Today, I explain to you how to choose the best table tennis blade. This tutorial is based on my several years of training, playing, and coaching. I also have some occasions to discuss this topic “How to choose the best blade and rubber” with some Chinese coaches.
You will learn:
I will help you choose the right blade and then combine it with the best forehand rubber, and the best backhand rubber. This combination should fit your playing style. If you don’t have time, you can also choose the best competitive paddle (a set of the blade and 2 rubbers) based on the Chinese coaches’ experiences.
Understand the function of a blade
The table tennis racket is made by the blade and the rubbers. The main difference between Chinese philosophy and Western philosophy about the racket is Speed and Spin.
Chinese coach says “The blade should be an extension of your hand”. The blade gives you the feeling, and that’s the blade that will help you “SPIN” the ball.
While some Western coaches emphasize the “Speed” behavior of the blade. So in general, Western players will choose OFF, OFF+ blades to gain speed, and combine with softer rubber. While in China, players prefer OFF- blade, and play with very hard rubbers.
I’ve tried and played with both combinations “Fast blade + Soft rubber” and “Flexible blade + Hard Rubber”. And I can confirm with you, the latter setup will help you “Improve faster!”.
If you are still confused, read my own experiences in coaching young and beginner players!
Here is the full video:
How to choose the best table tennis blade
In all of the equipment in table tennis, I would say the blade is the most important one! You know that the rackets are made by the blade and the rubbers.
The composition of a racket: one blade and 2 rubbers
Table Tennis Blade is the wooden part of the racket.
The blade is considered the soul of your playing style. Defender, Allround, Offensive players choose a different type of blade.
Choosing the right blade is crucial in table tennis because the blade decides:
- 80% of your playing style. Rubber decides only 20%
- give you the best feeling when you touch the ball
- give you the ability to spin, or to accelerate the speed of your shots (due to dwell-time)
- provide the kick effect (the first speed of the bounce) based on the stiffness of the outer layer
- the main power for your shots when you play far from the table
Liu Guoliang once said:
“Table tennis blade should be an extend of your hand“, said by Chinese National Team Head coach
That’s the reason that you should focus on your blade! Choose the highest quality possible!
So if you can investigate 120$ for your racket, spend about 80$ for the blade, and 20$ for the rubber (2 sides cost 40$).
What is a high-quality table tennis blade?
The high-quality blade is not cheap like the mass production one. It’s a premium quality professional bat made by an experienced maker.
The best table tennis blade offers more spin and crisper feeling during ball contact.
It is the key to increasing your potential of winning. So focus on the quality blade which matches your playing style.
Remember, a good racket can make the same spin with a shorter stroke than the low-quality racket.
Butterfly Viscaria (Read review/ check price 1/ price 2) is considered one of the very good blades in table tennis. It provides a good balance between “Speed”, and “Spin”. The “spin” quality is good. (This is the word of Zhang Jike during an interview).
While Butterfly racket has a huge market in the US, and Europe (because they are faster, and harder). Stiga racket is preferred in China. Many top provincial Chinese players use the Stiga Clipper (check price), or Stiga Infinity VPS (custom handle) (read review/ check price 1/ check price 2).
Important! The handle choice is also very important. You should read this article to understand why top Chinese players prefer larger (custom size) Flared handles.
There are many reasons:
- The good relationship between Stiga and the Chinese National Team
- Stiga racket is in general cheaper than Butterfly blade
- Chinese players prefer the “good old day of feeling” from Stiga blade
- Stiga racket is somehow more flexible than Butterfly blade
- Stiga racket in general used “Ayous” outer-plie. While Butterfly prefers using “Koto outer-plie”.
But nowadays, with the “New Trends In Table Tennis”, players tend to play with the harder, and faster racket to deal with the plastic ball. Search on my site “New Trends” to learn about this modern tendency in table tennis.
If you want to keep one racket from the beginning to a very high level, you can stick with the Stiga racket.
- Chinese Rubber vs European Rubber
- The Truth about Chinese Rubbers | Ma Long Forehand Rubber
- DHS Hurricane 3 Rubber: Boosted or Not?
What are the characteristics of a good blade?
Yes, we want the highest quality blade! But how to know which one has the top-notch quality. There are many things about a good blade, I will make a PingSunday video and explain it on my YouTube channel.
A good, high-quality table tennis blade must have these typical features:
- High quality and old wood
- Clear vibration, and good flexibility
- Strong power on the blade
- Good weight distribution between the handle and the head
Many things that I want to explain to you the “art of table tennis blade making”. But I need time. I will share and explain to you all of this when I have free time.
All wood blade vs carbon blade
In modern table tennis, professionals prefer a faster and harder blade. With the new ball, players get harder to impact the spin to the ball. Harimoto Tomokazu also confirmed that playing with a more flexible racket gives him confidence. So what is the wise choice here?
