Understanding long pimples: How they work and how to beat them

Long pimples can be a nightmare for many beginner and intermediate players. You have got to grips with the spins from inverted rubbers of all different types; but then a long pimples player comes along that lays down an entirely new set of problems. Many of these frustrated beginner/intermediate players believe that the spin long pimple rubbers produce is unpredictable. However, this is not true! Once you understand what is happening to the ball when hit in different ways by the pimples it is not just possible but easy to figure out how to beat them. Let’s take a closer look at what is happening.

One key thing to understand about long pimples is that they do not easily produce spin. This leaves a player that knows what they are doing in an extremely advantageous position because they can manipulate the ball and receive what kind of spin they want back. Check out the table below showing what spin you will receive back when playing long pimples.

Your Shot

(with inverted rubber)

Long Pimples Shot Spin that comes back
Topspin Chop/backspin Backspin
Backspin Chop/backspin No spin/slight topspin
No spin Chop/backspin No spin
Topspin Topspin Backspin
Backspin Topspin Slight topspin
No spin Topspin No spin/slight topspin
Topspin Block No spin/slight backspin
Backspin Block No spin/slight topspin
No spin Block No spin/slight topspin

So how do you use this information to beat your opponent with long pimples?

If you are playing a classic defensive player that uses pimples on the backhand side and tends to chop you can use this simple tactic.

  1. Serve a backspin ball into the pimples which they will likely receive with a chop.
  2. If the ball is high enough and there is an opening, kill the ball into the open space to win the point. If the point can not easily be won with this shot, topspin to the pimples which they will most likely chop.
  3. Push the backspin ball to the pimples which they will probably chop.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you create a chance to win the point.

Another tactic to use is to just play light topspin into the pimples. This works because the more topspin that you put on the ball, the more backspin that can come back. By using light topspin, you maintain your attack but avoid those nasty heavy backspin balls which are tricky to receive.

As with players that use inverted rubbers, there are many different playing styles with long pimples. Adjust your tactics to each player using the table above as a reference. The reason that many players find playing long pimples in particular so difficult is that they are not used to playing against them. Play these players as often as you can with clear tactics to try out and you will improve. The way the ball reacts will become as predictable to you as with inverted rubber.

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