You can be forgiven for initially feeling confused by the wide range of table tennis bats on the market, but the type of bat you chose can have a major impact on your game. You can have different surfaces on each side of the bat for varying amounts of spin (including nullifying it) or speed. For example, a player may have a spin-heavy rubber on one side of their bat, and no spin on the other side. The player can flip the bat in play for different types of returns!
We recommend that a beginner should choose a ‘ready-made’ bat to get their game underway, although others would advise against this. At this early phase, having fun should be the most important element, not being stressed about getting the ‘right’ bat, or being bankrupt by it! You can get bats as cheaply as £1.99.
Choosing a custom made bat will definitely raise your playing ability though, so if you feel that you are now ready to take your game to the next level do some research online on different blades (the wooden bit) and rubbers (the rubber bit that goes over the wooden bit!). These will range hugely in cost and spec, but the following will give you an idea of what to look for.
The ‘Blade’ is the bat without the rubber. 85% of the blade must be natural wood and can be of any size, shape or weight providing the surface is flat and rigid. Thin layers of carbon fibre are one substance that has been successfully used in blades, adding to the speed, but also to the cost.
In general, blades can be categorised as Defensive, All-round, Offensive, Carbon, Soft Wood and Hard Wood.
We recommend beginners use an ‘All-round’ blade (which will usually be made of 5 plys) so they achieve good control. Most top players tend to choose All-round or Offensive blades, with faster rubbers to give them speed and feel.
All rubbers have a smooth side and a pimpled side and most, although not all, are designed to be used in conjunction with a layer of sponge which is bonded to the rubber during manufacture.
Rubber needs to be changed much more regularly than blades, but this depends on the amount you play and the level you wish to play at.
Beginners should use REVERSE RUBBER (see description below) with a 1.5mm sponge, to enable them to develop all of the basic strokes.
There are lots of different types of rubbers on the market including:
- REVERSE RUBBER – By far, the most used rubbers are reverse rubbers. With reverse rubbers, the playing surface is flat and attached to a layer of sponge. Various combinations of sponge and the playing surface are available which will affect the spin, speed and control of the rubber. Generally soft sponge rubbers are slower than hard sponge rubbers.
- SHORT PIMPLES – pimples that face outward and are short, wide and close together. Short pimples are often used on one side of the bat, usually on the backhand to provide variation of spin and speed with the normal sponge rubber; assist with block and counter attack strokes and to help players with weaker backhand
- LONG PIMPLES – pimples that face outwards and are usually longer, thinner and further apart than short pimples. Long pimples will often reverse the spin and so can be very difficult to play with and against and for this reason we do not recommend them for beginners!
- ANTI-SPIN – reverse rubber with little friction on the surface so that they do not impart any spin on the ball and negates spin
Rubber should be maintained by:
- Cleaning with water at the end of practice
- Having a cover for your bat to keep it ‘dust free’
- Keeping the bat out of direct sunlight and high temperatures
Click here for a list of specialist table tennis equipment suppliers