Science of the Plastic Ball. Initial Thoughts
Rowden January 2015
Some spin on serve but not in rallies.
Best spin side alone or combined with backspin. Side-spin balls stay shorter and kick sideways earlier than with the celluloid ball.
Easier to attack serves.
More long or half-long serves, far less short serves.
Ball slows off table and sits up.
Topspin doesn't kick forward off table but stands up and comes through more slowly.
Less topspin in play but backspin less affected
Counter-loop less effective, best to counter-drive or block.
Blocking very easy against loop or drive, especially against the faster ball.
Chopping still effective but only if heavy and low over the net.
Only really effective topspin is the slower ball, fast loop is very easy to control.
Push returns easier to attack due to less spin.
The speed of the ball is slower through the air and after the bounce.
The slower shot or the slow-roll ball can be very effective and often results in an unusual bounce due to the polymers used in manufacture.
Spin is much less in the rallies.
Rallies will be longer and players will need to be fitter and stronger.
Power will be important, especially if you can win the point in the first few balls, otherwise you will have to wait for the right ball.
Placement will assume a much more important role.
Variation in trajectory, pace and angles will be much more important.
The quality of the balls is poor and a number of balls don’t behave as expected in the rallies.
Pimple players especially long pimple players may need to change material. Such players have always had more problems against flat hit balls and no spin shots and will now be further disadvantaged. Pimple players who stay close will be better off than the orthodox defenders who play further back. Defenders will need more alternatives and may have to attack more and earlier in the rallies as well as staying in and blocking/stop-blocking more to change the form of the rally and to create openings.
Short pimple rubbers may well be the most effective with the plastic ball as not only are they ideal for changing speed and spin, but also they can easily return very short balls to the opponent. This will be highly efficient when using change of pace and playing short and long and may well be one of the dominant tactics with the new ball.
The topspin game off the table will now fall behind, as players will not get the same spin or penetration, especially in the women’s game. It is far too easy to hit hard and drop short with the new ball, especially as your opponent’s topspin tends to ‘sit up’. The shorter drop shots on the other hand will not come through and will tend to drop below table level very quickly which will cause big problems to the player who retreats too far. Power often will be decisive factor and younger, fitter players who can strike the ball with real force will have the advantage. On the other hand players who try to control and contain will have difficulty in winning points.