The danger of meddling with your equipment too often

The danger of meddling with your equipment too often

One of the challenges every table tennis player faces is choosing which rubbers and blade to use.

And it is a tough challenge.

There are over 75 brands (according to the list on the RevSpin website) who sell table tennis rubbers. Each of these brands will have numerous different types of rubbers. Then you have all the different blades. When you multiple all of the possible rubber and blade combinations, the total is unfathomably. One researcher worked out there are over 262 million possible combinations!

And each year, new rubbers and blades are produced which claim to be faster, spinner and have more control than anything which has ever gone before. With this much choice it is understandable why many table tennis players continually meddle with their equipment.

It’s the belief that there could be the perfect rubber or blade combination available, which will transform a player’s game from good to great. But actually, too much time spent worrying and meddling with your equipment can really mess up your game.

My recent meddling experiment

I’m certainly not immune from this. I have been playing with the same blade (Timo Boll Spirit) and rubber (Tenergy 05, Rakza 7) combination for the past couple of years. But a few weeks ago, I got an itch. I wanted to try something new, something different. Maybe there was something out there which would improve my game, without me doing hard work. I simply buy a better rubber or blade and all of a sudden all those shots I had been missing, will go on the table.

So I convinced myself I needed a new blade.

I did some research on the RevSpin website. I read lots of reviews. I even tried out the blade I wanted to buy, as a player I coach had the blade. I liked it. I placed an order. A week later it arrived: my new Nittaku Acoustic all-wood table tennis blade.

This blade was going to solve all my problems. A fast blade with good control. And check out this marketing blurb too…

“The gluing technology employed was originally used in the production of string instruments. Nittaku were successful in applying this particular wood technology in the manufacture table tennis blades. This method retains the wood’s natural elasticity giving the player a feeling that the blade is an extension of their hand.”

I was excited. “Natural elasticity”, “wood technology”, “extension of their hand”.

Yes, I’m a sucker for some good marketing blurb.

At first the blade was great. But all I was doing was hitting backhand and forehand topspins. When I came to use it in a match situation, I soon realised that this blade was way too fast for me. I really struggled to control the ball. Balls were popping up, flying off the end of the table. During matches I was completely distracted by how my blade was performing and so played pretty badly.

This left with a dilemma. I had just spent £135 on a blade. I could:

  1. Persevere with it and adjust my technique
  2. Find alternative rubbers which work better with the blade
  3. Go back to my old blade

It didn’t take me long to make my decision. I didn’t want to change my technique, just because I had a new blade. I didn’t want to spend time researching rubbers which would compliment my new blade. I decided not to waste any more time or money meddling with my bat. So I just went back to my old blade.

The thing is, I didn’t need a new blade. I just got tempted by this idea there could be an even better rubber / blade combination for me. Something which will make me play a lot better without having to put any hard training in. But I just ended up disappointed and £135 less in my bank account.

Loss of focus

During this period of meddling with my equipment, I made no improvement at all. If anything I got worse and lost some confidence in my game. I was so preoccupied with what the blade / rubbers were doing, I lost sight of what really matters: footwork, technique, tactics and training in the right way.

So I went back to my Timo Boll Spirit blade. And there was something quite liberating about this. I like the blade. I’m familiar with the blade. I know how to use the blade.

Sure, there may be something out there which is even more suited to my game. But with the amount of choice available, it could take me years of testing to find it. And I’m pretty sure, I’d make no improvement at all when testing out so many different blade and rubber combinations.

I am happy to restrict my choice. I don’t want to meddle with my equipment. I like what I have and I’m sticking with it. I will be ignoring the marketing efforts of all the big table tennis brands. To improve, I have to train better, not get new equipment.


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About Tom Lodziak

I’m a table tennis coach based in Cambridge in the UK. As well as coaching I also write table tennis articles and make table tennis videos. Read more about me.

7 thoughts on “The danger of meddling with your equipment too often

  1. Hello Tom;
    Nice writing as usual 🙂

    So how we choose best equipment for us then stick with it ?
    it’s very tempting to just try every expensive combo then forget about training 🙂

    • Yes, you do need a bit of experimenting to begin with. I think it’s often best to try other player’s bats first and see what you like. Then stick with it and good period of time so you can really grow your game with the bat.

  2. Hello!

    Thank you for the article. I would have thought that the Acoustic would be slower than the TBS, since the Acoustic is a 5-ply blade and the TBS is a carbon blade. Do you think that the throw was too high? Did you use the same rubbers that you normally use??

    Thanks!

    • I thought the same as you! But the Acoustic blade seemed a lot faster. I was using the same rubbers, so only difference was the blade. Oh well! It made me appreicate my Timo Boll Spirit blade a lot more.

  3. Timo Boll All Around with Gambler Mek-Tek 1.7 on FH n BH.

    I am hitting the ball harder, faster, more spin n control n thus playing with more confidence. It’s not fast, which is forcing me to focus on position n technique.

    I’m not sure what to look for as signs I can upgrade my setup. It would seem to me that changing blade n rubber at same time is potentially hazardous.

    I’m pretty sure I want to stay with a wood blade bc I have better “feeling” vs a composite blade. The option to add speed and spin due to the blade is to get a 7ply vs 5ply or focus on different wood combinations in a 5ply. I’ve read that many top players use the same blade for many years.

    The rubber I’m currently using there is plenty of room to grow, it’s offered in 1.9 n 2.mm. Plus it’s only $14 a sheet. 80% technique, tactics and 20% equipment.

    I haven’t been playing long (2 years) I cannot think of a match I loss bc of my setup.

    Lastly a player used to come play in Jacksonville who is excellent. He would only play a match with you if you could beat him in a game while he used a Dr. Seuss book for his bat. What does that tell us about the importance of control?

    • Ha! Love the story about the Dr Suess book. Just goes to show how much the importance of equipment is exaggerated. It sounds as though you have a good approach. Keep the same blade and gradually increase the thickness of rubbers if you feel you need a bit more speed / spin.

  4. Thanks Tom. I tried a friend’s 7-ply wood blade and enjoyed it so I purchased one of my own. I probably could have made it work, the changes I saw were slight but noticeable. The most noticeable was players I was beginning to dominate, I was back to 50/50 winning %. (Record keeping can be helpful).

    I decided to go back to my original and go with a thicker sponge as you suggested. The difference in blade rating was from ALL to OFF and though I think the OFF blade improved my loop it hurt other strokes and eroded confidence.

    An example was the depth of my shots changed, they were closer to the end line unintentionally, unfortunately. I’m glad I was able to recognize what was going on and to make the change back. It was good advice you gave. Thank you.

    AK

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