- All wood blade is thin (thinner than 6.0 mm) and flexible, a must for beginner players. It provides feeling and flexibility. Some amateur players made the wrong choice. They have picked a very fast carbon blade. And this ruined their early development stage in their ping-pong career. Even some top players like Xu Xin, prefer sticking with all wood players. To increase the speed, you can choose the 5+2 composition blade (5 layers of wood and 2 layers of ALC).
- The carbon blade is hard and stiff. It’s not good for beginners. The hardness eliminates the feeling of the service and service return. The stiffness reduces the good vibration of your hand. All of these pieces of information are crucial to new players (to learn the techniques). Use only a carbon blade if you are an advanced player, and your playing style is more close-to-table hitters.
- At present, composition blades (5+2) are the most popular not only for the amateur level but also among top professional players.
Difference between hardness and stiffness
They are not the same. New players often confront these 2 terms.
- Hardness is the feeling of the outer ply of your blade. It depends on the hardness of the outer ply of your blade. The soft outer layer will give a softer feeling.
- While stiffness depends on the composition, the thickness of the blade. The stiff blade doesn’t have vibrations. The carbon blade is stiff. And stiffness is the opposite of flexibility. The stiff blade is less flexible and inversely, the flexible blade is less stiff.
Top 10 professional table tennis blade
There are many good table tennis blades out there. All of these rackets share the same properties: Sharp feeling, clear vibration, and power! In general, there are some very good brands like Butterfly, Stiga, Double Happiness, Nittaku, Darker, OSP, Tibhar, Yasaka, and Donic. This list is not exclusive! You should consider it as the reference for the very good blades for a serious table tennis player!
- Butterfly Viscaria
- Butterfly Timo Boll Spirit
- DHS Hurricane Long 5
- Butterfly Primorac
- Darker Speed 90
- Nittaku Acoustic
- Stiga Clipper/ Carbonado
- Tibhar Stratus Power Wood
- Stiga Offensive Classic
- Yasaka Ma Lin Carbon
1. Butterfly Viscaria
- Weight 90g
- Thickness: 5.8mm
- Plies: 7 (5 wood plies; 2 Arylate-carbon)
- Composition: Koto, ALC, Limba, Kiri, Limba, ALC, Koto
- Fit well: with Tenergy rubbers
- Playing style: topspin counter-attack style close to mid. Very strong on backhand attack
Viscaria (read review/ price 1/ price 2) is no doubt one of the most famous blades of all time. It’s popularized by the 4th Grand Slam player Zhang Jike. This blade is very all-round. Fast, spinny, and very good for the backhand flick, and backhand topspin attack. I wouldn’t recommend this blade is if you are a beginner still learning the basic strokes. You would be better with a classic 5 plies wood like a Nittaku Acoustic or Violin. This is an all-time classic blade for offensive players!
2. Butterfly Timo Boll Spirit
- Plies: 5W+2ALC
- Thickness: 5.8mm
- Head Size: (Medium size) 157x150mm
- Weight: 87-93g
- Composition: koto 0.5mm – ALC 0.25mm – limba 0.5mm – Kiri 3.2mm – limba – ALC – koto
- Fit well: ESN, Tenergy rubbers
- Playing style: topspin attack style close to mid. Balanced for both backhand and forehand.
Timo Boll Spirit (Read reviews/ FL handle/ ST handle) is supported by Timo Boll. It’s great for the European looping style of play. The blade has a good balance of speed and control. An overwhelming choice by many Butterfly-sponsored players.
Note: Timo Boll is using the ST handle blade. While most Chinese players play the Timo Boll Spirit FL handle.
If your level is the intermediate level player to a national level, then this blade is for you. One of the best all-round blades in table tennis.
But if you found this blade is slow, then you can try Timo Boll ZLC (check price) or Zhang Jike ZLC (more info). Looping on both sides has a lot of control! When combined with ESN rubbers, or Tenergy rubbers, the racket creates a heavy spin. This is a blade made for the playing style close to mid-distance.
3. DHS Hurricane Long 5 – Looping Machine
- Weight 90-92g
- Plies 5+2
- Thickness 5.7-5.9 mm
- Composition: limba-ayous-arylate-ayous-arylate-ayous-limba
- Head size: Medium-Large 158 mm x 150 mm
- Fit well with hard Chinese rubber on Forehand, ESN rubber on the backhand
- Playing style: looping style mid to far. Favorite by forehand dominant player.
Hurricane Long 5 (Check price/ Read reviews) is a looping machine. It is fast but has excellent control! A good amount of flexibility makes easy to “spin” and “feel” the ball. Combined very well with hard rubber on Forehand H3NEO 40 degree, or Gold Arc 8 47-50 hardness). This blade is for looping style because it has a good dwell time and large head size.
