If you like to play and all-round game – some pushes, some blocks, some topspins – then you will need versatile rubbers.
These are rubbers which are generally a bit softer, with medium speed. This allows you to play a range of defensive and attacking shots and have good consistency with all.
I will often use a more controlled rubber on my backhand for this reason. I like to push, block, flick and sometimes topspin. So I like to have a rubber which can perform all these shots well.
What is a ‘controlled’ rubber?
Control is a bit of a vague term. Really, you can achieve high levels of control with any rubber, so long as your technique is good enough.
What I mean by ‘control’ here, is rubbers which are not too fast, not too slow, with a medium throw and are easy for most amateur players to play with.
If your opponent were to do a spinny sidespin serve, a controlled rubber would absorb some of this spin and prevent it from shooting off the side of the table.
Similarly, if your opponent was to do a fast topspin attack, a controlled rubber would be able to take some of the speed off the attack and return the ball on the table, rather than flying off the end.
So for me, a controlled rubber equals medium speed and medium throw. In general, if the rubber thickness is 1.7mm – 1.9mm then you can expect it to be a little slower and less responsive to incoming spin.
Choosing a controlled rubber
Choosing a controlled rubber can be a little confusing. In theory, all table tennis rubbers have good control, depending on your playing level. This is why table tennis companies often give all their rubbers high levels of control.
It’s probably a bit easier to judge whether a rubber will be good for all-round play based upon the speed rating. If the speed rating is less, then it is probably more suited to all-round play.
But this is not an exact science. The best way to test a rubber for control is to try it out for yourself. If possible, I encourage you to try out other players’ table tennis bats to see what you like and don’t like.
When testing, it is important to play a range of shots – pushes, blocks, topspins, drives and flicks. A good all-round rubber should be able to perform all these shots well. Pay particular attention to pushes and blocks. If your pushes and blocks go low over the net and stay on the table, then this will probably be a good all-round rubber. You want the feeling that you can control incoming spin fairly easily.
Here a few rubbers I recommend for controlled all-round play. These recommendations are based on my personal experience. For control with a little less speed, I often recommend JOOLA Zack to the players I coach. But all rubbers listed below are excellent choices.
- JOOLA Zack (buy in UK)
- Friendship 729 FX Super (buy in UK | buy in USA)
- Gewo Mega Flex (buy in UK | buy in USA)
- Yasaka Mark V (buy in UK | buy in USA)
- Butterfly Tackiness Drive (buy in UK | buy in USA)
You can also do your own online research. You can find lots of reviews of almost all rubbers on the RevSpin website. Pay most attention to reviews from players who describe a similar playing style and level to your own.
Control your enthusiasm!
A rubber with good control doesn’t mean you can neglect your shot quality. Technique is still the biggest factor in how well you can control the ball. An all-round blade also plays a role. But from my experience, using medium speed rubbers does make it easier to put more balls on the table and switch between defence and attack with higher consistency.