In September 2008 the ITTF will ban all speed glues what contain toxic solvents. Not everybody is happy with this plan of action of course since they have used to use the speed glues to improve their overall play in tournaments. I, however, agree with them on banning speed glues.
Where is speed glue originated from?
Speed glue was discovered in the 70ties when a table tennis player used bicycle puncture repair glue to repair his racket when the rubber of his racket was coming off.
The difference in playing characteristics immediately 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 which helped him to improve his overall gameplay very much.
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’s gluing rubber on their blades before every match 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
You could say this is a feast for the spectators’ eyes, but on the other hand, the rallies will get shorter and harder to follow. In the heydays of table tennis professional players used to be older than 30 years and have tons of experience before really getting into the top of the world.
Nowadays even young players of 16 years old can make it into the top by fast ‘labomba’ play and hours and hours of training every day. That’s why 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 which can cause cancer and other diseases. Now, when you glue two times a week this shouldn’t be a great problem for your health.
But when you’ve 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. The ITTF wouldn’t be very happy with this of course because they could be held responsible.
Like Dr. Jean-François Kahn said in a interview: “As a doctor and as a member of different national and international sport 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 just half a good one since the possibility remains for the players and coaches to make themselves some mixtures with different so-called “more or less harmful” glues and solvents. Today, despite a great number of commercial advertisements, there is not a single “clean” glue on the market.”
Aside from the health risks, the speed is also increasing a lot. New and faster rubber and blade techniques are developed continuously. Eventually, there isn’t much you can do against this, however, the real problem is the speed glue.
This glue is the head cause of the tremendous speed. Even a rather slow all-round racket can become deadly fast with a few layers of glue and professional players usually use up to 5 layers of glue.
As mentioned before because of this increasing speed; the sport is getting harder to follow for spectators, rallies are getting shorter, long rallies are slowly becoming rare and 16-year-old players can make it to the top of the world with their fast, close-by-the-table style of play.
Although our sport is the fastest ball sport in the world, it isn’t that popular in America and Europe. That’s what Table tennis is known for: Its tremendous speed, then why make the sport slower? Shouldn’t it get faster? Well again, it will make rallies shorter which will make it, even for table tennis players, boring to watch when it is shown on TV.
The camera angles aren’t that interesting as well, the view from behind/above the table will make it look slower and easier than it actually is. Then again when you’re filming at table-height it will be too fast to follow. Also because the sport is this 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 see.
Is there an alternative? The speed and spin that speed glue gives us now, won’t be feasible anymore of course when speed glue will be banned. However, most table tennis brands are already researching and developing new build-in-speed glue effect technologies comprehensively.
Butterfly, for instance, is coming with the ‘power-sponge’ rubbers and Joola with the ‘Energy Green Power’ rubber(Which has gotten great reviews for so far). Brands like Andro and Tibhar are also developing new rubbers with built-in speed glue effect.
As from September 2008, speed glue with toxic solvents will be banned. Especially at the international level, they will check the players’ glue until then tt-brands will continue researching and developing new rubber methods and they will probably find a solution, an alternative.
Even the fanatic speed gluers should be positive about this ban because now you won’t have to drag your glue with you for every training/tournament/match and you won’t have to glue multiple times at a tournament, it will save you some trouble(unless you want to buy expensive glue with a long lasting glue effect).
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.