Are you a table tennis beginner looking to buy your first racket or even want to choose a new table tennis racket but are looking for the various factors before selecting it? Below, our racket sports expert provides detailed factors around which you should base your purchase of a table tennis racket as a beginner and tops it up with our recommendations for the best ping pong rackets in the business.
Table tennis (also known as Ping Pong in Northern America) is a sport that requires quick movements, precision and agility. And just like any racket sport, having the right equipment will go a long way in determining how good you are.
When choosing the correct ping pong paddle or table tennis racket, a beginner should always prioritise control and feeling over pace and power. The playing area of the sport is extremely small and any mistimed or miscontrolled shot is likely to cost you.
Factors to Consider as a Beginner Before Buying a Table Tennis Racket
Here we shall look at the factors that every beginner in the sport should consider while buying their first racket.
When starting out in the sport, most beginners go to a local and pick either the most basic rackets out there or choose the one with the best packaging in their budget. But its important to see the material which the blade of the rackets is made of.
A lot of the cheap or basic rackets are either made of plastic or have a shiny surface on its blade. But what these paddles do is give no grip and hold to the shots.
When the ball makes contact with the racket, it falls right off it and generates no spin. This doesn’t improve your game and should be avoided at all cost.
One should choose a paddle with a good grip which will generate topspin and backspin to the shots and also give good control.
Thus picking out a racket with correct material is a huge aspect of choosing your first paddle in the game.
Weight of the Blade
Weight of a blade is a very crucial aspect when choosing the paddle.
The normal blades weigh around 70-100 grams before the rubber is applied. More weight will give more power to the shots. Whereas lighter weight will give more speed to the shots.
Both of which can be dangerous for a beginner. So even though weight is a relative factor that depends on the comfort of the player, beginners should choose the right balance when it comes to it.
So it is better to for a racket which is slightly on the heavier side to ensure there is better control over the swing of the shots.
If one chooses a very light blade, the pace of the swing will be much higher and it will be difficult to control the shots. Once you feel that your game has sufficient control in it, upgrade to lighter versions to add more speed.
Speed Rating of the Blade
Every racket blade comes with a speed rating on it. It can go from offensive plus being the highest to defensive negative as the slowest.
The speed rating depends on the thickness of the grip and power of the shots it will generate. A blade with a higher speed rating will generate more powerful and quicker shots.
That is something that all beginners should avoid. If the shots are just flying off the racket, the player is likely to not be able to go through with the complete shot.
This will restrict the new players in developing their strokes. Thus a beginner should always choose a balanced (All Rounder range) or even a slower (Defensive range) blade to start with.
Pre-made Paddle or Custom-made?
Just how a beginner shouldn’t pick the most basic and cheapest option available, they should also no go overboard and get a custom made a racket for themselves.
Sports stores charge higher for custom made rackets where you can choose the wood, grip and the sponge of the paddle. So the chances are that one walks into a sports store, they will encourage you to get a custom made racket made.
Of course, the quality of these is better compared to the pre-made ones. But a player should only get a custom racket when they have played the sport for a certain time and they know their strength and weaknesses.
Thus it should be avoided until one has some sort of proficiency in the game. A beginner should choose a good quality premade racket that can be used for at least 6-9 months, to begin with.
Rubber Quality and Type
The rubber on the surface is the most crucial aspect of the racket. As discussed earlier, one shouldn’t go for plain plastic surface or any material that doesn’t provide enough grip.
The smoother the surface, the quicker the ball will go off the racket. Even the basic rackets with a thin layer of rubber on it will wear off within 60-80 hours of playing time. Thus
it’s important to choose rubber which has sufficient thickness of layer along with a good glue cushion to ensure that it stays on for at least 6-8 months.
Another reason its crucial that one buys a paddle which will have rubber that will last is that as a beginner you don’t want to change your racket frequently.
It normally takes around 6-12 months for a regular player to learn most of the shots and play consistently. Whenever a player changes its paddle, it will have an adjustment period.
For a player who is still learning the basics, this can be dangerous. One doesn’t want a mental doubt when the performance changes whether its a flaw in their own game or it’s down to a change in the paddle.
So as a beginner, the only focus one should have is to learn the basics of the game, develop the correct technique and practice consistently.
Thus they should always choose a racket which allows them greater control and improves their technique.
Remember, the paddle that you choose at this stage is not going to be with you forever. There will always be a stage where you will have to upgrade.
Five Best Table Tennis Rackets for Beginners
As a beginner, one should focus on getting a paddle that has a decent grip and with a lower speed rating to ensure that they learn the game properly.
There are some cheap options out there in the market which are made of plastic or similar material and there are also high-quality custom made rackets available as well.
A beginner should stay away from both of those.
Here we shall look at five rackets that are great choices for someone starting in the game.
STIGA Titan Table Tennis Racket
Stiga is one of the best and oldest players in this market. Started in Sweden back in 1944, it has been serving great quality paddles for over 75 years now.
STIGA’s Titan racket is one of the best products in the market when it comes to the beginner’s range. It offers excellent control that allows the new players to learn the shots correctly.
It has a great grip on it and once you learn the shots it will offer great topspin and backspin. The product is approved by the ITTF and one can even play with it in tournaments.
It is fairly well priced at around $49 and will get a player through a good 9-12 months. The paddle is more suitable for aggressive players and offers higher than average speed to the shots.
The technology of this paddle primarily focuses on two aspects.
