Published on May 30, 2021 Last Updated on July 25, 2021 by Sorin Petroj
This article will help you on how to choose a table tennis racket for your needs. Players from different regions use different names for a table tennis racket.
Some players like to call it a ping pong paddle, while others say it bat, racket, or racquet. But table tennis racket is the official name in the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
Choosing a table tennis racket is a daunting task if you don’t know how to pick the right one. Whether you play at a beginner, experienced, or intermediate level, you must look at your style and consider buying a table tennis racket based on suitable features.
Let’s understand the types of table tennis rackets and how to choose one according to your style.
Carbon vs. Wood Table Tennis Blade
The blade is the essential part of a racket’s paddle. This is usually made of wood, but the official regulations allow compressed paper or carbon fiber.
To maintain the standard of a table tennis racket, the blade should have at least 85% of wood with less than 7.5% of additional material having a thickness of around 0.35mm or less.
The difference between wood and carbon is its predictability. Wood is a type of natural material and non-uniform within nature. The wooden blade is unique, and with time you can get used to wood. All blades are at least 85% wood with some carbon fiber and predictability over the paddle.
The handle of the table tennis racket comes with the blade. It can either be anatomic, straight, penhold or flared, long or short, and covered or uncovered. How to choose a table tennis racket largely depends on the type of handle because everyone has a different hand, so there are also handles that suit different players.
There is no best rule, but there is a rule about which one suits you best. You should feel relaxed when you hold the racket in your hand and at the same time be able to hold it firmly.
Who should choose the penhold handle?
Penhold handle is a type of short handle for those players who prefer penholder grip. It is a simple design where the user holds the paddle similar to the pen.
This design is popular amongst table tennis players from Hong Kong or China like Ma Lin. The penhold handle also comes with the variation known as the Chinese penhold grip.
A penhold handle grip allows you to maintain the wrist in a flexible position with extra spin.
This handle will enable you to keep the paddle close over the table. However, make sure this handle grip makes it difficult to perform backhand spin. With this type of handle, you have a better feeling when blocking the ball and changing sides from forehand to backhand and vice versa.
However, the time has shown that many Chinese players also perform topspins on both sides of the racket with a penhold style of play.
Who should choose a flared handle?
Flared handles are a little longer than penhold handles, which makes them suitable for beginners. It allows the paddle to stay in place within your hand. This is a type of standard handle you can find at a reasonable price.
Flared handles are suitable for players who don’t change their grips more often and are perfect for players who use front-hand play.
Firstly, this handle gives you great confidence in the table tennis racket and a sense of security when playing. That is why children and beginners need to choose this type of handle.
Secondly, the center of gravity is closer to the handle and is suitable for players who prefer to attack with topspins. Also, the grip is very important, and that is why you should choose the handle that lies primarily in your hand.
Moreover, some players have a giant fist, others a smaller one, so this is a relative issue, but certainly, flared is suitable for many. As you can see, the world-famous and successful players use the flared handle as follows.
Who should choose the straight handle?
Flared handles are perfect for forehand shots, while the straight handles are great for players who often change their grips.
The only downside of a straight handle is, it slips quickly in hand, making it challenging for users to control. However, the majority of the professionals make use of straight handles.
Firstly, it will be easier for you to change sides from forehand to backhand, or after service, to get the initiative in the game faster with this type of handle. Europeans often prefer this type of handle, but in our opinion, it should be used when you are already an advanced or experienced player.
Secondly, since you have the security of holding a table tennis racket in your hand, you will not slip or lose control.
Thirdly, you have more joint flexibility. This means that you will find it easier to handle short balls or pimps that depend mostly on the work of your wrist.
Moreover, when playing backhand, the handle is more favorable because it gives you the opportunity to catch the corner better.
Who should choose an anatomical handle?
Anatomical handles for table tennis rackets are for high comfort and natural grip within the hand. These are for those players who love keeping the exact grip. They are quite rare too.
I personally use this type of handle for the reason that it gives me security in my hand, considering that I play in the first league of Serbia. That means that I am a player with a lot of experience, but I am not among the national team and world players.
With the training of 5 times a week and playing on a professional level, I recommend this type of handle. This means that if you have mastered all the techniques and strokes during your career, but you are still not among the best, it can be good for you to make the most of your potential without losing safety due to less training.
