Tips on buying a new table tennis bat

Towards the end of the season my rubbers were losing grip and fraying at the edges. And then I cracked my blade on the table whilst attempting a backhand backspin serve.

Time to buy a new bat!

But what to buy? Should I just replace what I already have? Should I try something faster? Something with more control? Change brands completely? Aahhhh, too much to think about!

I have faced this dilemma many times over the past 10 years, so I thought I’d share some useful tips.

Below are tips for beginners, improvers and advanced players. Feel free to read the entire blog post or just skip to the section relevant to your standard of play.


Table tennis bats for beginners

If you’re a beginner, you do not need to worry too much about all the different rubber and blade options available. You just want to get a ready made bat which has good allround control. Something not too fast, but not too slow either.

These bats will have a larger sweet spot, which will give more success in getting the ball over the net and on to your opponent’s side of the table. They will also help you control the ball when learning the core table tennis strokes.

Avoid the really cheap bats (less than £10). They’re cheap for a reason – they’re not very good! They have poor control, you’ll find it difficult to spin the ball and they won’t help you develop good technique.

But you don’t need to spend loads either. You can get some very good starter bats for £20-£40 on Amazon. And because it’s Amazon, you can read lots of user reviews too. Below are some recommendations, but do your own research too. There are lots of table tennis shops and all will have starter bats for sale. On their websites look for ‘pre-assembled’, ‘ready-made’ or ‘complete’ bats.

Recommended bats (UK)

Recommended bats (USA)

For more advice and recommendations, take a look at my blog post Best table tennis bats for beginners. If you’re interested in the Palio Expert table tennis bat, you should read my in-depth review.

BEST-SELLERS: Take a look at my list of the most popular table tennis bats purchased by readers of my website.


Table tennis bats for improvers

As you progress from beginner to intermediate, you probably need to start thinking about buying your first custom made bat. You need to buy a rubber for your forehand, a rubber for your backhand and a blade.

This can be very daunting as there is just so much choice available. Some rubbers are spinny, some have lots of control, some fast, some slow, most have pimples facing in, but some have pimples facing out.

Then there’s the blade. There’s different types of wood to choose from, some heavier, some lighter, some are defensive, some offensive and others are somewhere in between.

Choosing the right combination can be quite a dilemma! But don’t panic…

For intermediate players, I would recommend getting rubbers and a blade with good control, but a little faster than beginner bats. Don’t worry too much about the brand. Anything from reputable brands, such as Butterfly, Andro, Stiga, Joola, Donic, Tibhar, Double Happiness and Yasaka will be high quality and suitable for intermediate players.

As your technique is still developing, don’t get tempted to buy anything too fast. The really fast rubbers and blades require very good technique to control the ball. The risk is that you’ll make too many unforced errors with a very fast bat.

To get a custom made bat, you’ll need buy via a table tennis shop. Look out for ‘All round’ blades, and rubbers with a high control rating. If in doubt give the company a call. Explain your playing style, what bat you’re currently playing with and how you want your game to develop. They will be able to make recommendations.

If you find the whole process too baffling, you can find some good ready assembled all round bats suitable for intermediate players on Amazon.

Recommended bats (UK)

Recommended bats (USA & Canada)

For more advice and recommendations, take a look at my blog post Best table tennis bats for intermediate players.

BEST-SELLERS: Also, take a look at my list of the most popular table tennis bats purchased by readers of my website.


Table tennis bats for advanced players

Choosing the right bat can often be a difficult decision for advanced players too. As an advanced player, you probably have a much better idea of what you’re looking for and will have used numerous other rubbers and blades in the past.

But if you’re looking to change your rubbers or blade, you’re faced with a new problem. All the manufacturers claim that their best rubbers are super-fast and super-spinny, with super-control and super-durable. They claim their best blades will elevate your game to ever higher levels. If you buy this, then you’re going to play like Ma Long.

Hmm, maybe not.

