Why do I need a table tennis rubber and what are its parts?
Are you venturing into the entertaining world of table tennis? Knowing what parts make up your paddle will also teach you what’s necessary and what can improve your game.
Sometimes the paddle is referred to as a bat, and sometimes a racket. But, whatever you decide to call it, it’s made of three basic components.
Let’s discuss each one as well as its importance:
- Blade: The wooden part of a table tennis paddle is known as the blade. According to regulations, at least 85% must be made of natural wood. The flat area on the paddle is for striking the ball. The weight influences your choice of style. Different blades give players the opportunity to adapt their playing styles.
- Rubbers: Rubbers are the “fabric” that covers each side of your paddle. This rubber not only provides various degrees of grip on the ball, but also helps you develop your table tennis style. Should you wish to enter competitions or play in tournaments, you will have to choose rubber that is approved by the IITF. To maintain the required level of consistency within the sport, one paddle side must have red rubber and the other black. Professional players use both sides to incorporate attacking and defending styles into their games.
- Glue: Glue is used to attach the rubber to the blade. The required glue is a water based application which must be free of harmful chemicals and compounds. The rubber needs to remain firmly attached to the blade, so it’s important to follow instructions precisely to achieve this. It’s important to remember superglue is not a viable option. Different types of glue affect the speed of the ball, so you want to use a reputable brand. Ensure that the best glue for table tennis rubber is used to avoid damage to your rubber. Always have some glue handy as you never know when your paddles’ rubber may come loose.
Features to consider when choosing a table tennis rubber
Using a table tennis paddle with the proper features to suit your skill set will go a long way to improving your game. Whether you are a looper, fast spinner or prefer a combination of styles, there’s definitely a table tennis rubber out there for you.
Let’s look at few features that you should consider when you’re making a list of your favorites. Studying the different features and the results they yield will go a long way towards improving your game.
There are three main types of table tennis rubbers. Let’s have a look at what they are and why they’re important:
- Inverted rubber: This type of rubber is the most common used in pre-assembled tennis rackets. The pips face toward the blade. This means the side touching the ball will be smooth. This kind of rubber always has a sponge under the surface. The thickness of the sponge impacts the speed and control. The popular Butterfly Tenergy 05, reviewed on our list is a good example of the inverted rubber type. This is also the type of table tennis rubber that a beginner should start with.
- Short-pips rubber: Having a rubber with short pips means the pip will point outward. This causes the pips to have direct contact with the ball. A player who uses this type of rubber does so to cut the spin strategy from the game which is great for defense. This technique is usually adopted by more experienced players.
- Long pips rubber: This type of rubber has a long pip pointing outward from the surface. This will contact the ball directly, and the long pip will produce an unpredictable spin toward the opponent. This is very hard for your opponent to predict and therefore counter. This is also a style famously used by players with some experience.
When it comes to choosing the best ping pong rubber sizes, it’s important to realize that thicker sponges result in better play for offensive styles. This would be 2.0mm or more. Examples of this on our review list include the Gambler Nine Ultra Tack with a 2.1mm size and the DHS NEO Hurricane 3 with a size of 2.1mm and 2.2mm.
Rubber sizes in the 1.9mm and 1.5mm range are used to create more control. The DHS NEO Hurricane 3 on our review list has a starting size range of 1.7mm and 1.9mm.
Sponge density is important because it effects how deep the ball sinks into the sponge. Thicker sponges are more effective for players who prefer a topspin style. Thicker sponges are also good for blocking and defending.
Medium sponges are suited to near-to-the table play. Thinner sponges are best for defending styles where heavy spin is the play of choice. The sponge catches the ball and slows it down. How much it slows down depends on the density on the sponge. The Gambler Nine Ultra Tack on our ping pong rubber review list has a sponge hardness of 6.0.
Forehand and backhand rubbers
Forehand and backhand rubbers refer to the different ways a player hits the ball with their back and forehands. When you hit the ball with your forehand, you hit the ball harder and with a hard stroke. A backhand hit is much shorter with a quicker stroke. This is what is referred to as “hard rubber.”
Experienced players often select hard rubber for the forehand side and softer rubber for the backhand side. The technique is different for both, so it would be a particular preference according to your style.
Experts recommend beginners use the Butterfly Tenergy 05
which is listed in our review list and a very popular ping pong paddle rubber.
Rubber sheets have different ratings of speed. Speed is generated by the thickness of the sponge which is measured in millimeters (mm). A thicker sponge stores a higher amount of energy.
If you’re a new player, the best size will be between 2.0mm and 2.2mm. Our review list features the DHS NEO Hurricane 3 with a speed of 2.1mm and 2.2mm. The Gambler Nine Ultra Tack also has a speed of 2.1mm. Both of these ping pong rubbers are ideally suited to beginners.
Spin refers to the action that allows a player to hit a table tennis ball hard whether the ball is low or below the net and still land it on the table. Different types of rubber affect the spin of the ball. More experienced players prefer rubber sheets with long pips which reverse the opponents spin.
Simply put, as a beginner you’re looking for a spin with a lower number. A lower number tends to provide more spins at lower speeds. An example of this on a review list is the YASAKA Mark V with a spin of 8.2. For more experienced players, the DHS NEO Hurricane 3 has a spin of 12.0 and is regarded as the best ping pong rubber for spin.
Control is not something that is actually measured on your table tennis paddle. It’s associated with the skill of the player. Simply put, control is the opposite of speed and spin. This means as speed and spin go up, control must go down.
Defensive players usually use paddles that offer higher control. Players who prefer offensive styles make use of a combination of high a spin and speed. DHS NEO Hurricane 3 on our review list offers players better control in their game.
Color Regulations and ITTF approval
Prior to 1986 professional table tennis players used two paddles. One paddle would have two sides of black rubber, and the other would have two red sides. This meant that to have a different style of play they would require two different paddles. Players were not able to have two different rubbers on one paddle. The player would then alternate between paddles during the game. It was near impossible for opponents to anticipate the type of ball a player was sending their way.
In 1986, the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) changed the rules to create more consistency in the game. This means that each paddle has a one red side and one black side. Players can still select the type of rubber they want to use for each side, but at least the opponent has some idea of the type of ball that is being sent their way.
For instance, they will know if it’s a loop or a fast spin because of the color of the paddle the player is choosing. Rubbers that aren’t either red or black are not in accordance with the ITTF regulations.
It’s important to establish which table tennis rubber will suit your skill level. That will ultimately determine the right one for you. All the table tennis rubbers that we have reviewed are below $100 in price. The DHS NEO Hurricane 3 usually retails for less than $20. It should then be relatively easy to find the best ping pong rubber type in your price range, even when shopping on a budget.