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To a beginner, his most trusted companion and an extremely useful weapon is a ping pong paddle. Ping pong paddle is one of 5 basic ping pong equipment. However, choosing the right companion is not an easy task at all. Therefore, in this post, I will guide you on how to choose ping pong paddles that fit you like a glove.
The paddles’ stats
Behind the back of most paddles, you may find the stats written on it such as DEF, ALL-, ALL, OFF-, OFF, OFF+ describing the range to classify its speed from slowest (DEF) to fastest (OFF+). You can use those stats as a criterion to pick out your fittest paddle.
Here is the playstyle for each stat above:
- DEF: It is best for those who prefer mid-range defensive style, helps you control the ball more carefully.
- ALL-: If you are pro-defensive and prefer hitting the sides, ALL- paddle would benefit you
- ALL: Fit for the well-rounded player, can be used for many playstyles
- ALL+: Fit for a player that can perform a good flank and a powerful rebound, can also help you control the spin of your return.
- OFF-: Fit for mid-range offensive-defensive player.
- OFF: For those who like to play defensive
- OFF+: For players that play offensively and only offensive only. Paddles with these stats are harder to control and have a firmer back.
In conclusion, pro-OFF paddles are the sturdiest, ALL are softer and DEF are the softest.
- Bounce: The more bounce it can get, the faster the ball will travel. However, you will have more difficulty in controlling the ball as compensation. This kind of trade-off best fits sudden attack, may counter defensive playstyle and counter-rotation.
- Control (from Easy to Hard): Usually counter the bounce. However, some new technologies may enable one to control adequately without compensating too much bounce, such as the TSP’s Reflex PAT System.
- Grip: the more it sticks to the paddle, the better the spin. This best fit adaptive defensive playstyle, not for offensive and counter-rotation one.
- The curvature of ball’s trajectory (less or more parabolic): More curve means better chance to perform ‘slow pull’ technique under the table surface, the flatter curve supports quick attack on rear-table.
- Ball impact (from Soft to Firm): Soft impact makes way for performing the adaptive pull-rotate technique, Firm one fits for more aggressive technique and somewhat pro-speed. Keep in mind that hard bounce does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with firm impact. For example, Dynapower 9 has a hardback but provides a mild impact, best for defensive/ball slash using the counter-defensive technique.
When choosing a paddle, check out the catalog to find out which material is used to make it, so that you can understand clearly about its stats.
Some currently used material on the market:
- Yellow Aningre wood: provides good control ability, soft impact, best for all-rounded offensive-defensive players.
- Carbonate additives: Boost the speed
- Arylate additives: expanding the bull’s eye range on the racket’s surface
- Ayous wood: lightweight, sturdy, fit for double-offensive rear-table tremendously
- Koto wood: usually used to make on the layer to increase the firmness and bounce.
- Basswood: most popular for its cheap price and good control ability
- Limba wood: soft impact, good grip, and bounce, traditionally used to make a paddle for Europeans who prefer long-range pull technique.
- Cypress wood (or Hinoki): traditionally used to make paddles for Asian players, fit for quick attack, soft impact, fairly high speed.
- Planchonello wood: used for the outermost layer, boost the speed, supports aggressive-offensive playstyle.
Some paddles are named after their material’s structure. For example, two Butterfly paddles’ backs are Senkoh-LAK (Limba, Ayous, Koto) and Senkoh-HCK (Hinoki, Carbon, Koto) are both called Senkoh but serve two different playstyles.
Does the size of a paddle’s back affect one’s playstyle?
Paddle’s back size
Another important factor is the size of a paddle’s back. Most defensive-orientated players prefer large size back in order to maximize the Sweet spot area. Whilst offensive players tend to use small size back to minimize air resistance.
(Sweet spot is an area on the surface where the player has the best connection with it, this area has a small circle and its center is the center of the paddle. An easy way to determine a paddle’s ‘Sweet spot’ is to drop a ball from a specific height onto different parts of the paddle, and then we can easily spot the area via the bounce and the ball’s touch).
The back’s weight
The weight of a paddle’s back greatly depends on its material and the mixture of layers constructing the paddle.
The heavier the back is, the less agile the serve is. Those who are new to the professional level should choose this type of back, although your serves will not be fast but will be powerful due to its mass. All you have to do now is to control the ball. When you have mastered your skills, you may now change to other high-quality ones depending on your skills.
