When most people hear the word “accessorize” these days, the latest clothing fashions and home decor come to mind. But it’s not all belts, jewelry, and mantel clocks. For over 30 million registered competitive players and an increasing number of recreational players, accessorizing means getting their hands on the right ping pong accessories.
To make this process less daunting, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has established standards and a rating system for table tennis equipment. When in doubt, use this product information to guide you.
Whether you’re a novice new to the game of table tennis or a seasoned old pro, the paddle is probably the most important and definitely the most personal ping pong accessory. The paddle consists of two component parts: the blade and the rubber. You may be tempted to buy cheap components if you are a beginner, but low quality equipment can hold back your progress, so go with quality products if you intend to improve.
The blade is the main body of the table tennis paddle. Blades can be made of a variety of materials, but ITTF guidelines stipulate that the majority of this material must be wood. Arylate and carbon often make up a thin middle layer, which is surrounded by wood. These materials determine the weight of the paddle, which is defined as its speed. Speeds are usually noted on ping pong paddles as DEF, for slower defensive blades, ALL, for medium all around blades, and OFF, for faster offensive blades, which are recommended only for advanced players.
Rubbers adhere to the blade to complete the table tennis paddle. The rubber surface affects the amount of spin a player can put on the ball. Pimpled and inverted are the two types of surfaces for ping pong paddles. Pimpled surfaces have raised dots, or “pips,” which are advantageous for defensive play. These pips allow for more controlled returns of balls with spin.
Inverted rubbers use the same sheet of pimpled rubber, but turn it upside down to expose the flat surface. Inverted rubbers use a thin layer of sponge between the blade and the rubber, which determines speed and control. Some rubbers have a speed rating on a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the fastest or providing the most spin. Beginners should choose a lower spin inverted rubber, as this will aid in learning the most effective table tennis shots.
Some players choose a pimpled rubber on one side and inverted on the other to alternate between offensive and defensive play.
Table Tennis Balls
Standard table tennis balls are made of celluloid or plastic, measure 40 millimeters in diameter, weigh 2.5 grams, and are white or orange in color. These also have a rating system, which determines quality. One star denotes the lowest quality, while three stars denote the highest. It may be tempting to buy cheaper, lower quality one star balls, but you may spend more in the long run because these don’t last nearly as long as three star ping pong balls. Whichever you choose, keep them off the floor and store them in a cool place.
Other Ping Pong Accessories
Other ping pong accessories include everything from nets to practice table tennis robots, to clothing and shoes. A good net should last a long time, and there are dozens of robots to choose from if you are take table tennis very seriously. Table tennis shoes and athletic gear are probably necessary only for competitive players.
Since table tennis has become such a popular sport worldwide, there are ping pong accessories and equipment available for players at any skill level. Try to gauge how serious you want your table tennis game to be and gear up accordingly.