The crystal technology makes the surface harder and increases the speed of the shot. On the other hand, focus on weight sensitivity and control means that the recovery after a shot is quicker and a player can play more consistently.
The Balsa technology that the racket uses helps in creating a very light ply and keeps the weight of the paddle lower.
- Better grip and spin generation compared to most other products in a similar budget and category
- Excellent quality rubber which will last for around 80-100 hours
- Ready to use packaging, doesn’t require any separate assembling
- Fast speed, ideal for aggressive players
- Budget-friendly product for the features it provides
- The power could be improved upon, it is an ideal product for players who rely on spin and not on power
- Issues with a sponge after a using it for a while
AirBlades Professional Ping Pong Paddle
Airblades is an Australian brand and has been providing very good quality paddles for several years now.
Its professional series offers some great options for beginners. Its high-quality paddle with Ergonomically shaped handles that allows you relief from hand fatigue.
As one continues to play the longer amount of ping pong every time, the weight of the tacket and its feel in the hand becomes very crucial. Airblades has a unique design that makes it easy for players to hold the blade for a longer period.
The paddle comes in two different versions – one is 3 star which costs around $39 and the other one is 5 star that costs $44. The difference is that the 5-star version is slightly heavier and has a little better grip.
The technology of the product is based on using 5 plywood combining two different types of material. The middle layers of the paddle are made with plywood whereas the outer ones are koto wood.
This offers a high-quality product and it also comes with a lifetime warranty. All of their products come with a lifetime covers and only requires a simple online registration of the purchase.
- A very good quality product that can be used by beginners and beyond
- Lifetime warranty on the product and offers replacement if core component is damaged while playing
- The protective case along with the product which limits wear and tear during the period of no usage
- Very reasonable price for a product of this quality
- Unique grip unlike any other product in the market
- Hollow Spots in the 3-star model where certain “dead spots” need more power in the shots
- The logo is printed right in the middle of the blade which becomes a little tacky after a while affecting the grip slightly
- Some players with huge palm may find the grip a little too small for comfort
Eastfield Allround Professional Table Tennis Racket
Eastfield is a British brand manufacturing premium quality paddles.
This particular model was created for players learning the game and those who prioritise control, spin and technique over speed and power.
It’s an artisan product where each of its units is partially handmade by the Eastfield staff. A wooden blade and two sheets of rubber are glued together and cut by hand.
The product is made on some of the classic Stiga all-round range and its 5 plywood technology offers moderate speed but excellent control and great spin. It retails around $54 which is slightly more expensive than its competitors.
- Excellent control, ideal for players starting in the sport
- Sticky rubber which helps in feeling the ball. This is very helpful in developing shots with spin
- Soft grip and doesn’t put additional strain on a player’s hands
- Slightly expensive compared to similar options in the market
- Extra light handle and manual manufacturing leads to a shorter life compared to other products
- Smaller sweet spot which encourages players to play with more accuracy but can be frustrating for a new player
Killerspin JET200 Ping Pong Paddle
One of the newest players in the market, Killerspin has gained popularity in the American market in a very short time.
They are one of the first manufacturers to have named their product range as “Paddle” instead of “Racket” or “Bat”. They have also been trying out various colours like blue and black as well as yellow and black which stand out in a market which is dominated by the colour red.
Coming to the product itself, it uses an equal weight distribution and 5 plywood material to create a balanced paddle.
It focuses on precision and control in the shots which are ideal for a beginner. It has a lower speed rating but a relatively high spin and control rating. It is one of the most budget-friendly options in the market, costing around $29.
- Good quality blade and rubber allowing a player to not having to change the paddle for a few months
- Offers very good control and precision, ideal for new players
- Attractive looks and a handy protective cover with the product
- Ideal to improve your game and play consistently
- Not ITTF approved so can not be used in tournaments
- Comes with only a 30-day limited warranty
- Relatively low on power compared to other options in the same category
- Will need to upgrade as soon as one wants to play at a little higher level than beginners
Palio Expert 3.0 Table Tennis Racket
Palio is a Chinese company that makes relatively higher quality products at affordable prices. They have products for all level of players and they are recommended by many coaches around the world for a few years now.
The Pali Expert 3.0 series gives great control and spin while compromises on the speed. It specifies the product as 6/10 for speed but rates it 9/10 for control and 10/10 for a spin.
This is an ideal product for players just staring in the sport and the product also comes in with a protective case.
It is an excellent value for money product which retails around $39. The product is made of all rough high-quality material. The grip, the sponge, the handle as well as the rubber which makes this product last long.
- Excellent quality of material(s), wide edge tap to secure the rubber and an attractive cover to keep the product secure
- The very comfortable grip which offers the beginners to develop their technique and execute all the shots smoothly
- Excellent control and spin, best in its category
- ITTF approved and can be used while playing in leagues and tournaments
- A very high-quality product at a reasonable price and will last long enough
- The paddle can feel a little slow at times and lacks the extra punch for offensive players
- The handle gathers dust quicker than other products due to the material used, not a deal-breaker though. Can easily be washed away with water.
All in all, there are some great options out there for beginners in the market. One thing common amongst all of them is that they all offer great control and spin while compromising in speed.
This is a feature and not a bug as speed is something that can be the biggest factor that hampers a beginners’ growth.
The regular price range for this category of paddles is from $30 to $55.
Of course, there are some good options out there outside of this range as well. Do let us know your thoughts on these options and if you have used another great paddle that can get in this category.