Playing Table Tennis With Long Pimples

How to Play With Long Pimples: The Complete Guide

Long pips are very special, potent table tennis rubbers.

They don’t work like conventional, inverse rubbers like most players use. Instead, they work to  reverse spin imparted on the ball, so the tactics and techniques we need to use when playing with long pips are unlike any others.

The aim of this guide is to teach you how to utilize long pips to their full potential, depending on how you want to play. We’ll explain the 4 most common playing styles for anyone using long pips, with some advice on how you can win more matches.

Long Pips Playing Styles

There are 4 dominant playstyles among long pips players. These are:

  • Classic defenders.
  • Modern defenders.
  • Push blockers.
  • Offensive long pips players.

All of these players try to win points their own way, so their tactics and shots will be radically different.

Also, there are many types of long pips. Choppers prefer grippy pips that can add spin to their chops, while blockers prefer pips that have as little friction as possible to maximize spin reversal.

Classic defender

First, we will start explaining how classic defenders should utilize long pips. The classic defender is probably the oldest style on this list, hence the name.

This style of play is based on returning the ball to the opponent as many times as possible.

They are not looking to attack the opponent, they just want to keep the point alive until their opponent makes a mistake.

To force mistakes off of their opponents, these long pips players will play spinny chops and pushes. 

Table tennis rules stipulate that a player wins a point if their opponent fails to return the ball correctly.

Classic defenders hit the ball over and over again with backspin until their opponent misses the table, and that’s how they win matches.

To make it harder for their opponent to attack them, they play backspin shots the vast majority of the time.

If they returned a topspin ball, it would be very easy to attack, so this style evolved into using chops and pushes.

They practically never attack unless the ball is easier to attack than to defend.

In the following video, you can see the style of Evgueni Chtchetinine, a classic defender in action.

When we see Evgueni play, we see the true potential of the style.

He practically does not attack, and yet he is capable of competing with a player of the caliber of Álvaro Robles, a world-class player.

Classic defenders generally use long pips on their backhand side and inverted rubbers on their forehand side.

This allows them to chop with their long pips, which gives them a lot more control due to their spin insensitivity. 

They can then twiddle their racket to their inverted rubber when they need to push so that they always return the ball with heavy backspin.

The best long pips for classic defenders

Most choppers use rubbers such as the Butterfly Feint Long III and the TSP Curl P-1R, generally with sponges between 0.7 and 1.5mm thick.

These long pips have spin reversal but not that much. Grippy long pips such as the ones we just mentioned help defenders add spin to their chops.

Top tips for classic defenders

  • Chop the ball on its way down – It is critical that defenders chop the ball between waist and knee height so that their chops don’t pop up.
  • Practice coming in and out of the table – Another thing defenders have to be very good at is to come in and out of the table. Generally, offensive players are going to play a long ball and then push, so defenders will have to come in and out of the table very quickly so that they don’t get caught while moving.
  • Practice twiddling your racket until it’s second nature – Classic defenders must return the ball with backspin. If the offensive player pushes the ball to their backhand and they push it back with their pips, that return is going to be very easy to attack. In those situations, you should twiddle your racket to push with your inverted rubber and put backspin on the ball.

Modern defender

The modern defender is, in my opinion, the most complete playstyle in all of table tennis.

These players, like classic defenders, use long pips to force mistakes from their opponent, but they also use them to set up opportunities to attack.

I say that they are very complete players because they have to know how to attack and defend on both wings.

Many modern defenders even twiddle their rackets to loop on their backhand side. Their versatility is unparalleled.

Their arsenal of resources makes them the most dominant defensive playstyle. They can transform from defensive to offensive players depending on how the match is developing.

If they see that their opponent is struggling with their chops, they can play a more defensive game.

If their opponent isn’t having trouble looping their chops, they can start attacking from both sides, or use their chops as a means of creating chances to attack.

Here is a video of Joo Se Hyuk, the best modern defender in history.

These players also generally use long pips for chops, pushes, and serve receive.

One dilemma modern defenders have is whether to chop or open up long backspin balls.

A classic defender will always push or chop that ball, whereas a modern defender will decide what they want to do depending on what’s giving them better results.

Modern defenders are safe players but they take many more risks than classic defenders. Classic defenders never take risks. They play the safest shot every single time.

The best long pips for modern defenders

Modern defenders use grippy pips like the Butterfly Feint Long III, and the TSP Curl P-1R to add more spin to their chops, usually with 0.7-1.5mm thick sponges.

Ruwen Filus uses the Feint Long III and Joo Se Hyuk used the TSP Curl P-1R.

