Blades For Junior Players & Developing Players

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1 Blades For Junior Players & Developing Players This report covers in some detail which blades help the development of junior players and developing players explaining the reasons many of the world's top development coaches choose the blades they do for their players. If you're just looking for a very short list to choose blades from for a developing player then forward through to the last page of this report.

2 The Importance Of Good Blade Choice The feel of a blade and its responsiveness are very important in the way a player will develop their technique in a variety of shots. Using the wrong type of blade early in a player's development has a serious impact in the way they play strokes, their footwork, their development of spin and power and in their skill level. 25 years ago blade choices were a lot simpler. Developing and junior players would be most likely to purchase a 5 ply all wood blade that was somewhere in speed from AllRound (ALL) to Offensive minus (OFF-) because most blades on the market being sold to juniors and developing players fit in those categories. The most common compositions of blades in that era were 5 wood plies. The most common wood plies used were ayous and limba. Most blades fell into one of 3 categories: 1. The All Round Blade Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba good for allround players, loopers, choppers and close-tothe-table players (basically everyone)... Faster versions of blades with this composition are also common.

3 2. The Allround Looping Blade Limba/Limba/Ayous/Limba/Limba good for loopers at mid to long distance While not 100% ideal, blades like this were perfectly playable for other styles too. Faster versions of blades with this composition are also available.

4 3. The Close To The Table Attacking Blade Some companies also sold a blade of Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous great for close to the table attackers (especially those using spin as part of their game) and all round attackers. This combination was also used to make thinner beginner's bats... This 5 ply setup became less popular when speed glue became the default because ayous as an outer ply tends to splinter more. The setup is starting to reappear now that speed gluing is no longer the norm. They All Worked For Developing Players All blades of these 3 main types consist of softer woods and with any one you'd have a reasonable chance of developing good technique. They were responsive blades and especially the blades with more ayous made highly responsive blades allowing players to develop touch shots and receives by hitting the ball softer and stronger strokes by hitting the ball harder. This seems obvious but in the rush to make them harder and faster many modern blades work against this simple development basic...

5 The Equipment Explosion In the last 25 years the number of equipment suppliers has exploded and there are now a bewildering array of blades available. Every supplier is actively promoting their blades and if you've been around table tennis longer than 12 months you know how accurate manufacturer's descriptions of their equipment are (hint: not very accurate)... It's a challenge for an experienced coach or player to choose a suitable blade from such a huge selection. For a junior player the chance of getting it right is close to zero. So what does a junior player or developing player really need?

6 Good Blade Foundations A junior player is looking for a blade with these foundations to help them develop their skills and technique to the next level: Great control. Nice soft touch on the surface ply to develop control in the receiving and short game, to help produce high spin serves and to increase dwell time for loops. Good responsiveness with the bat playing softer with softer strokes and harder with harder strokes. The closer a player gets to the table and the bigger the range of shots they use the more important responsiveness becomes. Consistent quality through the whole blade. A poor quality blade with uneven bounce and a tiny sweet spot is going to be very difficult to play and train with. Reasonably light. Heavy bats reduce racket speed and building good racket speed is very important for developing players. It's hard to loop or smash fast with a brick! Let's go through these one at a time...

7 Control Most juniors and developing players should be using a blade that is rated between AllRound (ALL) and Offensive Minus (OFF-) with AllRound being the default choice. Why? To develop power in your strokes requires developing over time to the point where you're playing shots as hard as you can using a range of muscles in your body. If you play with a fast blade you'll never learn to apply your full strength to your strokes because doing that will cause the ball to go off the table most of the time (put simply...you'll miss with a fast blade if you play strong shots). This is the reason experienced Chinese coaches have their players using mainly 5 ply wood blades (no carbon) from beginner all the way to the national team. Playing too fast too early also compromises the development of footwork. To develop strong footwork requires playing at a slower speed and practicing moving into a perfect stance before playing each stroke from different positions. A blade that's too fast makes it difficult for a player to develop the control necessary to do developmental footwork exercises effectively. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4qwss-rglc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpmqjsmlhj0

