Why Table Tennis Rackets Are Red and Black in Color?

People may wonder why table tennis rackets are red on one side and black on the other side. Why the difference in color on both sides? Why not any other colors?
In regards to the issue, the ITTF stipulates that the table tennis bats must be dull and bright on both sides. One side must be black, and the other side must be red.

black and red table tennis racket

Why Only These 2 Colors On a Ping Pong Paddle?

The purpose is to distinguish the rubber used by the opponent during the game.

Before 1983, many players used rubbers with different performances with the same color.

For example, some players used inverted rubber on one side and the long pimple rubber on the other side. However, both sides were either red or black.

During the game, they shifted the racket to use either the inverted rubber or long pimple rubber. It was deceptive, and the shot was unpredictable to the opponent. Players felt frustrated and cheated.

Therefore, in 1983, the ITTF stipulated that the racket must have one side red and one side black.

With the rule implemented, a player using an inverted ping pong rubber for the black color and a long pimple for the red color, the opponent will be able to judge the ball’s characteristics and increase fairness and appreciation of the game.

The Functionality of Black and Red Rubber

As mentioned earlier, the function of the red and black rubber is different. You can have one side with an inverted rubber and the other side with a long pimple, represented by red and black, respectively.

If you play with a racket with these rubbers, you will understand that the inverted rubber has a fast killing speed, while the long pimple can increase the friction, and it is easy to spin the ball. Of course, it is easy to catch the ball with a long pimple.

What Make ITTF Ultimately Stipulated Such Rule?

It is all because of Cai Zhenhua!

If you want to know why, then we need to go back to Cai Zhenhua, a male former table tennis player from China at that time.

When Cai Zhenhua was a table tennis player, he was very good at playing the game. He was the expert in switching his racket from one side to another side very fast.

At that time, every opponent who played with him felt cheated. Cai Zhenhua had a racket of the same color for both sides. 

When he was playing with the ball, he loved holding the racket handle and keep turning. He liked to turn until the opponent did not know which side of the racket he would make the shot.

Sometimes when the opponent thought it was a spinning ball, it was a fastball when they received the shot, which caused them to misjudge and make mistakes in returning the shot. Cai Zhenhua destroyed all their deployment tactics.

The opponent would lose the game because they could not predict the kind of shot he would make. He was so good until the ITTF stipulated the racket was to be black and red because of him.

More “Transparency” To Play The Game

For fairness in the game, a table tennis racket needs to be black and red so that the opponent and the audience can know what game you are playing to ensure “transparency” of the game.

Besides, the racket’s different colors holds the audience’s attention.

The ITTF technical manual has stipulated that the thickness of the rubber sheet must not exceed 4.0mm. And the color of the rubber can only be red and black.

As for the rubber on the forehand and the backhand, there is no difference. The choice is yours.

You can apply a similar rubber type on both sides (for example, all anti-adhesive), or use different rubber on both sides!

Extended Information

The rubber surface’s gloss needs to be within a specified range that is approved by ITTF to prevent affecting the vision of the opponent during the game.

Overall, most of the changes for the ITTF and related rules are adjusted to make the ping-pong competition fair and more competitive.


Warren Davies

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