Frictionless Long Pimples: the Next Stage
Rowden Fullen (2008)
The prime question for frictionless long pimple (FLP) players as they look forward to life after the ban should not be – ‘Which material should I now use?’ Instead it must be – ‘Where am I going now in terms of my playing style? How do I want to play?’ The change of material will mean of course that many things will change –
- More alternatives and possibilities will be created.
- The FH side will need to be adjusted too.
- Strokes will change and some new ones will appear.
- Footwork will need to change.
With FLP many players just blocked with the pimples and the rubber caused the opponents to make errors or to return high balls so the pimple player could kill. Now lower returns will mean more use of topspin, more movement and more variety of shots. The game becomes more complicated for the pimple player and new things need to be learned.
Anti can be one of the simplest solutions as it allows the player to use very similar stroke techniques. However anti will give less spin reversal (if the rubber could be made much harder and faster it would help) and will be easier for the opponent to predict. The rubber must therefore be used much more aggressively and a highly active style entails more risk.
Players could also use an approved long pimple with either no sponge or a very thin sponge (0.4 – 0.6) which would be very similar to the anti. There are one or two long pimples (Friendship and TSP) on the market which give some effect.
However with grippy pimples players have to look at direction (where they are going and which type of game they want to play).
- Long pimples (0.5 – 1.2) – more defensive, away from the table.
- Long pimples (Ox – 0.6) – offensive blocking/devious game.
- Short/medium pimples (1.5 – 2.0) — more aggressive attack.
Players must also bear in mind that most or all of these will require adjustments on the FH side and there will be a number of changes for the player to consider.
- Distance from the table; it may be necessary to practice from differing distances.
- Preparation for attacking shots will be different.
- Movement will increase and movement patterns will differ.
- The range of shots will increase –
More topspin, less smash.
Drive/spin with pimples.
Variation in pushes, spin and no spin with differing racket angles.
- Twiddling, pushing and hitting with both rubbers.
Players must now bear in mind that compared with how the game was developed with FLP, spin variation will now be much more important. Now it will not be the characteristics of the rubber which cause the opponent to make errors, but the player’s ability to change and influence the spin on the ball which will create openings. This new game will be more difficult and will need more training and practice, but at the same time it will give players more opportunities to do different things and to develop.
With short/medium pimples timing is much more critical if players wish to achieve real advantage. The push for example can be taken very early and played with no spin or very much backspin (depending on the pimple type and grip). Drive play requires the ball to be taken at peak or 1 – 2 centimetres before for maximum effect. Usually active play needs short strokes over the table and good use of the wrist. Play with short/medium pimples can be dynamic with good variation of pace and many short/long balls, but often requires fast feet and reactions and positive play on the FH wing too to keep the balance.