I was recently asked for advice about choosing a Ping-Pong Paddle, and promised to provide one at my next “ping Pong Meet-up session. I had planned to simply copy one of the many guides to Table Tennis racket selection on the web, however ended up drafting a “Guide” with help from Luba Sadovska, who is my coach and table tennis guru.
We both hope you find the following helpful.
FACTORY VS CUSTOM MADE
There are a variety of factory made rackets that range in price and quality, and generally the cheaper the racket the poorer the quality. While such rackets may be fine for occasional hobby players, unfortunately manufacturer’s descriptions tend to exaggerate speed, spin, and other characteristics that need to be considered by players seeking to improve. Blades on such rackets also tend to be of poorer quality, and not suitable for upgrading rubbers as skills develop.
On the other hand, choosing too fast racket or blade is the best way to ruin your Table Tennis life and its common mistake of many players. Choosing a blade that is too fast for your play is doing it hard way which means you will be doing lots of mistakes until you can develop better touch. In the meantime you are relying on the equipment to produce POWER and SPEED. But instead you should produce that power and speed with good mechanics just using ALL round blade and classic rubber.
YOU NEED TO WALK BEFORE YOU RUN! With equipment that is too fast, it’s difficult to feel the difference and learn the touch. If you want to be strong in Table Tennis don’t rely on fast equipment but learn proper techniques. Start with OFFENSIVE blades (ALL +, OFF -) but not the super fast and hard blades (OFF +, OFF++). Most importantly, you need a blade that gives you as many options to develop your game as possible. A good choice for most players upgrading from a manufactured racket will be an all-round or all-round + blade.
The best blade OFFENSIVE or ALL+ blade should be Flexible, flexible increases the spin and the feeling which is so important.
4 TYPES OF COMBINATION (BLADE /RUBBER)
1. Soft rubber on flexible blade = best for consistency and rotation, this set up will give you maximum spin but only little on the ball separation speed, kick effect is medium
– Recommended for beginners and intermediate choppers
– Ideal for offensive players with variation Topspin and blocks
– Defensive players who punish their opponent by changing up spin
This is the most controllable set up, but weak, ball is spiny but slow
2. Hard rubber on stiff blade = has the highest rebound speed, the ball leaves the racket super fast, but it’s difficult to spin the ball because there is no dwell time. Rebound speed super fast , spin very weak , kick effect very weak
– Hitters who loves smashing every ball
– But they will make many unforced errors. No spin means no control
– Close to the table, quick attack playing style with tacky rubber
This is the fastest set up but no spin, super fast and risky shots, smash and flat hit (double edged sword)
3. Soft rubber on stiff blade = this set up gives you unique feel of bite and catapult. The soft rubber gives sufficient bite with good control. The hard blade gives the ball speed and the catapult effect on soft rubber. Fast rebound speed), medium spin, weak kick effect.
– Players who loves catapult effect (the rubber eats the ball, and rebound away)
– Good feel on fast blocks (good for blockers)
– Ideal for players lacking power who stick to the table
– Best for fast – attack play close to the table with some driving
4. Hard rubber on flexible blade = this set up is the mainstream and very balanced. With hard rubber the shots will rebound quickly (kick effect). Flexible blade will make it easier apply spin to the ball (because of dwell time). The hard rubber will give the ball speed and kick effect (more important), the blade will give dwell time, feeling and make the ball spin.
– Mid range looping players
– All round offensive style slightly away from table
You need a good technique, good acceleration to spin the ball. The ball rebound speed is not very fast due to flexible blade. You need to use your physical strength to increase this initial speed.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SET UP IS CRUCIAL – THE RIGHT SET UP FOR BEGINNERS
Very soft rubbers are not good for beginners, it will limit your strokes, prevent you to develop a full stroke mechanism. Example of soft rubber: hardness about 35 degrees.
Using too soft rubber the ball is bottom out (the ball leaves the racket before you finish the stroke) too soon. That means you will loose the energy of the stroke. Too soft rubber also prevents you to accelerate into the stroke because of the bottom out.
With hard enough rubber/medium hard rubber (hardness above 40 degrees – for example DONIC Bluefire M3) all of the energy of your stroke is transferred to the ball. You have a direct feeling of the ball, the more you accelerate, and the more balls are spiny.
Hard rubber is not bouncy at all, but gives the direct feeling of the ball. Develop the full mechanism of the stroke, good for players to develop good technique.
SO FOR THE BEST SETUP
Never choose rubber softer than 40 degrees hardness
If you want to control, a thin but hard rubber is much better than a thick soft rubber
For Forehand you can choose harder rubber because you can hit harder on FH
Don’t let anyone talk you into buying a more expensive racket than you need. Beginners and lower intermediate players may be tempted by the latest high-technology fads in blades or rubbers they see more advanced players using. If you are spending more than $200 you are paying way too much. Somewhere around to $100 to $150 should get you a high-quality racket suitable to your skill level and development. Also make sure you get a good cover to store your racket in, rubber protectors, and rubber cleaner.
The options for custom made rackets can be overwhelming given the number of different blades and rubbers on the market, as well as handle types. When choosing a handle type, go with what feels good to you. The most common choices these days are flared handles and straight handles, although you do see the occasional conic handle or even anatomic as well. A comfortable grip is most important, and grip tape can be used to adjust the handle to the size of your hand, and avoid rackets slipping from it.
Finally, before investing in a new racket, you may want to consider booking a session with certified coach who can analyze your skill level and recommend a suitable racket.
For a certified coach in your area please contact :
Luba Sadovska, North Shore Table Tennis Club
Intro into Competition Base/Advanced Coach, Competition Development Coach
Table Tennis Canada 🇨🇦 Master Coach Developer, Learning Facilitator and Coach Evaluator
1-604-209-7037 – www.nsttc.ca