The Size of the Playing Area Makes a Difference – Michael Landers

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Have you ever noticed that when you play table tennis in a large area that the ping-pong® ball seems to move slowly and drops quickly? And have you noticed that when you play in a small area the ball seems to move at a rapid pace and doesn’t seem to drop? Believe me, it’s not just your imagination.

Recently while playing at the U.S. Open in the 160,000 square foot DeVos Place Convention Center, I realized that the massive size of the arena caused the ball to drop at a quicker rate than usual. Initially, I was playing with soft sheets of rubber on my forehand and backhand and really had trouble lifting the ball over the net. It just didn’t seem to even stick to the rubber at all.

I began watching others play in order to see if they had the same problems that I did. Shockingly, all of the players that used hard sheets of Chinese rubber hit the ball with ease and didn’t have any problems at all, while the players with softer rubber were having similar problems. I decided that it couldn’t hurt to try it out, so I put two new sheets of hard rubber on my racket and gave it a go. Low and behold, my problems vanished as the ball shot cleanly off the tacky surface of the rubber. So the next time you play in a large arena, consider playing with a harder sheet of rubber.

Michael Landers

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