Ping pong is great fun. However, like most sports, once you get the basics down you’ll realize that having the right equipment makes everything quite a bit easier. Today we’ll hone in on the finding the best ping pong paddle, based on your level and needs. Once you play a few rounds with a quality paddle you won’t want to go back the cheap ones that might have come in a set. Let’s start by taking a look at the best ping pong paddles (in our view) for the beginner, an intermediate player, a review of a paddle that is focused on great spin and finally, one for competition play.
Best Beginner Ping Pong Paddle
STIGA Evolution Review
Weight: 6.0 Ounces
Speed Rating: 94
Spin Rating: 96
Control Rating: 90
Handle Style: Flared
The STIGA Evolution paddle is a great for a new player to move to and learn about some of the differences between paddles. This one is a light 6-ply blade, a 2mm sponge and uses premium rubber for the blade to give you a paddle that has high overall ratings. The rubber has been approved by the ITTF, so it is a paddle that you can play with at home and not have to worry about being able to use it in competitions. With the low weight of the paddle, you’ll find that your rate of recovery will increase if you are switching from a heavier handle. Also, the flared handle style means that you can use the style of grip that is most comfortable to you.
There fairly balanced scores on this paddle so that it is a good choice for an all round playing style and is somewhat forgiving to the new player that hasn’t mastered control just yet. The handle is flared making it easy to grip and the paddle is light enough that it won’t wear you down, even after a long training session. The weight and balance of this paddle make it feel like a natural extension of your hand.
The main rubber of this paddle is somewhat sticky, which lends to control, but it also lends itself to becoming a dust magnet. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem, but this paddle does not come with a cover, so you’ll either have to spring for one while ordering it or settle for cleaning your paddle each time you want to use it. When just starting out you will take some time to get used to the balance of this paddle.
Best Intermediate Ping Pong Paddle
STIGA Pro Carbon Review
Speed Rating: 99
Spin Rating: 100
Control Rating: 80
Handle Style: Concave
The Pro Carbon is another paddle from STIGA that is designed for performance level play. Just as the Evolution, highlighted above, this one sports rubber approved by the ITTF, making it another one that is ready to take you into competition, when you get to that level. This paddle steps up to a 7-ply blade, and features S5 premium rubber with a 2mm sponge. As you can see from the rating this is a very fast paddle. An added benefit of this style of paddle is that the rubbers can be changed out when one set wears out.
This paddle gives you some lightning fast speed and outstanding spin. With those factors this is a great paddle to use on the serve. If you are a more offensive type player the strengths of this paddle will gel right into your style of play. The lightweight nature of the paddle makes for excellent recovery time from one shot to the next.
If you are a defensive type player this paddle may not be the best option for you to pick up. Also, you need to have the basics of control down, the control on this paddle has been somewhat sacrificed to bump up the speed and spin. One should note that the handle for the Pro Carbon is on the larger end of average, those with smaller hands might have trouble with it.
Best Competition Ping Pong Paddle
KillerSpin Jet 600 Review
Weight: 6.0 Ounces
Speed Rating: 80
Spin Rating: 90
Control Rating: 85
Handle Style: Flared Handle
When you are ready to compete, take a look at the Jet 600 paddle from KillerSpin. This paddle is designed from the ground up for competition and as such is aimed at more of the intermediate to experienced player. The 5-ply blade keeps the weight down and the faces sport 6 mm of high tension nitrx-4Z rubber. As a competition paddle it is naturally approved by the ITTF, so you’ll have no worries about taking it to your next competition. This paddle also comes with a 30-day warranty to give you some time to work with it.
This lightweight paddle is fairly well-balanced, making it great for a balanced to a slightly aggressive style of play. The paddle allows you to change out the rubber facing when they start to lose their performance. The set up allows a player to put just the amount of spin on the ball that they desire.
While all of the photos show this paddle with edge tape, it doesn’t come with any. You’ll have to purchase your own and apply it to extend out the life of your paddle. While you are buying other accessories for your paddle you’ll want to look into a cover, since this paddle doesn’t come with its own.
Best Spin Ping Pong Paddle
Palio Legend 2 Review
Weight: 9.1 Ounces
Speed Rating: 100
Spin Rating: 90
Control Rating: 60
Handle Style: Flared
Some players want to push their speed and spin to the maximum level and for them we have found the Palio Legend 2. This is a collaboration between Palio and Expert Table Tennis. The all wood blade is crafted from harder wood than many other paddles, this increases the weight but also boosts the amount of power that you can eek out of the paddle. The faces sport hadou rubber that is approved by the ITTF. This paddle comes with its own case.
