If you are just starting out in table tennis, you’ll probably hear a lot of advice about the type of rubber you should be using. Hopefully, the advice will be consistent and not overly confusing. Ideally, the people giving advice will consider not only your general style but your particular form and strengths.
I’m just a lowly blog written by a lowly guy who enjoys a bit of table tennis every once in a while so I can’t actually watch you play. I can’t glue different types of rubber to your racket and have you hit a few…
… but you can!
There are shops that will let you try different types of rubber with experienced players giving you some advice first hand.
Another thing you can do is get a bunch of your teammates or club members together and buy a bunch of different types of rubber as a group so you can all test them out and find the right one for you. If you preserve the rubber well you can also use them when new players or beginners join.
Being able to try out different types of rubber will definitely help you choose (especially if you have an experienced player’s advice to boot), but keep in mind that it may take a while for you to get used to the new rubber even if it is the right one for you.
How to Choose Sponge Thickness for Table Tennis Rubber
One could argue that the thickness of the sponge under the rubber is as important as the table tennis rubber itself. I’ll do a brief introduction to the sponge thickness, but as a quick note, your sponge will usually come with the top sheet you choose.
Simply put, thicker sponge makes the ball bounce off the racket more, while a thinner sponge provides less spring.
Some people say that with a thicker sponge, the ball can sink a little deeper into the rubber so that more of the ball’s surface area is contacted by the pips on the rubber, giving the player a better chance to put a spin on the ball or make a cut.
However, in my experience (and this could be related to my playing style), I like how a thinner rubber slows the ball down so I can control it more. A thinner sponge (or no sponge) with longer pips is a good way to put a spin on the ball, but if you are an offensive player and want to rip it with some speed, a thicker sponge can give you a little extra bounce.
As I said above, some people think a thicker sponge will give you more of a chance to get the surface area from the racket onto the ball, but in my experience, slowing down the ball with a thinner rubber has worked better for me.
In my personal experience, I fell I can get more spin on the ball with a thinner sponge, but like to vary the type of table tennis rubber and sponge that I use on each side giving me the option to slow it down or speed it up as I wish.
As with anything else, it all comes down to your own playing style, level, control, and preferences. If you just want to send it back with the backhand, but have a little more touch with your forehand (like me… I’m still working on my backhand control), you should really experiment with different pip lengths and sponge thicknesses for the right balance of power, bounce, and control for you.
Rubber Sponge Advice
I’ll quickly give you some background info. I know VERY little about ping pong equipment and ping pong lingo, but I’m not a beginner in terms of playing. I’ve played for fun pretty much my entire life, and while I lived in China (7 years), I played almost daily. So, I’m a recreational player and I’m certainly not THAT good, but I’m not a beginner either.
I already have a blade for many years and I like it a lot (it’s a gift from a good friend and I really want to continue using it). It’s a “Butterfly TAKSIM Acrylate-CARBON.” What I need is some new rubber and sponge for both sides of this pad, and I was searching both online and offline for expert advice before making my final decision. I want to spend as little as possible on this but still, get something halfway decent, and it would be especially nice if I could purchase everything online.
I play “pen-style” using both sides of the pad (like Ma Lin plays). I THINK that I’m an aggressive player (perhaps I’m an all-round player, but I’m certainly not defensive). I like to stand relatively close to the table (but not “hang” over it) and hit the ball with “topspin” on both forehand and backhand (I do not do “loops”). I seldom use “fancy” spins. I “cut” or use “backspin” on my forehand (if I can’t attack) but really seldom on the backhand side of the pad (on the backhand I would only do this over the table or if the ball is really far out on my backhand).
If I need to “cut” on the backhand side and it’s not over the table or very far out on the left (I’m right handed), I’d normally try to use the forehand side of the pad (I can do this since I play “pen style”). On my backhand, I usually try attack (or “semi-attack”) with a lot of “topspin”.
I realize that this description the terminology I’m using is super ridiculous, but I hope that you can at least imagine (roughly) how I play. I have got some good suggestions for rubber (and sponge) that is fit with my style (and my old “TAKSIM”) and I feel really grateful.
Since I am playing with penhold and am close to the table with little spin imparted one would probably be better in the harder sponge area with a counter hit style. The spin element and “off” the table is relative to softer sponges and rubber but I did get some good ideas on the type of rubber and sponge from my friends.
When I think of a specific rubber/sponge (like a brand or something) that isn’t too expensive “in the harder sponge area with a counter hit style”, I always think of the Chinese rubber. Also, I love to get the same sponge/rubber on both sides. I like the idea of having a relatively light pad. Right now I have 2mm sponge on both sides of my pad and it’s pretty heavy to be honest (I THINK it’s 2mm; maybe it’s more, I look pretty thick…)…
By the way, after having getting advice from one of my friends, I realize that I actually do “loops” although not with a crazy amount of topspin (I thought “loops” referred to something else when I wrote my first post).
I’m especially interested in Chinese rubbers since I travel there very often. I currently have R.I.T.C. Friendship 729 on both sides (that’s all it says on them). They are perfectly fine but I don’t know if these rubbers are ideal for my style of playing and the pad I’m using (Butterfly TAKSIM Acrylate-CARBON).
The Friendship rubbers are very respectful – They offer very good control and great spin with average speed ( not as fast as the Japanese rubbers normally ). All very much depends on your style and the sponge thickness you have. 2mm is ideal for offensive play, 1.5mm for all round/defensive.
I showed my friend the playing style of mine on forehand/backhand capabilities and general style ( positives & negatives ), they did give me very constructive advice.
I first want to go with the 729 Friendship but it is very hard to find two sheets that are the same. I then try the new “729 FX Supersponge”. It is a softer, more advanced version of the original Friendship.
My friend told me that if you are looking for a hard sponge, you will find that the weight will become an issue with Chinese rubbers. If you really want a harder sponge then the ‘God Favored’ versions from Friendship are good traditional Chinese style tacky rubbers with the SP version having the best top sheet.
Personally, I would prefer something like DHS G666 which has a medium hardness sponge but is still quite tacky. For those who want to try something non-Tacky, I would think Sword RG is a good quality spinny rubber which is a little quicker.
Well, know my final decision. I ended up going for DHS G66 which I think it is the best suit my needs.