You can’t play ping pong without a paddle or racket. Aside from the table and ball, it’s an essential part of the game. But using just any paddle won’t be enough. You need to choose a quality and easy-to-use one. Choosing a racket that suits your playing style, skills, and preferences is best.
This guide will explore the importance of getting and using the right ping pong paddles. Learn all the steps and tips to follow in choosing the perfect paddle. This guide will also discuss everything you need to know to make the right choice.
Importance of Using the Right Ping Pong Paddle
What and which ping pong paddle you will use significantly affects your ability to play and perform well. It affects how well and fast you can make moves and techniques. It can also avoid or minimize the risks of any potential hand and wrist injuries. The chosen paddle will make a difference, especially for beginners.
7 Steps in Choosing the Best Ping Pong Paddles
Follow these steps when choosing a ping pong paddle to buy for playing:
1. Figure Out Your Grip
How you hold the paddle will determine what grip you want to use when playing. This will affect the way you play during the game. There are two main common grips:
Shakehand: This is the most common grip used worldwide. Its name is derived from how it’s similar to how you shake hands with someone. A shakehand grip provides more force when making returns and spins on the ball.
Penhold: This is common in Asia and is known for how it gives players a feeling of being more in control. In this, you hold the grip between your thumb and forefinger like a pen, with the paddle held downward. A penholder grip puts your arm in a natural position for quick, brushing strokes.
To determine which would suit you best, act like you’re serving and returning the ball a few times using each grip.
2. Choose a Handle
Once you’ve determined your grip, you can pick the type of paddle handle. There are three main types:
Straight: This is the most basic, providing a strong and steady grip. It’s commonly used by players who use the penhold grip. If you have a firm grip, it would also best suit you.
Flared: This handle has a wide base. It has a broader shape at the bottom and a smaller shape at the top. It’s preferred by players who use a shakehand grip and those who grip the paddle a little more loosely.
Anatomic: This has a design that’s conformed to the natural shape of the hand. It has a broad base that tapers towards the middle. Then, it widens towards the end, resembling the curvature of the hand. This is a good option for people with hand or wrist injuries.
3. Consider Your Playing Style
It’s also best to consider and determine your playing style before proceeding. This is because there are paddles best suited for general play styles. There are three common styles:
Offensive: This is where players like to play aggressive shots and focus on attacking their opponent. The ideal paddle for such players is one with more power and a larger sweet spot.
Defensive: This prioritizes strategy and control over attack. Players with this style focus on returning the shots with precision. Paddles with a high level of control and spin would be ideal for players like these.
Balanced: This is a balance between offensive and defensive plates. A more versatile paddle that balances control, power, and spin is ideal for this style.
It’s advisable to consider what you frequently use or want to use when playing to determine your style. You can ask for professional advice from a coach or veteran player about your playing tendencies.
4. Pick a Blade
There are three main factors to consider regarding blades: the material, weight, and thickness.
There are three common blade materials:
Wood: This is the most traditional blade material. Wooden blades offer good control and feel, making them ideal for defensive players and beginners.
Carbon: This is a combination of wood with carbon fiber, which stiffens the blade. This increases power and speed, making it suitable for offensive players.
Composite:This has wood, carbon fiber, and fiberglass. This suits versatile players, offering balanced speed, control, and power.
The material used in the blade affects how much it weighs. For reference, the optimal weight for a blade is about 85 to 93 grams. Lighter, more rigid materials are more suitable for offensive players. They’re easier to maneuver, but they’re less stable and powerful. On the other hand, heavier ones are stable, making them ideal for defensive players.
Blades can be thin or thick—optimal thickness is from 5.7mm to 6.1mm. Thinner blades offer better flexibility and control but have less speed and power. Meanwhile, thicker blades offer more power and speed, which makes them less controllable.
Offensive players would benefit most from thicker, heavier blades, as they commonly rely on speed and power. On the other hand, thinner, lighter blades are more suitable for defensive players who focus on control and precision.
5. Choose a Rubberized Paddle
It’s best to play with a paddle with rubber, even on just one side, to increase control. But it’s not a requirement since it would still depend on your skill or experience level. The rubber adds traction to the face of the paddle, which can help any player have more control over the ball. There are three rubber varieties or textures to choose from:
Pimpled: This has little, raised bumps on the surface—usually in short, medium, and long patterns. Pimpled rubbers give excellent ball control and spin diversity. They provide a versatile option for those focusing on precise control and varied spinning techniques.
Inverted: This has a smooth, rubber-facing exterior with a coating. Offensive players commonly use inverted rubbers as they offer more speed, power, and spin control.
Anti-Spin: This reduces the amount of ball spin as they have a low friction surface. It’s ideal for players who want to hinder their opponent’s spin.
The thickness of the rubber also affects your performance. The thickness and hardness of the rubber alter how the ball behaves when it strikes the paddle. Thicker rubbers offer greater control and power, while thinner rubbers offer better feel and touch. Plus, the harder the rubber, the greater the speed and power. Softer rubbers offer better control and spin.
6. Focus on the Limitations of Ratings
The performance of a paddle is evaluated by its ratings in terms of control, speed, and spin. Manufacturers use different methods to test their paddles and establish these ratings. So, it might not be best to compare paddles from different brands.
But it wouldn’t hurt to consider these ratings when checking out your preferred paddle model. These can only slightly affect your performance in an actual play. Other factors still affect your performance, like your playing style, skill level, and the ball you’re using.
7. Decide Between a Commercial or Custom Paddle
Lastly, choose where and how to get your paddle. You can get two primary types of paddles: a readily available one or a customized one. Commercial or pre-assembled paddles are mass-produced paddles and are offered as they are. On the other hand, custom paddles are made based on the customer’s or player’s preferences and requirements.
Commercial ones would suffice if you want more affordable paddles—custom paddles are expensive. There’s nothing wrong with using ready-made commercial paddles, as many other players use them.
Using the right ping pong paddles is the best way to enjoy ping pong. Every player has their playing style, preferences, and budget, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to buying paddles. Make sure to follow all the steps and tips we discussed above to get the perfect paddle just for you.
You can visit our paddle collection to check product options. We offer various paddles with different materials, builds, and brands!