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Choosing a Table Tennis Bat | PingSkills

Hi there, I'm Jeff Plumb from PingSkills.

And I'm Alois Rosario.

And today we are going to talk about which bat you should be using when you are playing

and learning table tennis.

Hi Alois, tell us a little bit about the different types of bats that are available.

There's a few different levels that we need to think about. One of our biggest bug bears

is that we often see players trying to learn table tennis with things that look like that.

So that's a plastic moulded bat, it has absolutely no grip on the surface. Whereas it's OK just

for hitting the ball nice and flat like that, but you are going to find that if you're trying

to do any sort of spin, it's just not going to work.

Similarly with a bat that has the pimples and no sponge. We've got the pimpled bat with

no sponge underneath as you can see. It sounds like that, it's just ball hitting wood.

So you mentioned spin a bit there, is that the biggest problem with these bats?

Yes, that is the big key. When you are trying to learn any of your strokes, it's important

to have an element of spin or the ability to put a little bit of topspin or backspin

on the ball with your stroke. That actually gives you a little bit better control over

the ball as well.

As you get better and develop your strokes more, then spin becomes even more important.

Yes, that's right. When we are learning at the base level, we develop our strokes to

look like a forehand, a backhand, we give you the basic structure of the stroke. What

we are trying to do there is to give you a structure that you are going to be able to

develop and increase in speed, length, and develop it to a much higher level without

having to change the actual stroke too much. So that's why at the base level, you need

to be able to have that basic ability to generate a little bit of spin on the ball.

OK. So what we are really saying is if you're using a bat like these, get rid of them.

They're gone! Sorry.

OK. Good. So if we are not using that type of bat, what is the next step up?

The next level that I see quite a lot of is the pre-made bat that you find at a lot of

sports stores, and at the start they are quite OK because at the start they have some grip

on the surface, they've got a little bit of sponge underneath the rubber, to give you

a little bit of spin. The only issue that I have with these is that they wear out really

quickly.

Within a couple of weeks or a month, you'll find that like this one, the surface of the

rubber has gone completely dead and the ball just slides across the surface.

So again the same problem here is once this rubber is dead you can't get any spin, and

then it's not really any good at all for learning table tennis.

So once you try to develop any topspin, the ball is going to do that, and drop straight

off your racquet.

And we get a lot of questions from people asking how do I get the grip back.

You just don't. Once the rubber is actually dead, it's gone and it's time to replace it.

If you rub your finger across the top of the surface and it's slippery just give it a clean

with some water, if the grip doesn't come back, then I'm afraid it's time to upgrade.

And so we do see a lot of players using this type of bat which you said is OK to start

with but some people have this bat for like 5 years or even 2 years, and clearly that

is no good.

We get a lot of questions on ask the coach saying I'm doing the strokes that you're showing

me but the stroke still isn't working. And often when we drill down we find the reason

is that they might have had a reasonable bat but the rubber has died and they're trying

to play their strokes, the ball is slipping off and so they can't learn the stroke correctly.

OK. So that's no good either. What is a good bat that people should start with?

So the most important part when you're getting a pre-made bat is to look at the quality of

the rubber. The wood doesn't really have a lot of effect on the performance. It's probably

only about 10 or 20 percent of the performance of the racquet. What your really looking for

is the quality of the rubber on that wood.

So you're looking for a little bit thicker sponge underneath, and as I said we are looking

for that quality of grip on the surface of the rubber to allow you to generate spin.

So the big advantage of this type of bat, which we call a pre-made bat, is that its

got more spin.

Yes, its got the ability to generate some spin but its still quite a slow bat so its

going to give you enough control to learn your strokes playing the full stroke that

we're teaching you.

OK. And it's important to have that control rather than go for a much faster bat because

it's something you need to develop your strokes?

So often when we see players getting a really fast super duper bat to start off with, they

find that the ball is coming off their racquet way too fast and what they end up doing is

being really tentative with their strokes and just poking at the ball and trying to

push the ball back on to the table. As soon as they try to do anything more they find

the ball is flying off their racquet too fast and they can't control the stroke.

So this is also known, as I mentioned, as a pre-made bat. What does that actually mean?

So a pre-made, all that means is that it comes to you already assembled. It has the wood

and the rubber already glued on to it. You don't need to do anything, you can just take

it out of the packet and start using it.

Great. OK. So how long should you go with a pre-made racquet and when do you upgrade

to what we call a custom racquet?

I would say that this better quality pre-made racquet should last you around a year, or

a little bit more. How do you tell when it's time to move up? Well that's a little bit

harder. As a guide, what I say is that if you're playing your strokes correctly and

fully, and also you're moving your racquet through quite fast, and you're still getting

most of the balls on the table then perhaps it's time to upgrade. So get something that

is going to give you a little bit more performance and a little bit more speed and spin with

the strokes that you're playing.

