In September 2008 the ITTF will ban all speed glues which contain toxic solvents. Not everybody is happy with this plan of action. Speed glues have been used to improve overall play in tournaments. I agree with them on banning speed glues.
Where is speed glue originated from?
Speed glue was discovered in the ’70s when a table tennis player used bicycle puncture repair glue to repair his racket when the rubber peeled from his racket.
The difference in playing became obvious. However, this high-performance effect only lasted for a few hours after playing with it. Speed glue really became popular when player Dragutin Šurbek from Yugoslavia used it from 1979 till 1983 helped him to improve his overall gameplay.
Since then, the whole world is using speed glue to increase the amount of speed and spin, especially in the higher classes and at the international level. Everybody is gluing rubber on their blades before matches and training. Due to this, playing table tennis is becoming faster and faster (this is also caused by faster rubbers and blades).
Shorter rallies for the game
In the heydays of table tennis, professional players used to be older than 30 years with tons of experience before really getting to the top of the world.
Nowadays, young players of 16 years can make it to the top by fast ‘labomba’ play and training every day. I agree with the plans of the ITTF (international table tennis federation) on banning speed glue.
Toxic chemicals found in speed glue
The main reason behind this plan of action is that there are toxic chemicals in the speed glue that can cause cancer and other diseases. When you glue twice a week it is a problem for your health.
If you have been playing since you were ten years old, train 5 (or more) times a week, and glue multiple times a day, then this could become a serious issue.
Like Dr. Jean-François Kahn said in an interview: “As a doctor and as a member of different national and international sports bodies (French TTA, ETTU, ITTF) I feel responsible for the health of our players and of other people concerned with table tennis, and I am convinced that the situation existing for over fifteen years is not the best one”.
The decision taken in the early nineties to limit the concentration of some organic solvents (aromatic and chlorinated solvents) is excellent. Although, players and coaches can make themselves mixtures with different so-called “more or less harmful” glues and solvents. Today, despite a large number of commercial advertisements, there is not a single “clean” glue on the market.”
Aside from the health risks, the speed of production is also increasing. New and faster rubber and blade techniques are developed continuously. There not much one can do about the production. However, the real problem is the speed glue.
Glue is the cause of the tremendous speed. Even a rather slow all-round racket can become deadly fast with a few layers of glue. Professional players usually use up to 5 layers of glue.
As mentioned earlier, because of this increasing speed the sport is getting harder to follow for spectators. Rallies are getting shorter, while long rallies are slowly becoming rare. On the other hand, 16-year-old players can make it to the top of the world with their fast, close-by-the-table style of play.
Camera angles are no longer interesting. The view from behind/above the table will make it look slower and easier than it is. Then when filming at table-height it will be too fast to follow. Since the sport is fast the number of defenders in the top 100 of the world is very little.
Only about 7 defensive players can still compete with offensive players of that class. While matches of a defender vs. an attacker are the most spectacular to watch.
Is there an alternative? The speed and spin that speed glue gives will not be feasible anymore once the glue is banned. However, most table tennis brands are already researching and developing new build-in-speed glue effect technologies comprehensively.
The company Butterfly, for instance, has the ‘power-sponge’ rubbers and Joola the ‘Energy Green Power’ rubber (Which has great reviews so far). Brands like Andro and Tibhar are also developing new rubbers with built-in speed glue effect.
When speed glue with toxic solvents is banned. tt-brands will continue researching and developing new rubber methods and they will probably find a solution or an alternative.
Eventually, this ban will also save you some money! Because having to buy 2x Bryce and Fair-chack glue every 3/4 months is more expensive than 2x Bryce Power sponge every 3/4 months.
I hope it was helpful and interesting to you all.