I was reading on reddit that there's a new ball being used for table tennis. Is this true?
Are there new rules in place regarding a new ball? If so what caused the change to of rules?
Up until recently, all table tennis balls were made of celluloid. ITTF has mandated a change to a new ball, known as the plastic ball or poly ball. The deadline for the use of the plastic ball was July 1, 2014, and the Belarus Open was the first event to use the plastic ball. From this point on, all World Title and ITTF sanctioned events will use the plastic ball.
The reason behind the switch to the plastic ball is two-fold. Initially, the reason given was that celluloid is increasingly becoming difficult and expensive to obtain, due to dangers in production and increasing regulatory restrictions. However, ITTF president Adham Sharara revealed in an interview in February 2014 that another purpose was to slow down the game:
From the technology point of view, we’re going to reduce speed. In fact, we’re developing a technology test, which’ll have a bounce limit. If you see Chinese players performing the stroke, it’s difficult to see the ball. This has to slow down. We’re also changing balls. FIFA made the balls lighter and faster, but we’re changing balls from celluloid to plastic for less spin and bounce. We want to slow down the game a little bit. It’ll come into effect from July 1, which, I think, is going to be a very big change in the sport.
In addition to the material change, the diameter of the ball is changing slightly. Celluloid balls were required to be between 39.50 and 40.50mm, and the new plastic balls need to be between 40.00 and 40.60 mm.
The new balls are controversial. Many of the old plastic balls (before 2014) were not reviewed well. They did not meet ITTF requirements and were more prone to breaking than celluloid balls. ITTF claims that all of the plastic balls that were approved this year (the first plastic balls were approved on January 24, 2014) are better than the older plastic balls. As more tournaments using the plastic balls occur, time will tell what changes the new balls introduce to the sport.
ITTF is still approving celluloid balls, and they may still be used for non-ITTF sanctioned events. If you have an ITTF-approved ball in your hand and are unclear if you have a celluloid or plastic ball, the plastic balls have "40+" printed on them. Celluloid balls have "40" printed without the "+" character.
ITTF has published a Q&A fact sheet on the new plastic balls (pdf).
After reading the Q&A Sheet. I did some more research and watched a couple youtube reviews. The youtube video does confirm the intent of ITTF: slowing down the game.
Mainly this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0-ogajfDqI
Here are some key aspects they highlighted: