Looking for your first decent racket to improve your game, or is your current one slowing down or halting your progress in table tennis, but you’re not sure what to buy and how much you need to spend? If the answer is ‘Yes’ than this guide may be just right for you. It will outline what the basic choices are available, the advantages of one over another, and the sort of costs involved.
It’s important to develop and improve your game with the right table tennis or ping pong equipment. This does not mean going out to buy one of the most expensive blades that professional use, but you may need to spend a little more than your basic Kmart special. You need something that allows you to develop the correct strokes, and that allows rapid development of your game when you put enough effort into it. It should not be ‘the equipment’ that holds back your progress. At the same it should be something that offer value for money, and you should not be paying extra for an expensive brand name, where (at your level) you will not be able to notice the difference.
A table tennis bat, also commonly referred to as a ‘racket’ or ‘paddle’, basically consists of two parts, namely the “blade” which is the wooden part of the bat, and the rubbers which cover the blade on both sides. The first choice you need to make is whether you buy a ‘pre-made bat’ (or recreational bat) or whether you buy a ‘custom bat’.
A ‘pre-made’ or ‘pre-assembled’ bat has the rubbers have already been glued to the blade, and ratings refer to the bat as a ‘whole’. For a custom bat, you need to choose the blade and two rubbers separately, and the rubber and blades are rated separately, so the overall ratings of the bat are unknown. You would need to assemble a custom bat yourself, or ask you supplier to do this for you, which may incur an extra fee at some retailers.
So how do you choose between these two options? Well the main advantage of the pre-made bats is that they’re ready to go, and they generally work out a lot cheaper. For the beginners this is usually a good choice, since you have not yet developed/discovered your own style, so choosing a blade and rubbers separately can be quite hard and overwhelming. However the rubber on the pre-made bats is not really meant to be changed, so if the rubber get damaged, or wears out, or you need to change to something very different, replacing the rubber is not always an option. This is where a custom setup has advantages, since either the blade or the rubbers can be changed at any time. So if you damage just the rubber on one side of the bat or wish to upgrade, you can simply pull it off and replace it. Similarly (although far less common) if you damage the blade or wish to upgrade to a different one, you can pull off the rubber, and re-glue them to another blade (assuming the size of the blades are similar).
Custom bats vs Pre-made / Pre-assembled bats:
The main advantages/disadvantages of pre-made bats and buying them separately are summarised below. Note that there are some very high quality pre-made bats available, which don’t really fit in either of the categories below, so there is some overlap between the two types:
Premade bats advantages:
- They are usually much cheaper.
- They are already assembled with a good finish and ready to go.
- You don’t need to buy glue or edge tape or tools for assembling the blade or pay to get it done (some retailers offer this as a free service)
- You’re not faced with too many decisions on options/choices that you cannot yet make.
Custom bats advantages:
- More choice in type of rubbers and blades to suit your style.
- Blades are characterised and has a description so you can choose it to suit your style
- Blades are usually of much better quality
- Rubbers may be of better quality.
- As you develop your game (or change your style) you can change the rubbers
- When the rubbers wear out you can replace them, as they are removable
- The rubbers can be ‘speed glued’
So you’ll need to weigh up these factors, and also decide what you’re willing to spend on a new bat. A decent pre-made is often a good and cheap choice, and you can always upgrade to a customs bat when you have a better idea of what you really want. It’s well worth approaching a table tennis club or checking out a specialised retailer to buy your new bat. The quality is likely to be much better, the price most likely cheaper, and you can get some advice on what suits your style. Great savings can also be made by buying online, and information and advice can often be found on a website like this one, or sought from the retailer via Email. Choosing a winning combination is not necessarily buying the best bat on the market, but more about choosing what’s appropriate for your budget and level, and something that’s not going to hold back your progress.