The Best Ping Pong Paddle
Without sounding blasphemous, it would be fair to say that in sports, it’s the quality of the gear that separates a champion player from a good one. When it comes to ping pong, the paddle holds center stage.
Sometimes, countless hours of practice and innate skill doesn’t help you improve on your shots and control, as much the best ping pong paddle does.
If you find your game being limited or if you get the nagging feeling that you are almost there but are unable to bridge that final gap to perfection, then maybe it’s time you take a peep into your gear and switch your paddles for a better quality one.
But being in the midst of the ping pong renaissance, the market is flooded with cheap excuses for paddles, robots and the likes. This is the time when it pays to be a discerning shopper and as always, we at the Pingpongcentral are here to help.
We have dug deep into ping pong paddles this time and come up with the stuff that may change your game for good.
Here’s a quick look at our list of the top five vying for the coveted title of the best ping pong paddle.
Our Choice of Ping Pong Paddles
Why and how we picked these
There are three components that go into the making of the best ping pong paddle. There’s the wooden portion in the center of the paddle, called the blade, the sponge and the rubber. It is the mixture of the three in varying proportions that decides the outcome of the paddle.
Before we delve deeper into the anatomy of the perfect paddle, there is one key decision that will help you in the selection process.
What type of a player are you?
Are you a recreational player? Are you a professional looking to improve your game? What best defines you as a player?
Are you an offensive player standing closer to the table?
Do you like to stand farther back and use your backhand?
Do you like to make your opponents dizzy with your spin?
All these factors will come into play when you select a ping pong paddle.
Funny that a lot of beginners think it is just about the thickness of the paddle or choosing between a hardwood and a composite paddle.
Hardbat vs. Composite
For the uninitiated, a hardbat paddle is the classic table tennis paddle that has remained unchanged over the years. It consists of a single wooden blade that is encapsulated with a layer of ribbed rubber with the pimpled portion outwards.
While the game has undergone a sea of change, many older players still vouch by the performance of the good old hardbat paddle. In fact, hardbat events are getting more popular where people ditch their favorite composite paddles for old-school table tennis.
For us, it is more of a personal preference than anything else. You have to find a paddle that is best suited for your own game style.
A hardbat paddle is usually more suited for defensive gameplay while sponge can add a whole new dimension to the game by improving speed and incorporating better control over spin.
A composite blade consists of multiple layers or plies of sponge, rubber and wood. The number of layers can also affect the ‘trampoline’ effect.
The plies or the number of layers in the ping pong table can alter the flexibility that the surface offers on contact with the ball.
- The thickest paddles usually have 7 plies and are about 7mm thick. These are best suited for blocking the ball.
- Thinner blades that are less than 6 mm in thickness are more suited for spin.
- Blades in the 6-7mm thickness range are generally used for speed and drives.
If you are a casual ping pong player, just ignore the theories and pick a paddle that feels most suited for your game style. But if you are a professional player looking to improve your game, then selecting a paddle based on thickness will help you immensely.
- 6-7mm = Smashes
- Less than 6mm = Spin
- 7mm thick with 7 plies = Blocking
Factory Assembled VS. Personalized Ping Pong Paddles
The name is pretty self explanatory. Factory assembled paddles are the ones that you normally see on display in stores. These are used by many beginners and advanced players for that matter. These are cheap, well built and available in a whole range of configurations when it comes to materials and thickness. Take the STIGA Revolution and the PRO Carbon for example.
The trade off is that these need to be swapped for a new one once the rubber layer dries out. These may be a much better choice for casual or recreational players who do not play more than twice or thrice every week.
A customized paddle on the other hand is usually made of much better materials and to top it off, it allows you the convenience to swap the rubber layer if it dries out or even if it doesn’t feel like a match with your game style. You can continue to paste on a new rubber layer until the bat breaks or gets damaged permanently. The Killerspin RTG Diamond TC is one of the top ping pong paddles in this category.
For this reason, handmade paddles are usually used by professional ping pong players only.
For some reason, the handle is one of the last things that buyers consider while buying a ping pong paddle. Considering that your grip is one of the key elements of the game, it does deserve a little more love than what it receives.
There are many varieties of table tennis handles.
- Flared Handle – This is the commonest of them all with a slightly thicker bottom and a thinner top portion
- Anatomic – Think of it like a flared handle with a slight bump in the middle. As the name suggests, these are designed to fit the contours of your palm. The Donic Dotec handle is another version of the anatomic handle, normally used by people with wrist injuries.
- Straight – The straight handle can either have a rounded profile, a square one or a flat one.
