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Short Pimples vs Long Pimples

Short Pips vs Long Pips – What Are The Similarities and Differences, and Which Should I Play With?

Most table tennis players are afraid of encountering opponents who use pimpled rubbers. The game changes dramatically compared to the common ‘inverted’ rubbers used by most players.

Not only do you need to identify which side of the racket has pimples, but you also need to figure out what kind of pimples are being used. Only then can you have a gameplan.

If you’re thinking of using pimples yourself, they also require dramatically different techniques to make the most of their powers. Learning this can be quite challenging.

As short pips and long pips are very different, we wanted to share a beginners guide that covers all the similarities and differences. Using this guide, you’ll learn both how to combat pimples in a match, as well as perhaps choose the right ones for you.

What Are Pimpled Rubbers?

There are two common primary types of rubbers in table tennis. You have the ‘inverted’ rubbers with a smooth surface and the rubber’s pimples facing inward, adhering closely to the sponge underneath.

The other type, and where we are focussing this article, are referred to as “pimpled” rubbers. Here, the rubber’s pimples are outward-facing and provide a rough surface to the rubber. These pimples can vary in length and spacing, creating different playing characteristics.

Pimpled rubbers can generally be split into three primary sub-types. Long pips, half-long pips, and short pips:

Long Pimples

A long pimpled rubber is defined by the ITTF as any rubber where the pimples stick out more than 1.5cm from the surface of the rubber. Most long pimples come in a variety of sponge thicknesses, ranging from OX (no sponge) to around 1.5mm. This is quite a bit thinner than inverted rubbers that have a normal range of 1.8mm – 2.2mm.

Because of their length, long pimples tend to bend quite a bit, and this is what produces spin. When the ball contacts the rubber, the pimples in that area bend, dampening the impact and creating spin than what they received.

When hitting a soft, slow, or lightly spinning ball, the pimples don’t bend or compress as much. This results in the ball bouncing off quickly and very little spin is imparted.

When you impart more acceleration into the stroke, the pimples bend, tilt, and compress before whipping back into their resting position. This action adds higher amounts of spin to the ball.

Ultimately, these behaviors make it very tricky to predict exactly how a long pimpled rubber is going to react and how much spin it’s going to impart on the ball. This is what makes it difficult for any opponent to read the ball and angle their racket appropriately in response.

If the defender chops with little acceleration, the attacker will receive a “float” ball which will carry little to no backspin.

If they chop with a faster motion, the attacker will receive a heavy backspin ball that’s hard to lift.

This is the main threat of long pimple rubbers when used for defending: They are very deceptive, as it’s easy to hit no-spin balls or long and heavy backspin balls into the net if you’re not careful enough.

Long pimples can be really tough to play with, requiring a steep learning curve. If you’re considering switching, I’d advise reading our guide to playing with long pimples plus the 5 core shots every long pimple player should know.

Short Pimples

There are no prizes for guessing what ‘short pimples’ look like. They are very similar to long pimples, except noticeably shorter. Usually under 1cm in length.

Thanks to the space in between the pimples, these rubbers have the effect of reducing the amount of spin felt, and generated by the rubber.

Short pips also have the effect of causing the ball to travel in a flatter and faster path, primarily due to the aforementioned reduction in spin.

Otherwise, short pimple rubbers behave very similarly to a standard inverted rubber. Players who like to play aggressively and make quick shots close to the table often prefer short pips rubber because it’s better for blocking and fast-paced play.

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Medium Pimples

A less common version of pimpled rubbers, medium pimples are a unique concept that sits in between short and long pimples. Naturally, they are trying to get the best of both worlds with their characteristics.

Medium pips, in my opinion, are the most “special” pips, as they have some of the characteristics of short pips and some of the characteristics of long pips.

Medium pips don’t have as much friction as short pips but not as little as long pips. Thus, they are better for attacking than long pips, but worse at reversing spin.

Medium pips are the perfect choice for players who like to retain disruptive effects while being able to attack their opponents.

