Why would I create web pages addressing the issue of the new 40mm ball in tables tennis ? Isn't it 'a done deal' shouldn't we all just get with the program ? Isn't the 'big ball' a long awaited and almost universally applauded change ? Won't it make our sport more popular with spectators and maybe even new beginners ? Won't it help defensive players, currently overwhelmed by the speed and spin of the sport? Shouldn't we do something - or our sport may decline in popularity rather than grow ? Won't all clubs and tournaments be using 40mm balls very soon due to ITTF and USATT rulings anyway ? And isn't it just a minor change and nothing to get excited about?
As a person heavily involved in our great sport for over 20 years, the last 7 as a full time coach and club play promoter, I've heard these and similar questions or statements from a number of players and even club directors in recent weeks and months. Most ofthese arguments seem reasonable or even unauguable, until examined more closely as I and others who love the sport have begun to do.
I'll try to provide information on these and related topics on this web page and others linked to it.
Two questions are uppermost in my mind, as stated by members of my local table tennis clubs in Connecticut:
'Will will really have to change to that (40mm) ball ?'
And 'Why fight it, how could it have passed ITTF if it wasn't an improvement - surely they tested to prove it was a good thing for the sport ?
Of course, if either of these questions were based on true information, I would have already started using and promoting 40mm in my local clubs.
But first let me assure you that the USATT has authorized continued use of the 38mm ball for club play and sanctioned tournaments for years to come in addition to allowing events to use 40mm after October 2nd.
Don't just believe me, read it for yourself in the Umpires column in the July 2000 USATT magazine, or check with the many tournament directors across the country who are already planning or sanctioning tournaments using the 38mm ball for the rest of 2000 and into 2001.
Knowing that unlike the representatives of many foreign table tennis federations, they answer directly by election to the club and tournament players, the USATT board members voted against the ITTF president's 40mm proposal and have approved continued use of either ball at local discretion.
So what's the problem then - why a web-site - just play with the ball you prefer - right ?
Well first of all, if the 40mm ball was popular and a change for the better, or even just a minor change, it would still be best for all of us to switch to the 40mm ball.
But as more and more players try the new ball, some in countries where the unelected national association has 'mandated' conformity to the ITTF's 40mm ball, the questions and complaints are continuing and even increasing.
Check out the open discussion forum about table tennis at "About.Com" for a sampling of individual concerns about 40mm from around the world where it has been tried by players of various styles and skill levels.
(Excerpts from these and 'expert' opinions from the internet and publications are posted elsewhere here)
So the issue becomes, how can we insure that unlike some other countries, we will RETAIN the ability to use the 38mm we all learned to play with, at least until it's proven that 40mm is a viable, if not superior alternative ?
But didn't I just finish saying USATT has decided to allow either ball ?
Yes they have - but USATT and many in the 'business' of table tennis would consider it 'simpler/easier' and more advantageous to the sport if interest in using the 38mm ball would twindle, and the switch to 40mm could THEN be made mandatory, to conform to the preferences of the ITTF, the IOC and the US Olympic committee.
So my recommendation is that you investigate the issues, and don't hurry to switch permanently to 40mm until convinced it really is better for you, as a non-professional player who probably loves to play as I do but knows he enjoys 38mm and has real concerns about this change.
Also, encourage others to learn more about this issue and support your local clubs and tournament directors to likewise continue to use 38mm for at least the remainder of this year, while we see how the 'pro's' and others do with the 40mm ball 'experiment'.
If this isn't done, it will encourage the drumbeat of 'we may as well switch to 40mm , (even if we don't like it), because we 'can't stop it' anyway, and allow the USATT to bow to outside pressures and remove it's approval for continued use of 38mm in US sanctioned tournaments.