Put Some Spin on it! Selecting a Table Tennis Bat
Tennis can be classified as a major sport worldwide,
with millions of participants, major tournaments and
its own superstars.
As a sport that emphasizes endurance and reflexes above simple size and strength, people of all ages and genders can participate on an equal playing field. The equipment can be had for a reasonable price, and the sport is played indoors so year-round competition and practice is possible. A game requires only two or four players, and typically lasts around 30 minutes, enabling quick matches during breaks, etc.
Table tennis truly is a sport for the masses, and its widespread adoption around the world is a testament to its versatility.
Here are some tips on selecting your own Table Tennis Bat
The first step in choosing a table tennis bat for oneself is to find out what level you believe yourself to be at. If you have never played, played only recently, or played a long time ago, you may consider yourself a beginner. If you play once a week, a few times a month, or you used to play often, you may consider yourself an intermediate player. If you play often, say a few times a week, or you used to play all the time you may be an advanced player. If you are in a league and you practice daily you may want to put yourself in the professional category. It is very important to judge your level of play because your table tennis bat directly affects your performance. Simply buying an expensive advanced bat could actually make you play worse if it is above your level of play, as you might not be able to control your shots. Not only should you account for how often you play, but also for how long you have been playing. Be honest with yourself, you are the best judge of your own skill level.
Now that we have a good idea of your skill level, we need to determine what type of player you are and what technique suits you best. You should be able to situate yourself into one of these three groups; offensive, defensive, or all-around player.
Offensive play involves more speed, greater spin and lots of power behind your shots. These aggressive players usually tend to play close to the table. You need to have quick reflexes and great endurance for this style of play.
All-around players mix attack and control shots. Having strengths in both defensive and offensive play, an all-around player picks from different return shots depending on the circumstances.
Defensive players concentrate on ball control ball, slowing the game down and countering an opponent’s spin. Defensive players tend to play further away from the table, neutralizing fast attacks.
All these types of play have many variations, creating many sub-categories in between. It is again up to the individual player to analyze his own playing style. If you are just starting out, it would probably be best to start off with a defensive or all-around racket. That being said, a defensive player is not necessarily a less advanced player. A defensive style of play is just as competitive as an offensive style of play. A defensive bat is just more accommodating to a novice player.
Now that we have determined your skill level and playing style, let’s look at how table tennis bats are categorized. Most companies use three measures for bats; speed, spin, and control.
Speed refers to the how quickly a ball is returned after being hit and is a direct result of the type of wood used and the process of construction of a table tennis bat’s blade. Other factors such as thickness of sponge and type of rubber also have an effect on a bat’s speed. A thicker sponge or higher quality rubber will provide more elasticity to the face of the bat, resulting in greater speed.
Spin is a direct result of a bat’s rubber. A rubber that has a higher tackiness or is stickier will have a higher spin. This is because a sticky or tacky rubber is better able to grip the ball. The tackiness is on the smooth side of the rubber, where the pips or little bumps are on the opposite side of the rubber. Having the pips on the contact surface will have a negative affect on the spin, and is generally used on defensive bats to counteract an opponents spin.
Control does not actually measure anything on a table tennis bat. It is simply the opposite of speed and spin. As speed and spin goes up, control must go down. Defensive players generally use higher control rackets, while offensive players tend to play with some combination of high spin and high speed. It is important to note that table tennis rating systems are best in comparison of bats of the same manufacturer. This is because there are different testing methods used, different rating scales shown, and for the simple fact that bat’s rating is only a relative rating to other bats on the same line. A good way to compare bats of different manufacturers is price. Usually bats within $5 to $10 of each other will have similar speed and spin effects.
Another important question is whether you should purchase a preassembled bat or have one custom made. Beginner and intermediate players generally purchase preassembled bats. These bats have the same rubber on both sides and range from low speed and spin to a relatively high level. Advanced and professional players use custom bats because they can choose blades and rubbers that are very specific to their playing style and have different hits on their forehand and backhand. A beginning player has not yet developed their skills to make choosing separate rubbers and custom blades necessary. A preassembled bat is a relatively inexpensive way to develop ones skills during recreational play. When a player has outgrown or worn out a preassembled bat, one can simple purchase a newer, upgraded model. Custom made bats are meant to be broken down and put back together again. Switching rubbers frequently on a custom bat is common practice.
There are many other variations and categorizations, many specific to individual manufacturers. It is important for a consumer to research as much as possible on all the new emerging technologies being developed for the sport of table tennis. It is also very important to ask questions. Our staff at F.G. Bradley’s is more than willing to help you choose the right bat for you, and if we don’t know the answer to a question, we’ll track it down for you.