I coach a lot of beginner players here in Cambridge. I’m always keen to get a beginner player using a good quality beginner bat as soon as possible. It does help me teach table tennis when a player has a decent-ish bat and not a very cheap £5 bat you can buy in high street shops.
So I like to research and test good quality beginner table tennis bats when I can. Over the past month I have been trying out the Bribar Winning Loop table tennis bat (cost £29.99 – £36.99). This is one of Bribar’s best ever selling bats, aimed at beginners / developing players.
In this blog post, I share my experience of playing with the bat, suggest who it is suitable for and whether you should buy or not…
Rubbers and blade
But first I’ll just tell you a little about the rubbers and blade. The rubber used for both forehand and backhand is Friendship 729 Super FX. This is a popular, and very affordable, tacky Chinese rubber. It has medium speed, but high levels of control and spin (more on this later). When you use the rubbers for the first time, they are very tacky, which means the ball doesn’t bounce off the rubber that much. But the tackiness will wear off a little after 1-3 hours of play and you should feel some more speed come through.
The blade is a TIBHAR Absolute Allround. This is a wooden blade, again with manageable levels of speed and high levels of control. The bat is custom-made, with proper table tennis glue, which means it is easy to replace /change the rubbers (if needed) and keep the blade.
I’ve been using the Bribar Winning Loop on and off during coaching sessions over the past month. It has two major selling points (1) high levels of control (2) spin generation. Let’s examine both of these in a bit more detail…
As the rubber / blade combination is not too fast, I found it quite easy to deal with incoming spin and keep the ball on the table. Blocking topspin shots was super-easy. The other player could really load up with topspin and the bat absorbed the energy and returned the ball easily. This is good! And if the ball had backspin, I found it very easy to push and keep the ball low too.
With my attacks, I found the bat very good at keeping the ball low and on the table. This is because the rubbers / blade are not super-fast and also because the ball comes off the rubber at a lowish angle. So I didn’t feel like I was going to hit the ball long. There was more chance I was going to hit the ball into the net, but a slight change of my swing trajectory solved this issue.
I always prefer beginner players to start with a slightly slower bat, as it helps them get more balls on the table and encourages them to play with good technique to get some energy into the shots. So the Winning Loop bat scores highly for me on this.
Even though the rubbers / blade are medium speed, you can still generate tons of spin. And I mean as much spin or more spin than any other table tennis bat I have used at this price range.
I mentioned it is easy to push with the Winning Loop, but you can really get lots of backspin on the pushes. The tacky rubbers grip the ball well and if you get the brushing contact right you can return the ball low with some very decent backspin rotation.
The bat is very nice to serve with. Again, as the ball comes of the rubber at a lowish-angle, it’s easy to keep serves low and with the tacky rubbers you can get a nice amount of spin.
Perhaps the biggest surprise when using the bat was how consistently well I could topspin playing close to the table (which is my style). For a £30 bat, it really shouldn’t be that easy, which makes me question why I have such an expensive bat! Of course it’s not as spinny as my usual bat, but it’s not far off. And I don’t think the other players noticed that I was playing with the Winning Loop. The shot quality probably seemed the same to them.
Mid-distance counter-looping was not quite so strong – maybe the bat is a bit too slow for this – but for the target audience of this bat (beginners), this really isn’t much of an issue. I wouldn’t expect beginners to play this shot so early in their development.
The bat is not so strong if you have a very passive playing style and very short stroke actions. If your movements are too slow and short, you probably won’t get much from the bat.
But – and this is quite a major point – for beginners, it’s probably a good thing that the bat is not so good at passive play. Why? Because it forces you to play a proper stroke, whether a push, a drive, a block or a topspin.
You can’t just wave your bat at the ball and hope it goes over. To get the most from the Winning Loop, you need to play a stroke. The beginners who take this approach to table tennis tend to improve much faster as they develop solid technique.
Who is the bat suitable for?
I would say the Bribar Winning Loop is best suited for the ‘serious beginner’.
This is someone who really wants to improve at table tennis, who wants to develop good technique, but also wants a bat which is easy to control.
The bat may also be of interest to intermediate players who have an all-round style, mixing defence and attack, but value high levels of control.
Should you buy?
Short answer – yes!
I was very impressed with the performance of the Winning Loop, considering it’s low price. If you’re a beginner player and you play once or twice a week, this will be ideal for your first 12-18 months.
I’m now recommending this bat to the players I coach. It has passed the ‘Tom Test’!
Also, as the bat is custom made (as opposed to factory made), it is easy to replace the rubbers. So after you have used the bat for a year, you have the option of keeping the blade, removing the old rubbers, putting on new Friendship 729 Super FX rubbers or even experimenting with some slightly faster rubbers.
Where to buy…
You have two options…
You can buy on the Bribar website for £29.99 + postage (£3.99).
Or you can buy on Amazon UK for £36.99. The cost on Amazon is a little higher, but there’s no postage charge, plus you get a bat case too, so works out as better value overall.