8 Should junior and developing players use bats with carbon layers? When their strokes are developing it's very important for players to use a bat with excellent control. This allows them to play freely and develop touch, control, spin, footwork and power. Even though they have the choice of any blade many leading modern players still use all wood bats including: Fan Zhendong Infinity VPS V Limba/Spruce/Ayous/Spruce/Limba Vladimir Samsonov - Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition - Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba Xu Xin - Stiga Intensity NCT Walnut/Spruce/Abachi/Spruce/Walnut Ma Long first reached his world number 1 ranking using a Hurricane Long 3 - Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba

9 And all these players are fully developed. If you've ever trained 2-3+ hours a day 5+ days a week for 3 years or more then you know at that level of skill changing a blade is not a big deal. So changing to a faster blade is not a massive adjustment for these players yet they still choose to use an all wood blade. The reality is an all wood blade gives better feeling... Carbon layers make a blade faster and more difficult to control which is something we want to avoid with developing players. Here are a list of reasons developing players should not use blades with carbon layers: It can compromise stroke quality. It can impede the development of good footwork. It can impede the progressive development of power and spin in strokes. It can make it more difficult to develop strong spinny serves. It makes it more difficult to develop a strong short game. So should junior and developing players use bats with carbon layers? The simple answer is a developing player should not be using a blade that has carbon layers.

10 Soft Outer Ply In table tennis being able to receive short serves and play effectively against short receives is critical to becoming a good player. To do this well really requires an outer ply of the blade being soft so that players can develop that control in their receiving and short game. A soft outer ply also increases the dwell time on the blade...the length of time the ball sits in the blade before springing back out. This helps increase the feeling for strokes including blocks, counterattacks, chops and loops. A soft outer ply also helps to apply more spin and control to serves. The most common soft outer plies are Limba and Ayous. Willow is a soft outer ply with a deadening effect sometimes used for defensive blades. Limba is an especially good outer ply for loopers who play mid to long distance from the table. Some blades for sale today have really poor choices of wood for outer plies. On the next page is a list of different woods and their hardness starting with the softer woods. The Janka hardness rating of many of the woods is listed. The higher the rating the harder the wood.

11 Woods Used In Table Tennis Blades Listed From Soft To Hard Balsa 90 lbf core soft and springy Kiri 300 lbf core soft and springy (good core for looping) Hinoki lbf depending on species softness varies, springy used a lot for 1 ply bats Okoume (Angouma, Gabon) 400 lbf Basswood 410 lbf (but harder feel) cheaper ply Ayous (Abachi, Samba) 430 lbf soft ply - excellent for close-to-the-table counterdrive play Willow (Black Willow) 430 lbf - heavy defensive outer layer, deadening effect Spruce 510 lbf (adds speed not spinny as a surface ply) Tung substitute for balsa, kiri or basswood makes a little harder, faster core Poplar 540 lbf Light Red Meranti 550 lbf White Willow 570 lbf Cypress 590 lbf Willow (Crack willow, Brittle willow) 640 lbf Fir (Tanne) 650 lbf Limba (Korina, Ofram, Frake, Afara, Akom) 670 lbf soft feel and control for topspin players Yellow Meranti 700 lbf Pine (Pinus radiata) 710 lbf Pine (Pinus Clausa) 730 lbf Hinoki lbf depending on species Dark Red Meranti 800 lbf Koto 940 lbf Walnut (African) 940 lbf hard and fast, often used as an outer paired with softer wood Walnut (Peruvian Walnut, Tropical Walnut, Nogal) 960 lbf Anegre (Yellow Aningre) 990 lbf soft feel control wood Walnut (Black Walnut) 1010 lbf White Meranti 1050 lbf Mahogony 1070 lbf Ash (Oregon Ash) 1160 lbf Walnut (English Walnut, Circassian Walnut, European, French, Common Walnut) 1220 lbf Beech (American Beech) 1300 lbf Sapele (Sapelli, Sapali) 1410 lbf Beech (Common Beech, European Beech) 1450 lbf Ash (European Ash, Common Ash) 1480 lbf Balau 1600 lbf Wenge 1630 lbf Oregon (Oregon White Oak, Quercus garryana 1640 lbf - some other woods are called Oregon Black Locust (Robinia, False Acacia, Robinie) 1700 lbf White Ash (American White Ash) 1930 lbf Padauk 1970 lbf Santos Mahogany 2400 lbf Rosewood 2600 lbf very hard, very fast, for back from the table loopers Ebony 3080 lbf

