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Sponge Thickness vs Playstyle?

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icontek View Drop Down
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    Posted: 06/06/2010 at 2:44pm
To my surprise, I've recently noticed a few higher level players (US1800-2000 or so) using 1.5-1.9mm thickness rubbers - predominantly on BH and was wondering something...

These players using thinner sponges usually use the BH for push, block, counter, smash, chop and fish/lob.

The common thread through all of these players is that none of them frequently loop with backhand (well, one does, but only as a brush loop against push).

So I'm wondering, do thicknesses of 2.1 to Max thickness really only benefit the power and spin of the loop stroke (while making compromises on the control of other strokes)?

While I'm at it, WTF is paddle palace doing recommending 2.0mm sponges to basement players?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nicefrog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/06/2010 at 2:58pm
You only need the thickness of sponge that you need :), once you go over 1.8mm there's a huge trade off in consistency for very little gain in spin. But it also depends on how hard you are hitting the ball and if you prefer to hit with mostly sponge or mostly blade. As a general rule use 1.8 until the only shots you miss are the ones that you hit hard :) then go up a sponge.

When I started playing my Father told me I had to use 1.5mm for.... a few years and that 2mm rubbers were only for really realllllly good players (like pros) back then almost everyone used 1.5mm and a few people used 1.8 on FH for the most part the average players were at a higher standard then than they are now, who's to know why but that maybe part of the reason.

In the end the game is all about winning the most points you can and a large part of that comes from not making mistake, so if you can gain 4 points by not making a mistake versus 2 points from having more spin, then you have to go with the first option and go with a thinner sponge.

Brush loop from in front of you body on the BH barely ever contacts the blade, it's a very fine shot that for all intent is sponge only so you don't need a thick sponge for that shot at all, even 1.5 mm is fine
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote popperlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/07/2010 at 3:37am
+1 frog, I'm actually thinking about downgrading to 1.7-1.9. also it depends if you like to loop at super long range or caress the table. it's much easier to loop with thin euro sponge close to table than thick euro. the tacky chinese stuff unboosted are mostly slow, so max sponge is probably better for looping.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote icontek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/07/2010 at 9:36am
I had this "epiphany" of sorts when I realized how much better my plain old Mendo (which is basically a tweaked version of Mark V) performed at mid distance for topspin attacks and looping than it did over the table. Once I took a step back from the table, I was able to generate the sort of stroke that works well with the medium sponge.

I was taught a fairly big BH topspin stroke by a US2300 coach, and it works great when I am in position (far enough off the table) to use it. It applies solid pressure to my opponent, is consistent and has good pace and spin. However, it does not work at the table (can't recover fast enough, is too hard to time for consistency, etc). 

When I try the smaller BH "frisbee stroke" that 1700 and 1900 players use to topspin off the bounce, the medium sponge feels too thick and too hard to control. Amusingly enough, 729 Super FX-EL in 1.5 works consistently for the frisbee stroke at the table (soft sponge, thin, etc.)

I see now why the trend is for "softer" sponge on BH, but also wanted to add that thinner seems like an appropriate choice as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fruit loop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/07/2010 at 9:53am
I've actually been considering changing my 2.1 t64 to 1.9 thickness before I read this thread. I usually loop 50% of balls so the 2.1 is really nice. The only issue i'm worried about is the 1.9 tenergy feeling not like tenergy =x
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ohhgourami Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/07/2010 at 12:05pm
Originally posted by icontek icontek wrote:

I had this "epiphany" of sorts when I realized how much better my plain old Mendo (which is basically a tweaked version of Mark V) performed at mid distance for topspin attacks and looping than it did over the table. Once I took a step back from the table, I was able to generate the sort of stroke that works well with the medium sponge.

I was taught a fairly big BH topspin stroke by a US2300 coach, and it works great when I am in position (far enough off the table) to use it. It applies solid pressure to my opponent, is consistent and has good pace and spin. However, it does not work at the table (can't recover fast enough, is too hard to time for consistency, etc). 

