Elevating your game: How To Choose A Ping Pong Paddle / Table Tennis Racket – Buyer’s Guide 2018
As a beginner, you can get away with any basic ping pong paddle – but when there’s little difference in price, why not go for quality instead?
Whether you choose to invest in a long-lasting paddle from the start or whether you wait until you grow in experience and skill, it’s important to put some effort into finding the best ping pong paddle for your needs.
Now, here’s how to elevate your game:
A. Get educated – Read this buyer’s guide;
B. Pick a quality ping pong paddle – Aim for the best table tennis racket for your money.
PART I: THE BASICS
- How to choose your ping pong paddle?
- What style of ping pong blade should you choose?
- What ping pong paddle rubber to choose?
PART II: EXTRA DETAILS TO NOTICE
PART III: Q&A
- Custom ping pong paddles explained
- What is a ping pong paddle?
- Ping pong vs table tennis
- How to hold a ping pong paddle?
- What is the difference between the red and black side on ping pong paddles?
- Ping pong paddle cleaning and maintenance
- Top table tennis racket brands
- Ping pong paddle videos
PART IV: CHOOSE YOUR PING PONG PADDLE
PART V: CONCLUSION
PART I: THE BASICS
Elevating your game: how to choose the right ping pong paddle?
Here are some of the features to look out for:
Ping Pong Paddle Power:
Most of the best pro ping pong paddles come with performance ratings, helping you to assess how the paddles compare during gameplay. Power (or speed) is one of these ratings: it’s usually given as a score out of 10 or 100.
With performance ratings, higher numbers represent a higher level of that feature, so a power rating of 99 (as with the STIGA Pro Carbon paddle) indicates the most power possible.
You can see these scores in the tech specs of these in each of our product reviews above.
Ping Pong Racket Control:
Control is another one of the performance ratings which you’re likely to come across when looking for the best ping pong paddle for the money.
This takes into account the quality and grip of the rubber, especially its thickness, tackiness and the direction of the dimples. If you have a defensive playing style, look for a high control rating.
Ping Pong Paddle Spin:
The last performance rating to consider is spin.
In general, if a paddle gives a high level of control, it also provides plenty of spin. While complete novices might struggle to lay down lots of spin, experienced players look for a paddle with lots of spin as these shots are more difficult for an opponent to return.
Style of gameplay:
The style of gameplay refers to whether you’re more of an offensive or defensive player.
We’ll cover this in more detail later, but for now it’s important to realize that your playing style will affect how close the paddle is to being the best ping pong paddle in the world for you 🙂
In a nutshell, look at the performance ratings:offensive players will want a high level of speed and power; defensive players will need plenty of control; a high spin level can be beneficial to both playing styles.
Next important factor is a technical one: Ping Pong Paddle DIMENSIONS!
Official ping pong paddle dimensions:
The laws of table tennis (the name they give to the official rules) say that a table tennis racket ‘may be of any size, shape or weight but the blade shall be flat and rigid’. However, most paddles are roughly the same size, measuring six inches wide and ten inches long including the handle.
Stricter rules come in with the thickness of the blade, where at least 85% must be made from natural wood. Additional layers (within the blade) can be made from other materials including carbon fiber or glass fiber.
There are also guidelines regarding the type and thickness of rubber which can be adhered to the sides of the blade. Depending on whether you’re using ordinary pimpled rubber or sandwich rubber, it must be two to four millimeters thick. In addition to this, you must make sure that one side of each blade is red while the other side is black.
Also, it is important to look for paddles which are ITTF approved: only these rackets will guarantee that all official tournament requirements and guidelines are being met.
Now to Parts and Features:
Provided that it fits within the rules, the rubber is an important feature which has a serious impact on performance and gameplay. The best ping pong paddle for speed is the Butterfly X5-FL which is fitted with professional level Tenergy 80-FX rubber, a popular choice amongst professional players. Regardless of the quality of the rubber, it will wear out over time (especially if you’re a regular, prolific player), but many paddles allow the rubber to be removed and replaced when it wears too thin. Most of our paddles meet this requirement, including our top pick.
