Almost Anti – Almost Useless….But Not Quite

If only….. If only it was possible. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to hit a ball that would act like a ball hit with anti-spin rubber, but not have all the problems of a frictionless rubber? If only you could maintain the same looping strokes you’ve practiced for years, but use the slickest no spin rubber on the market.

Sorry. It won’t work. It’s been tried. But wait! There seem to be some anti-spin rubbers that have a little grip. Could these be the answer? Without learning any new strokes, maybe, just maybe, your opponents will be so frustrated they’ll simply concede all matches to you and your magic rubber. There are some “almost anti” racket coverings on the market, but they are far from magical. At best, they have good control and can slow down the pace of the game. The general consensus is that they remind players of either really cheap recreational paddles, or really old inverted rubber that has lost most of it’s grip. That’s not to say that no one can use them well. It’s just that they won’t behave like slick antis, and they won’t produce much spin or speed. The almost anti rubber really doesn’t do anything particularly well. They don’t play well against steady loopers or flat hitters. They aren’t ideal for chopping, serving, or attacking. They could work for passive serve returns and blocks. 

I’m not a fan of the almost anti-spin rubbers. I will admit that they are easier to use than the real deal. So, what possible good is a racket covering like some of the half antis created by Spin Lord? The answer is somewhat counterintuitive. I recently began coaching a young player who had what I thought was a pretty terrible racket. It was really slow and the rubber barely gripped the ball. It didn’t have anti-spin rubber, just old worn out rubber that wasn’t meant for serious table tennis. One week later, he was playing with a good all around racket, and he quickly adapted to his new improved equipment. Surprisingly, he naturally top-spins all of his shots in a way that I wish more of my students could emulate. With his new paddle his shots look a whole lot better. But, I wonder if his seemingly natural ability to loop comes from years of having to work so hard just to get the ball over the net. The dead racket with little grip will rarely be a good racket to compete with, but it could be a great racket to learn with. Most coaches recommend a decent all around racket for new players. It’s almost always wrong to get a paddle that is too fast. Nobody should be learning with true anti-spin rubber. Half anti for beginners could work. If your goal is to learn to really spin the ball, the best paddle might be the one that makes you work for it. 

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