When I try the smaller BH "frisbee stroke" that 1700 and 1900 players use to topspin off the bounce, the medium sponge feels too thick and too hard to control. Amusingly enough, 729 Super FX-EL in 1.5 works consistently for the frisbee stroke at the table (soft sponge, thin, etc.)

I see now why the trend is for "softer" sponge on BH, but also wanted to add that thinner seems like an appropriate choice as well.

hehe this sounds very similar to my situation with Joola Energy when I was still using it.  Very easy to loop big from mid to far table but hard to do it over and close.  There is actually a way to hit with this but it takes a lot of mastery and confidence and that is to hit.  Almost as if you were smacking off the spin, kinda like using sp.  Try it if you want and see if it works for you.  It's a long time to switch to this style if you have looping or the frisbee stroke in your muscle memory though.

I also noticed the 729 rubber is easy to do that stroke with.

I am still a strong believer for buying max thickness sponges though.  If you want a slower rubber, buy a slower rubber, not a thinner one.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fruit loop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/07/2010 at 12:13pm
Originally posted by ohhgourami ohhgourami wrote:



I am still a strong believer for buying max thickness sponges though.  If you want a slower rubber, buy a slower rubber, not a thinner one.


I generally agree, but i don't know what rubber is slower yet has that similar tenergy 64 feeling.
And I don't really want a slower rubber, i want a rubber that will hit into the blade faster yet still feel similar to what i use for looping.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ohhgourami Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/07/2010 at 12:22pm
TBH, i don't really believe in a perfect setup.  I think every blade and rubber has its flaws.  The best you can do is get it as perfect as possible and make it close to perfect by bettering yourself to fit that equipment.

In a sense, the equipment itself is perfect except we aren't.

It's just another flowery way of telling you, I can't think of a rubber that will play like that Fruit loop LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pnachtwey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/08/2010 at 5:13am
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So I'm wondering, do thicknesses of 2.1 to Max thickness really only benefit the power and spin of the loop stroke (while making compromises on the control of other strokes)?

If during normal play the rubber doesn't 'bottom out' then there isn't that much benefit to the extra thickness.   However, I wonder how often the rubber bottoms out or how the paddle must be traveling relative to the ball before the rubber bottoms out.  If would be interesting to get a high speed camera to answer some questions like this.

I have seen hard bats and sponge that will absorb the about the same amount of energy.  The sponge will return more of it though.  The sponge must spring quickly to stay in contact with the ball to return much energy and have relatively larger dwell times.

So here is a question to you.  Do you think dwell time adds or subtracts from the ability to control the ball?   Hard bats have relatively little dwell time as the pimple don't have much give but that also means there is little time to really control the ball.  Think about it.  You are only really controlling the ball when you are in contact with it.  That is when the 'feel' or feed back is important.  The rest is all open loop muscle memory.    

I think what you are complaining about is not the thickness of the rubber but how bouncy it is.  T05 2.1 mm and I bet T05 1.7mm 1.9mm is much more difficult to 'control' than a starter paddle's 2.0 mm rubber because it is bouncier.

Look in the "pictures of your paddle thread".  You can see one of my old ( 1971 ) paddles had about 2.0 or 2.1mm rubber but it is SOFT-D13 and definitely a beginners paddle by today's standards and it was very controllable.

When I started playing again I visited the Paddle Palace on a Saturday when Les was there.  I ended up with a pre-made Stiga Metalla.  It has 2.0 mm rubber but not much bounce.  I liked it because it was light and good for close to the table play and very forgiving.  

Quote
While I'm at it, WTF is paddle palace doing recommending 2.0mm sponges to basement players?

I think your hang up on 2.0mm sponges is misplaced.  You wouldn't want to sell a rookie 1.7 or 1.9 mm T05 just because it is thinner.

Call or visit the Paddle Palace Saturday and talk to Les.   He will ask questions and suggest a best paddle for rookies.   If you walk in you can see there is a box of starter paddles to hold,swing, rub balls on and squeeze.  I was at the Paddle Palace Memorial Day weekend getting some balls and my paddle repaired.  A beginner walked in the door and left with one of those starter paddles.  Yep, it probably had 2.0 mm rubber like almost all starter paddles do.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote icontek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/08/2010 at 10:34am
I'm sorry that I wasn't clear, pnachtwey is exactly right that 1.7 in some rubber has less control than 2.0 of others.

