NB: For the 2014/15 season, we in Preston are only allowed to use celluloid balls in league match play.
From 1st July 2014 the ITTF have approved plastic table tennis balls to be used in ITTF sanctioned competitions. However, to do it they've had to amend Technical Leaflet T3 which documents the tests and specifications any ball - celluloid or plastic - has to meet before being approved. These temporary amendements apply to certain tests for the plastic ball only. Come January 2016 the temporary specifications will be removed and the plastic ball will have to pass the same tests with the same specifications as the celluloid ball.
What this means for players buying plastic balls now:
This means, current plastic balls you can buy may or may not play similar to the celluloid balls you are used to depending on what version of a source ball you buy and who made it. Unfortunately at the moment there is no way to tell which company made which branded ball or what stage of the developement process it's at.
Importantly, don't make the mistake of thinking because Joola brand a ball as "Joola" that the ball is made by them. There are currently only 5 manufacturers of plastic balls who supply all 60 plus versions of the approved plastic ball to various "branding companies" like Joola, Stiga and Butterfly who sell them on to us as their own.
For more information:
If you want to know more about the introduction of the plastic ball, how you can identify a plastic ball, when it was made etc watch pts 1+2 of our video series.
If you want to know how the balls are tested and what specifications they have to pass, watch the pts 3-8 of our video series
But what really matters is how the new plastic ball plays. And if you want to know that, watch pts 9-11 of our video series.
A big thank you to all those people who helped and took part in this project.