Why do Table Tennis Players Inspect Each Other’s Rackets?

Why do Players Inspect each other's table tennis rackets?

One of the interesting aspects of table tennis is the inspection of rackets before the start of any match and in this article, we look at how is it necessary, why do players need to inspect and how can it make a change.

Let’s start with the basics. And that takes us back to table tennis rackets and what makes them unique (as a beginner you can check for the best table tennis rackets you can buy here).

How is a Table Tennis Racket Unique?

There are a couple of distinguishing factors between table tennis rackets. They are mentioned below.


Table Tennis Rackets are made with laminated wood covered on both sides with rubbers of specific properties. It is also possible that players may have rubber on only one side based on their requirements.

You’ll often hear the term “Table Tennis Bats” in Europe and Asia, while “Paddles” in the USA. The official International Table Tennis Federation-approved term is “Rackets”.

Companies like Butterfly, Donic, and DHS provide with professional rackets also customized ones according to a player’s need.

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Size and Thickness

Surprisingly, there is no particular rule for the size of a table tennis racket. It can be as large as you want but must be of a certain specific thickness.

However, none uses a racket of a larger radius as it makes playing more challenging. The standard and easy-to-carry size is 6 by 10 inches with a 4-inch handle.

Role of Rubber Sheets

Rubber sheets are known to be the most essential yet crucial part of a table tennis racket. The type of your rubber sheet is going to decide the spin and play of the ball.

There are various fundamentals of rubber sheets that we’ve listed below:

  • A racket may have super-spin rubber on one side and no spin rubber on the other side.
  • This variation is essential for flipping the racket based on the need of your next hit.
  • Such a different combination makes the racket perfect for a varying game strategy.
  • However, these two rubber sheets must be in different colors on both sides.
  • Usually, the color combination is red and black for clear differentiation of both types.

Such color variation and differences are essential for the inspection. Want to know how and why? Keep reading, and you’ll find out.

Types of Racket Rubber Sheets and Ball Reaction To It

Rackets come with different kinds of rubber sheets, which create a significant impact on the gameplay. Let’s show you how!

Outward Pimples

This type of rubber has pimples or pips that protrude outwards, which are either short or long.

Short pips are preferred by counter-hit players or the ones with a fast blocking style. In contrast, Long Pips are used for a defensive type of play with unusual sorts of spins.

Inward Pips

This rubber style has pimples inside, stuck to the wooden surface, while the smoother surface is what comes in contact with the ball. This type is most preferred for beginners to make their playing style and tricks. It helps you develop your strokes with perfect control.

Both types play an essential role in the blade’s thickness, which is fixed for inspection, which we’ve discussed further.

Let’s begin with what are the rules associated with the inspection of table tennis rackets.

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Pre-Game Rules of Racket Inspection

Every match of table tennis. When occurring in an official premise, it needs proper protocol. And under these protocols, racket inspection is a crucial one.

Before the game starts, both the players are allowed to inspect each other’s rackets for their satisfaction and observation. Umpires are also obliged to follow the inspection for a green signal to begin the game.

Why Should a Table Tennis Be Checked Before a Match?

There are different reasons why table tennis rackets are checked. Unlike some other aspects of the game, like table tennis players touching the table, or blowing air on to the palms, racket-checking is more a rule-centric thing than due to a force of habit.

As mentioned above, there are differences in the way a racket is made and glued.

By Opponents

Among the few reasons for the inspection of a table tennis racket by the opponent, we’ve mentioned a few critical ones for your game knowledge.

  • Opponents checks for the type of the rubber used with either color.
  • Remembering the color of the rubber type helps a player judge their opponent’s shot nature (the reason we mentioned the importance of colors earlier).
  • The surface of the rubber sheet is also made sure of being free from any discrepancies.

By Umpire

Umpires make sure of the racket’s nature concerning the game rules. They usually inspect both the player’s rackets for the following checks.

  • The blade must be wood for almost 85% of its whole thickness.
  • Rubber sheets, if ordinary pimpled one, must not be more than 2mm thick.
  • If the rubber sheets are sandwiched rubber with pimples inwards or outwards, then the thickness must not exceed 4mm.

These points are crucial to consider as a little variation can result in a changed spin style or speed-hit, which can do injustice to the opponent. This is why inspection is allowed to the umpire and the opponent as well, for double check and just game strategies.

Role and Importance of Table Tennis Racket Inspection

You must be wondering how a racket can be rejected for play or doesn’t meet the game standards. And at the same time, why is this significant for a fair match. We’re stating the apparent damages or intentional changes to a table tennis racket for clearing such conceptions, which are unacceptable for the mentioned reasons.

Quality of Rubber

  • If glue has been used more often to the rubber sheet for sticking, it can swell it up, and it is recognizable if the inspection is very keen.
  • Damaged or torn rubber is also rejected for change in speed or spin.
  • A double layer of rubber sheets on the same side is also against the rules and tends to mess up with the ball hits.

About Speed Glue

“Speed Glue” was a formula that was used to stick rubber to the Table Tennis rackets. This glue made the rubber more elastic, hence adding speed and spin to every shot.

This particular glue was used almost 30 minutes before the match for noticeable results. It is said that it used to work by causing vapors, which made the rubber sheet expand to a certain extent.

This created tension in the sheet and made the ball bounce in response to the contact.

However, this efficient performance lasts only for some hours after application. Speed glue was later officially banned for use by the federation due to its altering effects in the game, which were not approved.

This glue was then banned from 2012 for every Olympics tournament, becoming another significant part of the inspection before the gameplay.

Final Thoughts

With some banned rules from the past and current ongoing regulations, racket inspection holds its own significance in terms of safe play, honesty, and fair judgment based on all the facts we’ve discussed above.

Stan Boone

I am the editor of Racket Sports World. I love my tennis, pickleball and most of the other racket sports played around the world and started this blog as my way to help other racquet sports fans even as I learn, explore and improve by connecting with them. Tweet at https://twitter.com/StanBooneTennis.

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