The 8 Best Table Tennis Blades
8. Xiom Stradivarius ST
- five-ply design
- wood and carbon composite
- not great far from the table
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
7. Butterfly Joo Se Hyuk-ST
- good for very fast top spins
- stiff feel inspires confidence
- a bit too heavy
|Rating||3.7 / 5.0|
6. Stiga Ebenholz NCT VII Penhold
- produces an aggressive top spin
- hits the ball incredibly hard
- takes time to finesse its strength
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
5. Butterfly Petr Korbel
- creates an energetic topspin
- only weighs four ounces
- inexpensive for pro level
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
4. Ariex Excellent Hinoki
- available in four hold styles
- 9 mm in thickness
- weighs under 100 grams
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
3. Butterfly Timo Boll ZLC-FL
- comfortable flared handle
- pleasantly hard feel
- great for power attackers
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
2. Yasaka Ma Lin Extra Offensive
- high speed rating
- factory lacquered
- weights just 84 grams
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
1. Butterfly Viscaria-FL
- outer plies made of koto
- carbon fiber interior
- compact head size
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
A Brief History Of Table Tennis
Whether you call it table tennis, ping-pong, or miniature whacky-ball (is that just me?), there are few better ways to spend an afternoon than hitting that little ball back and forth. While the game is relatively young, it has managed to pack quite a bit of excitement into its brief existence.
As you might expect, the sport began when a couple of lawn tennis players in the 1880s had to cancel a match due to weather. Unwilling to give up on their leisure time, they devised a way to bring their game indoors, using two books as rackets to hit a golf ball over a small net.
This new sport quickly became popular as an after-dinner parlor game in Britain, and the name "ping-pong" was trademarked by the British manufacturer J. Jacques and Son. This strange name was a reference to the sound the ball made when hitting the expensive equipment, and the trademark was sold to the U.S.-based game manufacturer Parker Bros. in the early 20th century.
In 1901, table tennis aficionado James Gibb discovered that celluloid balls were an excellent fit for the game. The first modern racket followed not long after, and it was basically a piece of rubber stapled to a wooden paddle.
Tournaments had been growing in popularity by this time, and unofficial world championships were held in 1902. The International Table Tennis Federation was founded in 1921, and the first recognized championship event happened in 1926.
Different countries had remarkably dissimilar reactions to the game. While it was popular in the United States and Britain, the Chinese took to it with an incredible fervor. The Soviets, on the other hand, discouraged participation in the sport, preferring instead to emphasize team-based hobbies.
In the 1950s, manufacturers began placing a thin layer of sponge underneath the rubber on the racket, allowing for increased spin and speed. In fact, the game began to get so fast that there had to be conscious attempts to slow it down.
Table tennis was added to the Olympics in 1988, and those finals drew an estimated television audience of two billion people. The game continues to be hugely popular, especially in Asia and in the break rooms of hip Silicon Valley startups, and its following should only continue to grow in the years to come.
Choosing The Right Table Tennis Blade
If you're serious enough about your game to buy a custom blade, then there are a few things you should consider before making a purchase.
First off, consider the material that your blade will be made out of, while also keeping your proficiency level in mind. By rule, all paddles must be at least 85 percent wood, but the remaining amount can be constructed of materials like carbon or glass fiber. These blades will definitely up your game, but unless you're an advanced player already, you'll likely be spending a significant amount of money to attain a negligible amount of improvement.
The style is another important consideration, and your grip will likely dictate the best blade for you. As you might expect, the western-style blade is best suited for players that use the western, or handshake, grip. If you use a pen grip, however, then the penhold-style blade will be much more useful, but it's not the best choice for beginning players.
Finally, your style of play should also factor into your decision. If you prefer to be on the attack, then a blade made of harder wood will be right up your alley, as it will allow you to generate significant power on your shots. Conversely, a softer wood is better for defensive players, as it enables them to soften the blow of power shots and place the ball with greater accuracy. If you don't have a particular style, then you should likely stick with an all-around blade, which falls somewhere between the other two blade styles.
Regardless of which blade style you choose, the mere fact that you've put thought into the purchase will put you ahead of many recreational players. With the right equipment and plenty of practice, you'll soon be a menace on the tables — especially if you can find a paddle that has a completely different type of blade hidden in the handle.
Table Tennis Tips For Beginners
If you're just getting your feet wet in ping-pong, watching the pros can feel pretty useless. The ball whizzes by so fast, it's like they're playing a completely different game entirely. Luckily, most players you'll face aren't nearly that good. With these tips up your sleeve, you'll soon be able to hold your own against any of the hotshots in your neighborhood.
First off, once you decide on a blade, use it exclusively. Each paddle comes with its own subtle differences, and you'll want to train with yours until it's as familiar as your own hand. Breaking this continuity with community paddles can set your game back faster than you realize.
Learning to identify spin is also important. If your opponent swings from low to high, then they'll be applying topspin on the ball, while a high-to-low swing will cause backspin. Knowing this can enable you to position yourself favorably for shots before they bounce.
You'll want to keep a short, compact swing, as longer swipes slow your reaction times and increase your likelihood of messing up. If you play other "swing" sports, like baseball or hockey, this might require unlearning some techniques that have already become ingrained in your psyche.
Finally, really focus on your serve when practicing. Keep your wrist loose and flexible, work on adding spin, and emphasize setting up your next shot more than trying to get an ace. If you get a killer serve down, you'll be nearly unstoppable at the table.
Once you've mastered these basic techniques, you'll be ready to face any challenger. Just remember the number one rule of table tennis: if you're losing a match that you bet a lot of money on, throw your paddle at the other guy really hard and then run for your life.