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How to Choose Between Short, Medium, Long and Anti Rubbers

By Caril

Beginners and first-time users of these "junk" rubbers may have a hard time choosing which one is best for them unless they already have a clear idea of what they want in their game. I will not dwell too much on the technical aspects of these rubbers, but rather discuss the general characteristics and playing styles that they are fit for. Each of the rubbers have their own characteristics and even if two rubbers are both short-pimples, they will still have differences between them.

Why Choose a Short-pimpled Rubber?

Short-pimpled rubbers are the easiest to use when transitioning from grippy inverted rubbers. They have the characteristics of a grippy inverted rubber but with a reduced amount of spin. Short-pimpled rubbers can generate a good amount of spin relative to other pimpled rubbers. They can also neutralize spin by using a hitting or punching action. Short-pimpled rubbers are very versatile for both defensive and offensive players. For offensive players, the strength of short-pimples rubbers is hitting through heavy topspin. You will see players like Matthias Falck smash the opponent's topspin. Short-pips can also be used to chop defensively, which is what former Chinese National Team player Ding Song does. It is suggested that a regular non-chopper should use a 1.7 or 1.8mm rubber first, before moving up to max thickness. RITC 802-40 is a very popular choice among beginners and advanced players alike. Xiom Vega SPO is also a good choice for more advanced players.

How About Medium-pips?

Medium-pips rubbers (MP) are a cross between long and short-pimpled rubbers. It is the pimple's length that makes it different from long-pips and short-pips. Frankly, this is the hardest pimpled rubber to use since it needs a specialized type of gameplay. I would discourage people from using Medium-pips if this is their first time using a pimples-out rubber. Medium-pips rubbers, like short-pimpled rubbers, neutralize spin. The medium-pips produce a more dead or knuckleball effect that causes opponents to place many returns into the net unless the lack of spin is accounted for. When playing with medium-pips, you need to hit through the sponge and contact the ball at its peak unless you are just pushing the ball back. Most MP players are offensive players like Ai Fukuhara, but there are defensive, blocking players that use the MP to block incoming spin effectively or use the knuckleball effect to have the ball pop-up and set up their smash. An example of medium-pips rubber is the RITC 563 Tack Speed.

Long-pimpled Rubbers: Deception and Versatility

First of all, long-pimpled rubbers (LP) are not just for receiving hard serves! I have been telling people that they should not convert to LPs in order to compensate for their receiving weaknesses. Long-pimpled rubbers are very versatile and they can let you attack and defend, but each style should be specialized in order to maximize the LP's potential. Players who are new to LPs should start with easy-to-use LPs like RITC 837 and Butterfly Feint Long II. The 837 has a soft pimple structure which is ideal for chopping and blocking. The Feint Long II is a great rubber for players making the transition to long-pips because it can do a little of everything. The Yasaka Phantom 0012 Infinity is another popular long-pips rubber and the Xiom Vega LPO is a newer product on the market that has a thicker sponge and works great for blocking and attacking.

Depending on the style you want, you can choose from various types of long-pips and sponge thickness. If you want to mostly chop or block, the OX (no sponge) or .6mm versions are ideal. If you are an attacker, I would suggest getting the 1.0mm. LPs are versatile and confusing to play against for many beginners, and even advanced players if they misread the type of spin being returned by the long-pips player. This is due to the fact that long-pimpled rubbers can reverse the spin they are being given, neutralize the spin and give a knuckleball effect, or slow down an incoming ball and destroy the opponent's tempo. There are even instances in which a long-pips rubber has a random effect.

Anti-spin Rubbers: An Anomaly

Anti-spin rubbers gained popularity back when rubbers could be the same color on both sides. After the 2 color rule, their popularity decreased. Anti-spin can be a chopping rubber, but that is very rare. Most people use it as a blocking rubber. Anti-spin can kill spin instantly once it hits the ball whether it is topspin or underspin. It returns little or no spin at all. The purest form of the knuckleball effect is found with anti-spin rubbers. There are slippery anti-spin rubbers like Butterfly Super Anti or those with little grip like RITC 804. Each anti-spin rubber has slightly different characteristics. Yasaka Anti-Power and JOOLA Toni Hold Antitop are two other popular anti-spin products. Anti-spin rubbers can be used to chop if paired with a thinner sponge and they can even reverse incoming spin. However, chopping with anti-spin is not as effective as with a long-pips rubber, which offers considerably more versatility.

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