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Speed Gluing Procedure


Prof. Radioj Hudetz


The speed gluing procedure was first introduced at the beginning of the eighties by top players such as Klampar, Yonyer, Appelgren, Surbek and others. It is generally accepted that the first player to start gluing was the Hungarian Klampar. Since then special glues have been developed, the procedure has improved and the number of players ‘speed gluing’ has greatly increased. Nowadays the stated procedure is used even by cadets who train intensively. ‘Speed gluing’ is the adopted norm for almost all top class attacking players.

‘Speed gluing’ Technique

‘Speed gluing’ is regularly used for both training and match play. Firstly the rubber must be carefully removed from the blade surface. It is advisable to protect the blade surface with a thin layer of varnish (lacquer) to protect the wood from tearing. You then apply a thin layer of the special speed glue to both the blade and sponge surfaces. Let it dry for a short time. This gluing procedure can be repeated once or more times before the rubber is eventually attached to the blade. It can be a problem to get the rubber to stick down around the edge of the blade this is because the rubber actually begins to alter its flat shape due to the effect of the special speed glue. Apply some pinching pressure until the rubber settles down. You are now ready to play and feel the difference it will make. The procedure is repeated each time you intend to play. The quantity of speed glue applied each time will be determined by the individual player. Old used rubber will react differently to new rubber and you may find that it requires several thin applications of glue. Speed glue builds up layers on the back of the rubber and it should be removed to obtain the best effects. This technique has become a real ritual which is performed by players prior to each training session or competition. Each player discovers exactly how much and how often they require to speed glue depending on their frequency of performance.

The following tools are used in the effort to perform ‘speed gluing’ in the most effective manner;

Brush to apply the glue to the sponge and the blade, roller to apply pressure to the rubber to help it stick to the blade and also to avoid air bubbles between the rubber and blade and lastly a scissors to trim the rubber to the shape of the blade.

Speed Gluing Effects

The special liquid glues which are used for speed gluing must have the approval of the International Table Tennis Association (ITTF approved). All products produced by the table tennis brands are approved. When we think of glue we think of sticking something together. Where speed glue is concerned the mixture combines a sticking ability but also more importantly produces a growth change in the cell structure. Such glues enable sponge cells to swell which results in increased horizontal tension of the rubber surface. Because the glue is of a special liquid it does not entirely fix the rubber to the blade therefore the sponge slides lightly when the ball tangentially hits the rubber surface resulting in greater horizontal stretch which gives more strength and more rotation. According to measurements performed with the ball hitting a fixed racket (Dr Tiefenbacher), the difference in rubber which has been speed glued and the rubber which has not been speed glued can be compared with the effect of a 2.1mm thick sponge and that of a sponge which is only 1.3mm thick. The increase in spin is calculated to be 12% and the vertical bouncing speed is increased by 5%. The spin growth is considerably greater when the racket is in motion.

The ‘speed gluing’ procedure wears the rubber out much faster while the classical gluing method which only attaches the rubber to the blade does not have this effect. This is undoubtedly one of the undesirable effects of ‘speed gluing’. Research has shown that rubber which is glued normally onto the blade has a tolerance to endure 120 direct strokes, executed with the greatest strength at the same point on its surface. While ‘speed glued’ rubber can only endure approximately 20 such strokes at the same point on its surface. The reason lies in the fact that the link between the rubber and the sponge is weakened due to the swelling of the sponge. At the same time the glue which has reached the link between the rubber and the sponge causes vulcanisation of the link. This break down of the link causes the sponge to separate from the rubber which results in air filled balloons appearing on the surface. The rubber then becomes useless. Use more glue and apply it more frequently and the rubber soon becomes useless.

The ‘speed gluing’ effect can be experienced more aggressively particularly in the spin against spin game. The excessive ability of increased rotation is significant and the speed will also be increased.

The effect on the control strokes are quite negative as it becomes much more difficult to place balls short. The more the racket has been ‘speed glued’ the ‘more sensitive’ it becomes to controlling the opponents spins.

Use of ‘Speed Gluing’

High quality, very elastic reverse rubbers with relatively soft sponge are adequate for ‘speed gluing’ and they are mainly used in the attacking game. The horizontal elasticity is an especially important characteristic for the spin game. Soft sponge enables the glue to penetrate into the cell structures and begin the swelling process. It would be considered advisable not to start ‘speed gluing’ until the basic attacking game technique has been solidly established and brought under control. There are no benefits to start ‘speed gluing’ at an early stage of development as the player will have no control of the racket or be easily able to adopt the basic techniques of the modern attacking game. The ‘speed gluing’ technique should be introduced very gradually during the first stages of use. Over use has the consequence of bad stroke development and leads to little understanding of the benefits of its use. As the standard of ability increases and players go forward into the middle ability game the use of ‘speed gluing’ can be increased. However, this should never be increased to the extent of use that a top class player uses. Top class players have developed the control to be able to play with an extremely ‘speed glued’ bat.

Medical Aspects of ‘Speed Gluing’

At one point there was a lot of concern raised about the materials used of which some were poisonous substances in the making of ‘speed glue’. Numerous discussions were held to understand the medical dangers. It was even banned for a period until further research was obtained. The ban was raised by the ITTF after introducing new guide lines appertaining to the contents of the glue. All ITTF approved glues do not contain any of the poisonous substances like trichloroethylene and toluol these have been eliminated. Because there are other glues which come from outside of the table tennis world available for ‘speed gluing’ under no circumstances are they tolerated for use in table tennis. If players are caught using banned products they are prone to be disqualified from competition and the worse consequence is the possibility of endangering their health. It is advisable to avoid frequent contact of glue on the skin even with ITTF approved glues. You should always use the brush provided for the application of ‘speed glue’ and always glue-up in a well ventilated area.

Source : Tibhar


Last Update : 25 November, 2002

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