Friday 7 February 2014

Will we Adjust to The New Plastic Ball?

The big question which has been on everyone's minds. How long will it take for us to adjust to the ITTF's new plastic ball? How will it be different? What limitations does it have? Well the best way to find out is to get hold of some and try them out. The first feeling you will experience is confusion as you try to figure out all the differences and adjust accordingly. I got my hands on some Palio plastic balls recently and tried them out!

Palio Plastic Table Tennis Ball

The first thing to mention is that my Chinese training partner only lasted 2 minutes on the table before walking off in disgust with a sour look on his face. I on the other hand was keen to give the ball a good tryout before I formed any solid opinions.

The first thing you notice is how firm the ball is, unlike the celluloid ball which can often have soft spots, the plastic ball is incredibly durable. The Palio ball is a seamless plastic ball also. I guess this means that these balls won't be as easy to break as the celluloid balls.

The unfortunate consequence of a harder ball surface is of course that the ball bounce is marginally higher. I found the bounce a little off-putting at first however it is not a significant enough difference to be a huge game changer and after a while it was a bit easier to judge.

When playing the ball had a few deviations and the couple of balls which I tried were not satisfactory in shape, they were not close enough to being accurately round. If anything the plastic ball tends to float more, it's certainly slower and heavier than the celluloid ball and you can feel it when playing, it's almost sluggish in comparison.

In terms of rallying, the plastic ball definitely makes the rallies longer, it makes it easier to return difficult shots. Even some of my students were returning balls that they definitely wouldn't be able to retrieve with a celluloid ball.

Double Fish Plastic Ball Label
The plastic balls will be labelled 40+ and of course ITTF have begun their approval process. As far as I am aware, the Palio balls are not yet ITTF approved and I'm hoping some of the other brands (particularly DHS) will be able to provide a ball far superior to the ones I tried.

One of the myths of the plastic ball is that it did not deviate when side spin was applied to the ball. While the trajectory is not as severe as with a celluloid ball, you are still able to 'hook and curve' the ball with side spin.

Oh on the other hand, when they say they sound like broken balls, they weren't joking. It's incredibly irritating to play with as all I wanted to do was grab the ball and find the crack!

In review it's going to take a little while to get used to these new balls, but not impossible. As we have weathered rule changes, equipment changes and more in the past, we will have to soldier on for the love of our sport to endure this intruiging new change to the game. Would love to hear from others who have tried out the ball as to what they thought!


  1. According to what I read in an article on, DHS has a seamed plastic ball now to make it similar to the traditional one. Great review! I would like to translate it for my blog in Spanish.

  2. We will get used to the new balls. It won't be easy, but we will manage it. :)

  3. is it true that short serves will disappear? Thanks

  4. No definitely not the case we will still be serving short ;)

  5. I like your post ,now I must complete my research for my paper..

  6. Non-cell ball by DHS, to be exclusively employed at all ITTF major events, OG Rio 2016 including.

    Due on general sell. on china market as of May 12.

  7. Nice review, but let's face it this awful ball is a step backwards for the game. It's way too slow and breaks so quickly you may as well throw them straight to land fill. They are also way too expensive. Whoever came up with this thing should be lashed to a chair before a robot full of the things. What's going on in the minds of the ITTF???


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