If you are a table tennis fanatic, you may be in search of the best ping pong paddle for you. Choosing the right tool is partly about your personal preferences and partly about the amount of wear that the paddles will get.
Different paddles will optimize speed, defense, spin, and topspin. Here is a look at our top ten favorites and what stands out about each one.
See for yourself all the wonderful things to love about these ping pong paddles!
How To Choose the Best Ping Pong Paddle
Is there a best paddle for everyone?
Start with your preferred style of play, and choose a paddle that will enhance the features you need the most. Are you an aggressive player who likes power shots? A defensive wall that no one can get past? Or do you like throwing your opponent off their game with spinny trick shots that offer surprise and little control option?
Whichever option you prefer, there are a few features that you want:
Aggressive: You need a responsive rubber that transfers all the shock of the ball right back into it for quick returns. You want a heavier paddle that can transfer some of the inertia, and no stick to your rubber to avoid slowing.
Defensive: You want a large enough blade surface with a good rubber balance between stick and bounce.
Tricky: You want rubber to have some stick to allow you to add spin at a moment’s notice.
If you’re not sure what you prefer, consider either starting with an all-around paddle that balances these things or one that is designed to train you in the skill you prefer.
The right paddle is all about the kind of player you want to be!
Types of Paddles & Paddle Parts
What should I know when looking?
In addition to knowing your style of play, there are a few more things to know about choosing from the styles of paddles out there. A paddle has three parts to it that you have to consider: The blade, the sponge, and the rubber. A bit more about each:
All good things to know!
The ply rating (most of the blades in the list are 5 to 7-ply) are the layers that are smooshed together to make the paddle. The heavier hitter you are, the more blades you want to try and push back against those power shots.
Go too heavy, however, and your returns get slow. It’s a balanced game between your strength, speed, and power. Many of these layers are wood, but carbon fiber and titanium carbon have also been making their way onto the table tennis scene to offer some serious motion control without a lot of weight.
The width of your sponge is related to the amount of control, speed, and spin you want. Thicker sponges offer more speed and spin, but less control. Thinner sponges offer more control but sacrifice both other factors.
The rubber can do one of two things for you.
The stickier it is, the more you can use it to change the direction of the ball and add spin. Sticky rubber is great for trick shots.
Firm rubber with a lot of bounceback is great for returning all of the momentum of the ball back to it and adding to the power of your return shot.
Ping Pong Paddle with Case
If you are serious about your tennis game, you probably are going to want a case for your paddle. It can keep your paddle freer from dust and oil and make it last much longer at a high-performance level.
However, you shouldn’t choose a paddle based on whether or not it comes with a case. Instead, any of the high-end professional level paddles will offer this as an additional option. Instead, focus on the quality of the paddle and how well it meets your needs first, and choose based on this. If you will work well with a pro-level paddle like the Gambler, then it already comes with a case.
However, if a Killershot is your best bet to ping pong championships, know that they offer a variety of cases for your paddle for an additional small fee.
If buying your own case, you can typically choose between leather and plastic. There is no competitive advantage to either, simply a style and cost preference.
The win is definitely worth more than the free case.
Ping Pong Paddle Cleaner
Keeping your paddle clean can be done in a number of ways. However, specialized products like the Butterfly 8181 Racket Care Kit can go a long way in helping you to do that.
It is designed to:
- Remove oil and dirt from the rubber surfaces
- Return a tacky feel to stickier rubbers
- blot or squeegee the racket depending on the side of the sponge you use
Simple dish soap and water will work as well. It’s a good idea to keep your rubber clean and conditioned to avoid delamination and cracking.
Ping pong balls, like paddles, have different requirements. Old ones from the competitive circuit were 40 mm and made from a material called celluloid.
Today’s balls are all 40 mm and made from polystyrene because it’s more environmentally friendly. They range in quality from one star to three stars, with three being the best. While many colors of balls are available for purchase, only white and orange balls are legal for tournament play.
Good to know. What else should I consider?
Rubber for Ping Pong Paddle
You can use any rubber you wish if you want to play casually. However, a pro must have one red rubber and one black rubber on the paddle. The rubbers must also be certified by the tournament authority where you’re playing. This is typically USTTA or ITTF. (ITTF certification works for USTTA, but it’s not necessarily true in reverse).
There are three basic things that you need to know about rubber when considering paddles:
- Factory glued vs Replaceable
Rubber is attached in one of two ways. Pros will have replaceable rubber sides that they can switch out so that they can continue to use their favorite paddle.
Factory glued rubbers offer a tighter seal, but when they detach, they often tear the rubber. Typically, worn out rubbers on factory paddles mean a new paddle.