However, keeping as many balls on the table as possible with turning and precision is much easier. Also, ball blocks and forehand topspins with a lot of rotation will be effective.
Many players use table tennis rackets, having a grip over the handle that offers enough control. More commonly, handle grips come in addition to the paddle, not with a table tennis racket. This grip tape is known as table tennis grip tape.
This is an individual matter, so whoever wants more security or self-confidence when holding a racket in their hand can use grip tape. Professional players generally don’t use it, although it can’t hurt to put it on your racket.
I would recommend to players who sweat their palms more during the game, and then in order not to slip the racket, it will come in handy. The other side is that the grip blade can slow down the transfer of your hand from the service position to the game position, so this should be kept in mind when thinking about putting on your racket handle.
The rubber of the table tennis rackets is attached over the blade using glue. The type of specific glue used for table tennis rackets is of the new kind, known as speed glue. The professionals utilize it before playing any match to enhance the elasticity of the table tennis rackets.
There are several types of table tennis racket glues, but the most important is to use those recommended by the ITTF in competitions. The only type of glue that is currently legal is the no VOC water-based glue. It is very easy to use, and once you stick the rubbers on the blade, your racket will achieve the full effect for at least six months.
Earlier, faster glues were used, and players glued the racket before each training session, but today this type is modern, which makes the ball bounce evenly and bounce off the racket for a full six months.
The final thing about the table tennis rackets is their side tape or the edge tape. This seals the rubber edges and covers the blade edges. The thickness of the table tennis rackets depends on the rubber and the blade’s thickness. To add extra power to your table tennis racket, apply a power tape for additional weight.
In general, we recommend side tape to every player because it protects the racket, no matter what level you play. Rubbers change over time, but the table tennis blade remains if it is your favorite, and then it will be better protected if you use side tape. We often unknowingly and inadvertently hit the edge of the table with the racket, and each time it can be slightly damaged. This way, the blade will last longer.
The Table Tennis Rubbers
Rubbers are the second most important thing whenever you think about how to choose a table tennis racket. They give power to your game, whether it is attack or defense.
If you choose the right rubbers that suit you, you will surely improve your game. Many things need to be taken care of here, as with the blade. The most important are the thickness, softness, type of sponge, and composition.
You should choose rubbers according to your style of play. For example, if you are a striker, then consider whether you play more with topspins or attack with clean balls and blocks from the table. For those players who prefer forehand and backhand topspins, they should take softer but much faster rubbers. They have better contact when the ball rotates.
On the other hand, players who play more on blocks and forehand and backhand drive balls should take harder rubbers and at the same time faster. We recommend pips-out rubbers for defensive players or those who want to confuse opponents with incorrect ball trajectories.
Should I choose a ready-made racket or assemble it myself?
This is a question that many players ask, but the answer is very easy. If you are a beginner or occasionally play table tennis for fun, then choose a ready-made racket. If you are a more advanced player or a professional, then it is best to choose the ping pong blade and rubbers yourself and make a racket with full potential for your game.
How will I know how to choose a table tennis racket that is ready-made and suits me? Due to that and many other questions, we have published this article and a few more articles about ready-made rackets.
The most important thing is to look at the composition, speed, and control of the blade, and along the way, the rubbers that manufacturers made with it.
There are very good ready-made rackets that we have described on page 7 Best Ping Pong Paddles Under $ 100, so feel free to take a look, and I am sure you will find one that suits you. It is important to know that most ready-made rackets are not as fast as the ones you make yourself by joining blade and rubbers.
How to choose a table tennis racket for Speed, Spin, and Control?
When buying table tennis rackets, you also need to consider speed, spin, and control. With the wide range of table tennis rackets, it might seem challenging to choose the right racket.
To make things easier for you, consider these three essential functions:
Speed is an essential factor you should consider while buying table tennis rackets. They allow you to hit the ball correctly, at the perfect pace. It all depends on the rubber thickness plus the type which covers your racket.
The thickness of the rubber = Increased speed
The thinness of rubber = Decreased speed.