12 Being familiar with the hardness of different woods can give you insights into whether a blade is likely to be good to play with. Sometimes manufacturers will say in their literature what type of wood is in their plies. You can also find the plies in many different blades listed here... Soft woods like balsa, kiri and hinoki are really not ideal as outer plies because they're very springy. That makes them awkward to use for short play. These soft springy woods are usually better as the middle core ply in a blade and especially as a core for a looping player. That leaves limba and ayous as the best choices of soft outer ply for most juniors and developing players... Limba is especially good for mid and long distance looping and ayous is especially good for close-to-the-table attacking. Yellow anigre and koto are often used as outer plies but these are a little harder than you'd like for a developing player.

13 Good Responsiveness Different woods and different combinations of wood respond in different ways in a blade. With inner plies of a blade you really want to think of the responsiveness of the wood. What you want for a developing player is a wood that will play soft when the player is playing soft and play hard when the player is playing hard. This eliminates bats with really hard wood layers because they tend to play hard on everything except super soft touch shots. It also eliminates carbon layers for the same reason (did we mention to say no to carbon?) There are two kinds of responsiveness you might consider. The first is just a transfer of energy...less energy...softer shot...more energy...stronger shot. Some woods make this transfer better than others. Ayous is one of the best which is why it's so commonly found in so many blades... For close-to-the-table play in particular, ayous, ayous and more ayous will improve the ease and responsiveness of play at that distance. Placed next to the outer ply Ayous also helps an outer limba ply feel soft.

14 Limba can also be used as an inner ply. A blade with Limba/Limba/Ayous/Limba/Limba is very popular with some mid distance loopers who throw in steady loop after steady loop (think Swedish player Mikael Appelgren)... For sophisticated close to the table play this blade composition is a little too clunky but it is great for players making controlled loops at mid distance most of the time. For beginners Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba or 5 plies of ayous are a better choice. The second type of responsiveness can be useful for some mid to long distance loopers. As a player gets further from the table the amount of flex or springiness the blade has can become important (especially if the player is looping and needs a higher arc on their loop). This is why many blades have a core of balsa or kiri. Those soft springy woods increase dwell time (the amount of time the ball stays on the blade) and create a spring off effect making it easier to loop from a distance. For most developing players who are loopers ayous is an excellent core. For the odd player who just loves being away from the table looping you may consider a balsa or kiri core.

15 Quality & Weight Most major table tennis brands have an excellent reputation for quality including Stiga, Donic, Butterfly and Tibhar. Good quality blades have a consistent bounce and feel. The standard weight for most blades is around 80 to 85 grams and it's very common for two blades of the same name to have slightly different weight. For players aged 5-7 you may seek out lighter blades than this because younger players can tire quickly from the sheer weight of the bat. A lighter blade allows for higher racket speed which has real value because high racket speed helps to increase stroke quality, speed and spin. A thicker blade made of the same wood is likely to be faster than a thinner blade which is another factor to consider. Finding A Blade The information in this report will give you a good foundation for choosing a blade for a developing player. You can find the composition of many blades here... And you can get a lot of user ratings on different blades here... The ratings on the site above are user review ratings so they're not always accurate. The more important ratings are St:Stiffness How much a bat resists flexing. A bat with less stiffness flexes more and is more springy. H:Hardness A bat that has a lower hardness rating is softer...a quality we look for in a blade for a developing player.

