Difference Between Red and Black Table Tennis Rubbers?
Why do we need to use “black” and “red” rubbers in table tennis? Is There a Difference Between these two colors?
Why black rubbers on the forehand side?
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A player asked me:
I found something consistent among the Chinese top players. They play the black rubber on the forehand and the red rubber on the backhand. Is there any reason for this?
Ping pong red vs black rubber? Which one is faster? Which racket color is spinnier?
I also answer your common question “Why do top Chinese table tennis players always use “Black rubber” on the Forehand side and the “Red Rubber” on the backhand side.
Watch this video:
Why do we need two colors of rubbers in table tennis?
Let’s talk about the table tennis rules and regulations for the racket. Based on the ITTF Laws of Table Tennis, in the beginning, the player can use any color for the rubber (green, rose, blue, black, red). That’s why you can see some green and blue rubbers on the Old Stiga Collection.
But during the years of the 1980s, players started using the “combination” racket with very similar rubber colors. For example, they use dark red normal inverted rubber and black long pimple (or antispin) rubber. During the rally, they twiddled the racket to make the deceptive shots.
Learn more “How to deal with long-pimples player“
It was very difficult for the opponent to know which rubber was been used, especially on the serve. It’s not fun at all to play with the “combination rubber” player. Very tricky, and then players just profit to get the easy win.
Win easy with Top 5 Deceptive serve in table tennis. (Just kidding but they are all illegal)
Rule of table tennis: Two color rule
Then in 1986, the ITTF rule states that:
“one side of the racket must be bright red and the other side must be black”.
This rule is applied to counter the “twiddle rubber” trick of a long pimple, and anti-spin player (especially to counter the Chinese players during the World Championship).
Another example to show that this rule is very important is. John Hilton, an English player, only ranked at number 4 in his local club but won the Men’s Singles title at the European Championships. Because the other players were not used to playing against his tricky “combination” rubbers with the same color.
Currently, ITTF has changed the rule. You can use a black rubber, and another 4 new colors rubbers.
Which side of the ping pong paddle is forehand?
Well, you can choose either the black rubber or the red rubber as your forehand rubber. There are no official paddle regulations that forbid you to choose the racket color.
However, if you use Chinese tacky rubber, I recommend you the black rubber on your forehand. Because:
- Black rubber is tackier
- Tacky on black rubber last longer (crucial for Chinese rubber)
- Black rubber gives more spin
- Black rubber gives more feeling for longer stroke (important for forehand loop)
Red side versus Black side rubber
So what are the main differences between black rubber and red rubber?
Well, it’s due to the dying process in the rubber fabrication that makes black and red bat different.
Watch this video:
Some experts can easily feel the difference of the same brand racket but with two different colors.
Red and Black rubber are not 100% identical!
In general, black dye pigment will make:
- Black rubber is a little bit softer than red rubber
- Black rubber is tackier than the red one
- The tackiness of black rubber last longer
While the red rubber has these characteristics:
- Red rubber is harder
- The red rubber topsheet is expanded easier. If you have the same rubber, same thickness, you always feel that the red one is a little bit thicker.
- Red rubber is faster and less tacky
- Red rubber in general has less spin, (the red pigment makes the topsheet harder, bouncier, hence less dwell-time)
Why do Chinese players prefer black rubber on their forehands?
Chinese table tennis rubbers have several famous marques: Double Happiness (DHS), 729, Globe, Galaxy, Palio, SWORD, etc. And these table tennis brands produce both two colors: red and black rubbers.
Here is the personal equipment of Ma Long:
However, due to the dying procedure (a coloring material added to the sponge), the properties of the black and red Chinese rubbers are not the same.
Chinese rubber with Black Topsheet
Black rubber is normally tackier than red rubber. And the tackiness of black Chinese rubber lasts longer. When you choose a hard rubber on your forehand, to increase the spin of your service or your soft touch, you need the tackiness. That’s the reason why Chinese players always take black rubber as their forehand rubber.
And here is the forehand rubber of Wang Liqin. They are black.
Red Chinese table tennis rubber
The red or the black rubber has the same sponge: same hardness, same density. But the red topsheet is a little harder because of the red dye pigment added during the rubber production phase. Red rubber is also less tacky than black rubber.
Red Tenergy rubber on the backhand
Since top players select the black rubber on their forehand, the backhand rubber is always red. Normally, on the backhand side, you can’t hit hard.
You need a bouncy and dynamic rubber (Japanese style rubber such as Butterfly Tenergy 05 or Tenergy 64). Recently, ESN European rubber is also very dynamic. These rubbers offer good gear to your shots.
How about red and black Japanese rubber?
Nowadays, with the advance in dying procedure, there is little difference between red and black Japanese rubber. So a black Ten05 is exactly the same as the red Ten05. But since people just look at the equipment of the top players like Ma Long, Zhang Jike, Wang Hao, Fan Zhendong, they get the habit of always getting the red Tenergy rubber as the backhand rubber.
Best table tennis rubber for backhand
Many players asked me:
“Dear coach, what is the best rubber for backhand?”
Backhand rubber is different than forehand rubber. Because you hit the ball with a harder, and longer stroke on your forehand. While you hit the ball (backhand topspin) with a much shorter and quicker stroke. Here is the list of the top 10 backhand rubbers that you should know.
Therefore, here is my quick advice to choose your backhand rubber:
- Choose a rather bouncy rubber on your backhand side.
- Don’t use very hard (harder than ESN 53 degree) on your backhand
- Don’t use too hard Chinese rubber on your backhand
- Prefer using 2.0 to 2.2 mm thickness. Don’t use max thickness if you are a beginner.
- Don’t use very thin rubber, thinner than 1.8mm on your backhand. It makes you have bad habits for new players.
- Don’t use too soft rubber, softer than 40 degrees on your backhand rubber. Contradictory to many Western coaches, who insist new players play with soft, to very soft rubber on the backhand side. In China, new players begin with medium-hard rubber, and they improve faster! Trust me!
- There are many European (ESN rubber), or Japanese rubber that suits your backhand rubber.
- Best backhand rubbers are in general Japanese table tennis rubbers (Butterfly, Tenergy rubbers).
I will explain to you and give you some best bat combinations in another post.
Search the latest post about rubber guide here: “Table Tennis Best Equipments”.
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