Last but not the least, you need to decide what you are willing to spend to buy a good quality paddle. The best ping pong paddle is not necessarily the most expensive one. And with an abundance of brands in the market these days, it is completely possible to find a paddle that fits into your wallet. Having said that, steer clear of cheap paddles that will probably be useless after a couple of months. Buy something that will last long and offer consistent performance.
The sponge on the paddle is a very important variable that will determine how fast the paddle is or how much spin it can produce. There are two features to look for in the sponge.
- The quality of the sponge
- The thickness
When it comes to quality, brands like Killerspin, butterfly ping pong paddles and STIGA walk all over the competition. The sponge on even their entry-level paddles is top notch and does not wear out in little time.
There is a direct correlation between the thickness of the sponge and the speed, spin and control on the ball. The rule of thumb is that the thicker the sponge, the faster the paddle. However, it may take a lot of experience and skill to control the ball at higher levels of play.
For this reason, different types of players prefer different types of sponge for their paddles.
- Loopers = Thicker sponge
- All round players = Medium thickness
- Beginners = Thinner sponge because of the extra control
That just about sums it up. We have covered almost all the important factors that should help you narrow down on the best ping pong paddle.
Let’s take a look at our pick of the best ones now.
Our number one pick is the incredible Killerspin RTG Diamond TC. We don’t usually throw around words like ‘Incredible’ while describing products that we have reviewed. But the Killerspin RTG TC is hands down, one of the best ping pong paddles in the world.
It can handle spin, speed and block with equal finesse and if you have the skill to boot, this one is going to be a keeper for life.
The Diamond TC is a custom designed composite paddle that has 7 perfectly crafted layers that give you the control you desire without compromising on speed or spin. That’s five layers of wood and two layers of titanium carbon coated with Fortissimo rubbers. This is a rubber engineered by Killerspin, chiefly for tournament players. It contains an elastic top sheet for that slight extra rebound as well as a softer compound for generating more spin while looping.
Dual handle options
The Killerspin RTG Diamond TC is available in two different handle styles. You can pick the straight handle or a flared one. Some people complain that the handle is a tad narrow. However, we believe that the handle is a subjective choice. By large, there are very few complaints about the paddle.
Speed with control
Killerspin calls the ‘Diamond TC’, the ‘synonym for speed’. That may make it appear like the paddle is more suited for aggressive offensive game play. While this is one of the fastest ping pong paddles in the world, it is pleasantly easy to control as well. Even beginners have no problems whatsoever controlling the ball with it. It must be mentioned that advanced players will have their task cut out while lifting underspin against an expert opponent.
- Lightweight (178 grams)
- 9/16 inches thick
- Excellent ratings
- 7 Plies
- 2 layers of Titanium carbon and Fortissimo rubber
- Straight or flared handles
- Suits all game styles
- Excellent control
If you were looking for the best ping pong paddle for spin, then here’s one of the best options that you have.
Despite the laundry list of features, a lot of people are not too keen on spending over $200 on a ping pong table, especially, the recreational players who are looking for a paddle that is cheap and fun to handle.
Check out the Killerspin JET800 Speed N1! How’s that for a name. They are certainly not mincing words here. This one is designed for fast game play. Love those crushing smashes and blinding returns? This may be a better option for you.
The all round paddle
The Killerspin JET800 with its seven plies makes for excellent game play for both offensive style as well as spin. In fact, it is one of the few ping pong paddles priced under $100 that works equally well for all round players due to the consistent control it offers. It is not uncommon to hear it being compared with much higher priced paddles, like butterfly ping pong paddles which may be overkill for the casual player. Also, this in no way means that the JET800 is not suited for professional use.
Dual carbon layers
The dual carbon layers interspersed with the five wood plies is what adds the extra pop to your shots with the JET800. To allow better control with spin, the paddle is coated with a Nitrx 4z rubber that deters early wear and tear. Killerspin throws in some aesthetic elements too. The handle is dark burnt wood and there’s a wooden side tape that also helps to protect the rubber coating during storage. The Killerspin JET800 now comes in a special gift packaging with a memory book that helps you write custom messages or just collect autographs of your opponents.
- Five Plies of wood with two layers of carbon composite
- Coated with Nitrx 4z rubber
- Dark burnt wood handle
- Wooden side tape
- Well suited for aggressive fast games
- Offers great control
Diamond Stallion’s High Tech Ping Pong paddle is an entry level addition to this list. It may be the best ping pong racket for anyone looking for a fun, lightweight paddle for recreational or casual use. It is reasonably priced and comes bundled with a set of extras that add to the overall value.
In fact, the packaging and the all round efficiency of the paddle makes it a great choice for a gift for someone who’s starting off with ping pong.