With a defensive playstyle, you should also consider this kind of heavy back as you will concentrate on returning your opponent’s attack. Although slow, this provides stability. A lightweight back fits for offensive players, as it will grant you a powerful and more spinning attack, enabling you to dominate your opponent.
However, keep in mind that those paddles will help you with spin, the longer you play the harder you can control your ball. The high-speed trait will give you fast and powerful attack, but compensating its hitting angle.
Those are some precautions to choose the best back for a paddle that can fit your practice purpose, and remember that speed and control are always inverted with each other.
Most manufacturers use additives to boost their products’ quality. There are two popular additives and commonly used: Carbon and Acrylate.
- Carbon: Carbon fiber increases the paddle’s speed, expands the sweet spot, and increase its stability. Carbon takes part as a power-ups cover for the paddle. Therefore, Carbon-made paddles provide ‘Firm feeling’, fit for offensive players.
- Acrylate: Acrylate fiber will in turn stabilize the paddle on impact, expand the sweet spot, and increase stability. This feature will create a ‘mild’ or ‘soft’ paddle, best to rotate attack players.
Most quality paddles will use a mixture of Carbon and Acrylate. Speed and large sweet spot area from Carbon and stabilization with ‘soft’ touch from Acrylate will create the top quality paddle nowadays.
Tips for buying a paddle
To buy the best paddle for yourself, you should be patient and should never choose bases on your feelings. Research more at home and ask around from experienced players, then ask for consultation from the store’s employees. That will minimize the mistakes you may encounter.
Examine the paddle’s flatness
Due to maintenance and transportation, as well as having gone through many production processes, the last products sometimes have errors. In addition to our hot climate, a faulty back is inevitable. That’s why when you are shopping for a paddle, always observe and examine whether the paddle is faulty or not.
Most people cannot spot the differences of a paddle, the easiest way to do so is by laying the paddle on a table, or any flat surface. Should the paddle lose its balance, you should return it. Always check it on-site to avoid returning it at home.
Examine the paddle’s weight and thickness
Most paddles have a different size and thickness, however, their back must fulfill the standards of flat and firm. Weight and thickness often go hand in hand, heavy back goes with thick back, and vice versa.
Basically, you should buy a paddle with heavyweight and great thickness in the acceptable range of standard error given by the manufacturer; a paddle which is too light or too heavy always has a certain standard error with the original product. Always remember that!
The paddle’s figure
This is more of a subjective matter base on your observation on a paddle and its back. Nowadays most products are many small wooden pieces put together into a large one. That’s why you should always choose the paddle that fits perfectly with each other.
Next thing is that the wood grain of each layer, depending on its material, can determine its criteria for decision making.
Three common mistakes when buying a paddle
Expensive equals high-quality
Most people think that ‘the more expensive, the better’. However, in reality there are many exceptions that you should notice. A paddle’s quality- either top or middle- depends on many factors, including material, marketing campaign, brand monopoly. That being said, you must be careful when buying a paddle to avoid mistakes.
For starters, not only should you learn how to play but you must also research market prices for your paddle. You can also consult experts for more information.
More bounce equals high-quality
A good bounce paddle is more or less a double-edge blade, it may serve you as a weapon for quick dominance to win the advantage. However, if you do not know how to use it well, more harm than good will be done. The sturdier the back, the more requirements for a player.
One paddle provides you with an excellent bounce does not mean it is the best, you have to know your skills and each paddle’s pros and cons to maximize your potential. Ping pong, in reality, has many playstyles, and there are defensive and offensive one or even both
High stats equal high-quality
To most players, stats written on the paddle are somewhat has a mild meaning, depending on a paddle’s manufacturer that the stats may vary.
For example, a paddle may have its speed at 11.1 and another’s is at 100, this does not mean that the latter is better than the first.
The core factor here is that you have to understand your playstyle. It is essential to research the market for each component from trusted websites or experts to get the best price. You should also consult from sports stores that have a good reputation to buy the top quality and comfortable paddle.
What I tell you above is some personal experience to help you buy the best ping pong paddle. With those guidelines, I hope it will partly aid you in choosing your companion in ping pong career. Should you meet any troubles, feel free to leave a comment below so that we can give you advice.