Know your responsibilities when choosing a table tennis rubber

As a league Preston Table Tennis Association (PTTA) is affiliated to Table Tennis England.

Source: Preston Table Tennis Associations Mission Statement and Rules which can be found HERE

As a consequence, we adopt many of the rules and regulations used by Table Tennis England.

"8.   Match Play

(a)  All matches will be played under the Laws of Table Tennis as adopted by Table Tennis England."

Source: Preston Table Tennis Association Rules

Table Tennis England in turn adopt many of the rules and regulations of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) - subject to minor changes.  Table Tennis England's Competitive Table Tennis Requlations provide that:

"...the ball and also the covering material on the side of a racket blade used for striking the ball shall be of a type and brand currently authorised by ITTF."

Source: Table Tennis England - Approved Equipment

and

"2.4.9 The racket covering shall be of a brand and type currently authorised by the ITTF"

Source: The ETTA Approved Laws of Table Tennis 2013/14

What does this mean for you?

This means the PTTA and YOU have a responsibility to make sure that YOU are using "Authorised Equipment" when playing in events or competitions organised by the PTTA.  If in doubt, check with a member of the Executive Committee.

The ITTF authorises the following types of equipment :

  • Table Tennis Balls - see HERE
  • Table Tennis Nets - see HERE
  • ITTF Sports Floors - see HERE
  • Table Tennis Tables - see HERE and
  • Racket Coverings - see HERE

The ITTF does not currently authorise rackets or sponges.

This article only deals with "racket coverings".

What is a "Racket Covering"?

When you play table tennis, you typically play with a what's called a setup. Your setup usually consists of a

  1. racket which is sometimes also called a bat, blade or paddle
  2. sponge - if there is no sponge, the racket covering is often described as being "OX" - without sponge
  3. racket covering (sometimes called top sheet) which can be either pimpled or smooth (often called reverse or inverted)

Do not confuse the term "rubber" with the racket covering. The racket covering is only one part of the "rubber".

How do YOU know if the "Racket Covering" YOU are using  is currently "Authorised" by the ITTF?

Every ITTF authorised racket covering is listed in the ITTF's List of Authorised Racket Coverings (LARC).  The latest  LARC can be found on the ITTF's website HERE.

The LARC is updated by the ITTF every few months and shows:

  • the time period the LARC is valid for
  • the manfucturers name, brand name and ITTF authorisation code for each racket covering
  • the names of racket coverings which will soon loose their authorisation. For example, Xiom Sigma 1 Europe will no longer be authorised from 1 July 2015.

If your racket covering has been approved by the ITTF, it will

  • have an authorisation code molded on to it
  • display the supplier and brand name
  • display the ITTF logo
  • and be listed on the current LARC

TIP: Pay attention to the LARC. Retailers will often heavily discount table tennis rubbers which have or are about to be removed from LARC.  Before you buy one of those discounted rubbers, check to see what it's authorisation status is.

Where can you find the ITTF authorisation code on your racket covering?

The ITTF authorsiation code is usually found at the bottom of the racket covering and is typically enclosed in a rectangular box.

For example, I currently use Yasaka Rakza 7 which has the ITTF logo and authorisation number "83-007" molded into the surface of the rubber. This is the same number that's shown on the ITTF's latest LARC list, so I know Rakza 7 is approved.

If you want to know what criteria a racket covering has to pass as part of the authorsiation process, check out the ITTF's Technical Leaflet T4: Racket Coverings.

TIP: The rectanglar box containing the authorisation number was said to be used to help identify racket coverings which had been illegally tuned or boosted.  If people illegally tuned or boosted their rubbers, the rectangular box would expand and possibly lose it's shape. This would be a clue that someone could be cheating.

What should you do if your racket covering  is not shown on the ITTF's LARC?

Don't panic. The ITTF only test the racket covering. They do not test the sponge. Sometimes manufacturers use the same authorised racket covering but put different sponges underneath them.  They then give this new combination a different name, a name which might not display on the LARC because the name refers to the rubber combination and not just the racket covering.

Just because a rubber is not shown on the LARC doesn't necessarily mean the racket covering used isn't authorised.

If you can't find your racket covering on the latest ITTF LARC either:

1. Contact the seller or manufacturer and ask them if your rubber, specifically the racket covering, is currently authorised.

or

2. Contact someone on the PTTA Committee and ask their advice.

As a league we are primarily concerned with promoting and helping people play organised table tennis.  We also recognise that table tennis equipment is not cheap and many members play for fun or exercise and have used the same equipment for years. If your racket covering turns out not to be authorised by the ITTF, a decision will be made by the PTTA on whether you should be allowed to continue to use your racket covering.

Am I allowed to check my opponents rubbers before a match?

Ok, so now you've checked your own rubbers and you're happy they are ITTF authorised and you can use them. What about your opponent.  Can you check their equipment too?

Yes you can.

Law 2.04.08 The Racket says:

"Before the start of a match and whenever he or she changes his or her racket during a match a player shall show his or her opponent and the umpire the racket he or she is about to use and shall allow them to examine it. "

Remember though, examining your opponents racket doesn't mean you can scrape your nails across the surface of the racket covering or try and break any pimples off.  Treat your opponents equipment with the same respect, or more respect than you treat your own.

What should I do if I think my opponent is using un-authorised equipment?

All our league matches are umpired by members of the competing teams. Nobody wants to get in to an argument with an opposing player or teams so use your common sense.

  1. Raise your concern with your opponent and their team captain to see if an amicable agreement can be reached. 
  2. If the dispute needs further mediation and you are playing at the table tennis centre, seek the advice of the duty officer in charge. Their name is printed on each weeks fixture list which will be on display at the centre.

If players and officials cannot agree whether a racket covering can be used in our local league competitions

  1. make sure you still play your games, even if the player chooses to complete their games with the disputed equipment - we are all here to play table tennis
  2. you can make a complaint by:
    • writing the details of the dispute clearly on the back of the match score card
    • signing the card next to your complain
    • send the details of the dispute immediately by letter or email to the MRC Secretary for a ruling
    • copy your club secretary and the opposing teams club secretary in to your email to the MRC Secretary

Remember, the MRC can only look in to your complaint if you make it in accordance with the PTTA's rules.

Interesting FACTS:

Did you know

  • a racket can be any size, shape or weight and
  • the combined thickness of racket covering and sponge cannot exceed 4.0mm. How that combined thickness is made up can vary. For example one manufacture could describe their rubber as being sold as "Max" (which means the combined thickness of sponge and rubber is 4.0mm), but the sponge could be 3mm thick and the racket covering 1mm thick meaning the maximum thickness of top sheet would be 1mm whereas another manufacturer could also describe their rubber as max but it could have a sponge thickness of 2.1mm and a racket covering thickness of 1.9mm
  • It's often thought that the thicker the sponge, the faster and spinnier the rubber will be but at the expense of control because the rubber will be more lively and faster. Don't get drawn in to this hype. Whilst it's true a thicker sponge can help generate more spin the biggest factor in determining both spin and speed is YOU and your level of ability.

Paul Grayham  Jacobaeus TT Club

Please note: The position of Rules and Research Secretary is currently vacant.  If you are interested in taking over this role, please contact any member of the Executive Committee.

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