Looking for a new paddle?
Whether it’s your first one or you want to step up your game with something new and hot, we’ll help you find what you need.
This complete guide gives you all of the knowledge that you need to make a good decision when you lay those dollars down.
Paddles are not that complicated, but also not so simple. They’re very personal and chosen based on a player’s particular style. So, read this how-to and get ready to rally!
There are 4 basic parts to a table tennis paddle.
- The handle.
- The blade.
- The sponge.
- The rubber.
Different paddles use different grades of materials, so we’ll help you find the right one for you. It does help to know your particular playing style ahead of time so if you can play a little before buying a paddle then – Great!
If not, that’s okay, too.
We’ve got suggestions that we know will help.
Get a Grip!
A “Shakehand” grip is the most common paddle grip. That means that you’re holding the paddle like you would to shake hands with someone.
Another common grip is called the “Penhold”. For this one you hold the paddle kind of like holding chopsticks. It’s held near the top of the handle and below the hand. People who like this grip prefer shorter handles.
If you like to hold the paddle tightly, a straight handle is probably your best friend. If you prefer a little bit of a looser grip, then you’ll probably go with a flared handle. The flare will keep the paddle from sliding out of your hand when you whip off your winning backhand!
You can choose a flared or straight handle, a shorter or longer handle depending on what grip you prefer. If you’re not sure, maybe start with the “Shakehand” grip and a longer, straight handle. You can always buy a new paddle later, but that’s a safe pick for a beginner.
Your style is your own. Choose a paddle that works with your swing and your preferred way of playing the game.
Every opponent has his/her own style, too, so you’ll probably adapt your play to the other player’s style a bit, but you’ll still have your own basic modus operandi.
Do you like to attack with wicked serves or are you more defensive? Do you use shot placement to beat your opponent, setting the player up or do you just wait for the right moment to send the game-ending ball screaming past?
Knowing how you like to play, what your style is, will actually help you to choose the right paddle.
Some players are more aggressive and always looking to spin and control the ball, keep the other player running back and forth and hit the ball hard and fast.
Other players are more defensive and prefer to keep the ball in play, ensure that they return the ball and patiently wait for their opponent to make an error.
Both methods win games. Just find out which one works best for you and go from there.
Blades are the solid, middle part of the paddles. They really determine how much power a paddle can create. A defensive player will usually like a heavier, softer paddle and an aggressive player will go for a lighter, more rigid bladed paddle.
A blade with 5+ layers will give you a fast return because it’s stiff and rigid. Look for carbon fiber or titanium carbon blades if you want to play fast and hard.
All-wood blades tend to work best for defensive players. The wood absorbs some of the ball’s energy and slows it down. If you’re more of a defensive player, you might want to stick with wooden blades.
Ball Meets Rubber
The two words most commonly used to describe the exterior or “rubber” part of the paddle are, “tackiness” and “firmness”.
A firm rubber can help you to put more speed on the ball.
A more tacky, softer rubber can produce more spin.
So, if you’re on the attack, get a firm rubber but if you’re playing back, consider something a little softer and tackier.
If you’re old enough to remember the show Seinfeld, you’ll get a little giggle from that sub-title. It’s a little LOL throwback!
In this case, however, we’re talking paddles.
The sponge is the layer between the blade and the rubber. They’re rated as thick, medium and thin.
2.0 mm is a thick sponge, which makes a fast-attack kind of paddle.
If you’re a defensive player, try a thinner sponge.
Whether you like to play aggressively, stand back and play defensively or fall somewhere in between, there’s a paddle that’s right for you.
Pay attention to your play and pick a paddle that meets your needs. This is one time in life when the phrase, “suit yourself” is not sarcastic or mocking.
You really do need to pick a paddle that suits you and you can feel great about that!