The basics of rubber sheets
Nowadays the world top players master a large variety of spectacular strokes. Power-topspins and smashes, controlled serves and topspin/backspin.
What kind of rubber sheets can successfully support such a repertoire of strokes?
They must be pimple-in rubber sheets! Only this type offer the broad spectrum required in modern table tennis.
They have to have extremely high elasticity to offer higher speed and maximum spin.
They have to be rubbers with soft to medium-hard sponges. This is especially important for balls which are played short and soft.
The rubber manufacturers have focused their attention on these requirements. Sponges are produced in several thicknesses with finest nuances and soft rubber sheets belong to the standard range of the better rubber brands.
Sponge rubber with a pimple out top sheet. In general these rubber sheets are relatively fast and considerably less grippy than pimple-in rubber sheets. Therefore they are less sensitive to the opponents spin. Especially on the backhand ideal, they can be ideal for fast or unpleasant counters and blocks.
Long pimpled rubber sheets (1.5 to 1.8) with and without sponge. These rubber sheets are especially suitable to return spin balls. The rotation played by the opponent has a boomerang effect, so that its very hard to calculate the spin of these balls. The possible backspin of long pimpled rubber sheets mainly depends on the speed and power of spin of the returned ball. Also the angle of impact plays an important role.
It is recommended to combine a long pimpled rubber sheet with a pimple-in one so that a variety of shots is possible. Attention: Long pimples are relatively hard to master. Due to the totally different characteristics, we evaluated them together with the short pimples-out in a separate chart.
The pimple-in construction with a surface that has a small sweet spot when making contact with the rubber. Therefore the playing surface is insensitive to the opponents spin and backspin.
Disadvantage: The Anti-Spin rubber sheet can hardly produce spin itself. Therefore its often used in combination with a grippy pimple-in rubber sheet.
Pimple out rubber without sponge
Although the good, old pimple out rubber without sponge allows perfect feel, it offers little speed and spin. Nowadays it is hardly used by competition players.
Tip: The longer you wait to put on a new rubber sheet, the more difficulties you have to adapt to it! New rubber sheets (even its the same type and thickness) are always more grippy, more elastic and therefore faster.
The right rating method
Control speed spin
In order to make it easier for you to make the right choice, all blades and rubber sheets have been assessed during various tests in co-operation with many top players. The rating system goes from 1 10+ for control, speed, and spin (spin only for rubber sheets). Please note that control has always to be considered in relation to speed and spin, although the figures for speed can be compared to each other directly. The rating of spin is the most difficult one: The spin of a rubber sheet is different for slow and fast balls depending on the elasticity of the top sheet. Therefore the spin of a certain rubber sheet can only be compared to the spin of another one that belongs to the same elasticity group.
Control = The ability to control the ball. The thinner the sponge of the rubber sheet, the better the control, as this means the ball enjoys a larger sweet spot when making contact with the rubber.
Speed = The speed of the blade or rubber sheet. The thicker the sponge of the rubber sheet, the faster the rubber sheet.
Spin (topspin/backspin) = The grip of the rubber sheet. The thicker the rubber sheet, the more spin.
The right weight: The Swedes do it with lightness
Light blades are easier to play with, but are more difficult to produce in highest quality. The Swedish blade manufacturers are masters of this trade.
A certain rubber develops different playing characteristics when applied to different blades. Blades for table tennis bats are mixed together like cocktails: The correct mixture is achieved from the combination of soft and hard veneers. Finally the player has to decide how hard, soft or elastic the blade element has to be. In combination with the corresponding rubber you come to an optimum, individual solution.
The wonderful material caoutchouc (the naturally occurring latex)
The ball can hit the bat at a speed of 200 km/h and 3000 rpm. This means the natural material caoutchouc is stretched right to the limit of what is physically feasible. Nowadays rubber sheets are high-tech products made of a combination of natural and synthetic rubber.
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