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Ben Nisbet @ Westchester Table Tennis Center

Ben Nisbet @ Westchester Table Tennis Center

Earlier this year, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) ruled that in July 2014 the official table tennis ball for ITTF events must be made of non-celluloid material. Accordingly, most country federations, have followed suit. The effect is that most official tournaments, regardless of what country you live in, now use the new plastic ball. If you are a competitive player, looking to succeed in your next tournament. Here is a short article with facts and tips to help.

Ball Characteristics:

  • Slightly Larger: The new plastic ball is slightly larger than the old celluloid balls. The new plastic ball measures 40.2 mm vs 39.8 mm.
  • Sound: The now plastic balls sounds different on contact - almost as if they are cracked.
  • Bounce: The new plastic ball does not bounce as high.
  • Spin: The new plastic balls, because of slightly larger mass, and slightly smoother surface, load up less spin.
  • Hardness: Unchanged.
  • Consistency: Manufacturers have not yet been able to consistency produce round balls. As a consequence the quality of the ball varies from ball to ball, more than, between brands. There are currently two types of balls on the market. The seamless plastic ball and the seamed plastic ball. As of now the seamless ball appear to play better.

Tips on How to Play your Best with the New Plastic Ball.

The plastic ball plays surprisingly similar to the old celluloid ball. The most noticeable effect is that the ball feels heavier on contact, but move slower.

Here are a couple of quick tips to make you a plastic ball ready tournament player.

  • Physiological: You are not alone in playing with the new ball. You have an opponent who will be playing with the same ball. Stay focused and don’t blame the ball for missed shots. Remember, the person who wins an evenly contested match, is the one who has better focus, approach and tactics. If you are worrying about the new plastic ball and blaming it for your point losses, your opponent will have an edge up on you. Don’t let that happen.
  • Ready Position: Because, the new plastic balls don’t bounce as high, your ready position must also must be slightly lower at ball contact. It is easy to be standing up too straight on ball contact. Stay a little lower.
  • Transition Game: Change of pace play is now more effective with the new plastic ball. Try it out! The reason it that with the slower and softer spin shots with spin, the balls stay low and don’t bounce up.
  • Time: The new ball travels slower and consequently gives one more time. If you are planning an offensive shot, you now can take the ball slightly earlier. If you are playing a defensive shot or controlled offensive shot – good news! You now have more time. Use this extra time to your advantage.
  • Service Return: With slightly less spin imparted on the ball, one can be more aggressive and confident with service return. Feather the ball short, a snap flip, or a very spinny well placed loop are now more possible. Also a sticky push return - particularly with a side swipe right to left or left to right motion – can be very disruptive.
  • Soft Hands: Now more than ever, you will need soft hands to play effectively. Particularly on the service game.

Hope these help! Good luck!

Ben Nisbet - Is a lifetime player.  He is owner of Tabletennisstore.us. A national online retailer of table tennis equipment

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The Most Important Shot In Table Tennis

by Ben Nisbet on August 15, 2013

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By Mr. Zakir Nawab

Most professional table tennis players believe that the most important shot in table tennis is the serve. The serve is typically neglected by most beginners and amateur table tennis players; they usually concentrate on improving their rallying and looping skills.

There are a number of reasons why the serve is important; these include-

1. Return- a good use of serves will influence the return ball. If the serve is good, the return ball could either be predictable or poor. This can allow the server to take the winning point.

2. Control- the serve is only stroke that the player has control over without any interference or influence of the opponent. The player can play any stroke that they desire.

3. Knowledge- by increasing you knowledge on serving, it will improve your understanding on the best return for your opponents serve

Making a good serve

After knowing why the serve is important, producing the good serve is the next step. The 3 best types serves are-

1. Placing the ball- This serve is about knowing your opponent well; this serve includes placing the ball in a position on the table in your opponent’s weak spot. This will make there return weak. However this serve would need constantly updating of your opponents’ weakness; a good player will always reduce their weakness. So its best to always scout your opponents.

2. Spin- This serve is used to confuse your opponent into playing the wrong shot. There are different types of spin such as the topspin, the backspin and the sidespin. By spinning the serve, the opponents return will either play a defensive shot or put the ball into the net.

3. Long serves- These serves are aimed to bounce on the opponents side towards the edges of the table and close to the end lines. This serve is based on surprise and sometimes speed. This can force a weak return from your opponent. However use with caution, if your opponent is not surprised then expected a decent return.

Factors in serving

There is a number of factors that can affect you serving. These include-

1. Variety- serves will more effective if a mix of serve types are used. This will ensure that your opponent is kept on their toes. If you use your best serves, you opponent will use it against you

2. Scout your opponents- this will help in observing the areas that your opponent is weak in. This will provide an advantage in producing a serving plan against your opponent

3. Practice- only with practice can you get better. Practicing serving can be done whilst playing or on your own.

This blog should convince you that the serve is the most important shot in table tennis. A good serve will provide you with a variety of different advantages. By following the advice above, your serve should improve. So now you don’t have to rely on rallying to get your points.


Mr. Zakir Nawab is a graduate working for SportsDirect.com. As a fan of table tennis, Zakir started playing table tennis in local club and learnt table tennis by just playing. As he learnt more, his love for table tennis naturally grew. Now Zakir is combining his university degree and his passion for table tennis to his work place; now Zakir doesn’t feel like going home from work!

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