This is a great paddle for those with a highly aggressive style of play and what to provide the most power and spin possible in a match. The paddle can perform on par with some paddles that run nearly twice as much as it. Also, this one comes with a cover to keep it safe and clean between uses.
Being tilted toward aggressive offensive play, this paddle is may not be such a good choice if your play doesn’t match that style. Also, this is the heaviest paddle that we have featured and as such can be wearing for longer play sessions. This paddle is most certainly made for those players that have more experience in the game.
Ping Pong Paddle Buyers Guide
Now that we have gone over some of the top choices, let’s briefly cover a few things that you might want to keep on your mind while searching for your next ping pong paddle.
What’s in a Name:
As you start in on your quest you will no doubt find that some places use the term ping pong paddle, some use the term table tennis racket and some will even refer to this item of sports gear as a bat. All three of these are the same piece of gear.
Officially Ping Pong is trademarked, so while you will find it in common usage those who are selling things and don’t hold the trademark will not use the term. Competitions are normally overseen by the International Table Tennis Federation whose rules refer to this item as a table tennis racket.
Anatomy of a Paddle:
The official rules of the sport state that a racket or paddle can be any shape, size and weight. They must be flat, rigid and be crafted of at least 85% natural wood. Additionally, the rubber used must be approved by the ITTF for use in competitions. While this gives the ability for any number of sizes, most that you find will be about 6 inches across and in the neighborhood of 10 inches long, to include the handle.
A standard paddle has two parts. There will be a blade (which includes the handle). On the top of that you’ll have the rubbers. In most better paddles these rubbers can be removed when they wear out. A common practice is to have some sponge material between the rubber and the wood, but paddles with no sponges can be found.
When considering rubber the easiest thing to know is that since 1986 the ITTF requires that you have one side of your paddle be red and the other side be black. The rubbers don’t need to be the same type, but the two distinct colors let your opponent know if you have changed your playing surface. Of course, if you aren’t looking to compete you can go with any colors you would like.
Next, you’ll need to consider the pimples on the rubber. If you look carefully at the rubber of your paddle you’ll find that it is covered with small pimples. The direction they are pointing will play a role in determining the play style to use. Pimples facing out have a smooth surface around the edge, thus limiting your play surface. These pimples also will affect how the ball reacts, based on them being long or short, but in generally they are for more experienced players. Pimples in gives you the whole paddle surface to work with and lets you use a wider range of strokes.
You will also want to consider the thickness of the sponge and the rubber itself. For the sponge you have two basic ranges. If you are looking to play a more rounded to aggressive style you will want to look at a sponge that is between 2 and 2.5 mm thick. If your play style leans more defensive stay between 1 and 1.5 mm thick.
For the rubber itself you’ll find that most players will be well served from an all around rubber, which is normally about 1.5 mm thick. If you want to really go on the attack you can bump it up to 2.0 mm thick rubber. Defensive players would do well to stay between 1.5 and 1.7 mm thick on their rubbers.
Table Tennis Racket Maintenance:
To get the greatest amount of life out of your paddle you’ll want to maintain it. The first thing that you should consider investing in is a good cleaning cloth. Since the rubber on your new paddle is somewhat sticky, you’ll find that it quickly picks up any gunk and such that might have been on your table.
Be very careful when applying any cleaners to your rubber. The best ping pong paddles will have removable rubbers. They are attached with water based glue and as such are meant to be removable. At the same time a small amount of water and a mild soap will generally not cause any issue. Some companies sell products specially made to clean the rubber of a paddle. If you watch some of the top players they will merely breathe on their paddle and wipe it off on their hand.
Additionally, you should make sure that you have edge tape on your paddle. This simple act can add a level of strength and stability to your paddle. Some come with this already done, while others will leave it to you.
Lastly, a very simple method of keeping your paddle ready for the next match is to store it in a case. Some paddles come with their own but even if your selected paddle does not you can find a wide variety of them to store a single or multiple paddles.
You should now know the basics of what to look for in the best table tennis racket. While this gives you the basic run down on what to consider, the subject goes much deeper. You’ll find that once you get more into the sport you will probably not even purchase pre-made paddles like the ones we have highlighted here, but will assemble your own. But for now, we have reviewed some of the best ping pong paddles for different types of player and skill level to help get you started.
Do you have some experience with the paddles we have highlighted here? If so please let us know about it in the comments section below.