In our last episode, you may recall that I had purchased a balsa blade and was infatuated with it. Some of you may have predicted I would soon be suffering from buyer’s remorse – which is common among equipment junkies. I am happy to report that after two weeks of use I am still extremely pleased and expect to be using the Battle Balsa blade for the foreseeable future. I have learned a few things about balsa blades, both from research, and now from first hand experience. In addition to the blades I purchased, a balsa carbon blade fell into my hands. Thanks Al!
Here are my findings –
- The ball comes off the racket fairly fast. This took a little getting used to, but this quality is something that can work for pips out hitters or counter-drivers.
- Really thick balsa can actually be extremely fast. Mine is 6.2 mm thick so it probably falls in the medium speed range.
- Adding carbon to an already rigid balsa blade seems like a bad idea. I didn’t like the feel and lack of control and neither did the player that passed it on to me.
- Since I had already been using a light blade, the light feel seemed fine. I do know that some balsa blades are even lighter. If you are considering purchasing one, it’s best to check out how light you would be comfortable with. I wouldn’t want anything lighter than the 75 grams of the Battle Balsa.
- Thin sponge seemed to work very well. My experience is that putting thin rubber on a fast blade actually gives you less control than thicker rubber. While the Battle Balsa isn’t all that fast, it is capable of some offensive shots. The soft balsa wood adds some cushion that works well with thin sponge or no sponge.
The characteristics of balsa wood are so unique that it does take a little getting used to. I tried it out with short pips, long pips, and a slow inverted rubber. In every case the results were extremely positive. I don’t think balsa would be as well suited for looping or playing back too far from the table. I didn’t have any problem with short pips rolls or backhand topspinning. The real test is how it does in match situations. I was able to play some matches against two 1800 level players. I didn’t win them all, but the ones I lost couldn’t be blamed on my paddle. I’m not playing near as much as I would like to, so anything that makes playing more fun helps. It’s been a little more fun with a little bit of balsa!