On replaceable paddles, they’re designed to let you replace the rubber or change the style of rubber.
- Bouncy vs Firm
The amount of bounce in a paddle’s rubber is an important thing to consider.
Bouncier rubber will absorb some of the shock of the ball motion, slow the ball, and allow you to add spin to trick shots. They also tend to be stickier.
Hard rubber will transfer almost all the energy back to the ball for power shots. While top spin shots are possible with these hard return rubbers, other spin types aren’t as easy to obtain.
- Pips-in vs. Pips-out
Pips are the little nubs on the surface of the paddle rubber. They work like stickiness to grab the ball and add spin or redirect for precision. This is the norm in paddles for beginners.
The length of the pips can also vary. Pips-in means that the paddle is glued with the pips on the inside of the paddle and the flat surface out. This is better for being able to vary your shots more.
Be smart when choosing your rubber and up your game!
Care and Maintenance
The biggest thing to consider with your paddle is to keep it clean. If you are a casual player, spritz it with a little water and wipe it down after a day of playing. Once a month or so, clean it with a rubber cleaner to get rid of oils.
If you are a more serious player, you’ll find that they clean their rubber between games. Some pros will even blow on the paddle between shots and wipe it on the back of their hand or their leg to keep the rubber as dust and oil-free as possible.
These players will use rubber cleaner between every game. Keeping the paddle in a racket case is crucial to having it stay clean between uses.
All great tips!
While we have discussed high-performance design in detail, there is also aesthetic design to consider. This is something that is a bigger focus for casual players than for pros because tournament-level paddles must be red on one side and black on the other.
For the rest of us, you can find paddles in every color under the sun. You can also find them embellished with pictures of the sun, with funny sayings, the logo of the local venue where you’re playing, and more. These are typically beginner-level all-around paddles that are made for casual fun.
Designs are great, even if the paddles can’t be used in tournaments!
Here is a bit about each of the main woods you’ll find in ping pong paddles and their advantages:
- Cypress: The most common and cheapest wood you’ll typically find. This is somewhat durable as cypress is designed to resist water.
- Ayous: This is a softwood used in plywoods.
- Balsa: A wood that is well-known to anyone making model planes. it is light, easy to cut, but also easy to damage. It is the single most common paddle material as it doubles as a sponge.
- Walnut: This hard, expensive wood is used in higher-end paddles.
- Movinge: This African walnut is also expensive, hard, and found in premium paddles.
- Ash: This is found in the mid-range paddles, it has similar properties to ayous and cypress.
While you shouldn’t choose a paddle based on wood alone, knowing the kind of wood can give you an idea of the level of quality production that’s been put into your paddle starting with a professional chainsaw to the sanding job.
Keeping the rubber in your paddle clean and protected is the best way to be sure that you have a functional tool for a long time to come. Covering it with a case is the biggest thing you can do. In addition, edge tape is another way to protect the paddle. Finally, keep it in a temperature-controlled area to prevent the wood and rubber from shrinking and expanding too much.
Spin is a great way to create trick shots. The level of spin can create a different direction for the ball when it bounces. This can surprise your opponent and give you an advantage. It can also slow your return shot, which can make it easier for those with fast reflexes to hit. Tacky rubber is the best way to give side spin to a ball, while power hitters can use a firmer, less sticky rubber to give top spin.
Both good ideas!
Serbian pro Biljana “Biba” Golić, in a blog for Killerspin, says that the most important part of finding a racket is finding one that fits your play style. This is true for a beginner or a ping pong paddle for professionals. The main styles include blocking, attacking, and defending.
Ultimately, the best paddle will have more to do with your skill set and your strengths than it will with anything else. A defensive player may have better success with a low-end paddle made for defense than they would with a top-quality paddle that is designed for power hitters. So, if the best recommendations don’t work for your play style, go with another choice.
When looking at paddles, you next have to look at your level of play. While you may have the making of a pro someday, if you’re just starting out, you probably want to go with a paddle that is designed more for beginners to intermediate players.
These tend to be a better investment than a higher-end paddle that may not be designed for your style of play. As you learn more about your best skills, you can begin to search for your best paddle.
If you know your skills and you’re ready to take your performance to the next level, the best bet of the top ten is easy: the Gambler Professional Table Tennis Paddle is the best of all worlds. It offers the craftsmanship of a pro-level paddle with the price of a beginner instrument. Throw in the free case to keep it protected, carbon-fiber crafting, and great customer service, and there’s really no comparison for anyone who likes speedy spin-shots.
Thanks for reading, and happy ping pong games!!!