If you’re looking to get into table tennis, one of the first things you need to learn about is paddles. Also referred to as blades, bats, or racquets, table tennis paddles are the key piece of equipment.
Every player performs better with a certain type of racquet. Whether you’re an offensive player or a defensive player, the right paddle highly affects your game.
Keep reading to learn how to pick out the right choice for you and whether there’s such a thing as the “best” paddle.
How to Select a Table Tennis Paddle
Paddles consist of six basic parts. The handle is one, the blade itself is another. Then, you’ve got the forehand sponge and forehand rubber, and the same for the backhand side. Each component is customizable to a degree. Mixing and matching these parts to suit your playing style is going to be the key to finding your perfect racquet.
Here are some factors to consider when making your choice:
Are You a Professional or a Beginner?
If you’re a professional player, you most likely know your own style and equipment needs. In this case, you’ll probably be better off either selecting one of the pro rackets or creating a customized one that suits your strokes.
As a beginner, you’re well-advised to choose a ready-to-go racquet. Alternatively, a low-end paddle with a mid-range rubber works well for beginners to start learning the game.
You don’t need to select from among the most expensive table tennis bats on the market, though. You can also customize the racquet piece by piece on a lower price range. Start with what you can afford and upgrade it in parts to align it with your needs and playstyle.
Are You a Defensive or Offensive Player?
It’s a clear difference, which defines the type of paddle you need. If you’re a defensive player, you’ll prefer a soft and tacky rubber that creates better spin and more dwell time on the bat.
If you’re an offensive player, you probably want something a little firmer so you produce more speed on the ball.
Similarly, defensive players like a thin sponge while offensive players prefer a thick sponge of two millimeters or more. So, while the wood has some effect on performance, most of your focus should be on the quality of the rubber.
Your Preferred Shape of Handle
You have a choice between three basic types of handles; anatomic, straight, and flared. If we look up what pro players use most frequently, most likely we won’t find a straightforward pattern. Since we would find all three types, it’d be a pity to differentiate the handles by the levels of the players. However, if you’re a beginner the below mentioned infos might help with the selection.
As some manufacturers claim, straight handles are good for beginners and players who like to change their grip. It’s a little bit easier for a straight handle to slip in your hand.
In general, anatomical handles are simply designed to be more comfortable. Players who stick to one grip most of the time might prefer how the anatomical handle feels.
The flared end helps it stay in one position once it’s gripped. Players who are forehand-dominant tend to prefer flared handles.
Keep in mind, these tips are mostly generic. The shape of handle won’t effect your game significantly. What’s more important is the invested time you put in practise.
What Are the 5 Most Expensive Ping Pong Paddles in 2020?
Even though the bats listed here are all pricey, they won’t all be right for you. Each has some advantages and disadvantages depending on what kind of player you are.
1. Zhang Jike Super ZLC Blade
This blade is designed to give the biggest sweet spot reaction area of all Butterfly models. In addition, it provides clean and responsive contact on both sides of the blade. It’s from the Zhang Jike series and it’s used by the eponymous Olympian. Reportedly, Japanese professional player, Jun Mizutani, also briefly used the Super ZLC.
It’s one of the first blades to feature Butterfly’s carbon fiber technology. It’s a comfortable and well-balanced blade with consistent performance on forehands, backhands, and punch shots.
From close range, this racquet is fast and has great control, but it struggles to produce great speed away from the table. You might find yourself struggling to get the topspin you need.
It’s a 7-ply blade, excellent for players who like to be aggressive and like flared handles. The Super ZL carbon technology in the blade creates a larger sweet spot, a lighter racquet, and a vibration-damping effect.
Even among expensive paddles, this one stands out. At $399.99, this is the most expensive readily-available table tennis bat, surpassed only by the hard-to-find Nittaku Resound.
2. Mizutani Jun Super ZLC Blade
Very similar to the Zhang Jike Super ZLC, the Mizutani Jun is also a 7-ply blade and it features Butterfly’s Super ZLC carbon. It’s heavier than the Zhung Jike at 95 grams. With a relatively soft outer veneer, it produces a softer impact.
