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Video Review: DHS 3 Star Plastic Ball

22 December 2014  | Posted in: Table Tennis Equipment, Table Tennis Reviews, Table Tennis Tips

Our equipment expert Matt Hetherington took to the tables with the new 3 star DHS plastic ball for some rigorous testing.
The review covers all aspects of the new ball and will teach you how to adjust to every new scenario created by the new ball.

 

1. The Bounce

Before even beginning the testing of the ball I performed a bounce test to compare the bounce of the DHS 3 star plastic ball to the Butterfly 3 Star Celluloid ball. The plastic ball has a lower bounce peak and is less responsive on the table surface, this is because of the slightly larger size of the new ball and also it's plastic material composition.

2. The Shape/Roundness

I also did a spin test with both balls. With the prototype plastic balls there were a lot of issues with how spherical the balls were. This is an issue which seems to have been almost overcome and the plastic balls I tested were of a reasonable roundness without too much inconsistency from each other.

3. Durability

I did a number of tests with the DHS 3 Star plastic balls and none of the balls have dented or broken during that time. I played for 3 hours to complete my review and still have all of the balls I used during the testing, all intact. While there have been a lot of rumours that these balls break easily, the ones I used seemed to be fairly durable.

4. Topspin Counterdriving

In a close table counterdriving situation the bounce of the ball does not have an overly big impact on play. While you remain close to the table the bounce is easy to adjust to. The main differences are that the plastic ball feels slower and heavier and you can almost feel the marginal size difference while you are playing. At this range from the table and considering the simplicity of the technique, there are not many changes you need to make in this area of the game.

5. Topspin Looping

When I started to loop I definitely noticed that I was not getting as much spin on the ball and it felt strange at first. I had to transfer more weight into the ball to achieve high spin and to be able to execute shots with more power. This was particularly obvious further back from the table where I struggled to adapt. Also with the lower and slower bounce the ball fell shorter than a celluloid ball would and I often found myself picking up the ball late in the bounce. This meant I had to create a higher arc on the ball and force a higher trajectory. The alternative to that is to move closer, which is what I did. At times it felt more effective to drive through the ball more and I found that strokes where I hit a little flatter instead of trying to brush the ball were more consistent.

6. Creating Power

A common misconception about the new plastic balls is that they are incredibly slow and you can't produce much spin. This has been overexaggerated, the actual results are marginal and the plastic ball is quite close to the composition and capabilities of the celluloid ball. While it can be hard to hit through somebody who is blocking, you are still able to produce powerful strokes. They don't quite have the speed of the celluloid ball but they can still be very effective.

7. Short/Long Pushing

Pushing proved to be more difficult to control than topspin. The ball bounced higher off the rubber and also higher on the table. It took a little while to try and reduce the height of our pushing strokes, particularly the short push. I found that I had to give the ball an extra little push in order to generate the spin I needed to keep the ball low to the net. The short push is now harder to play as the touchy stroke that it is with a celluloid ball. You need to take the ball a little earlier and create more angle and variation to produce a tight ball. You need to be able to play with a bit more force and confidence in these exchanges as the ball can bounce higher when playing underspin.

8. Service

While it is not possible to match the celluloid ball for producing spin on service, it is still possible to maintain good quality service with good spin. Again, when serving sometimes the ball bounced a little higher, but after the initial bounce on the table it slowed down (as noted in the bounce test) and it sometimes became possible to serve comfortable short serves with 3 or more bounces which would probably only bounce 2-3 times with a celluloid ball.

9. Playing Defensive Players

I played against a chopper and a long pips blocker during my ball testing and there was a greater level of consistency with the plastic ball from the defensive players. I felt that the defensive strokes weren't able to produce as much spin, but they were far more consistent in returning offensive shots. I also found that it was difficult for me to generate enough power to be able to hit through them and so I had to resort more to playing strong placement and make as much variation on the ball as possible to try and force errors.

10. Speed/Power Differences 

With the plastic composition of the ball and it's slight size increase, the plastic ball is certainly slower and tends to feel heavier when you first play with it. This is more evident in attacking situations. I did find that rallies lasted longer once I was able to get a better feel for the ball. One thing which was particularly interesting was that it felt easier to return attacking strokes, particularly when blocking and countering close to the table. With the slower speed of the ball it seemed there was a lower margin for error even when taking more risks. When generating my own power I had to increase my weight transfer and play a little faster through my core and arm swing in order to achieve the quality of stroke that I felt was satisfactory. While it is difficult to generate 100% power strokes, the ball is very comfortable in the 60-80% range for looping and making attacking plays.

Conclusions

To really adjust to the new ball you need to get out there and start playing with it. A lot of errors that I made were down to small adjustments and not the actual ball itself. Once I was able to increase my weight transfer and stay closer to the table, I felt much more confident making my attacking strokes and adjusting to the lower and slower bounce. This aspect of the game was easy to adjust to, the big task lies in perfecting the trajectory height of the ball and achieving good spin in the tight game elements, the service and long and short pushing game. With some variations and angle adjustments as well as altering timing, I was able to make enough adjustments to keep the ball low to the net and difficult to return. These I deemed as being most important for matchplay situations. So, overall the DHS 3 Star Plastic Ball is a very close rendition of the celluloid ball, while a few adjustments are required it is a great quality ball and one we will soon get used to with enough practice. 

 

Any comments or questions? Write a comment and let's talk! :)