OK and so on that upgrade path, we are talking about a custom racquet, so what is a custom

racquet and what are its advantages?

The custom racquet, the only real difference is the quality of the wood and the rubber

starts to increase so we are starting to get a little bit better quality wood and a much

better quality of rubber on the surface. You are also paying a bigger price of course when

you start to go to the custom racquets.

OK. And so with the custom racquet, you buy the blade and the rubbers separately.

Yes, so you can buy the blade and the rubber separately. So this looks like it's all put

together. But you've got the wood and the rubber. They don't usually come off that easily,

we've just tacked this on for now.

So that's what you would have. You'd have the rubber and the wood and they are quite

separate. You can buy the type of wood that you want, and you can tailor it, a little

bit slower, a little bit faster, all that sort of thing, different feel, there is a

whole lot of options.

And then you can also get the type of rubber that you want, so this is a piece of Sriver,

which is one of the good basic rubbers that we recommend to start with. And then put the

two together and there you have your custom made bat.

Great. And so with the custom made bats, there are various levels within that, like you mentioned

the Sriver or Mark V are both entry, or not entry but control rubbers.

Yes so Sriver and Mark V are two well known rubbers. There are a lot out there but they

are just two that are well known that give you good spin but also give you good control.

Again when you're still learning, that's part of the importance of what you are looking

for. So you're looking for something that has some good control that allows you to learn

and to develop your strokes.

So as we mentioned, there are hundreds of choices out there. We have the PingSkills

Touch with various rubbers that you can get. That's a good custom made bat. It's an all

round blade, which we like because it gives you good control. And then you can customise

it by changing your rubbers and getting different speeds depending on your playing style.

That's right yes. So within the custom range, as we said there's the Sriver and the Mark

V which are good base level rubbers. Then you can just move up and start to put different

rubbers on. Another rubber is Yasaka Pryde, which is a little bit faster than Mark V,

not as fast as something like Vega Pro that we recommend as the top level.

But I think one of the biggest issues that we see Jeff, is that we often see players

trying to switch within levels.

So they might have their custom made bat, sorry their pre-made bat to start off with,

and then they'll go and buy a different pre-made bat. Or they might have their base level custom

made bat with Mark V or Sriver, and then a week later they think oh no, I want to change,

I need something different, I need something new and they'll get something in the same

level but a different rubber.

And so what is the issue with that? If they are still getting good equipment, then what

is the problem with switching?

When you're practicing and you have just changed your equipment, as soon as you make a mistake

your thought is, hang on, what that my technique or was it the racquet? And often we go to,

oh it must have been the racquet. So then you haven't got that consistency of learning

and consistency of your stroke to develop. There's always that little bit of doubt. That's

why we say once you get a racquet within a level, stick with it, play for at least 6

months to a year with that racquet, develop your table tennis ability, then you can think

about changing.

Now it's important to know about these rubbers, that even at this level they do still wear

out.

Yes, so even the best rubbers will wear out and we say as a guide, between 80 and 100

hours is how long your rubber will last. After that you aren't going to get the performance

of the rubber that you really need.

So it's time to buy a new rubber, you are going to have to replace your rubbers every

so often.

Yes, and so depending on much you play, if you only play once a week for a couple of

hours it's going to last you the whole year. If you play everyday then you are going to

need to change rubber more frequently.

OK. So there you go. There are a few levels. If you're starting out in table tennis, start

maybe with a good pre-made bat for a year or so, then you can move onto a custom made

bat. Yeah so there's the pre-made bat, and once you're on the custom made bat, we recommend

that you start with a Mark V or a Sriver, something that's not too fast, and then if

you still feel like you need some more speed you can get a faster rubber. So they are your

choices, find a bat that's in your level, stick with it, enjoy your table tennis, and

you'll really start to improve.

Here I've got the PingSkills Rook which is our pre-made bat with good quality rubber

on it which we recommend when you're first starting out. Now the good thing about a good

pre-made bat is that with the rubber you can get topspin which means you can play your

forehand counterhit, and then you can develop it into a topspin stroke. So now I'm getting

good topspin on my stroke and I can develop it further and hit more topspin and hit the

ball faster.

So now I've got the two types of bats that we said you really shouldn't be using to learn

table tennis And I'm going to show you why. Just previously you saw that I was able to

play my counterhit and then get some good topspin on the ball but because there's no

grip on these, especially this plastic one, it's very difficult to even hit a good stroke.

Here it just falls straight off so it's really hard and I definitely can't play any topspin.

This pimpled bat is a little bit better, I've got a little bit more control so I can probably

develop a counterhit but there's no spin on the ball at all so if I try and extend the

shot into a topspin, it just falls straight off, I get no spin, and it goes straight into

the ground. You just can't learn table tennis with this type of bat.

And here's the bat that I use, it's the PingSkills Touch with good quality rubber on it. Now

the best thing for me about using this is that for the same sort of stroke I get more

speed on the ball.