A ping pong paddle can be a real investment in your game, with the best ping pong paddles costing over $100. Before putting that much money down on just any old paddle, however, stop and ask yourself a few questions.
What is your level of play?
If you’re just starting out or consider yourself a hobbyist, the best ping pong paddles for you will be less expensive—if you go with a reputable company, you can get good quality for under $50. These paddles will come preassembled.
If you’re a professional or a tournament player, you’ll naturally need much more from your paddle. Most professional players buy the blade (wooden part of the paddle) and the rubber separately and assemble the products themselves.
Some companies, like Butterfly offer both recreational and professional lines of the best ping pong paddles.
Which Grip Do You Use?
The shakehand grip—paddle held as if shaking hands—is the most popular grip today, and it is the ping pong grip that most table tennis paddles were designed to accommodate.
Some players though, especially those from the far East, use the penhold grip. As the name suggests, the player grips handle of the paddle as though it were a writing pen. Since penhold players are typically fast on their feet and avoid hitting backhands, sometimes only one side of this paddle may be covered with rubber.
Unless you have been trained by an Eastern coach who uses the penhold grip, the best ping pong paddles for you are probably the ones that accommodate shakehand grips.
Are You Planning To Play In Tournaments?
If so, familiarize yourself with tournament rules for ping pong paddles. In general, there are no regulations about size or weight. Most tournament paddles are made for shakehand grips, and most are covered with rubber with the rough surface facing the wood and the sooth surface facing the outside, however these are preferences, not rules.
Tournament paddles must have one red side and one black. There is also a rule that the rubber cannot touch anything but wood, so if your blade has a layer, say, of carbon or arylate, make sure that it is a thin layer in the middle and that the rubber does not touch any part of it. Otherwise, you could be disqualified from tournament play.
The best ping pong paddles for tournament play are those purchased from websites of established table tennis dealers.
If your racket will not be used in tournament play, all bets are off and you can get any paddle that strikes your fancy.
Choosing the best ping pong paddles can be a real challenge, especially if you’re fairly new to the game. The best thing to keep in mind is that an amateur should spend no more than $50 on his or her equipment; that’s plenty of money to get a more than adequate paddle for hours of fun play. A professional table tennis player, however, will probably spend several hundred dollars to get the best ping pong paddles available and increase his or her chances of winning.