The ping pong racket plays a key role in a successful game of table tennis, and should be chosen wisely, according to each player’s game level. Since the term “racket” has been standardized by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and used as official term in the ping pong world, we shall choose to use this term, over the more common “ping pong paddle”. In the following paragraphs we shall make a brief description of the rubber types used for making the two sides of the racket. Details about the rubber composition will be provided and we will indicate which game play best suits each rubber type.
The ITTF regulations specify that a racket can have different rubber surfaces on each side, in order to provide different levels of spin or speed. A table tennis player can have a side which allows a high level of speed and spin and another side with no spin, for example. As we are going to see in the next paragraph, each side is connected to a certain type of play, and by flipping the racket, a player can go from an offensive to a defensive game play. In order for the opponent to be aware of this change, ITTF standardized two different colors for each side of the racket: black and red. The ITTF Handbook for table tennis rackets states that the wooden blade can be covered by either an ordinary pimpled rubber or sandwich rubber. The ordinary pimpled rubber displays outward pimples and is no ticker that 2 mm and the sandwich rubber has both inwards and outwards pimples and is not ticker than 4 mm.
The ordinary pimpled rubber, with exterior pimples, can display two types of pimples: short and long. The short outward pimples are suitable for fast blockers and counter-hitters, whereas the long outward pimples are best suited for defensive players. The sandwich rubber is more commonly used because it allows the development of different ranges of strokes. Also known as reverse rubber, this racket side gives the player a good command of the ball and helps him in developing a personal style. The sandwich rubber is best for beginner and intermediate players, while the ordinary pimples rubber is good for advanced players, who already have a personal style. Also, as a general rule, regardless of the racket side you choose to use, the thickness of the rubber and sponge comes in direct connection with an offensive game play: the more offensive the player, the thicker the paddle sponge and rubber. A thicker rubber (2.0 to 2.5 mm) is referred to as a high speed rubber, since it increases the speed of the ball, being used in offensive games. Moreover, a thicker sponge will provide more speed and spin and will be more efficient in propelling the ball, whereas a thin sponge will produce less speed.
So, whatever might be you ping pong level or style, be sure to choose your racket carefully, by correctly assessing the rubber surface.