There is a myth continually floating around table tennis circles that says, “Anyone who begins using long pips or anti can go up 200 points overnight.” I have heard this saying at many table tennis clubs over the last 15-20 years. This statement might be true under two conditions:
1. It might be true if you are playing against a player who thinks that you have normal sticky inverted rubber and doesn’t realize that you have unconventional rubber.
2. It might be true if you are playing against a player who doesn’t know how to play against unconventional rubber.
However, many players over 1200 have a basic understanding of how these strange rubbers work. And, many players over 2000 have completely mastered how to play against these strange rubbers. So, yes, if you are stuck at 400 and are dreaming of someday breaking the 600 mark, then yes, changing to long pips or anti might be your ticket! However, you must realize that the top US players who are affectively using these types of rubbers are doing so for a SPECIFIC PURPOSE. Let’s examine a few top US players: Dan Seemiller, David Zhuang, Angela Guan, and John Wetzler.
Dan Seemiller uses it to take the attack away from the opponent when he is in a defensive position.
He uses a unique grip that allows him to play inverted on both forehand and backhand. When he in blocking, he sometimes flips his racket and uses his anti side. Why does he use the anti? When he is on defense and a strong looper is attacking, he will flip to the anti side of his racket and give a very dead chop block, typically very short to the backhand. Most opponents will push this ball long and give him the attack. As you can see, there is a plan and a purpose to when and why he uses the anti.
David Zhuang uses it to change the pace.
He uses his short pips to change the pace during the rally. He might start off with a fast flip to your wide forehand followed by a slow block to your middle followed by a deep smash to your backhand. The short pips allows him to play very fast and flat then suddenly give a very dead sidespin or chop block to an awkward location. As you can see, there is a plan and a purpose to why he is using the short pips to maximize the change of pace.
Angela Guan uses it to keep her chop low.
She uses her long pips to keep the ball very low. When chopping light topspin balls, using inverted is not a problem. When you loop very spinny to her forehand, it is sometimes difficult to chop so she might fish or counterloop. When you loop very spinny to her backhand, it is difficult to counterloop. This is the exact reason why the long pips sheet of rubber is necessary for her. The spin doesn’t bite into the rubber as much and allows her to maintain lower chops. As you can see, there is a plan and purpose to why she is using the long pips.
John Wetzler uses it to setup his loop.
He uses his long pips to reverse the spin. Once you loop with tremendous topspin, he will block your shot with long pips. After more looping, the backspin becomes very heavy and you will likely be forced to push. Once you push, he steps around and punishes you with his 90 mph forehand. As you can see, there is a plan and purpose to when and why he uses his long pips.
There are very good reasons why these particular players are using short pips, long pips, or anti rubbers. These players have strategically structured theirs games around these variations which become enhanced with this particular type of equipment.
So the final question is…
Should YOU be using pips or anti?
Please, please, please… if you are a solid tournament player, don’t be so silly as to think that you can immediately put on a sheet of anti and boost your level at a major tournament this weekend! Please don’t do that! Here is what you should do…
Set some short term, mid term, and long term goals for yourself. Then consult a coach to decide what style you should be playing and what changes are reasonable to make during the next 2-3 years. Then finally, after you have set goals and determined your style, next figure out what equipment you should use and how your equipment can maximize your game. As your coach better understands your goals and your desired playing style, he will then be able to give you some concrete advice for the exact equipment that is best for you!
Should you use junk rubber?