When attacking, these pips produce flat, fast, no-spin shots, and they make it easy for medium pips players to hit through backspin.

When blocking, these pips often produce a “sink” or “wobble” effect, as they don’t reverse as much spin as long pips nor do they return topspin balls like a regular inverted rubber. These pips aren’t the best for chopping, though.

Because of their characteristics, they are perfect for a hitting and blocking style close to the table.

To make the most of medium pips rubbers, players need to be quite adept at adjusting their strokes in order to produce the desired effect.

Because medium pips can play like long pips or short pips depending on the stroke, the player must be proficient enough to know what to do at the right moment to get the desired result. It can take many hours of practice to become comfortable with the rhythm required to produce different shot types.

The Difference Between Long Pips & Short Pips

There’s a very clear difference between long pips and short pips, implied by the names. For most people, pimple length is the primary way of distinguishing between the two types.

However, there are many other factors influenced by ‘pimple length’ that need to be considered when selecting, or playing against, a pimple rubber.

Based on my many years of experience as a defender playing with various pimple rubbers, here are the 4 key impacts you need to know:

Spin

Short pip rubbers are able to produce quite a bit of their own spin, but not as much as inverted rubbers.

They are mainly used for flat hitting the ball because this stroke makes the most out of their key characteristics: fast speeds, flat arcs, and spin insensitivity.

If you want to loop, short pips are probably not the way to go. However, some newer short pips such as the Yasaka Rakza PO are very spinny for short pips standards, enabling spinny open-ups to set up flat hits or hit loops afterwards.

Long pips, on the other hand, are most commonly poor at generating noticeable spin on the ball. It’s this fact that is crucial to understand when playing with or against long pips.

Long pips rubbers aren’t able to generate much of their own spin. This is why, if you attack with topspin, you will receive backspin, and if you push the ball, you will get topspin or no-spin back.

Therefore, the spin of the ball when using long pips depends on the incoming ball.

If the incoming ball has a lot of spin, the long pips will completely reverse it, and add or subtract a given amount of spin of their own, depending on the stroke that was played and the characteristics of the pips.

It’s precisely this feature that often confuses opponents and leads to frequent errors in matches.

Speed

Short pips rubber commonly produces extremely fast shots, especially when playing close to the table. When using short pips, performing flick shots near the table can be highly advantageous as the speed can sometimes surpass that of an inverted rubber.

This speed advantage often catches opponents off guard and leaves them with little time to react. A renowned Japanese table tennis player, Mima Ito, primarily focuses on playing near the table and repeatedly delivers fast shots. She combines rapid shots with variations in ball placement, making it extremely challenging for her opponents to defend against her rapid and raindrop-like attacks.

On the other hand, long pips rubber has relatively slower speed characteristics. The reason for this is that the long rubber pimples tend to collapse upon contact with the ball. Some of the incoming energy is transformed into the energy required to flatten these rubber pimples, which results in reduced speed.

Consequently, long pips are not suitable for powerful offensive shots, and they lack inherent attacking properties. Attempting offensive play with long pips can be highly unstable and result in a high error rate.

Among commonly-known table tennis players, it is likely that only the legendary 60-year-old Luxembourg athlete, Ni Xia Lian, can effectively use long pips for offensive play. However, I have long suspected that her long pips rubber might have shorter rubber particles than the standard, more like half-long pimples. Nevertheless, her skills are truly remarkable as she competes in the Olympics at the age of 60, a testament to her exceptional abilities and the unique advantage her long pips offer.

Playstyle

Short pips rubber is often preferred by offensive players due to the unique attacking properties, and can be used comfortably on both the forehand and backhand sides.

In amateur coaching and teaching, coaches may recommend short pips rubbers to players who are not skilled at generating topspin. With short pips, players can rely on flat hits without the need to worry about generating spin through friction.

Conversely, long pips rubbers are well known for their defensive capabilities, and many players choose it for their defensive game.

Long pips are primarily used on the backhand side, especially by players who use the shakehand grip. It’s extremely rare to see long pips used on the forehand.

