Player Level and StyleCombination bat player with long pips on the backhand - 2000+ USATT level.
SummaryAfter several years of playing defensively with a Timo Boll Spirit blade that I had originally purchased to use for two wing looping, I decided that it might be a good idea to try using a blade that actually was intended for chopping. I still wanted to retain the ability to pick off any loose balls and occasionally counter attack, so I needed a blade that still had some offensive capability.
Based on this criteria, the Butterfly Matushita Pro Special looked to be worth a try. Featuring a combination of slower willow wood outer plies, with Arylate/Carbon inner plies, it was advertised as a blade that would give great control when chopping against fast loops, but still with enough firepower to hit winners when the chance comes along. I had liked the feel of the Arylate/Carbon in my Timo Boll Spirit blade, so I had high hopes for the Matsushita Pro Special. But would it live up to my lofty expectations?
Who Will Like ItDefensive players who are looking for excellent feel and control, but with some attacking capability as well.
Who Will Hate It
- Players looking for a super fast blade, or a very light blade.
- Players who prefer their racket to have the center of gravity towards the handle, or compact head sizes.
SpecificationsThe Matsushita Pro Special weighs in at around 95+-5 grams. Although this is not light for a blade, this will be more than compensated by the fact that most defensive players will be using a thin sponge or OX version long pimples (no sponge) on one side of the racket. It has at least a semi-large head, and a normal handle length. It is a 5 ply blade, with willow outer plies and arylate/carbon inner plies (don't ask me what the middle ply is!). Butterfly rates it as Speed 7.4 and Control 8.4, but I'd say the speed is a little less than that, and the control a fair bit more. By comparison, Butterfly rates the Timo Boll Spirit as Speed 8.3 and Control 7.9, but the Matsushita Pro Special has a lot less speed and a lot more control for chopping than the Spirit, in my opinion.
Initial ImpressionsThe first thing I noticed was the size of the racket head - it seems huge in comparison to my previous blades. This is not a bad thing for a defensive racket though - many defensive blades have larger heads.
The second thing that stood out was how head-heavy the racket was - no doubt due to the extra rubber on the bigger racket head. I was a little concerned about this, since I have always been a believer in the idea that you get more control if the center of gravity of the racket is closer to the handle. But the proof would be in the playing.
Playing ImpressionsI started with a sheet of 1.0mm Tackiness Chop on the forehand side, and Stiga Destroyer OX (no sponge) long pips on the back. I tried this combination for about a week, and three things were immediately obvious.
- I had what felt like an incredible amount of control of the ball when chopping. This translated to the ability to vary my backspin a lot more, since I could increase my spin without losing control of the ball. I soon got used to the head heaviness of the racket, since it didn't seem to affect how the blade played in any way. Now I don't even think about it, to be honest.
- It was also incredibly SLOOOOOOWWWWW. I was having two main problems with the lack of speed - firstly, it was so slow that when pushing close to the table with the normal rubber, it was hard to put my opponents under pressure with a fast push, and secondly I had a tendency to put the ball into the net when chopping at a distance with the Tackiness Chop, because my chop was so slow the ball was reaching its peak height over my side of the table, and then dipping into the net!
- The long pips actually seemed faster than the normal rubber! I wasn't really sure what to make of that at the time, but it certainly was weird.
With the Domination on the forehand of the Matsushita Pro Special, I am now a very happy camper indeed! I have further increased my ability to spin the ball when chopping with my smooth rubber, due to the increased control. The slight loss of pace when attacking hasn't really affected me, since my attacks were never super fast to begin with, relying on surprise and spin rather than speed. It still feels pretty much like my Timo Boll Spirit when attacking, it's just not as fast. I'm playing much better with this combination, and I'm planning to stick with the Matsushita Pro Special blade for the forseeable future.
One thing that all players should note - seal the blade before gluing any rubbers on it. I attached my long pips using a pre-used glue sheet (so it was not quite as sticky), and I still managed to remove several splinters from the blade when I removed the long pips later on. Darn! So despite the fact that the blade feels fairly smooth, seal it anyway.
OverallI would highly recommend this blade to any defensive player who wants to be able to vary the spin and have high control of the ball when chopping, while still being able to counter attack and pick hit any loose balls. Looking back, I really do wish I had decided to try this blade several years ago, as I'm sure my results would have been that much better!
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