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How to choose a ping pong paddle: A brief guide

August 2, 2016 by Lina

Science and technology have progressed immensely over last few decades, we have all witnessed it. Those improvements have made a big impact on our daily lives, jobs and even relationships. A lot of people have changed the way they do things, and for a good reason, because why do it the hard way, when there are new and improved tools emerging almost every day.

When it comes to ping-pong, you might have overslept the last couple of decades. It’s been awhile since the hard bat was the ultimate solution. But, no need to panic. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn a bit more about our favorite sport, or a veteran who’s used to winning but doesn’t quite understand why it’s getting harder to do so, we recommend you continue reading.


Here are the steps you need to take:

Think about your game, think about it while you’re playing. Even better, ask your experienced friend to watch you play and take mental notes. What are your strongest shots? Where are your weak points? What can you do to make them better?

Next step: start practicing those weak shots. It’s all muscle memory—science 101. But what happens if that doesn’t help? Sometimes the practice is just not enough. In that case, blame it on the paddle!

Now the part that made you come here in the first place: How to choose a perfect paddle?

When it comes to choosing a perfect paddle, there are a few things you need to ask yourself:

  • How often do you play?
  • How would you describe your game? Is it aggressive, control oriented, or do you rely heavily on spin?
  • What are you hoping to improve in your game?
  • Are you planning on becoming better, or do you just need a paddle that you can use for fun?
  • How much are you looking to spend?

All these things matter. Here’s a quick guide that will hopefully shed some light on the mystery of the science behind a ping pong paddle.

Let’s start with the basics:

A paddle (that is, a good paddle) consists of a few parts. Blade (the wooden part in the middle), sponge and rubber. A well balanced combination of these three can make a perfect paddle. That is why it’s very important to look at it as a three piece tool.


Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s start.

  • How often do you play?

Now, this is important. Here’s why. There are 2 kinds of paddles. Factory assembled paddles and manually assembled paddles. Factory assembled paddles (even though their performance can be just as good) are not that long-lived as manually assembled paddles. Once the rubbers dry out (and it will happen), that’s it, time for a new paddle. And that’s ok if you’re a recreational player who doesn’t play more than just a couple of times a month.

If you’re more serious about table tennis, and you don’t necessarily have to be a pro or compete in tournaments, you need to start looking at better options. Sometimes they even seem more expensive, but think about it. In addition to being made out of better, more resilient materials, they are also customizable, which basically means you can change the rubber as much as you want. Whether it’s because it’s drying out, or you just feel like you could use a different rubber, just peel it off and literally slap a new one on!! The process is a piece of cake, and it results in you getting a fresh new paddle! And you can keep on doing that until it breaks, and that does not happen often.

At Killerspin, we call those paddles RTG (Ready To Go) paddles. They can be intermediate or advanced. TIP: in order to make a rubber last longer, make sure you keep the paddle stored when not in use, and don’t forget to clean the rubber after you’re done playing. Our rubber cleaning kit is an inexpensive way to prolong the rubber’s life.

  • How would you describe your game? Is it aggressive, or control oriented, or do you rely heavily on spin..?

When it comes to power and speed, you’re going to need to take a good look at the blade. If you feel like you rely a lot on smashing, and if your comfort zone is a fast paced game, you’re probably in the need of a blade with more layers. Preferably five or more. Maybe even with added materials. Five layers of wood is good. Five layers of wood combined with additional materials is GREAT! Carbon fiber and titanium carbon are excellent solutions. They will add more speed to the paddle, but the weight will remain similar.

If speed is not your forte, and your thrill is confusing your opponents with that mean spin (and I have seen some pretty impossible spin shots) you need a tacky rubber! The tackier the better! But if you’re one of the lucky talents that can keep up the pace and still do a tricky topspin, the best option would be a high-tension rubber! And just so you know, we all hate you!

TIP: Before you make a decision to purchase a paddle, the first thing to do (if you can not test it out yourself) is to look for grades. Most manufacturers use the same scale, from 1 to 10 (10 being the best). So, you’ll find grades for 3 different things: speed, spin and control, and depending what you’re looking for, you can use them as reference. If you need control, pick a paddle that was rated more than 8 in than area. If you prefer speed, look for higher grades there, etc.

  • What are you hoping to improve in your game?

Every player reaches this point at a certain time. We all know the learning curve in the beginning is very steep, you get better with each shot, and it happens quickly. But then it stops. This can be very challenging, but it’s actually pretty easy to solve. It just means you have outgrown your paddle and you need to match the paddle with your game level. Start thinking about new options, browse a little, talk to your friends and eventually try out different models, just to see what fits the best. Once you’ve played with a good paddle, there is no coming back.

  • Are you planning on becoming better, or do you just need a paddle that you can use for fun?

So, here is a possible scenario. Your company has bought a ping pong table, and you need a paddle you can use to play with your coworkers. It doesn’t have to be anything flashy, just a nice, recreational paddle that won’t get broken after one use. So, you go to a local sporting goods store, and spend a couple of bucks. You feel good about it. But then you start playing, and you remember the steep learning curve. Everyone who ever played table tennis knows this: you will become a decent player in no time (even though it can take a lifetime to master the skills)! The best advice is to challenge yourself with a paddle. Choose a paddle that’s a bit above your game level and then match it, that’s the only way to make sure you’ll make progress.

  • Last, but not the least: How much are you looking to spend?

A good paddle doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. And it won’t improve your game all by itself. You’ll still have to put in a lot of hours of practice, but hopefully, with good opponents and some good people around you, those hours will be full of great memories and lots of fun.

Got any questions?

We hope this helped, at least to inspire you to learn more about table tennis equipment. We’re also sure you’ll have more question, because there’s a lot to know about. For more specific answers, check out our Paddle Quiz that will narrow your choice down to a couple of models, and if there’s still a lot you’d like to ask us, feel free to contact our knowledgeable Customer Service Representatives, they will be happy to help!

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