Table tennis paddles, ping pong bats, table tennis rackets? Whatever you call them, it’s important that you get the best one for your game. Aside from the table itself, the ping pong paddle can have a tremendous impact on your performance as a player.
As a sport, table tennis requires little equipment – a table, two paddles, a net and a ball. The quality of the ball and net can only be tweaked so much; it is the table and the paddle that can alter your gameplay and approach to the sport the most. In this article, we will take a look at the various kinds of ping pong paddles and help you in selecting the one that is just right for you.
Table Tennis Paddles – The Basics
Even if you’ve never played table tennis before, you probably already know what table tennis paddles looks like: a wide top end, covered with rubber on both sides, and a narrow handle. Officially, it is called a racket by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), but many hobby players in the US call it a paddle, and in Europe it’s often known as a bat.
Both sides of the paddle are covered with rubber, and the choice of rubber is very important as it can significantly alter the spin or speed offered by the paddle.
Top quality players often choose to use different varieties of rubber on the two sides as it affords them greater playing options. For example, a player might choose to cover one side with a rubber that offers greater spin, and the other side with something that increases the ball speed. This allows the player to switch his grip and play and dictate the speed/spin offered according to the demands of the game.
Official rules say that the two surfaces of the paddle must be covered black and red to help the opponent distinguish the kind of surface used.
Table Tennis Paddles For The Beginner Player
Most novice players start off with a premade paddle – that is, one that is sold as-is and doesn’t require any assembly, like the popular Stiga Supreme (pictured above).
Another very high quality racket, that is very popular, is the Killerspin Jet 600. Watch the short video below and you will learn a lot about this racket and table tennis paddle features in general.
Table tennis paddles like these are a convenient way to start off with the sport. More importantly, it will allow you to explore the game, understand your approach to it, and fine tune your own playing style.
Customize Your Own Table Tennis Racket
Once you are fairly comfortable with the game, you might want to opt for a customized table tennis racket. Most serious players prefer to buy blank blades and glue rubber sheets onto them as per their playing style. This allows a great deal of versatility. For example, a player who prefers to use fast strokes with minimal spin can customize a paddle to fit his playing style.
Blank blades can be bought from dozens of manufacturers such as Stiga, Butterfly, etc. The blades are made of a variety of different materials like hardwood, carbon fiber, graphite, etc. If it is made of wood, it can have anything from 5 to 7 layers of wood. Typically, the blade manufacturer will mention specifically if it allows for fast, slow, offensive, defensive or all-around gameplay.
Some manufacturers might label their blades for speed and control on a scale of 1-10 (10 implying fast, 1 implying slow). Faster blades are typically lighter (less than 80 grams), while heavier blades offer greater control. For all around play, pick a blade that falls somewhere in the middle range – around 80 grams.
Get A Grip On Handle Design
The blades also differ in their handle design. The most popular is the flared, or concave, design – a handle that allows for a relaxed grip. Those with larger hands prefer to use blades with anatomic handles which have a bulge in the center to allow for better grip. Other options include the penhold and straight handle designs. Try out different blade designs until you get something that complements your playing style.
Getting The Correct Rubbers
Once you’ve bought the blade, you will need to get rubber sheets. Depending on your playing style, you can opt for different customizations – rubbers with pimples, smooth rubbers, sponge covered with pimpled rubber, etc. All these offer a different playing experience. Manufacturers typically rate them for speed, control, and spin.
Thicker rubbers (around 2.2mm thick) tend to offer a faster, more offensive gameplay than thinner rubbers (which might offer greater control). Experiment with different rubbers until you find your comfort level.
The construction of a ping pong paddle in terms of the blade design and rubber quality can significantly alter how you play the game. High quality rubbers can offer greater speed, control or spin and can be a definite advantage in a competitive setting.
Table Tennis Paddles – Summary
It can take quite some time to understand your own preferences when it comes to table tennis paddles, blades and rubbers. Experiment, try out different designs if you can, and as your game develops you will know what the best racket is for your style of play.