What sponge size is good for a long pips rubber?

by Varghese on April 3, 2008

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A table tennis player who is moving towards playing with a long pips rubber asks this question first “What is the right sponge size for my play?” In my opinion, there is no straight answer to that question. However, my experience with different long pips can shed some light. I don’t want to talk about frictionless long pips rubber in this article except in few cases where I want to compare the results with a friction long pips rubber.

The most important factor, that increases the playing characteristics of any rubber that Manufactures claims, is the kind of blade (or frame) that you put the rubber on. The manufactures don’t have any control over what kind of blade a player can put the long pips on; sometimes they may not have a right blade to choose in their list. Both modern and classic defenders use defensive (and defensive +) blades. The faster blades are not suitable for using long pips. Secondly, defensive blades with balsa core work well with long pips.

The sponges come in OX (no sponge), 0.5 mm, 1.0 mm, 1.5 mm and 2.0 mm sizes. Do they make a difference? The impact of the sponges on a hollow celluloid ball is tremendous. The hardness of the sponges matter too. The hard sponge can generate more speed and spin variation than a soft sponge.

The long pips rubbers come with sponge with them. However there are Chinese long pips rubbers come with just top sheet. The sponge can be bought separately and put on the long pips. A first time experimenter can go this route to choose the right sponge size and top sheet and save some money too. The brand Hallmark provide this feasibility too, however their rubbers and sponges are expensive.

OX version (no sponge)

There is a notion you may have is that the OX version of a long pips rubber is slow – generate very slow ball after rebound. That is not 100% true. Since there is no sponge in between the blade (or frame) and the pips, the ball bounce based on the characteristic of the blade rather than sponge. I have tried long pips in OX version which is very fast. Those fast rubbers are some exceptions, and I don’t want to compare with other long pips.

I have written an article on the OX version before. You can find the article here.

0.5 mm

Whether you are an attacking or defensive player, the sponge size 0.5 mm is better choice. This was one of my favorite sponge sizes when I was a classic defender. This sponge size can generate decent spin-reversal. The active choppers rarely use this sponge size because there is too much work to do when you go to the mid distance.

The pushing with this sponge size is little easier. Brushing the ball against under spin ball is very important because the reverse spin effect can turn your stroke to top spin for your opponent. A defensive player who can master the spin variation in push can force the opponent to make mistakes. Sadly, this is the hardest stroke that you can play with a long pips rubber.

1.0 mm

This sponge size suits aggressive attacking pen-hold players who prefer to block on their backhand occasionally, however they use their other side most of the time.

The 1.0 mm is a boundary for any player to choose between classic defense and modern defense. A mix of close to the table defense and long range defensive players can use this sponge size.

From my experience, this sponge size is very hard to control and execute. But mastering strokes in this sponge size makes a better player.

1.5 mm

One characteristic I like about friction pips with a sponge size of 1.5 mm is its ability to generate under-spin while pushing. In the range of sponge size between 1.4 and 1.7 mm, the spin reversal is almost zero, and the pips will behave the way you want to behave. There is also not too much deception comes in this range. In simple words, the rubber behaves very similar to an inverted with additional benefits of heavy defensive strokes.

With this sponge size, the cut strokes against top spin can be done with feeling – you can feel the cut. Against under-spin from your opponents, the same cut strokes can be executed and generate under-spin – has to wait until the under-spin from your opponent diminishes a little.

This rubber is the best choice for modern defensive players. When I say modern defensive players, I’m talking about aggressive players who defend themselves to attack their opponents – set up to hit after taking their opponents in a tiresome rally.

2.0 mm

The feel of a long pips rubber with 2.0 mm sponge would be very similar to a short pips or an inverted rubber. The friction long pips rubber will respond to the incoming spin, however, the spin that gets generated will be mostly ‘no spin”. There will be no spin reversal. The defensive strokes like chops can’t generate any under-spin because the ball sinks deep to the pips and rebounds faster with no spin even before you make your move. The attacking possibilities are very high with this sponge size. A smasher may like this sponge size. Top spin players can loop very heavy under-spin balls, and sometime can fool the opponent with top spin and no spin. With some practice, fast brushing of the ball can generate moderate top spin.

A very important question that you may ask me is “Varghese, what is the sponge size of the long pips rubber that you use?” Here is my answer. I’m a modern defensive player. I migrated from classic defense to modern defense recently where I find more fun to play. I lean on my defensive strokes rather depending on the pips characteristics of the rubber like deception or spin-reversal. So, I use friction long pips with a sponge size of 1.5 mm. Occasionally I play with 1.0 mm or 0.5 mm sponge size.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

mohd wari October 26, 2011 at 11:38 am

recently i bought TSp P1R and i want to add a sponge. What is the best sponge thickness for the TSP P1R?. i’ve never used this rubber before and i want to put a sponge and tsp p1r on my blade. Do i need to use defensive or offensive blade for tsp p1r?

thank u very much

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