Playing against Anti-Spin (Part 1)
How to defeat your defensive opponents
Sunday, October 23, 2005
by Greg Letts - an Australian state coach, an International Umpire and one of the top ranked players in his country.
Ban Junk Rubbers!
Anti-spin and long pimples, yuk! They should be banned! Everyone should have to use normal rubbers!
Sound familiar? I think we all have heard a fellow table tennis player say this at one time or another. Suffice to say that anti-spin and long pimples don't look like disappearing soon, and although there may not be many players in the World's Top 100 Men using anti-spin or long pimples, I'm willing to bet that you, dear reader, are not in such elite company either or else you probably wouldn't be interested in hearing my views on how to play against these 'funny' or 'junk' rubbers. I'll start with anti-spin because it's a bit simpler to play against than long pimples.
So take a deep breath, gird up your loins and read on...
What is Anti-spin Rubber?
In general, anti-spin rubber is a smooth sandwich rubber with little or no grip on the surface of the rubber. You can hold a table tennis ball in your fingers and rub (not roll) the ball along the surface, and the ball will simply slide along the surface with very little friction when compared to a 'normal' smooth rubber. Different anti-spin rubbers have varying amount of grip, which is why not every anti-spin plays exactly the same, but they will all have much less grip than a normal rubber.
Why do People use Anti-spin Rubber?
Anti-spin is used by players of a variety of styles, but overall there are three main reasons why anti-spin is used:
How does anti-spin work in theory?
There are several factors involved in how a particular anti-spin rubber works. Each anti-spin rubber uses these factors differently, which is why no two anti-spin rubbers play exactly the same way. The factors involved are listed below. Please keep in mind that this is my theory about anti-spin, so I'm not claiming to be the last word on the subject.
(1) Amount of grip of the topsheet.
(2) Softness of the topsheet
(3) Thickness and hardness of the sponge
(4) Speed of the rubber
(5) Speed Glue
(6) The type of stroke used
(7) Speed and bounce of the return (as pointed out by heavyspin)
All of these factors will affect the amount that your opponent can change your spin. Bear in mind that if you spin the ball and your opponent does not change your spin, the ball will keep spinning in the same way but it's overall motion will be in the other direction, so if you hit a topspin it will come back to you as backspin, and if you hit a backspin it will come back to you as topspin. This is true regardless of what rubber your opponent is using, it is just easier to do with anti-spin. (Think of a chopper chopping a loop, for example. The spin on the ball is always in the same direction, but it is coming to the chopper as topspin, and to the looper as backspin.)
How does anti-spin work in Practice?
To explain how anti-spin works in reality, it is probably easiest to compare it to how normal rubber works. Imagine this scenario: You and your opponent are both using normal rubbers such as Sriver. You topspin loop the ball to your opponent, and he plays his stroke by moving his bat from near his knee to above his head, in a fairly typical topspin action. What type of speed and spin will be on the ball that is coming towards you?
Answer: The type of spin can vary all the way from a slow heavy topspin if your opponent has spun the ball without much forward motion, to a medium-fast loop with medium spin if he has spun the ball and hit through the ball about equally, to a very fast loop or drive with not very much spin if he has hit through the ball without spinning it much.
In this day and age of smooth grippy rubbers, most intermediate and advanced players will know what is happening instinctively when they are playing, and adjust accordingly. This type of topspin rally is what the many hours of training has prepared you for. It is an entirely predictable scenario - if you watch your opponent's stroke closely enough, you will know what spin and speed is on the ball coming towards you.
Now imagine that your opponent is playing with an anti-spin rubber. Once again, you topspin loop the ball to his forehand, and he uses the anti-spin side to play a stroke from his knee to his head, in a fairly typical topspin action. What type of speed and spin will be on the ball that is coming towards you?
Answer: The ball will be anywhere from a heavy backspin ball to a float ball, depending on the type of anti-spin used and the type of contact made by your opponent. It will not be a topspin ball. Read on for the reasons why.
Photo: Donic Anti A40
You may also read Greg's blog and purchase Australian TT videos from Greg's own website
How to play against blockers
Table Tennis: Getting a Grip
Building a Better Umpire
How to Scout your Opponent
Back to Base-ics
The Guide to Serving in Table Tennis
Wobbling the ball with Long Pimples
Playing with Long Pimples (Part 2)
Playing with Long Pimples (Part 1)