In some cases, particularly in China, older-generation players who use the penhold grip may attach long pips rubber on their forehand side. These players tend to focus on all-table pushes, blocks, and defensive shots, seldom engaging in aggressive play. They rely on variations in ball placement, rhythm, and spin to score points in their matches.

Defenders are definitely becoming less common in table tennis, but it’s still worth learning to play a defensive style in the modern era.

Effectiveness Against Each Other

Short pips, long pips, and inverted rubbers have different characteristics, resulting in some interesting strategies when two players are using different types of rubber. Although match outcomes depend on a player’s skill and performance, there are objective advantages and disadvantages among different types of rubber.

Short Pips Are Effective Against Long Pips

Short pips have a relatively significant advantage over long pips. This is because long pips are inherently less effective for offense and are unable to create as much spin, making it challenging to restrict the attack of short pips.

Personally, as a player who uses long pips, I often fear facing short pips players in matches. They can effectively disregard the primary strength of long pips, which is spin reversal. Moreover, it’s difficult to defend against the balls they return due to the unpredictable nature of their shots. Consequently, I often lose to such players in matches.

Long Pips Are Effective Against Inverted Rubbers

The spin generated by inverted rubbers can easily be utilized by long pips, resulting in irregular and unpredictable returns. The ball might wobble in the air, or the opponent might mis-read the spin on their following shot. Either scenario makes it very tricky to return long pips shots consistently.

However, the characteristics of long pips themselves remain relatively consistent. Once your opponent has adapted to the effect of your long pips, there is little room for adjustment to your playing style.

Nowadays, most long pips users employ a defensive chopping style. This is why you’ll find that most highly-ranked long pips players in international competitions are choppers. One exception to that might be the female Indian player Manika Batra.

Inverted Rubber Has An Advantage Against Short Pips

If a good offensive player can step back and create some distance, while also generating enough spin, it becomes challenging for a short pips player to confidently return the ball because the ball tends to slip.

Additionally, short pips have limited spin-producing capabilities, and their ball tends to have weak underspin, making it susceptible to counterattacks. Even if the player using inverted rubbers doesn’t have a strong looping forehand.

While inverted rubbers dominate the professional scene, this is primarily based on the systematic training of professional players. The advantages of inverted rubber are often reversed at the amateur level. The quality of looping shots is not as high, making them susceptible to short pips players. Moreover, players at the amateur level may have limited mobility and power, leading to difficulties in matching their power and shot placement when playing against long pips, resulting in errors and losing the games.

Should I Use Long Pips or Short Pips?

I know many friends who want to switch away from inverted rubbers, but it can be tricky choosing which style of rubber to play with instead. Our advice is to reflect on the type of player you want to be, and choose the option that aligns with that goal.

Types of Player Who Should Choose Short Pips

Aggressive Players

Short pips are a top choice for players who adopt an aggressive and attacking style of play. These players are characterized by their desire to take the initiative in a match, constantly looking for opportunities to seize control and dictate the pace.

Aggressive players using short pips often apply pressure on their opponents by keeping the ball low and fast, making it challenging for the other player to respond effectively. Their style is often characterized by speed and precision rather than heavy spin.

Whilst we usually recommend inverted rubbers for people who play as The Aggressor, short pips rubbers can be an extremely effective alternative.

Close-to-the-Table Players

Short pips are especially well-suited for players who prefer to engage in close-to-the-table play. This style involves staying near the net and taking control of the table by manipulating shot angles.

The speed and control offered by short pips are advantageous for quick exchanges and counter attacks that occur in close-quarters play. Players using short pips can react swiftly to their opponent’s shots and launch fast offensive responses.

Close-to-the-table players using short pips aim to exploit the limited time and space their opponents have to react, often pressuring them with rapid, flat hits and quick placement changes.

Fast, Flat Hitters

Players who lean towards a fast and flat hitting style find short pips rubber to be a great fit for their game because they focus on delivering shots with speed and accuracy while minimizing spin.

