As a table tennis player who uses long pimpled rubber, many parents have asked me whether their child is suitable for playing with long pimples. Or they feel that playing with traditional inverted rubber on both sides seems to be less competitive than their peers, and wonder whether they should consider switching to a rubber with pips.
At the same time, many people ask me about the differences between long pimples and short pips, and which one they should choose. A few months ago, I accepted David’s invitation to publish an article on his website about “Long Pips VS Short Pips.” Today, I am summarizing past experiences and combining some new insights to bring everyone a more comprehensive and professional analysis.
Long pips and short pips are two types of rubber surfaces that can be attached to the blade of a table tennis racket.
The choice between long and short pips can have a significant impact on a player’s style of play. Short pips are generally better suited for an attacking style, as they provide greater control and precision when hitting the ball. Long pips, on the other hand, are better suited for a defensive style, as they can be used to produce a variety of spins and to disrupt the opponent’s rhythm.
Fundamentals of Table Tennis Pips
Definition of Pips
Pips are the small rubber bumps that are found on the surface of table tennis paddles. They come in different shapes, sizes, and configurations, and can be classified into two main categories: short pips and long pips. Short pips have a flat, smooth surface with small, conical bumps, while long pips have longer, more cylindrical bumps that protrude from the surface of the rubber.
Different types of Pips in Table Tennis
In table tennis, “pips” refer to the small rubber protrusions on the surface of a racket’s rubber sheet. These pips can be oriented outwards (pips-out) or inwards (pips-in), and the choice of pips can significantly affect the playing characteristics of the racket. Here are the different types of pips in table tennis:
- Pips-In (Inverted Rubber):
- The most common type of rubber used at all levels of play.
- The pips are facing inwards towards the sponge, creating a smooth surface.
- Allows for a high degree of spin generation and speed.
- Suitable for a wide range of strokes, including looping, driving, and serving with spin.
- Short Pips (Short Pimples):
- The pips are shorter and denser than long pips.
- Provides a more consistent bounce and less spin-sensitive contact than inverted rubber.
- Facilitates hitting and blocking, especially against spin.
- Often used by players who prefer a fast attacking style close to the table.
- Long Pips (Long Pimples):
- The pips are longer and more spaced out than short pips.
- Can produce deceptive shots with varied spin, often reversing the spin coming from an opponent’s shot.
- Used primarily by defensive players for chopping and controlling the pace of the game.
- Can be difficult for opponents to predict, making it harder to play against.
- Medium Pips:
- These are a compromise between short and long pips, with a length and density that falls in between.
- Offer a balance of control and the ability to generate some spin while still being able to disrupt the opponent’s spin.
- Less common than short or long pips.
- Anti-Spin Rubber:
- While not a pips-out rubber, anti-spin has a very slick surface that is designed to negate spin.
- The ball tends to slide off the surface, producing a “dead” shot with very little spin.
- Useful for defensive players who want to confuse their opponents with unpredictable returns.
Each type of pip has its own unique characteristics and is suited for different styles of play. Short pips are generally better for aggressive, attacking play, while long pips are better for defensive play. Inverted pips are suitable for all-around play, while anti-spin pips are best for players who want to reduce the amount of spin generated by their opponents.
Characteristics of Long Pips
Long pips are a type of table tennis rubber that has longer and fewer pimples than short pips. They are known for their unique playing characteristics that make them a popular choice among defensive players.
The surface of long pips is smooth and slippery, unlike the rough and abrasive surface of short pips. This makes it harder for the opponent to generate spin and control the ball. The pimples on long pips are also thinner and more flexible, which allows them to bend and twist when they come into contact with the ball.
Effect on Spin
Long pips have a disruptive effect on spin, which can make it difficult for the opponent to predict the trajectory of the ball. When the ball hits the pimples on long pips, it can either spin in the opposite direction or come out with no spin at all. This unpredictability can be an advantage for players who rely on deception and variation in their shots.
However, it is important to note that long pips themselves do not generate spin but rely on the opponent’s spin. This is particularly important. This is why amateur players who use long pips do not like playing against beginners. Because the balls hit by beginners don’t have much spin, they are often difficult to handle, and the opponent can easily score by hitting flat with force.
That’s why I was initially very troubled by this issue and tried to use the inverted rubber side as much as possible to create some spin first.
Playing Style Adaptation
Using long pips requires a different playing style than using short pips or inverted rubber. Players who use long pips tend to play defensively and rely on counter-attacking and blocking rather than aggressive attacking. They also need to be able to read the opponent’s spin and adjust their shot accordingly. Long pips can be a challenging choice for beginners, but they can be a powerful weapon in the hands of an experienced player.
In summary, long pips have a smooth and slippery surface, a disruptive effect on spin, and require a specific playing style adaptation. These characteristics make them a popular choice among defensive players who rely on deception and variation in their shots.
Characteristics of Short Pips
Short pips are table tennis rubbers that have a flat surface with small pimples on them. These pimples are shorter than the ones found on long pips rubbers. Here are some characteristics of short pips:
Short pips rubbers have a smooth surface that does not grip the ball as much as long pips rubbers. This means that they are not as effective in generating spin as long pips rubbers. However, this also means that they are easier to control and can be used to block and counter-attack the opponent’s shots.
