Q&A - The myth about speed.

Q: Do I need a fast racket to play fast?

A: The really short answer is just NO, but I guess it deserves an explanation.

First, we need to define what it is to play fast. You can hit the ball hard, and you can make your topspin shots heavy. In both situations you must generate a lot of power, which usually requires long swings, that takes time to do. This is not fast! Playing fast is something different. It has only a little to do with the power you make, and more to do with when you hit the ball. To play fast you need to hit the ball early in the bounce. This way the ball travels shorter giving your opponent much less time to react.

If you play hard or heavy shots, you need a quite resilient racket. This kind of racket is usually perceived as fast, but what it does is that it sustains the harder shots better. The racket that gives you most power and the best feel is the one that fits you and the power in your game best.

If you play fast (taking the ball early) you usually want to put some pressure on the ball to give your opponent even less time to react. At the same time your movements are short to keep the pace, and the ball curve need to be quite short since you hit the ball close to the table or even over it. In this case an allround blade with thin rubbers would usually be best. Then you can attack the balls above the table, without shooting too far – but this kind of racket is usually perceived as slow.

So, that racket you use must first of all suit your game. The actual pace of the ball depends mostly on the amount of power you apply to the ball. Of course some rackets will make the ball move faster than others if you make exactly the same shot, but what is most important is what you do with the ball - and in many situations the "fast racket" is not the one that lets you apply the most power - e.g. when actually playing fast.

So talking about a "fast racket" is confusing and generally meaningless.

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