[The traditional backhand still offers an advantage for certain common situations in game play. If the ball is looped to your forehand/backhand crossover point, if the incoming ball is a surprise, it's possible to react faster with a traditional block because there is no crossover point.]I've never seen a paddle quite like it. (See the picture on the right.) Its sheer width and large surface area permits support for the thumb, and also allows maximum surface area contact with the index finger and the fleshy part of the hand between the thumb and index finger. It also cut a 10g off the blade weight; doesn't sound significant but percentage-wise, that's quite a change: 86g down to 76g. The thumb achieves its support by rotating the blade in the hand until the thumb contacts the middle or centerline of the new handle. This re-angling of the blade makes the SuperCPen concept unique. [To get an idea of how different: compare the placement of the thumb here with that of the first picture above.] By comparing the SuperCPen picture above to the initial pictures below, you can see I've shaved away some material from the beveled top to provide a large, flat angled area for the thumb. (I've also removed a bit of material from the index finger side since I got a blister first time I played with the SuperCPen.) In contrast to the beveled top, the reverse side is completely flat with a cork sheet glued for good grip. Initial impressions? Well, I don't have any problems with the traditional Chinese grip. And my thumb modification already improved on that for the backhand, so I didn't expect that much more from the SuperCPen. But what about the forehand? I've only had the SuperCPen for a weekend. I did some ball drills with it. And I played a few matches, switching back and forth between the SuperCPen and a traditional blade nearly every game. My impressions? It's early days yet but here you go: Pluses:
- It's definitely good for the reverse backhand stroke. Stability is assured. Removing some of the beveled top surface seems to provide a flat thumb area seemed to improve it further. Compared to my thumb modification, the SuperCPen is as good (or better).
- You gain leverage for power on both sides. Your wrist ends up further away from the blade. A bit like the effect of a longer handle.
- Over the table backhand topspin/sidespin flick, the traditional block, and the reverse side small counterloop are definitely not as good. The simple reason is that I cannot achieve the same rotation as easily with the wrist. It could be a lack of wrist flexibility with the SuperCPen or the fact that the wrist rotation point is further away from the ball contact point: the "long lever" effect. You can easily test your wrist flexibility by closing the distance between your index finger and thumb to zero and then cocking the wrist back. And then check that against having the thumb and index finger further apart. There is a significant difference in my opinion. Mitigating against this: let me point out there is a rudimentary video on Dai's website for the "wrist turn" backhand, and also documentation for a "control" grip.
- As for the forehand loop, I found the SuperCPen a bit awkward. Grip was solid, but as I mentioned earlier, I don't have any grip problems with the regular Chinese-style blades. No net improvement felt.
- Push. I found I had less control with the push due to the long-lever effect. I didn't experiment with switching to the control grip just for this shot.
- Serve. Inferior experience due to less wrist flexibility with the SuperCPen.