Best table tennis bats for beginners

As a coach, I often give advice to beginner players about what table tennis bat to buy. There is a lot of choice available and if you have never played before it’s quite difficult working out a good bat from a rubbish bat.

Rather than giving my wisdom only to players I coach, I thought it would be good to share my thoughts on the best beginner bats to a wider audience. So here’s what I tell my beginners…

Avoid really cheap table tennis bats

Before I start a coaching session with a new beginner, I always check their bat first. Often the bat will have an impressive sounding name, like ‘G Force’ or ‘Nitro Power’. But in reality, the quality of the rubbers and blade don’t get remotely close to living up the name.

These are the bats which usually cost less than £10. They’re cheap for a reason – the materials used to make the bat simply aren’t very good. The biggest issue I have with these bats are that they are useless at generating spin. Some of the really cheap bats, play more like anti-spin rubbers. A player will play a drive shot and instead of the ball coming back with a bit of topspin, the ball comes back with no spin at all.

With cheap equipment like this, it’s much more difficult to learn the basic strokes and technique you need to play table tennis, as you have to play exaggerated strokes to generate spin. This leads to bat habits, which will limit the progress a player can make.

Avoid really expensive bats with fast rubbers and a fast blade

Occasionally a beginner will turn up with a really nice bat. They have done some research and spent a load of money to get the best equipment. The bat is beautiful, but the problem is that it’s far too responsive for the beginner player and they have great trouble controlling the ball.

The ball flies off the rubber and will shoot off left and right, pop up high and sail past the end of the table. There is nothing wrong with the quality of the bat, but it is too advanced for the beginner player. It takes time to develop the technique you need to play with these fast bats.

It’s not necessarily a bad investment, as the player could use the bat in the future when they are more advanced. But for a beginner, a really fast bat is not going to be very helpful for their initial development.

What are the best table tennis bats for beginners?

Ideally you should start with an all-round bat. What does this mean? This is a bat with a medium speed blade (not too fast, not too slow) and medium speed rubbers. Medium speed rubbers will allow you to more easily control incoming spin, but will still allow you to generate your own spin.

You should ideally buy a bat with rubbers which have ITTF approval. This means they have been tested by the world governing body, so you will be buying something of decent quality.

The good news is that you really don’t need to spend a lot of money. You can get a decent starter bat for around £20-£50. Below are some options which I recommend. These are all ‘all-round’ bats which are ideal for beginners and have all been approved by the ITTF.

Recommended bats (UK)

Recommended bats (USA)

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

You should do your own research too. All table tennis shops will stock suitable bats for beginners. On their websites look for ‘pre-assembled’, ‘ready-made’ or ‘complete’ bats. If in doubt, contact the shop and ask for their advice.

Take a look at my list of table tennis shops in the UK, USAEurope, Asia and Australia.

Final thoughts

If you’re a beginner, the most important thing at this stage of your blossoming table tennis career is to buy a bat which allows you to develop good technique, generate some spin, but is not so fast that you keep over-hitting the ball.

A beginner bat won’t be forever. It will probably be good for a year or two depending on the speed of your progress. As you improve, you will need to switch to a bat more suited for an intermediate standard.

If you only ever want to play table tennis for a bit of fun, it’s fine to buy any old rubbish. But if you’re serious about improving, you should avoid the really cheap bats. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but a little extra investment in a decent starter bat will help you improve quicker.


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About Tom Lodziak

I’m a table tennis coach based in Cambridge in the UK. As well as coaching I also write table tennis articles and make table tennis videos. Read more about me.

7 thoughts on “Best table tennis bats for beginners

  1. Hi Tom,

    Thank you for all the great information! I just signed up for your newsletter. I had a bat/paddle question for you. I’m 56, and just started playing table tennis. I still borrow a recreation type paddle when I play. I’ve played regular tennis at a very high level my entire life, but my knees can no longer take that ;-). I have played ‘ping-pong” at friends houses occasionally over the years, and with my tennis background usually do well. But, have never played real or serious table tennis or tried to learn. But, I would like to learn and get to a level similar to where I was in Tennis. I’ve read your articles on Paddles, it sounds like either the Palio Expert 2 or Palio Master 2 would be a good starting point? I am not sure which one to buy or others? Any recommendations for me? Pluses or minuses of buying one vs. the other? I am OK if I buy one and need to buy another soon if that helps (not worried about the cost).

    Thanks!

    Randy

    • Hi Randy

      Thanks for the kind comments. I recommend buying the Palio Expert 2 for your first bat. There isn’t a huge difference between the Palio Expert and Palio Master. The Palio Expert gives a little more control, which is useful for a beginner. This won’t be a bat for life. If you play regularly (and improve), you’ll need to replace the rubbers after 12 months and most probably upgrade to something better. But for your first bat, the Palio Expert is a good choice.

      Tom

  2. Hello,
    Thank you for the great article.
    I wonder if you have an idea about donic bats (carbotec 900 or waldner 3000)?
    Thanks

    • Hi

      I’m not familiar with these donic bats. But I have just done some research and I think they will be fine for a beginner player.

      Tom

  3. Hi Tom!
    My friend wants to start playing table tennis with me, but he’s also really interested in playing penhold. I told him that might not be a fantastic idea since we’re in the US, but nevertheless he wants to buy a penhold racket. Are there any decent beginner rackets for penhold, or is playing penhold with a standard shakehand racket alright? I assume it might be better to just get a blade and rubbers, but it’s hard to do that for cheap.
    Thanks for the help!

    • Hi Rhys – your friend definitely needs a penhold blade if he wants to play penhold. It will be much easier to play penhold with this compared to a shakehands blade. I just had a quick look on Amazon, and it looks like there’s a few choices available for a decent price: https://amzn.to/2O4boZ4. The Butterfly 302 or DHS 6-Star should be fine for a starter penhold bat.

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