed Doubles World Champions Eye 2020 Olympic Games
Here’s the ITTF article featuring the Japanese pair Kasumi Ishikawa and Maharu Yoshimura.

2007 China Open – Ten Years Back
Here’s the article by Shashin Shodhan, with a link to a video (2:52) of Ma Lin vs. a teenaged Dimitrij Ovtcharov at the China Open.  

China Open Highlights

Inflatable Sumo Ping-Pong
Here’s the video (7:23, though actual ping-pong doesn’t start until about 4:40).

Vladimir Samsonov vs. Tomokazu Harimoto: The Rematch – by Phone?
Here’s the video (62 sec) of the Battle of the Cell Phones, with Japan’s whiz kid Harimoto (who turned 14 yesterday) on left against 41-year-old Samsonov on right (who Harimoto upset at the China Open), with 1985 & 1987 World Men’s Champion Jiang Jialiang playing doubles with Samsonov.

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