Having seen and analysed hundreds of videos of numerous defenders I thought it might be an idea to compare short pimples to long pimples (pips). Since there are no high level defenders left who play with both sides pimples in or antispin I will ignore those rubbers. I played myself both long and short pips for a while so I could add to the analysis also my own experience.
Advantages of short pips (Player videos to consult especially: Hou Yingchao and Yuto Muramatsu)
- When using on the backhand in principal you can defend, block or smash the ball
- You can put heavy backspin on the ball in defence and also in pushing the ball
- you can push the ball with a lot of backspin or nearly no backspin with almost the same gesture. So it can be very deceptive for the opponent to read the spin
- It’s the only rubber you can use in defending to produce heavy side spin defence balls à la Hou Yingchao offen putting the attacker into trouble since it is hard to guess whether there is more back or side spin on the ball
Disadvantages of short pips:
- With short pips you have to take the ball lower and further off the table than with long pips. Otherwise the ball goes too long missing the table. This means you have to be very fast on you legs when confronted with fast topspins down the backhand. When too slow or too close to the table the ball will go up too high or will be far too long.
- Blocking is generally possible but you have to use the right angle: When you close the bat too much, the ball will simply “slip” over the rubber and not bounce off again. When you open it too much a loaded topsin will “float” too long and miss the table.
- Normally you cannot use short pips as a weapon on the forehand f.e. in order to “neutralise” a heavily loaded slow topspin down your forhand. Thus you are bound to take every ball onto your forehand with pimples in which makes you more predictable for your opponent and also more vulnerable to slow and spinny topspins.
Advantages of long pips (Player videos to consult especially: Masato Shiono, Wang Xi, Chen Weixing)
- normally the most consistent rubber for defending on the backhand when confronted with serious topspins
- if you use the right rubber you get more backspin back than you got topspin in. I don’t want to get into rubber brand discussions as there are too many and making judgements will always be too subjective. But players like Shiono, Weixing, Wang Xi get certainly more backspin on the ball when defending in comparison to Joo Se Hyuk
- with long pips you can heavily invert the spin when pushing producing unexpected bounced and also forcing the opponent to occasional errors if he doesn’t pay attention to which side of the rubber you are using. This applies of course only to players twiddling the bat.
- You can use the long pips on the forehand to chop back a slow and loaded topspin down your forehand. This is one of the most dangerous shots you can play as a defender. It’s only rarely used at the top level, f.e by Shiono
- You can use the long pimples to return tricky serves down your forehand. Returns will often invert side and backspin in an awkward way so the first topspin is not easy to play by the attacker
- You can also “press push” short pushes into your forhand back with a lot of pace in all directions. This stroke is a phantastic weapon not widely used by top players. Occasionally Chen Weixing makes use of it.
- You can “chop lift” or “slow spin” the ball with your backhand when confronted with frequent pushes down your backhand. This may be an option against weaker players since the ball bounces back in an awkward way and many players block the ball back into the net.
Disadvantages of long pips:
- Smashing and blocking with long pimples is possible but not very easy and you have to practice a lot to be able to do it. Also I worked out as a rule of thumb: Long pips that can create loads of backspin in defending are more difficult to attack with. The better attacking qualities long pips have the weaker the defence qualities!
- If the attacker plays “unspinny” topspins down your backhand you won’t be able to produce enough back spin yourself. Generally you are quite vulnerable to all sort of unspinny and “empty” balls with long pips.
- When forced to push back a push ball by the attacker you won’t be able to produce heavy backspin. On the contrary most long pips invert the spin, so that the attacker get a slow light “topspin” at best “empty” ball. Material and defender experienced players will “hammer” these long pips pushes all over the place. This being the most common reason why nearly no defenders makes it to the top 10 in the world ranking. As mentioned before this might not apply to female defenders. They have more potential.