Most people assume that all ping pong paddles are basically the same. If you’ve played with a high-quality paddle, however, you’ve probably noticed the difference between that and an everyday, run-of-the-mill option.
Do you want a killer spin and the right amount of speed with utmost control? When you’re looking for the best ping pong paddle, you want something that delivers an accurate stroke, helps you direct the ball and provides optimal speed without making you flail around.
Key Features Of The Best Ping Pong Paddle
You should consider the construction and weight when you’re buying a ping pong paddle. You should also look at the ratings to determine which one is the best for you. A low-control rubber on a medium-speed rated paddle is often the best option for a beginner or intermediate player.
Most ping pong paddles are about six inches wide and 10 inches long, including the handle. However, regulations control the thickness of, material layers within and type and thickness of rubber adhered to the blade.
The rubber will wear out over time. Many customizable ping pong paddles let you remove and replace this surface. However, most premade paddles aren’t designed to allow for skin replacement.
That said, you could try it if yours becomes worn. You could also contact the manufacturer to inquire about a full paddle replacement.
You might prefer a different grip depending on the way you hold the paddle. Someone with a penhold grip grasps the flat part of the paddle, ignoring the grip for the most part. You might prefer a straight handle in this case.
If you have a shakehand style, you hold onto the grip. Shakehand grips are flared, which prevents them from slipping out of your hand while you play.
A less traditional grip is curved to fit more comfortably in the palm of your hand. Some players find this to be helpful, while others prefer the shakehand or penhold styles.
Ping Pong Paddle Ratings
There are several aspects you’ll want to consider when it comes to a ping pong paddle. Let’s look over the most important ones.
Most professional ping pong paddles have performance ratings that indicate their power, control and spin. Power, or speed, is designated with a score between 10 and 100. The higher the number, the more speed you’ll get when you hit the ball.
Faster isn’t always better, though. Offensive players usually want more speed, but defensive players often opt for control over speed.
Speaking of control, a high control rating gives you a truer strike. In other words, the ball is more likely to end up where you direct it. A paddle that delivers more control will also hold the ball more solidly when you’re hitting it.
Control is governed by the direction of the dimples on the rubber, the tackiness of the surface and the thickness of the padding. Some experts believe that what you gain in control you lose in either speed or spin.
An advanced player may rely on spin to make it harder for the opponent to return the ball. Paddles designed for higher spin usually have the dimples facing the blade, creating a smoother surface. Some manufacturers don’t provide spin ratings because your own spin depends on the amount of rotation that the other player places on the ball.
The Best Ping Pong Paddles Reviewed
Killerspin JET800 Speed N1
This ping pong paddle is designed with the moderately aggressive player in mind. Many players say that it’s one of the speediest paddles that they’ve used, even if it is a little top-heavy.
It is rated with the following scores:
- Speed: 9.5/10
- Control: 8/10
- Spin: 9/10
The professional blade looks great and performs even better. The Nitrx 4z rubber is ITTF approved. It’s tacky enough to regulate the ball without slowing you down.
This is a hard paddle with powerful capabilities. At just under 10 oz, it’s heavier than many other paddles. This might make it a little less sprightly and makes you put in some extra effort. The payoff is huge, however, as the ball jumps off the paddle.
The five layers inside the blade are made from wood. They’re sandwiched between a carbon fiber layer on either side. This dual carbon technology gives you plenty of speed and bounce for offensive play.
Control and spin don’t suffer, though. The blade absorbs hard shots and lets you maintain control over your returns.
The wooden side tape is actually a built-in veneer that protects the edges of your paddle from getting damaged. It has a more competitive function too; it retains your energy so that you generate more power in your shots. Unlike traditional side tape, the wooden side tape will never need replacing.
The shakehand-style paddle has an ergonomic handle that fits well in your hand. It’s also attractive, with wood-burned accents.
This is not a customizable paddle. The rubber is not designed to be changed out. Although some users say that you can replace the rubber, you might damage the paddle if you try to do so.
- Heavy paddle for added power
- Flared, narrow handle comfortable for different grips
- Built-in side tape never needs to be replaced
- Top heavy
- Sacrifices some control for speed
STIGA Pro Carbon Table Tennis Racket
This performance-level ping pong paddle has ITTF-approved rubber for professional tournament play.
Its performance ratings are as follows:
- Speed: 9.9/10
- Spin: 10/10
- Control: 8/10
Because it’s not quite as heavy as the Killerspin JET model reviewed above, this paddle is one of the speediest. The extra-light blade is made of balsa wood and glides through the air quickly and with minimal effort. The 7-ply blade uses carbon technology, which makes it rigid even though it’s fairly light.
If you’re upgrading from a cheaper recreational paddle, you might really notice the difference in handling. The weight balance is distributed toward the blade, giving you extra power for slams and offensive play. The extra weight directed toward your return shot means that you can hit the ball hard.
The rubber is backed by a 2mm sponge, which makes it quite bouncy. You might have to rein in your return shots when using this paddle. However, the tackiness of the blade’s surface delivers the responsiveness that you need to stay on top of your game.
The handle is designed for a shakehand hold, with a longer length and a flared grip. It contains a shock-absorbing tube that reduces fatigue when you’ve been playing for hours.
- Lighter in weight than many premade offensive paddles
- Thick foam backing boosts speed and power
- Middle-of-the-road price
- Seems to wear out more quickly than other paddles
- Rubber loses tackiness rapidly
- Flat sides on the handle diminish comfort level
Butterfly 401 Table Tennis Racket
The Butterfly 401 is the least expensive paddle that we reviewed because it’s an entry-level paddle. Even though it’s designed for beginners, it’s a step up from many hobby paddles. The price is at the lower end of the middle range, which lets you experiment while keeping your investment low.
The Butterfly 401 has the following ratings:
- Speed: 8/10
- Control: 8.5/10
- Spin: 8/10
Even though it is considered an entry-level paddle, the Butterfly 401 can be used by professionals. The Yuki rubber is ITTF-approved. At 2.1 mm, the rubber delivers enough bounce to produce adequate speed without increasing the power that you put into each stroke.
The rubber is also extremely tacky. This provides superior control. The tackiness will wear off as you play. However, the dimples point inward on both sides, creating a flat, smooth surface and improving the spin.
Weighing in at 5.8 oz, this is the lightest paddle that we reviewed. The 5-ply blade is not as technologically advanced as the blade of the other paddles in this article. However, the equipment is also not as expensive.
The flared handle is designed for people who use the shakehand hold. It is more rounded than the handle on the STIGA Pro Carbon paddle. Some people prefer this, while others favor a blockier feel.
This paddle is ideal for people who want to slow down their game. It’s also perfect for those who are just getting started with ping pong. If you’re an attack-style player, you might find this product too slow for your needs. However, it’s great for people who like to play defense or chop.
- One of the most durable paddles that we reviewed
- Rubber retains its smooth, tacky surface
- Lighter weight not appropriate for attack-style play
- Sticky rubber attracts dust easily
- Handle has strong odor
If you’re looking for a professional paddle that will give you a competitive edge, the Killerspin JET 800 Speed N1 is the way to go. Its ratings aren’t as high as the STIGA Pro Carbon, but it is more balanced. It’s also the heaviest paddle in the bunch, which conserves your own energy.
Both the Killerspin and STIGA paddles are less durable than we expected for the price. If you’re looking for the best ping pong paddle in the $30 range, you might want to consider the Butterfly 401. This is especially true if you’re just starting out and looking for something better than the paddles that came with your table.