The handle is another feature which comes in several different variations. Flared (FL) and straight (ST) handles are the two most common types among beginner and professional table tennis players. As the names suggest, straight handles are the same width the whole way down their length, while flared handles get wider at the bottom. Anatomic (AN) handles aren’t as common as the other types, but they do feature an ergonomic curve to make them fit in the palm of the hand comfortably. There is no right or wrong answer to which is best – the best ping pong handle is down to personal choice and what feels most comfortable to hold.
Most budget ping pong paddles are pretty basic, with few variations or opportunities for specialization. However, as your skill level grows, you’ll probably start looking for something that suits your individual playing style and hand size. If you turn professional then you’ll want to spend big bucks on a completely customized ping pong racket.
The options that we’ve covered above give a good balance between price and individual performance.
What style of ping pong blade should you choose?
As we’ve already seen, paddles can be any shape or size, but most blades are around six inches in diameter with a four inch long handle.
The best ping pong paddle for spin should have inverted dimples in the rubber to create a smooth surface against which the ball can bounce. In addition to this, offensive players should look for a hard paddle to give plenty of power.
Blades which are covered with textured or tacky rubber (or rubber which has dimples pointing outwards) are best for defensive players who want lots of control. The extra texture grips the ball for slightly longer than a smooth surface, allowing you to place your next shot carefully.
What style of ping pong handle should you choose?
Flared handles are the most common among professional ping pong players due to the fact that they’re so comfortable to hold. While straight handles are also popular, they’re the same width the whole way down their length, making them prone to slippage. Featuring an ergonomic curve, anatomic handles are also comfortable, but they aren’t as popular as they offer less versatility.
Your choice of handle should be based on your personal preference, depending on your playing style and the handle style that you find most comfortable to hold.
How to choose your ping pong paddle rubber
Most ping pong rubber is covered with tiny dimples, but the main variation between paddles is whether the dimples are pointing inwards or outwards.
Pimple rubber has the dimples pointing outwards. This texture gives the rubber an increased surface area and greater friction against the ping pong ball, meaning that there’s improved grip when compared to other types of rubber. This is the rubber of choice if you’re looking for serious control.
Rubber which has the dimples pointing in is sometimes called reverse rubber. This is the most popular type of rubber as it provides a relatively smooth surface to try lots of different shots and techniques.
Regardless of which type of rubber you choose, you should always make sure that it’s ITTF approved for use in competitions and tournaments.
PART II: EXTRA DETAILS TO NOTICE
What to watch out for when buying a ping pong paddle
When you’re comparing the best ping pong paddles, you should pay close attention to all the features we’ve covered so far. However, across the board, the most important aspect of the best table tennis racket is quality. Good quality equipment leads to fast improvement and good results, so avoid cheap quality as far as possible as it will need replacing too soon. The correct design will not cut into your hands or cause injuries, so choose wisely!
As well as focusing on quality, look out for reputable sellers. If they have a good turnover and positive feedback, they must be doing something right. If something seems too cheap to be true, it probably is, so avoid backstreet sellers. Ask your table tennis friends where to buy ping pong paddles in your area.
• Quality, quality, quality
• A comfortable grip
• A reputable seller
Official rulebook racket requirements
There are strict rules regarding the thickness of the rubber and the composition of the materials used to make up table tennis rackets. When it comes to size and shape, the requirements are pretty open, stating that a paddle ‘may be of any size, shape or weight but the blade shall be flat and rigid’.
Ping pong paddle cleaning and maintenance
Cleaning your ping pong paddle is of the utmost importance if you want to maintain its performance for as long as possible. This is particularly true for very tacky blades where dirt and dust build up, reducing how effectively you can control the ball.
All you need to give your table tennis racket a good clean is some simple soap and water. Press and wipe your paddle gently so as not to damage the rubber. For deeper cleaning you can buy special table tennis cleaning sprays, and some paddles even come with protective covers and cases to keep the paddles in tip top shape for as long as possible.
PART III: Q&A
Custom ping pong paddles
Professional table tennis players use custom made paddles, but these are a lot more expensive than any of our suggestions. It takes a lot more time to research and make the different features of a custom ping pong paddle, so they’re not great if you need a quick, instant solution. Here, we’ve chosen the best ping pong paddles for the money, but we’ll be looking at custom ping pong paddles in a separate article.