Another thing is the hardness of the rubber. The harder the rubber you have, the higher the speed and the less control. On the other hand, with the softer rubber, you get a lot of ball control.
You should also keep in mind the number of training per week that you do. If you are an average player who trains several times a week, you cannot take too fast rubbers because you will not be able to hit the balls on the table.
While, on the other hand, if you are in a big workout, we recommend rubbers as fast as possible as this will give you both speed and control.
Like speed, the rubber thickness over the paddle also affects how many spins it will put over the ball. The higher the thickness of the rubber, the extra spin it will generate.
Thicker rubber = Higher spin
Thinner rubber = Lower spin.
Another thing about spins is the combination of the wood blade with softer rubbers. If you want to play with a lot of rotation, we recommend a table tennis blade that not contains carbon fiber and softer but thicker rubbers.
For example, if your blade contains 100% wood and has 6 or 7 layers, this allows for better spin rotation. Players who are world-class and whose priority is speed use carbon blades. This happens because the wood has more elasticity than carbon, and thus you will be able to add more turns to the ball.
Wood = More spin
Carbon = Less spin
The paddle’s design of the table tennis racket determines how much control you’ll have over the ball.
There is a complete trade-off between spin, control, and speed. The higher power you’ll have, the lesser spin and speed it will create. The beginner should seek an increased control rating and gradually move to increased speed with extra spin and further progress.
Thicker rubber = Lesser control
Thinner rubber = Higher control
Moreover, remember that players at the beginner’s level benefit more from great paddle control with thin rubber of around 1.5mm. If you are an intermediate player, you can progress by having a thick rubber to achieve master control and start adding spin and speed within your game.
Interesting questions about choosing a table tennis racket
What colors must table tennis rubbers have?
According to all the rules of table tennis, there must be one black and one red rubber. So, if you are not buying a ready-made racket, then be careful when ordering rubbers to be of different colors.
Otherwise, you will not be able to play in competitions. As for the thickness or model of rubber, they do not have to be the same, but you can combine them. Many players use attacking rubber on the forehand side and pips-out on the backhand to cushion the game and confuse the opponent.
They must also have rubbers in different colors so that the opponent can recognize the difference.
How do I choose a table tennis racket for a child who has just started playing?
This is a very important question where parents or coaches should pay attention to. Table tennis coaches know what is best for children, but many parents think that the most expensive racket is immediately the best, and so they make a big mistake at the start.
Children starting to learn the basic moves in table tennis should have a slower and lighter racket. They are just learning the basics and must have good control over the ball and secondly, not injure themselves or spoil the technique.
So, as a conclusion and advice to all parents, consult a coach and take your child a slower racket until he progresses. You will easily change to faster and harder later when he has already learned all the moves technically well.
How often should I change my table tennis racket?
An extremely important question to keep in mind when thinking about how to choose a table tennis racket.
In general, it is the choice of each of us, but it is not good to change often. The reason is that not only do you get used to it, but also your reflexes, technique, coordination. By changing the racket, especially the blade, you have a completely different feeling and control, and then you will perform certain moves differently.
We recommend a change when you learn all the basic moves and another possible change when you strengthen physically and progress to such an extent that the old racket no longer gives you the maximum. You can change rubbers more often, depending on how you have progressed.
If you play the same and train at the same pace, it is recommended that you buy the same rubbers that you only had, but new ones because the old ones are worn out. Many top players do not change their blades from the moment they become famous until the end of their careers.
We have listed down a detailed overview of things you should look for while purchasing the rackets. Ensure to look for the type of handle, blade, grip tape, side tape, speed, spin, control, and glue.
I hope this article has helped you better understand the important factors when choosing a table tennis racket. Also, we hope you understand how important it is to get used to the racket and train a lot before you decide to change blades and rubbers. When you give your maximum in training and do not make great progress, then it is time to change the table tennis racket.
Firstly, think about what type of player you are and at which level to choose what suits you best.
Secondly, the type of racket is for each individual separately. It suits faster, more complex, and with a straight handle racket for some people. However, for others, it suits more slowly, softer, and with flared handle racket.
All the information you have learned is the one that the best table tennis players in the world have in mind when choosing their racket. Lastly, customizing the ping pong paddle based on your choice will help you play at an intermediate or professional level.