There are two factors at play: dwell and catapult.

An adequate amount of dwell (and this is subjective) allows good control. It should suit the players stroke and technique and allow him or her the right amount of contact to produce the angle/spin/trajectory/power intended. But too much much catapult provides erratic shots and plenty of WTF moments.

Generally, premade rubber has a very slow almost energy absorbing sponge (not unlike anti sponges). As a result it has very little catapult and offers high control (because it is less affected by incoming spin, and dissapates the power generated by your opponent.

But my line of thinking about thicknesses actually started with a baseline of "classic rubbers" (mark v, sriver L, mendo, rapid, JO, etc). These linear feeling rubbers were designed before speedglue and were available at different thicknesses to perform at different "distances" from the table along with different styles (thicker = further away attacks). These rubbers all generate their power from topsheet/sponge interaction, and while they are not elastic when compared to modern speed glue effect rubbers, they possess much more catapult than premade rubber.

I believe (and I could be wrong) that the same design principle of thinner sponges for certain styles and distances applies to Butterfly's High Tension line and to a lesser extent, ESN's Tensors. But due to feel differences and more catapult, going thinner on a non-linear rubber does not give you as much absolute control for close to the table play. In other words, pushing with a 2.0mm Classic rubber is probably more forgiving than pushing with a 1.8mm Tensor.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bbgobie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/08/2010 at 11:24am
2.0 with a soft sponge like Donic F1 was perfect for me 12 years ago with the 38mm ball. Now that the ball is a little heavier the rubber bottoms out a little too much for me. I've gone with max. I think it depends on your level and style, and of course the rubber. If I was using a harder sponge/rubber combo like a Mark V, I'm sure I'd still probably be on 2.0.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nicefrog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/08/2010 at 6:17pm
Yep, that's when I moved from 1.5mm to 1.8. The ball made about that much difference. Then I soon after went to 2.0-2.1 then max. But I think for these guys that are lower rated and not hitting so hard, 1.8 is a good thickness for the 40mm. Maybe 2.0 but on the FH only
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote roundrobin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/08/2010 at 6:29pm
Originally posted by icontek icontek wrote:

To my surprise, I've recently noticed a few higher level players (US1800-2000 or so) using 1.5-1.9mm thickness rubbers - predominantly on BH and was wondering something...

These players using thinner sponges usually use the BH for push, block, counter, smash, chop and fish/lob.

The common thread through all of these players is that none of them frequently loop with backhand (well, one does, but only as a brush loop against push).

So I'm wondering, do thicknesses of 2.1 to Max thickness really only benefit the power and spin of the loop stroke (while making compromises on the control of other strokes)?

While I'm at it, WTF is paddle palace doing recommending 2.0mm sponges to basement players?


You are correct, max sponge thickness is desirable for strong attacks, but not very good for touch shots like service returns, pushes and blocks.  The reason is simply because the faster the rubber, the less dwell time you'll have to execute delicate strokes.  Unless you have world-class hand control, you simply can't delicately push a loaded sidespin serve back with pin-point accuracy or block a strong topspin drive with a max. sponge rubber as well as with thinner rubbers... Also you will find that the higher level you play, the higher % of your strokes will be allocated to control your opponent's attacks, so a thinner backhand rubber is much better for this purpose.  No matter what many beginners and intermediate players believe, it's actually very hard to execute bh winners at higher levels, so one should concentrate to develop steady bh techniques such as pushing and blocking, and fh looping to score points offensively.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AllezCho Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/09/2010 at 9:55pm
Playing with thinner sponge makes it feel like you are hitting the blade more. There is less catapult effect from the sponge and thus you have more control. The topsheet spin is the same, so poor knowledge of service return will still be a problem, although pushes are easier to control and blocks are easier. Of course loops will be harder to perform and require better technique to make the most of the rubber since the sponge doesn't do all the work for you.