Short pips rubbers are not as effective in converting spin as long pips rubbers. They are best used for players who prefer a flatter ball trajectory and do not rely on spin to win points. However, with proper technique and practice, it is possible to generate some spin with short pips rubbers.
Short pips rubbers are best used for offensive strategies such as blocking, counter-attacking, and hitting. They are not as effective in chopping and defensive play as long pips rubbers. Short pips rubbers are also suitable for players who like to play close to the table and attack the ball early.
Overall, short pips rubbers are suitable for players who prefer a flatter ball trajectory, do not rely on spin to win points, and prefer an offensive style of play.
Long Pips Vs Short Pips—Comparative Analysis
When comparing long pips and short pips in table tennis, there are several key differences to consider. Here are some of the most important factors to keep in mind:
Spin Reversal Capabilities
One of the main differences between long pips and short pips is their ability to generate spin reversal. Long pips are generally better at producing spin reversal, which can make it difficult for opponents to predict the direction of the ball. Short pips, on the other hand, are not as effective at generating spin reversal, but they can still be useful for producing a flatter, faster shot.
Speed and Control
Another key difference between long pips and short pips is their speed and control. Long pips tend to be slower and more difficult to control, which can make them challenging for less experienced players. However, they can also be effective for players who prefer a more defensive style of play. Short pips, on the other hand, tend to be faster and more controllable, which can make them a good choice for offensive players who want to generate more speed and power.
Suitability for Different Play Styles
Finally, it’s important to consider how long pips and short pips are suited for different play styles. Long pips are generally better for players who prefer a more defensive style of play, as they can be effective for disrupting an opponent’s rhythm and forcing errors. Short pips, on the other hand, are better suited for players who prefer a more offensive style of play, as they can be effective for generating speed and power.
Choosing Between Long and Short Pips
Many of my friends, as they grow older and find themselves less agile, often come to me with a question: should they switch to using long pips or short pips to make playing table tennis less physically demanding?
Similarly, I receive inquiries from parents wondering whether their children should consider transitioning to long pips. Whenever I’m faced with these questions, I emphasize that the decision should be tailored to the individual, as each player has a unique style.
Therefore, today we will explore and summarize the types of players who might be well-suited for long pips or short pips.
Players who might choose long pips
1. Defensive players who specialize in a chopping style away from the table.
Choppers mostly equip a long pips rubber on their backhand, and I am no exception. The main reason is that chopping with inverted rubber sometimes isn’t as easy as with long pips. With some particularly spinny topspins, inverted rubber can often lead to errors. Moreover, the ball chopped with long pips is especially spinny, making it very difficult for the opponent to handle. During my training, most of my teammates find it exhausting to play against a chopper, especially reluctant to send the ball to the chopper’s backhand side.
2. Players who are not good at backhand attacking
Many players have a better forehand than backhand, which is something I actually envy because my forehand isn’t that great and lacks a bit in consistency. For those players who use inverted rubber on their backhand, if they don’t have an advantage in regular rallies, or even often lose points due to backhand errors, then it might be time to consider equipping long pips on the backhand. The main purpose is to vary the rhythm and create opportunities, allowing them to use their forehand to attack and score points.
3. Players who enjoy a slower-paced game that focuses on ball placement and spin variation.
As some players age, they may find themselves struggling with the fast-paced, back-and-forth rallies of forehand and backhand strokes. In such cases, they might consider using long pips. These players excel in strategic play, utilizing their rubber to absorb and neutralize their opponent’s spin, and they are adept at returning the ball with various spins and trajectories.
The aim is to disrupt the opponent’s rhythm, forcing them to play at a slower pace and cope with the unpredictable spin and bounce of the ball. It is for this reason that in the streets and parks of China, we can commonly see elderly men and women playing table tennis with long pips on their rackets.
Players who might choose short pips
1. Offensive players who like to stay close to the table and attack.
Short pips are ideal for players who like to stay close to the table and take the ball early. This rubber type facilitates quick exchanges and can help in executing fast attacks right off the bounce, which can be more challenging with the dwell time associated with inverted rubber.
Therefore, we can observe that the Japanese table tennis player Mima Ito rarely moves far from the table, and she typically strikes the ball during its rising phase. This style of play indeed makes it difficult for many players to adapt to.
2. Players who prefer a fast-paced game with quick exchanges
As mentioned earlier, short pips are a popular choice for players who prefer speed over spin. The rubber’s design allows for quick, flat hitting and can help in neutralizing spin, which is perfect for fast exchanges.
Therefore, for some players, if they do not like to generate spin but rather aim to overpower their opponent with speed, then short pips are undoubtedly the best choice. Especially when the ball lands in the near-net area, the striking speed with short pips is extremely fast.
If the angle is right, it leaves no time for the opponent to react. Additionally, the ball hit with short pips naturally dips, which greatly increases the probability of scoring.
3. Players who are not good at topspin
In practical teaching cases, we indeed find that some students are not particularly adept at topspin. This is especially true for some female athletes who, due to limited strength, find backhand topspin quite challenging. Of course, there are also male players whose forehand topspin is not very effective.
In such situations, to maximize the concealment of these weaknesses, we often recommend the use of short pips, which allows players to compensate for technical deficiencies quite effectively with the simplest flat hit.