But first of all, this is a very long post. So prepare your coffee, or your cup of tea, and read this tutorial.
This tutorial will be updated gradually, bit by bit. So feel free to come back and check it out.
I’m new to table tennis. Which racket should I buy?
I won’t tell you the marques of table tennis racket that you should buy because the racket quality and table tennis evolves with time. Of course, you are new in table tennis, and you may hear about best equipment nowadays like Butterfly, Stiga, DHS, Donic, Tibhar, Joola, Cornilleau, Nittaku, Darker, etc. Each year, there are hundreds of new blade, racket, and rubber are released.
How to choose your best racket as a beginner
But I want to show you the right way, and some mistakes to avoid when choosing your first racket.
- In your career, you will change/upgrade several rackets. Based on your improvement, you could choose the faster, or harder racket.
- As a new player, never buy a pre-made racket, with cheap wood quality, and very thin rubbers. This is very bad for your learning. Bad and cheap wood will eliminates all of the good vibration to your hand. Too thin rubber forces you to open more your racket to spin the ball (which is a very bad habit).
- Never choose a too soft rubber (softer than 40 degree on your forehand side, and softer than 35 degree on backhand side). If you want to improve fast, choose the hardest rubber that you can manage to hit. The harder you choose, the faster you improve. Chinese kids always play with hard rubbers.
- Never choose a too light blade (Lighter than 80g). Heavy blade is not comfortable to play with at the beginning. But it will prevent you the bad habit of some players: Hit only by the wrist. Some new players just love playing with very light blade, because they have a bad habit, (hit with only the wrist). Heavy blade forces you to use your body, and develop the full mechanism of the stroke.
- Never choose too thin rubber, thinner than 1.8mm. Some coach just asks new player to play with thin, to very thin rubber (1.5mm). No! Playing with too thin rubber, the new players tend to open more his racket. Thin rubber makes the ball “bottom out” very soon. So the players need to open more the racket to topspin and to compensate this “bottom out”. This is the very bad habit. The ball is weak, and less accuracy. You will not improve fast with this setup.
- Never choose carbon, too hard, too fast blade. Another big problem of new players, they always want “faster, faster and faster”. But they don’t know how to spin the ball. Chinese philosophy about table tennis “The blade gives feeling, the blade is your hand. That is the rubber and your power will give the speed to the ball”.
- Never change equipment because they tell you this one is better. For each type of blade and rubber, try to stick with them at least 6 months. Try to discover your equipment. Don’t just buy and try in only 2 hours and conclude. You are wrong! Each type of equipment has his own advantages. Try to figure it out! And understand why you need to change (to have more spin, more speed, low-throw, attack style, more control, etc). Understand your playing style, your technique first, and then change your racket later.
- And remember, as a new players, feeling and spin is the most important. My best advice if you want to improve fast in table tennis. Believe it! This message is not to promote any equipment. It’s for you! Based on my own experiences of coaching and playing.
Equipments of Chinese Professional Players
1. Ma Long’s equipment
- 2005-2008: Ma Long tried some Nittaku blades: Violin, Acoustic, and Rutis.
- 2009-2011: Ma Long’s blade is Timo Boll Spirit and Timo Boll ALC.
- Since 2013: Ma Long uses DHS 968 and DHS 997 table tennis blade.
This is the resume of rxng for the table tennis equipment used by Ma Long.
2. Zhang Jike’s equipment
Zhang Jike is the one that made Viscaria become famous, even more famous than the Timo Boll Spirit blade. Viscaria is chosen by many professional table tennis players. The main reason is that Viscaria is the best blade for backhand flick, and quick attack over the table.
Due to it’s specific ALC composition, the carbon ALC layer is put very near the outer plie (Koto), which provides the stable but very fast “rebound”. The quick rebound will helps the shots like backhand flick, and fast topspin on the table. Nowadays, the backhand is the main weapon to initiate the first attack in the modern table tennis.
With Fan Zhendong, Zhang Jike is the only one in the top 4 who chooses the ALC Butterfly blade. Xu Xin, Ma Long, Fan Zhendong (DHS Handle) use the DHS and Stiga Sponsored blade. The younger Chinese players also adopted and preferred to use the ALC blade.
|Blade Equipment||Custom made Viscaria with larger handle|
|Forehand Rubber||National Version of Hurricane 3 (2.15mm, 40 hardness degree)|
|Backhand Rubber||Pro version of Butterfly Tenergy 05 (harder sponge Max Thickness 2.25 mm, 38 hardness DHS scale, about 48 hardness ESN scale)|
Which blade did Zhang Jike use before he started using Viscaria?
At the young age, Zhang Jike started with all wood 5 plies SWORD blade (Flared handle). Like many other young Chinese kids, he took the cheapest blade on the market. He was trained by his father, and then join the National Team.
3. Xu Xin’s equipment
- Xu Xin uses a Stiga Offensive NCT Wood blade.
- Forehand rubber: Hurricane III (Blue sponge) 41.5 hardness, 2.15mm.
- and a Stiga Boost TX, Tenergy 05, and come back to personal Hurricane 2 on his backhand.
- Sponsored by Stiga and DHS (China National Team)
- In 2017 CTTSL (Chinese Table Tennis Super League), Xu Xin changed back to DHS Skyline 2.
- Note: Skyline series is designed for penholder players before, for example, Malin used skyline 2 and Wanghao used skyline 3, Xuxin used skyline 2 before. It’s more difficult for penholder player against shake hand player nowadays due to the even bigger 40+ ball. Xu Xin changed to Hurricane 3, and then came back to Skyline 2 (Blue Sponge)
- Xu Xin used the harder and faster blade to get more speed due to the new ball.
- The current blade of Xu Xin is the customed DHS Blade, model N301.
The difference between Blue sponge (BS) and Orange Sponge of Chinese Table Tennis Rubber
- Blue Sponge is harder than the orange sponge. You need to hit harder to use Blue Sponge.
- Most of them Chinese Top Female players use hurricane orange sponge. And Male Top Chinese player use Blue sponge. But Liu Shiwen, Zhu yulin and Wang manyue are using blue sponge. It depends on your style and what blade you uses. Orange Sponge needs a stiffer and harder blade.
4. Fan Zhendong’s equipment
What is Fan Zhendong’s racket configuration? In fact, Fan Zhendong and Xu Xin is sponsored by Stiga. While Zhang Jike is sponsored by Butterfly. Double Happiness DHS sponsors Ma Long.
This is the latest Fan Zhendong’s equipment. The photo is taken at the ITTF Seamaster World Tour Grand Final 2017.
- Fan Zhendong’s racket: Viscaria with the Stiga Infinity Master handle. Proof: Look at the the ALC outerply of Viscaria. You can call this racket as “Visfinity” 🙂 (Viscaria with Inifinity handle). Why Infinity handle? Because he is sponsored by Stiga. Sometimes Fan Zhendong also used DHS W968. But it’s just a testing blade. In the real major competition, Fan Zhendong uses Butterfly Viscaria, which fits best his playing style (attack and counter attack at 2 sides closed-to mid distance).
- Fan Zhendong’s forehand rubber: It’s the national blue sponge DHS Hurricane 3. Hardness 40.5 Chinese scale. Thickness 2.15 mm.
- Backhand rubber: Professional version Butterfly Tenergy 05 (harder version 38-39 degree ESN scale). Thickness 2.20 mm.