So, how do you differentiate between all the available options? Assuming you don’t have access to bat testing facilities (which the vast majority of players don’t), here are three suggestions:

1. Practice with other players’ bats. This is a great way testing a range of different rubbers without spending any money. Practice a range of strokes (drives, topspins, pushes, flicks, service, receiving etc) and pay attention to how much spin you can generate and how much you can control the ball. Does it make your strengths stronger? Or does it make your weaknesses weaker? Make some notes and then go a practice with someone else’s bat.

2. Read online reviews. Two of the best review sites are Table Tennis Database and Table Tennis Daily. These sites include reviews by other players of most rubbers and blades. They have been an invaluable source of information for me when I have been deciding what to buy. Be aware that all reviews are subjective. A bad review doesn’t necessary mean it’s a bad rubber / blade. It just means it may be a bad rubber / blade for that particular reviewer’s playing style or ability level. Pay more attention to the reviews from players who describe a similar playing style and ability level to your own.

3. If in doubt, stick with what you have! If you’re happy with how you are playing, just get new versions of the same rubbers and glue them onto your existing blade. There’s not much point changing for the sake of changing. Only change your rubbers and blade if you actually need to.

For more advice and recommendations, take a look at my blog post Best table tennis rubbers and blades for advanced players.

Not sure where to buy rubbers and blades? Take a look at my list of table tennis shops in the UK, USAEurope, Asia and Australia.

A good bat is certainly no substitute for good technique. I’m sure Ma Long would beat me 11-0,11-0,11-0 using any old rubbish! But the right rubbers / blade combination matched to the right technique is worth extra points in every set against players of a similar standard.

There is a bit of trial and error involved, so it’s likely at some point in your table tennis career you’ll end up with a bat you’re not entirely happy with. But with some proper research and advice from other players and coaches you will hopefully limit expensive mistakes.

Happy shopping!

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About Tom Lodziak

I’m a table tennis coach, player and blogger based in Cambridge in the UK. Sign up to my popular FREE monthly newsletter and I'll send you tips, blogs, articles and videos to help you improve and win more points. You can also follow me on Twitter and subscribe to my Youtube channel.

16 thoughts on “Tips on buying a new table tennis bat

  1. Hi Tom

    Read you post with interest as my two lads are starting to play and I would like to get them a bat each. They are aged 7 and 9 (the 7 year old seems to have taken to the sport more easily).

    Are there any bats which you would recommend for child beginners ?

    Thanks alot for the help

  2. Hi Tom

    Thanks for the help – I went for a couple of the Palio Expert’s,

    I’ll post what they (and I) think!

    Phil

  3. Hi Tom
    Very interesting reading your post, I’m 53 started playing 2 months ago and love it. At my local club there is advice but I wanted to ask you. I have a andro bat rubber 03-023 both sides. But the rubbers losses its grip very fast ( not sure if that’s normal ) I use a little water and a sponge to clean after playing.
    I wanted a fast rubber with spin for attacking loops I play fast.
    Could you please offer advise.
    Regards
    Chris

    • Hi Chris. Great you’re enjoying your table tennis. Rubbers will lose grip over time, some rubbers faster than others. And of course it depends how much you play. Professional players change their rubbers very frequently. As a general guide, if you only play a couple of hours, once a week, you should expect your rubbers to last a year (minimum) before you need to replace them.

      In terms of what rubbers you should get next – this is a tough question, without seeing you play. Since you have only been playing for 2 months, I wouldn’t recommend going for super fast rubbers, e.g. Tenergy. You may find these rubbers too responsive at this stage of your development.

      Often, players I coach who are progressing from beginner to intermediate will choose rubbers like Butterfly Roundall or Yasaka Mark V, with an all-round blade. Or take a look at the ready made bats for improvers I recommend in the blog post above. The stiga bat is a decent choice. This will be good for a year or two, and then you can progress to something faster again as you improve.

      My best advice is to try other players’ bats at your club. See what feels right for you and buy the same rubbers or search online for something similar.