Short pips enable these players to strike the ball directly and quickly without the need to generate or counter heavy spin. The emphasis is on precision and placement, allowing them to maintain the offensive tempo.
Fast, flat hitters using short pips often aim to catch their opponents off-guard with the sheer speed and velocity of their shots, making it challenging for the other player to adapt and return effectively.

Recommended Short Pips Rubbers

Nittaku Moristo SP

Nittaku Moristo SP

Victas Spectol S3

Victas Spectol S3

Yasaka Rakza PO

Yasaka Rakza PO

Types of Player Who Should Choose Long Pips

Defensive Players

Using long pips is a natural choice for defensive players, especially those who prefer a primarily defensive or all-around style of play. Long pips offer unique characteristics that align well with defensive strategies. They provide a higher level of control and versatility compared to inverted or short pips rubber.

One of the key advantages of long pips for defensive players is their ability to effectively return and control the opponent’s spin shots. Long pips allow for the absorption of spin, making it easier to handle various types of spin, including topspin, backspin, and sidespin.

This control over the incoming spin is an essential tool for defensive players, as it enables them to create consistent and well-placed returns that disrupt their opponent’s attacking rhythm.

Choppers

Long pips rubber is highly favored among choppers due to its specific attributes that enhance this playing style. Chopping with long pips is characterized by its excellent grip and control. That’s why I am super fond of this type of rubber. In fact, chopping with long pips is far easier than inverted rubbers.

Long pips rubber’s grip allows choppers to produce high-quality chops that generate significant backspin. This can be a strategic advantage in the game, as it forces the opponent to deal with low, spin-heavy returns that are challenging to attack.

Moreover, long pips offer choppers the flexibility to transition to counterattacks when necessary. By using the variation in spin and trajectory that long pips provide, choppers can surprise their opponents with unexpected offensive shots, creating a well-rounded and unpredictable game.

Control-Oriented Players

Control-oriented players who prioritize precise ball placement and controlled rallies will find long pips rubber to be a valuable choice. Long pips excel in providing outstanding control when blocking and returning shots.

Control is the essence of the long pips game. These rubber types allow players to place the ball precisely where they intend, making it difficult for the opponent to predict the ball’s trajectory and respond effectively. This control over ball placement is instrumental in setting the pace of rallies and strategically positioning the ball in challenging locations for the opponent.

Control-oriented players can employ the precision and consistency of long pips to keep their opponents on the defensive and create opportunities for tactical advantage in the match.

Recommended Long Pips Rubbers

It’s also worth checking out our recommended blades to paid with long pips rubbers.

Butterfly Feint II

Butterfly Feint II

Tibhar Grass d.tecs

Victas Curl P1V

Victas Curl P1V

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The Controller

Xinyu started playing table tennis when he was 8 years old in China and he's also the owner of popular table tennis blog ppongsuper . He has trained with the Chinese provincial team and now plays competitively in the Spanish national league. He's constantly striving to improve his skills and tactical abilities, as well as deepen his understanding of table tennis. He joined the Racket Insight team to share his passion and promote table tennis to more people!

Blade: Nexy Joo Sae Hyuk | Forehand:Butterfly Sriver FX | Backhand: Dawei 338d-1
Playstyle: The Defender

4 thoughts on “Short Pips vs Long Pips – What Are The Similarities and Differences, and Which Should I Play With?”

  1. Hi,

    Thank you for this helpful information.
    In a brief explanation, how an inverted pimps can outplay the long/short pimples?

    1. Hello Jeff,

      As inverted rubbers are the most versatile, there are many, many ways in which they can outplay long or short pips. You can outplay them by attacking, defending, blocking, etc. There are many playing styles and all can be played with inverted rubbers to a very high level.

      Sorry if my answer was rather vague, it’s just that there are countless ways in which inverted rubbers can beat short and long pimples.

    1. Hello Sundeep,

      With sponge, you’ll generally be able to generate more speed and spin on the ball. OX short pips are hardbats, which don’t generate speed and spin that easily.

      Cheers,
      Álvaro

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