Like the Zhang Jike, it provides outstanding control and a large sweet spot. No matter where the ball hits your blade, you’ll find that you get good, consistent contact. The carbon technology reduces vibrations significantly, and both new and experienced players will like the pop they get from this Blade.
At around $300, this blade is slightly less expensive than the Zhang Jike, but still in the upper end of the price range.
3. Timo Boll ZLC Blade
Another member of Butterfly’s ZLC series, this racquet also features their Zl carbon fiber technology. It has a slightly smaller sweet spot than the Super ZLC blades, but still has a near full-surface reaction. It was designed to the specifications of the triple European Champion, Timo Boll. Timo Boll uses the ALC version of this racquet.
The paddle’s design is meant to maximize the ball’s dwell time and it’s perfect for players who like to go on the attack. At only 85 grams, this racquet is fast even in the hands of a weaker player and can generate tremendous power.
The ZL carbon layer absorbs vibrations very efficiently and makes this a sublime paddle for counter-attacking with ease. A player with an aggressive style that uses a blend of loops and smashes will truly enjoy the way it handles.
The Timo Boll ZLC retails at most outlets for around $250.
4. Dynasty Carbon Xu Xin Edition Table Tennis Blade
Stiga’s most expensive offering, the Dynasty Carbon was created in collaboration with World Champion Xu Xin who uses this racquet.
This blade was developed over many years with many different designs tested and scrapped along the way. The Dynasty Carbon is Stiga’s first foray into carbon fiber for their racquets and it delivers awesome performance.
It has a soft touch with a Koto wood outer veneer and a thick middle veneer. It provides a very balanced feel and players who have an all-around style will love it.
This paddle features an anatomic handle and retails for around $280.
5. Joola Vyzaryz Trinity
Joola’s advanced synthetic fabric core is created with a blend of polymer fibers and carbon fibers. It practically eliminates vibration when playing and provides unparalleled stability to the blade.
The outer veneer is made of limba wood, which is exceptionally strong and known for providing lightning-fast topspin. This racquet will give you a whole lot of power, even if less experienced players will have a hard time controlling it.
You’ll find this paddle selling for around $250.
The Paddle Is Not Enough on Its Own. You Need High-quality Rubbers!
Having a great paddle is definitely part of the equation, and not all paddles are created equal. But the thing that really gives your racquet personality is the rubber.
The rubber is what determines how much topspin you can produce. Therefore, it plays a vital role in how much power the bat has.
Rubbers are rated for speed, spin, and control. The lower the rating, the higher the control and the lower the speed and vice-versa. If you want to choose a rubber that fits your playing style, a great way to find the right combination is looking into pro players who have the same style as you and their preferred equipment.
The Tenergy 05 is one of the most used rubbers on the market. With a combination of high-tension rubber and a tacky surface, it’s everything you can ask for. And, it’s one of the most long-lasting rubbers.
Butterfly’s Dignics 09c is another excellent choice. It has very tacky and high-tension pimples that aggressive players love. It’s used by such players as Timo Boll, Dima Ovtcharov, and Lee Sangsu of Korea.
A great alternative of the fairly pricy Butterly rubbers may be Victas V15. According to the manufacturer, the rubber is designed for agressive players, who enjoy long, spinny rallies. Due to the hardness of the sponge the speed is guaranteed. The service and receive can also be controlled easily.
So, Does the Best Ping Pong Paddle Actually Exist?
In short, no! Offensive and defensive players will clearly prefer different racquets due to the nature of their style. Offensive players need more rapid paddles, sometimes even filled with a carbon fibre, while offensive players require a much slower edition. Besides the paddle itself, the choice of the rubber is extremely crucial.
And even all of these are generalizations. The bottom line is that there’s no perfect paddle, but there’s a perfect paddle out there for you. Just keep searching and practising!