  4. Hello Coach Tom,
    I am not an advanced Player by your standards (tried multiple rackets) but am a considerably better player than most people. Apart from studying I play table tennis, I have competed in local as well as regional tournaments in which I did pretty well (1st local,3rd regional.) I would like to ask you what type of racket I should buy and I saved up about 400 dollars for a new racket. My old racket was a kettler blueshot(which is very old,but I Like how it plays). I would like to elevate my position as a player and try play in a national level. Table tennis takes a considerable amount of my time and I would like to have a professional racket. The problem is I am too scared for a custom racket as I am scared in my skills of constructing the racket. Please help
    ~Hamza

    • Hi Hamza

      Could you tell me a bit more about your playing style? Are you an attacker, defender, bit of both? Are you looking for a fast spinny bat or something with more control? Give me a bit more information, I should be able to give some recommendations.

      Tom

      • Coach Tom

        First and foremost thank you for replying. Now on to my style.People have told me my play style is very odd, I play defensively for half the match and offensively for the rest(so I’m a bit of both). This is so I can evaluate my chances as an aggressor. I would like a racket that can generate good spin and power/speed, but isn’t too hard to control.

        Thank you
        ~Hamza

        • So if you like to mix attack and defence, you will probably need to get a custom made bat. You mentioned in your original comment that you were worried about doing this, as you don’t know how to put the bat together. Do not worry about this. Any company you buy the rubbers and blade from will construct the bat for you. So on to my recommendation. As you are currently playing with an old and basic bat, you shouldn’t get anything too fast, as you may find it difficult to adjust. Go for an ‘all-round’ blade, something like:

          • Stiga Classic Allround Blade
          • Andro Super Core Cell Allround+ Blade
          • Joola Mikado Allround+ Blade

          For the rubbers, go for something faster and spinnier than you currently have, but not too fast. You still need something with a good level of control for your defensive game. Something like:

          • Butterfly Roundell Soft
          • Yasaka Mark V
          • Donic Vario

          You could have the same rubber for both sides or a different one on either side. It’s a bit of trial and error. You’ll probably end up changing rubbers and blades several times before you settle on the perfect combination. But you have to start somewhere, so any of the above recommendations will get you started.

  5. Hey Tom,
    I have been playing for nearly a year, about two hours a day with a Butterfly 401. I like the paddle a lot, but it has lost all its grip and I am looking to replace it with something a little higher quality. I like to play fast and all I want to do is hit the ball as hard as possible with it still being on the table. Do you have any suggestions?? I have been looking for a while but there are too many choices for me to make sense of.
    Thanks

    • Hi John

      We’d all love to be able to hit the ball as hard as possible and it go on the table every time, but sadly, this magic bat doesn’t exist. Its all down to technique and practise! If you are playing 2 hours a day, you’re probably improving quickly. Take a look at my blog post Best table tennis bats for intermediate players. All the options I talk about in this blog post will be a step up from the Butterfly 401.

      Tom

  6. Hii coach Tom

    I’m a intermediate player.As a beginner I used GKI kung fu racket but now it is totally dead . I’m not getting good spin and speed on the ball as well when my opponent makes a chop or topspin shot my racket can’t above the spin and goes oout of the table. As an intermediate player I want to improve more so I’m planning to buy Donic waldner 5000 . Is this a good one or I should buy another on but my budget is not so high it is only Rs. 4000

    • Hi Rajit

      I have not played with this, but have done a little research on it. It uses Donic Liga rubbers, which have good control but aren’t the fastest or spinniest rubbers. You can read reviews here: http://www.tabletennisdb.com/rubber/donic-liga.html. So if you want a bat which isn’t too fast or too slow and has high levels of control, this could be a decent choice.

      Tom

  7. Hi Tom,

    How long will a racket last if I play 1-2 hours a day and almost everyday? the reason I ask because there are discount for some good rackets right now; after this season the prices will jump up a lot.

    Thanks,
    Josie

    • Hi Josie

      If you play that frequently, your rubbers will probably be good for 6 months and then you will need to replace.

      Tom

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