Visualizing a Better Ball

URGENT NEWS FLASH – For absolutely no apparent reason the ITTF will begin allowing one side of your paddle to be any color at all. The other side must remain black. There will soon be numerous pastel and soft color racket coverings available. Your racket can now look menacing on one side, and look like an Easter egg on the other. A quick poll of experienced players produced an almost universal head shake at this obvious marketing ploy. But who really cares? If my opponent chooses to play with a violet or coral colored forehand, why should it matter to me? I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I’m vanquished by a teenager with a pink paddle.

My question is; if the brain trust at the ITTF was in the mood to change things, why not the ball? I don’t mean changing the size, weight, or composition. I don’t think we need a 40 ++ ball. Any more changes to the ball and we’ll need a chart to explain them. Fortunately the athletic undergarment industry has already produced a prototype of such a chart ….just in case.

I’m definitely not the first person to suggest that it might be a good idea to put some sort of marking on balls to accentuate the rotation. I suspect I’m not the first coach to mark up some practice balls to allow new players to see the spin more easily. Table tennis balls do have a stamp that experienced players can focus on to help read spin. But if spin is the most important element of table tennis, we should do more to highlight it.

Other sports, where the ball doesn’t spin over 100 revolutions per second, have figured this out. Even baseballs have seams, that allow players to have a chance of reading the spin on balls pitched at up to 100 miles per hour. There’s really no downside to making a ball that’s easier to see. It would be good for new players, spectators, and casual players. It would likely have a negligible effect on more experienced players and professionals.

I don’t have a design in mind for this new and better table tennis ball. My homemade models feature two dark black lines that go around the ball horizontally and vertically. The spin on these balls is significantly easier to see, and they are helpful for coaching. Coming up with a good design for seeing spin seems like such an obvious change for the better. It makes more sense than a chartreuse sheet of Hurricane. I don’t know why the ITTF hasn’t figured this out yet. Maybe it just makes too much sense.

2 Replies to “Visualizing a Better Ball”

  1. While they were in the mood to make changes. I guess they ignored my 2 emails a day for over a year about banning pips or forcing pip players to play in only pip events. I guess I need to increase my email count.

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