16 Blades To Consider This is a list of blades that are likely to be good for a high percentage of developing players. Included in the description is the composition of the blade, its weight, thickness, user Stiffness rating and user Hardness rating. Some blades also have useful notes. The blades are roughly ranked from slowest to fastest (although it's unlikely this is 100% accurate). Remember that most developing players should have a blade in the AllRound to Offensive Minus speed range and an AllRound bat should be the default for a developing player. All Round Speed Tibhar IV L (Ayous 4 plies) 85g St:7 H:2.2 Donic Appelgren Allplay** (Limba/Limba/Ayous/Limba/Limba) 80g St:4.0 H:4.3 for mid distance to long range loopers Stiga Allround Classic (Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba) 85g 5.1mm St:3.4 H:4.7 Donic Waldner Allplay (Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba) 85g St:4.5 H:6 Adidas Challenge Light (5 ply ayous) 80g 5.6mm soft feeling All Round+ Speed Tibhar IV L Light Contact (Ayous 4 plies) 86g 6.3mm very responsive Stiga Allround Wood NCT (Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba) 82g St:4.8 H:4.9 KTL Instinct (5ply) (ayous/basswood/ayous/basswood/ayous) 74g 6.5mm St:4.3 H:4.8 not sure of the quality of the KTL Instinct, light and cheap Adidas Synchro Plus (ayous-dark ayous-ayous-dark ayous-ayous) 66g 5.8mm very light Stiga Allround Evolution (Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba) 85g -faster than AR classic St:4.6 H:5.5 Andro Ligna All+ (Limba/Ayous/Kiri/Ayous/Limba) 85g St:5 H:5.2 for loopers OFF- Speed Tibhar Patrick Chila OFF (Abachi/Ayous/Balsa/Ayous/Abachi) St:2.8 H:4.3 for loopers Donic Waldner Black Power (Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba) 85g 6.6mm St:5 H:6 Stiga Energy Wood WRB (Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba) 77g St:3.5 H:4.9 Tibhar Samsonov Pure Wood* (probably 5 ply ayous) 85g 6.1mm St:7 H:5.2 All+/Off- best for loopers Joola Falcon Medium (Ayous/Ayous/Tung/Ayous/Ayous) 82g St:4.3 H:5.2 *Be careful. There are carbon versions of blades like Butterfly Primorac, Tibhar Samsonov and Stiga Offensive Classic. Look for 5 plies of wood...no carbon. **Limba/Limba/Ayous/Limba/Limba blades are more suited to mid distance looping players but many of these players in earlier stages of development may still be better off using a blade with Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba for the increased soft feeling.

17 Offensive speed blades are included here as a useful reference... OFF Speed Xiom Offensive S (Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba) 87g 6.1mm St:4.6 H:5.5 Tibhar IV S (Ayous 5 plies) 90g 6.8mm St:7 H:7.5 Stiga Offensive Classic* (Limba/Spruce/Ayous/Spruce/Limba) 85g 6mm St:3.7 H:5.3 Donic Waldner Senso V2** (Limba/Limba/Ayous/Limba/Limba) 85g St:4 H:4.1 Donic Baum Sawtec OFF (Ayous 5 plies) 85g St:4.5 H:4.8 Donic Waldner Senso V1** (Limba/Limba/Ayous/Limba/Limba) 85g St:3.5 H:3.7 Butterfly Primorac* ** (Limba/Limba/Ayous/Limba/Limba) 86g 5.7mm St:4.5 H:4.9 *Be careful. There are carbon version of blades like Butterfly Primorac, Tibhar Samsonov and Stiga Offensive Classic. Look for 5 plies of wood...no carbon. **Limba/Limba/Ayous/Limba/Limba blades are more suited to mid distance looping players but many of these players in earlier stages of development may still be better off using a blade with Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba for the increased soft feeling. Some of these blades (like the Adidas blades) are no longer in production but can still be purchased. Abachi is another type of ayous ply. The most common blades included have a composition of: Limba/Ayous/Ayous/Ayous/Limba which is the classic wood bat composition for a blade with high control and responsiveness. Blades made entirely of ayous are also included. They're especially useful for very young players and for close-to-the-table players. On the next page is a short list of recommended blades for simplicity...

18 Short List Of Blades Fast Easy Choice All Round Speed Tibhar IV L 85g Stiga Allround Classic 85g Donic Waldner Allplay 80g All Round+ Speed Tibhar IV L Light Contact 86g KTL Instinct 74g (cheap option, fairly light) Adidas Synchro Plus 66g (very light) Stiga Allround Evolution 85g OFF- Speed Tibhar Patrick Chila OFF (balsa core for mid distance loopers) Stiga Energy Wood WRB 77g (a little lighter than other Stiga blades)

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