Good quality construction
At this price point, it would be difficult to expect a tourney grade paddle. But the High tech is well constructed. There are seven plies. Five layers of wood encapsulated by two layers of 2.0mm rubber. The result is a paddle that performs impressively while tackling topspin or aggressive shots. One of the best features is the 25-layer polished handle which is comfortable to grip for elongated sessions.
The Diamond Stallion High Tech paddle comes with three freebies. A durable protective case that will help immensely in prolonging the lifespan of the paddle by keeping it secure during transport, a wrist band that supports your wrist muscles and lastly, an illustrated e-book with detailed instructions on paddle maintenance and general instructions for beginners.
Oh, by the way, it comes with a 60 day no-risk money back guarantee. If you don’t like the paddle for some reason, just return it for a full refund within 60 days.
- Solidly constructed
- 7 Plies
- 25-layer handle
- Protective case and a wrist band
- Great pricing
This is our pick of the lot for budget-priced good ping pong paddles that come as close to tournament grade as possible. This is the STIGA Pro Carbon, one of the cheapest paddles in the market. But the word ‘cheap’ would be a misnomer because it packs a punch with its performance. In fact, this is an ITTF approved carbon fiber ping pong paddle for use in tournaments. How’s that for a racket priced under $50?
The STIGA Pro Carbon has excellent ratings to boot. It is rated 100 for spin, 99 for speed and a consistent 80 for control. We have tried and played with much higher priced top rated ping pong paddles that aren’t rated nearly as good as this one. It has seven plies with two high-performance carbon layers that offer great response. This is STIGA’s proprietary carbon blend famed for its durability. This translates into lesser wear and tear on your paddles despite repeated game play.
One of the hallmarks of the Swedish manufacturer is the lightweight Balsa wood ply used in the construction of the paddle. Club this with the WRB Weight Balance which instantly shifts the balance towards the point of contact and you have a paddle that gives you a much larger sweet spot. If you are an offensive player, you are going to love this. The only possible nit that we could pick is the rigidity that at times, works against you when you are trying to improvise on your finer shots. Also, if you are aiming at backspin, you will find that it does take some doing.
- Lightweight paddle with a balsa center ply
- STIGA’s proprietary carbon blend
- Rated 100 for spin and 99 for speed
- One of the cheapest best ping pong paddles
- Great all round performance
The STIGA Evolution is a lightweight premade racket that is rivaled only by the Pro Carbon from STIGA’s line up in terms of speed.
There’s a huge discount on it at the moment that we are writing this post. It is currently priced under $40 on Amazon. That is an absolutely amazing deal for this ITTF approved bestselling paddle that is used by both professionals as well as beginners.
STIGA’s unique design
The Evolution features a unique design element called the shock dispersion tube that is incorporated into the handle. This is a hollow tube that evenly distributes the shock waves that the paddle absorbs during contact with the ball. While it does result in better weight balance, it will take some getting used to, especially if it is the first time that you are using the paddle. This also results in a very different sound when the ball hits the paddle. Covering the six ply paddle is STIGA’s premium rubber coating. This is the tackiest rubber that STIGA offers currently.
The premium rubber coating not only lasts a lot longer than cheap ping pong paddles, it also allows you to add more spin to your serves without additional effort. The trade off is that complete beginners may find this racket a little difficult to use. The Evolution has a concave handle that fits neatly into your hands irrespective of your grip type. Also, the weight of the paddle is concentrated on the head rather than the handle. This makes it more suited for aggressive game play closer to the table. If you prefer standing far from the table for backhand loops, then our #4 pick, the STIGA Pro carbon would be a better pick.
- Huge discount currently
- ITTF approved rubber coating
- Shock dispersion tube design
- STIGA’S tackiest rubber coating
- Great for spin and aggressive game play
To Sum It Up
This is not the most exhaustive list of options that you have. But we have tried to strike a balance between performance, affordability and skill level.
Our #1 pick, the Killerspin Diamond TC is a great choice irrespective of your skill level or game style, provided you are willing to pay a few extra bucks. It is a paddle that will last you for long and provide you consistent performance.
For budget priced recreational users, the STIGA evolution at the current pricing is the best deal. If you are bothered about the difficult control with the paddle, then you can opt for the Diamond Stallion High Tech Ping Pong Paddle, which also makes for an excellent gift option.
We would also like to mention the Mapol Four Star Paddle, which came close to outperforming some of the paddles in this list. If you are looking for a great paddle for practice, this one tops our recommendations.
Also, for professionals and brand loyalists, there’s the tried and tested Butterfly Shakehand range of paddles in varying configurations.
Do you have your own personal favorite ping pong paddles to share? Do chime in with your thoughts via the contact us page.