How to get good against long pimples

A lot of players struggle against long pimples. It’s a common issue, especially at lower levels. When I first started playing, I was completely confused in my first matches against long pimples players. I didn’t know what the heck was going on!

But in quite a small period of time, I was able to make rapid improvements and start beating the players I was losing to. So in this blog post, I’m going to share three simple steps you should follow to get good against long pimples players.

Step 1 – Understand how long pimples work

The first thing I did when I played (and lost) against a long pimples player was to try and understand the effect long pimples were having on the ball. If you don’t understand what is happening, you don’t have much chance in playing the right stroke.

Even though long pimples are different to inverted rubbers, they still behave in a predictable way.

As a general guide…

  • If you play a heavy topspin attack and the long pimples player chops, you get a heavy backspin return
  • If you play a light topspin attack and the long pimples player chops, you get a medium/light backspin return
  • If you play a topspin attack and the long pimples player blocks, you get a float return
  • If you do a medium backspin push and the long pimples player pushes, you get a float return
  • If you do a heavy backspin push and the long pimples player pushes, you get a float/ light topspin return

So it’s all back to front and confusing. It’s often the opposite to what you expect. But it is predictable.

If you want a more in-depth guide to how long pimples work, I recommend reading this article ‘How long pips really work‘, which has some animations to show what is happening to the ball. It’s over 10 years old, but still relevant to today.

Step 2 – Develop some tactics

When you have an understanding of what effect the long pimples are having on the ball, you need to work out what you’re going to do about it.

This means, you need to change your style of play. There’s no point playing the same way against a long pimples player as you would against a player with inverted rubbers. The ball is reacting to the long pimples differently, so you HAVE to play differently.

Whenever I coach a player who struggles against long pimples, I always start with push, topspin, push, topspin.

Here’s the logic…

  • If you attack with heavy topspin and the long pimples player chops, the ball will come back to you with heavy backspin
  • Push the next ball – this is much easier than trying to topspin heavy backspin
  • The long pimples player will then push (most probably)
  • The ball will now come back to you as float
  • DON’T PUSH – as the ball will pop up high
  • Instead, you should attack the float ball with topspin (more forwards than up)
  • The long pimples player chops and the ball comes back with heavy backspin
  • You push
  • He pushes
  • You topspin
  • He chops
  • You push
  • He pushes
  • You topspin
  • Etc
  • Etc
  • Etc

Why I like starting with this tactic as it gives the player I’m coaching a very good understanding of what effect the long pimples are having on the ball.

It does take discipline to use this approach of topspin, push, topspin, push. Some players I coach still like to blast away at every ball even when I tell them not to (and make lots of mistakes). I shall say it again – long pimples makes the ball behave differently, so you need to play differently too.

There are many other tactics to try. I mention a few more in this blog post ‘Tactics to beat a long pimples player’.

Step 3 – Practise with long pimples players

The final step seems so obvious, but I’m always amazed how few players actually do it.

When you understand what effect long pimples have on the ball, and you have some tactics to try, then you need to practice playing against long pimples players. Lots and lots and lots. Not once or twice. You need to practice with them until you are confident you know what’s going on and what tactics work.

I think some players avoid practising with long pimples players, as they don’t feel they have a good practice session. It can be a bit messy, disjointed and frustrating. But there is no alternative.

Seek out the long pimples players. Try out your tactics. Observe and understand the effect the long pimples have on the ball. Experiment with different things. Embrace the challenge.

Long pimples are predictable. When you have worked them out, it becomes so much easier. You’ll start to enjoy the experience.

So no excuses from now on. Long pimples are not the devil’s work. They are not unfair. They are just different. Understand what’s going on. Develop some tactics. Practice lots and lots. AND THEN DESTROY! Hahahahahaha!

Good luck!

Get more table tennis tips

Sign up for my popular table tennis newsletter and I’ll send you table tennis tips, tactics and training drills to help you improve and win more points.

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.

Leave a Reply