What is a ping pong paddle?
Also known as a racket or a bat, a ping pong paddle is a tool used for playing the competitive sport of table tennis. Different variations are available, but it’s typically made up of a straight or flared wooden handle affixed to a solid wooden (and sometimes carbon fiber) blade.
The blade is covered with rubber to allow technical, highly skilled shots. Often featuring dimples or pimples, the rubber is red on one side of the blade and black on the other side. This difference is regulation, purely to prevent one player from tricking their opponent with a different type of shot.
Ping pong vs table tennis
There is no difference between ping pong and table tennis – technically, the terms can be used interchangeably. However, in common use there is a preconception that table tennis is more of a professional, competitive sport, while ping pong is more of a hobby or a game. The ITTF uses the term ‘table tennis’ when discussing the sport in an official capacity.
How to hold a ping pong paddle
Penhold and shakehand are the two most common ways to hold a ping pong paddle.
The penhold grip involves holding the handle between the thumb and forefinger with the blade facing downwards. The popularity of this technique is decreasing due to its weakness with backhand shots, where the wrist has to twist into an awkward position.
The shakehand grip is the most common way to hold a table tennis racket – the hand is positioned as if shaking the hand of another person. This technique offers comfort and control for all shots, whether forehand or backhand.
What is the difference between the red and black side on ping pong paddles?
Many professional ping pong players do use different types of rubber on their table tennis rackets, with one side being for offensive play and the other side being better suited to defensive shots. However, the exact rubber depends on each player’s individual choice.
The color itself does not have any relevance. The difference is merely for visual purposes, so that an opponent can anticipate which type of shot is being played depending on which side of the paddle is being used. If the racket was the same color on both sides, it would be easy for a player to flip the paddle without their opponent noticing.
Top table tennis racket brands
If you have a big budget to blow and if you’re looking for professional quality, the best ping pong paddles are custom made, not featuring any particular brand.
However, our best ping pong paddle brand is STIGA, the name behind the Pro Carbon paddle. Offering excellent performance and value for money, this is our top pick. There are many variations between other brands, so the top ping pong brand is the one that makes the best paddle for your needs!
Ping pong paddle videos
Whether you want tips on improving your ping pong technique, jaw-dropping inspiration from some of the most memorable table tennis matches in history or just some entertaining trick shots, there are thousands of videos online to get you started.
Now is time to take a break and watch a great video on how to choose the best ping pong bat:
Heres a fun video showcasing some ping pong paddle skills:
Even dogs are interested in table tennis:
PART IV: CHOOSE YOUR PING PONG PADDLE
As you know, choosing the right table-tennis racquet is critical in helping your game improve quickly.
To save time, effort and frustration I have spent days reviewing and comparing the absolute best ping-pong paddles in the world. You can find the results of my findings below.
I have tested and reviewed 19 models and chosen the top 5 for your money.
For good order, here is the full list of products reviewed
Here is the comparison table of the best ping pong rackets for your money:
|Name||Speed rating||Spin rating||Rating|
|STIGA Pro Carbon||99||100||/5||Check Price|
|Killerspin JET800 SPEED N1||95||90||/5||Check Price|
|Duplex 6 Star||80||80||/5||Check Price|
|Butterfly Balsa Carbo X5-FL||100||95||/5||Check Price|
|DHS HURRICANE-II||85||93||/5||Check Price|
Read the full reviews and comparisons here
PART V: CONCLUSION
There is quite a difference in terms of quality, performance, and price between entry-level ping pong paddles for beginners and the high-quality equipment that’s used by professional sportspeople. As a result, it’s important to put time and effort into researching all the options to choose the best ping pong paddle for you. The quality of a ping pong paddle really will make a massive difference to your game play, so with this guide and a little research, you can find the best ping pong paddles for the money and for your family’s needs. When entry-level and professional ping pong paddles sit at such similar price points, it makes sense to go for the higher quality option at a reasonable price.
Our ping pong paddle reviews might help – then let us know which one you choose and how it performs!
I suggest you head over to my full reviews and comparison post for the best ping pong paddles for 2018 here
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Also, a great table tennis group on reddit worth checking out: