Tuesday 11 March 2014

Why Sharara has it All Wrong About Plastic Balls

The closer we get to the much anticipated (feared) release of the plastic ball, the more we seem to be moving away from the first tragic excuse for the balls instatement in the first place. Mentions of celluloids banned production and its flammable nature have seemingly diminished as we move to more of the same old ideas about slowing the game down and making it more spectator friendly.

ITTF President Adam Sharara

One question that has been asked above all is this, is it worth it? Is this really the best move to improve the sport? Is this the right step to increase the popularity of the sport? Well I'm not so sure. In order to make the game easier for people to watch you are reducing the very two elements which have made table tennis so popular to play and to watch.

There have also been strong claims that this is a sad attempt to put a dampner on the increasing dominance of the Chinese National Team. This in itself is a huge joke, as if any team is going to quickly adapt to any changes in the sport, it is China, and they will do it 4 times faster than any other nation. There is no doubt in my mind that China will have a firm grasp on the plastic ball by the time it is internationally adopted as the official competition ball.

Having played with some plastic balls from Palio (which I don't think have been ITTF approved) it is clear that the speed and spin will diminish. DHS announced that they were trying to get as close to the celluloid ball as possible, but it is clear that this is not ITTF's motive.

The new ball will be marginally bigger than 40mm

While there are complaints all around, I think we will adjust to the new ball and life will go on, but in reality I don't believe this is going to be the big answer to improving viewership. Remember the game was slowed down once already and while popularity on the web has gone from strength to strength (partially a result of a high amount of online promotion), the number of people attending live events has continued to diminish from the times of the 38mm ball.

The only real way to judge the scale of the new balls success or failure will be to wait until it is finally transitioned into the sport and see the true impact. For now I think this is a huge slap in the face to the players and won't achieve all that much for the sport.


  1. http://ittf.com/_front_page/ittf_full_story1.asp?ID=34594&Category=media&Competition_ID=&

    Have you read this yet Matt? It talks about how Chinese govt has stopped the production of these balls. Makes it kind of hard to produce them globally when most come from China.

    I know you don't like Sharara, but he's doing what needs to be done. tbh the worst thing will probably end up being the annoying broken sound of the ball.

    1. Thanks for posting that, it's the first I have heard about the original reasoning for changing the balls in quite a while. I think it's going to be a tough transition for everyone.

    2. The question is: is he telling the truth? The OOAK forum has repeadetly asked written proof of the production stop of celluloid. Never got a proof.

      Also forum members, some with knowledge of celluloid production, never found any written proof.

      I think the celluloid production stop, the slowing down of the game and the dominance of the Chinese are smoke screens. It's about money, maybe accompanied in the background by one of several of the smoke screens.

  2. The problem is that Sharara admits all his ridiculous rule and equipment changes are to reduce the power of the Chinese players. The Chinese are the best players in the world by far and will not make any difference. Like all other sports we want the players to win and trying to handicap is insane on the contrary we should be incorougaing them. The plastic ball will bring the game into further decline as proven in the European Champions with many cracked ball bad bounces and many shock results
    Barry Meisel


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