Top tips for modern defenders

  • Learn how to chop and counter loop on the forehand side – Having both shots in their arsenal is vital for a modern defender. If your opponent plays a topspin shot to their forehand and they don’t know if they’re going to get a chop or a counter loop back, it becomes exponentially harder to play against the modern defender.
  • Actively assess the state of the match – Table tennis is a sport with lots of momentum shifts. It is important that you always analyze what you can do to improve your chances of winning. For example, sometimes you will have to chop with your forehand and sometimes counter loop. It depends on what is working.
  • Attack your opponent’s pushes – If you play a good quality chop and see your opponent is going to push that ball, come into the table and open up. You will catch your opponent off guard and you will be able to win the point by attacking.

Push blocker

Long pips push blockers are probably the most frustrating style to play against.

These players will stand close to the table, generally in the middle of the table pushing and blocking every ball with their long pips.

Push blockers rely on timing and feeling to block every hard-hit ball successfully.

These players use the reversal of their long pips in such a way that their opponent receives heavy backspin shots, even when they’re just blocking the ball.

They also move their opponents around. This, combined with the spin reversal of their pips makes them very treacherous players to play against.

It is very, very difficult to beat a good push blocker, and they are the worst nightmare of thousands of offensive players.

These players are very successful, especially at the beginner and intermediate levels.

In these divisions, long pips are very effective since it is difficult for their opponents to understand how the ball is coming to them.

Players of these levels already make many unforced mistakes, and when the ball comes to them differently than they are used to, they tend to struggle.

However, at higher levels of play, long pips become a liability. It is very difficult to find a push blocker at advanced levels, as opponents know how to play against this style.

Blocks must be played as the ball is rising so that the ball stays low. Push blockers also have to loosen their wrist to absorb and control the incoming speed and spin.

The best long pips for push blockers

The equipment used by push blockers is different from that used by choppers.

Choppers use grippy long pips to play actively and add spin to the ball with their chops.

Push blockers use long pips with low friction to get the maximum spin reversal possible, usually without sponge (OX).

The optimal blocking long pips are the Tibhar Grass D.TecS, the Dr. Neubauer Trouble Maker, the DHS C8, the Butterfly Feint Long II, and the Spinlord Dornenglanz, all without sponge.

Most of these players agree that Grass D.TecS is possibly the best option for blocking close to the table.

This style can also be played with antispin rubbers such as Dr. Neubauer ABS, which achieves a similar or even greater disruptive effect than long pips.

Top tips for push blockers

  • Try to attack your opponent’s pushes – Your opponent will most likely use the one topspin, one push strategy. If you are able to attack pushes with your long pips, your opponent is not going to be able to play their game comfortably.
  • Move your opponent around – This goes without saying but it is essential that you do not play two balls in the same place. Always move your opponent and try to leave some balls short so they have to move in and out of the table.
  • Develop a forehand kill shot – When playing against you, your opponents will generally pop up some balls. If you can find a way to capitalize on those opportunities, you will be a lot more difficult to beat. This shot can either be a loop or a flat hit.

Offensive long pips style

These players, along with classic defenders, are quite difficult to come across.

Offensive long pips players are the only players on this list that are purely offensive in nature.

These players generally have very strong forehands and use their long pips to create opportunities to attack with their strong side.

They generally use the same shots as push blockers.

They use the long pips to receive serves, block, and bump the ball. They usually stand so that their forehand covers the vast majority of the table.

With their forehand, they loop and counter loop. With their backhand, they block.

They block with their long pips so that their opponent receives a heavy backspin ball that they will probably push back. This enables them to attack the following ball.

With their serve, they will try to execute 3rd ball attacks, and while receiving, they will try to set up chances to attack with their forehand.

Long pips are great for this style of play because they break the opponent’s tempo and force them to push the ball, so pips players can pivot and attack with their forehand.

A well-known player who played like this is my compatriot Liu Song, who reached a career-high ITTF ranking of 49.

The best long pips for offensive players

The best equipment to use is the same as the one push blockers use, as they will be playing very similar shots.

I highly recommend the Tibhar Grass D.TecS. Other good options include Dr. Neubauer Trouble Maker, DHS C8, Butterfly Feint Long II, Tibhar Grass D.TecS, and Spinlord Dornenglanz, all without sponge.

Top tips for offensive long pips players

  • Learn how to hit with your long pips – It is very important that offensive long pips players know how to hit the ball with the long pips to set up opportunities to finish the point with their forehand.
  • Try to block as short as possible with your long pips – If you can block short or half long with your pips, your opponents won’t be able to attack those balls easily, which will give you the initiative in the point.
  • Practice lots of forehand mobility drills – To be a successful player with this style, you will need to move around the table quickly in order to hit forehands from all positions.

Alvaro’s been playing Table Tennis since he was 15 and is now ranked within the top 200 in his native Argentina. He loves to compete in provincial tournaments and is always looking for ways to improve. Alvaro made his favourite memories with a racket in hand, and he joined the RacketInsight team to share his passion with other players!

Blade: Tibhar Stratus Power Wood | Forehand: Nittaku Fastarc G-1 | Backhand: Rasanter R42
Playstyle: Forehand Looper

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