Buying a decent table tennis bat for your child can make a big difference to how he/she plays and improves.
A lot of kids start out playing at school or at home with very cheap bats. These bats are fine if playing for a little bit of fun, but are not so good for developing good technique.
In this blog post, I give some advice about which table tennis bats are best for junior players (beginners, intermediates and advanced). My advice is focused mainly on the 6 to 16-year-old age group.
My first bit of advice is this… if your child is 6 to 16 years-old, don’t bother getting a child-sized table tennis bat. Just buy a regular sized bat. You will have much more choice available and it makes your life much easier.
When a child reaches 6 to 7-years-old, he/she should be able to use a regular sized table tennis bat. At this younger age, the child still may find it a little cumbersome to hold the handle with complete comfort, but they grow so quickly that I don’t really see the point in buying a bat with an extra thin handle.
From my experience most 8, 9 and 10 year-olds have no problem with a regular sized bat. I would definitely expect anyone aged 11+ to be using a regular sized bat.
A regular sized bat isn’t really that big or heavy. The younger ones find it a bit tougher to play backhands to begin with (as they have to get the elbow up higher), but this gets easier as they get taller.
For beginner juniors, the focus should be getting a table tennis bat with good levels of control (not too fast), but also with good spin qualities.
The slower blade will will help the junior beginner keep more balls on the table, but the spinny rubbers will help him/her develop good topspin technique, if being guided by an experienced player or coach.
Here are some table tennis bats I recommend. All of these listed below are in the range of £20-£40 / $25-$50. They are significantly better than the very cheap bats you can buy (bats which cost under £10 / $10 are usually pretty rubbish).
- BRIBAR Winning Loop Table Tennis Bat + Case
- Palio Expert Table Tennis Bat
- FireBlade ‘Shinai’ – Allwood Table Tennis Bat
For more advice about beginner bats, take a look at my blog post Best table tennis bats for beginners.
If a junior plays regularly, he/she will usually improve quite quickly. When a junior player reaches intermediate standard, you will need to spend a little more money on buying a better table tennis bat.
At this stage, it’s still important to get something with decent control, but a little bit faster and spinnier than the beginner bats.
But a word of warning! The temptation for a junior at this age and standard is to think they’re better than they actually are. They may want to play with the rubbers which professional players use. But these fast rubbers are very responsive and require a very high ability level to control the ball consistently. An intermediate junior will struggle with these fast rubbers. An “all-round” bat is a far better option.
Here’s a few options for a ready-made bat suitable for an improving junior who has progressed beyond the beginner stage.
- BRIBAR Allround Professional Table Tennis Bat
- Palio Legend Table Tennis Bat
- Tibhar Powercarbon XT Table Tennis Bat
- Stiga Pro Carbon Table Tennis Racket
- Palio Legend Table Tennis Racket
- Butterfly 603 Shakehand Racket
Alternatively, you buy a custom made bat, where you choose from the huge range of blades and rubbers available and a table tennis shop will put the bat together for you. (Take a look at my list of table tennis shops in UK, USA, Europe, Asia and Australia to find a store near you.)
For more advice on table tennis bats for intermediate players, take a look at my blog post Best table tennis bats for intermediate players.
Some juniors will start performing at a very high level. This is one of the things I love about table tennis. It really is a sport where different ages (and generations!) can compete equally.
Tomokazu Harimoto shot to fame at age 11, when he started beating adults ranked in the top 100 in the world.
If a junior reaches an advanced level, he or she will be competing with and beating adults. Advanced juniors can choose any equipment they want. They will be able to cope with, and will benefit from, the very fast and spinny rubbers.
It’s impossible to make specific recommendations, as it all depends on a junior’s particular playing style.
There will be plenty of trial and error involved, as the junior tries out different equipment. You should be prepared to change blades and rubbers a few times before you find the perfect combination.
Take a look at my blog post Best table tennis rubbers and blades for advanced players for more advice.
If a junior plays table tennis regularly and starts taking the sport seriously, he or she will go through a lot of table tennis bats.
This is partly because table tennis rubbers deteriorate over time and need replacing. It’s also because juniors can improve very quickly, so will need to keep upgrading to better equipment.
It’s important to get a table tennis bat which is suitable for a junior’s standard of play.
Be wary of buying bats which are too fast. A junior learning how to play may struggle to control the ball consistently.
If in doubt, go for an all-round bat. These are a bit more forgiving than the fast bats and are easier for juniors to play with as they learn the game.
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