Thicker sponge thus requires advanced fundamentals to be able to handle the extra power and "spring" of the rubber. Usually pros don't even use MAX sponges since they can generate their own power without the need of a very very powerful rubber. With more advanced players, the equipment crutch lies within the touch shots, so pros settle with medium thickness sponges.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ZingyDNA Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/09/2010 at 10:20pm
I think the top sheet thickness also plays a major role. Some rubbers feel significantly thinner than others with the same sponge thickness. For loopers I think 1.8 mm sponge is the minimum or the loops become too hard to perform...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pnachtwey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/09/2010 at 11:36pm
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You are correct, max sponge thickness is desirable for strong attacks,
Is it just because the rubber/sponge doesn't bottom out or deform the ball as much?
 
Quote
 but not very good for touch shots like service returns, pushes and blocks.
Why not?   It would be interesting to compare a Sriver 1.7mm with a Sriver Max.   The rubber surface is the same and neither rubber would compress much at soft touch shots or serves or returns.  The 'speed' is the same as there aren't different ratings for 1.7mm and max thickness Sriver.  Blocking a hard shot may bottom out a 1.7mm rubber/sponge but not a max rubber/sponge.
 
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 The reason is simply because the faster the rubber, the less dwell time you'll have to execute delicate strokes.
Is faster being confused with thicker here?
 
Why would 'faster' rubber have less dwell time?  I would think it would have more dwell time because it takes time to accelerate the ball to higher speeds.   Either that or it takes high forces/ accelerations for a short time that will deform the ball.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ZingyDNA Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/10/2010 at 12:03am
Originally posted by pnachtwey pnachtwey wrote:

The 'speed' is the same as there aren't different ratings for 1.7mm and max thickness Sriver. 
 


Hit with a rubber with 1.7mm and max sponge and see if they have the same speed.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Leshxa Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/10/2010 at 2:06am
Some food for thought. With bigger ball - players try to play faster, which is accomplished with faster equipment ( a lot more carbon blades now than it was before 40mm ball and glue ban ) and also the fact that most professional players try to play closer to the table. They back off when they are forced as part of defense, not as part of strategy.

Thinner sponges have the ability to retain speed, but improve close distance control. Look at the women games. They use thinner sponges on purpose - lighten up equipment for faster transition at the table, and to strengthen counter strokes. They don't have the same amount of spin in their shots thought.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote saif Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/10/2010 at 4:58am
Originally posted by ZingyDNA ZingyDNA wrote:

Originally posted by pnachtwey pnachtwey wrote:

The 'speed' is the same as there aren't different ratings for 1.7mm and max thickness Sriver. 
 


Hit with a rubber with 1.7mm and max sponge and see if they have the same speed.

I must say, Sriver in max sponge is surprisingly fast.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ranger-man Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/10/2010 at 10:22am
I might be wrong but I believe that if a sponge is not too soft, but is firmer like Tenergy then it won't bottom out even in 1.9mm. Unless the other guy has hit a rocket and you blast away in return. But I still feel that unless both guys are madly flat hitting back and forth, it will not bottom out. I personally think, that the sponge thickness is a much more pronounced issue in really soft sponges where catapult and bottoming out can be issues.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nicefrog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/10/2010 at 12:03pm
From what I can remember the old soft basswood blades we used with 1.5mm Mark V didn't have that bottoming out sensation you get these days with the harder blades. But then again the old ball was a lot more gentle on everything and the game was more eloquent, it wasn't so sharp and nasty with the bash bash kill the point like it is now. So I don't know how that old equipment would play now, I do have my fathers old blade that's 40 years old, I could get some 1.5 mark V and see how it goes for a test run and see if I could break out some old school loops with the 72 38mm balls I just bought:P but I'd be paranoid I'd snap the blade like I did with the matching one I had :S, mid loop in a intercity comp back in the mid 80s :P it was, disaster
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ohhgourami Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06/10/2010 at 12:11pm
ooo where did you get these balls from?!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HowToPlayChineseLoop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11/02/2014 at 6:41pm
do you have any info about the sponge thickness of pro's equipment?
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