Last Updated on
Your style of play
Before you go into buying a custom paddle, you needed to know your style of play.
As you might expect, a different style of play will require different rubbers. But think of how you use your forehand and backhand. Chances are, they will be different.
Therefore, you will want to buy different rubbers for your forehand and backhand. The above doesn’t always necessarily hold true as well. So if you feel like your stokes are pretty similar on both sides, then you can use the same rubbers.
But ultimately, your style of play will most likely decide the rubbers that you need. Now let’s take a look at the different component of table tennis rubbers and see how it would affect your paddle:
The sponge of your table tennis has a different aspect that needs consideration. This includes the sponge thickness, hardness and density and whether it should be bought with the top sheet or not at all.
The thickness of the sponge determines how fast and how much control your rubber is going to be. A thicker sponge will be faster but in return, it will produce less control than a thinner sponge.
So it’s easy to understand that offensive players will use thicker sponges in general of at least 1.9mm or more. Also, most professional table tennis players tend to use thicker sponge rubber as they re-glue the rubber every time they play for a competitive match. A thicker sponge will absorb more glue than the thinner one and therefore increases the speed glue effect.
The hardness of a sponge also plays an important factor in the speed of the table tennis rubber. So the harder the sponge, the less the ball will sink into the table tennis rubber. Consequently, it will produce less spin than its softer counterpart.
Now if we look into the control aspect, it actually depends more on the type of strokes being used. Ball smashers tend to like harder sponges whereas loopers prefer to the softer sponges for their table tennis rubber.
What if I want to buy the sponge separately from the top sheets?
Some players might look for the perfect combination and will look for any ways to perfectly customize their table tennis paddles. If you are on these players, be warned that not all combinations are legal for competition. But the majority of players will find a rubber suited to their needs by buying the usual table tennis rubber that has the sponge and top sheets joined together.
Play without a table tennis sponge
Yes, this a possibility but you will need to play with pimple-out table tennis rubber. However, it is illegal to use a smooth or inverted rubber without a sponge. Players who choose that route tend to be played defensively. Generally speaking, pimple-out rubbers without sponges can be an effective way of counter-attacking spins.
Let’s move on to top sheets
This is the top surface of your table tennis paddle that sits on the blade. The top sheet is the part that comes in contact with the ball. Just like the sponge, the top sheet will have different factors affecting its performance.
The player can choose to stick with normal table tennis rubber or pimples-out rubber. But to reinforce that it’s quite rare to see new table tennis players starting with pimples-out table tennis rubber.
The tackiness of table tennis rubber is a measure of its grip when the ball is struck. Some rubbers will grip the ball a lot and this usually required the defending player to adjust accordingly with varying degree of difficulty. A good example of table tennis rubber with a lot of grips would be the Friendship 729.
Other table tennis rubber such as the Sriver or Mark-V allows the ball to slide across the surface of the top sheet. We have also discussed previously that pimples-out or anti-spin rubbers will have virtually no resistance at all when the ball is hit.
Generally, the tackier the rubber, the more spin you can generate. However, it suffers from being affected by the opponent’s spin too.
In today’s modern game, most professionals use speed glue to increase the speed and spin produced by their table tennis rubbers. They also prefer using less tacky since it is less affected by the opponents spin while the speed glue increases the speed and spin produced by the sponge itself. If you think about it carefully, this sort of combination gives a player the best of both worlds.
So what is speed glue?
Generally used by advanced players for competitive tournaments, speed glue increases the spin and control of the paddle. However, it is recommended that beginner players should avoid speed glue as they risk of not developing their technique and style of play.
Another point-needed consideration is the price of speed glue. It’s pretty expensive as a matter of fact! Gluing up your table tennis rubber all the time is expensive, and it reduces the rubber’s life span. So unless you are competing at a high level, it’s probably not worth it.
Top sheets thickness
The thickness of the top sheet also varies however it only applies to players who buy their sponge and rubbers separately. If you are going this route, then the combination of the sponge and table tennis rubber is only 4mm. Otherwise, the paddle will be considered as illegal for competition if you want to use it for purpose of course.
Top sheet hardness
Just like the other factors, this will affect the spin and control on the ball. A hard top sheet will reduce the dwell time and hence give less spin than a softer top sheet.
This is also quite important as you don’t want to end up with a paddle too heavy or too light. As you might already be aware, table tennis rubbers come in different weight too!! So rubbers with very thin or no sponge will tend to be lighter than those with sponges.
If you use speed glue, it will also add to the overall weight of the bat as well. You need to remember that some of the solvent found in the glue will build up as residue over time.
Any other advice I should know before buying my table tennis rubbers?
I think your best bet would be to ask your coach or an expert in table tennis to watch you play. They will be able to better assess your strength and whether you are an offensive or defensive player. If you play for a club get your friend’s opinion too.
Once you have something to work with, check if you can try out some rubbers. It’s easier if you play for a club as you have lots of different players with a varying style of play. You could politely ask to borrow their bat and see how to feel playing with it.
But make sure you try all type of strokes and play a few matches before you make your mind up. Check whether you like the feel of them and how they compare to your old rubbers. Always keep in mind you want rubbers that match your style of play.
Finally, once you have your new table tennis rubbers, give yourself enough time to adjust to them. It can take a few weeks before you adjust properly to the rubbers new characteristics. Hopefully, you will have made the right choice and will play better than ever before!!
Choosing New Table Tennis Blade and Rubbers