The biggest disadvantage of this blade is that it is really heavy and when you put 2 hard rubbers it goes around 200 grams. This blade is more for professional players, if you are new to the sport I don’t recommend it.
4. Butterfly Primorac
- Plies: 5 wood layers
- Thickness: 5.5mm
- Made in: Japan
- Weight: 88g-91g
- Composition: limba-limba-ayous-limba-limba
- Fit well with Chinese rubbers
Primorac (Check price/ Read review) is one of Butterfly’s overall best-selling shakehand blades. This blade provides a good feel and control. It is an excellent all-round offensive blade. It’s the best-selling Butterfly blade for a reason – very well balanced – it’s 90g, very comfortable handle, good control, good speed, the feeling is pleasing. One of the best all-wood blades right now!
However, for the new ball, you can consider the Primorac Carbon (review/ check price). This is a 5-Plies blade (3 Wood + 2 Composite). The composition exact is: (Hinoki 1.2mm, Tamca 0.25 mm, Kiri Core 4mm, Tamca 0.25 mm, Hinoki 1.2mm).
- Plies: 3 Wood layers + 2 Composite
- Thickness: 6.9mm
- Made in: Japan
- Weight: 88g-91g
- Composition: cypress – carbon laminate – Kiri – carbon laminate – cypress
- Fit well with Chinese rubbers on FH, ESN rubbers on BH
- Dimension: 157mm x 150mm
5. Nittaku Acoustic
- Weight 85g
- Speed: OFF-
- Plies 5
- Thickness 5.7mm
- Composition: Limba Limba Tung Limba Limba
The Nittaku Acoustic (check price/ read review) is an amazing 5 Ply Offensive blade with Limba outer layers. It has an amazing feel with a very clear vibration. One of the old blades used by Ma Long. Power and speed are very good for an all-wood blade. The main strength is the feel and consistency. Great for developing players and advanced players. Very high build quality by Nittaku.
This blade is #1! If you have one, keep it as a gem. It’s a unique feeling, control is wonderful!
6. Darker Speed 90
- Composition: 1-ply Kiso Hinoki 9mm
- Weight 82g ~ 100g
- Dimensions: ~ 158 x 150mm
- Thickness: 9mm
- Suitable for strong offensive topspin attack
- Speed: OFF to OFF+
- Fit well with ESN and Japanese rubbers
Nothing can replace the feeling that you get from a Darker Speed 90 in your hand. This blade is highly dynamic, offering great touch and slow speed at low impact and huge power with a high spin at high impact. The optimized thickness and shape provide a highly stable blade with the largest sweet spot. If you don’t like vibration, Darker Speed is for you! It gives virtually zero vibrations.
7. Stiga Clipper
- Rating: OFF
- Thickness: 6.6mm
- Weight: 95g
- Construction: 7-Ply
- Composition: limba-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-ayous-limba
- Fit very well with Chinese rubber on Forehand, Tenergy rubber on the backhand
Stiga Clipper (Master FL handle, Champ Handle, CPen Chinese Penhold / read review) is a legend, used by many Chinese players. This blade is very popular in Asia. Used by Liu Guoliang, this blade is for players who want an all-wood blade without sacrificing speed and power. Even in the modern plastic ball era, this blade is fast enough to compete with other offensive class carbon blades.
For the new poly ball, you can play with Stiga Clipper CR. Used by Gao Ning and several Chinese provincial team members.
8. Tibhar Stratus Power Wood
- Weight 85-90g
- Speed: OFF to OFF-
- Plies 5
- Thickness: 6.2 mm
- Composition: Limba-Limba-Ayous-Limba-Limba
- Good dwell = good power, good short game
- Fit very well with ESN medium hardness
- FH: Donic Barracuda, Xiom Vega Asia
- BH: Donic Barracuda, and other good ESN rubbers
Pair Stratus Power (Check price/ more info) with medium-hard tensors and it will make miracles for you. This is the most balanced blade. Its main strength is the control and spin ability. Very good for European, 2 wings looper style. There are few blades as consistent and reliable as this one.
9. Stiga Offensive Classic
- Speed: ALL to ALL+
- Thickness: 5.1mm
- Weight: 85g
- Construction: 5-Ply
- Composition: koto-spruce-ayous-spruce-koto
- Fit well with Chinese on forehand 729 Friendship Focus 3 or DHS Hurricane 2) and Stiga Mantra M on the backhand.
The Stiga Allround Classic (check price/ read reviews) is a truly classic blade. The best choice for all levels. Strokes of all kinds can be executed with precision and quality. High-quality spinny loop, high arc attack, and spinny serve! The best all-round ALL blade! Suite well for beginners and intermediate players! Very balanced blade! Very spinny, good vibration!
I think a lot of people complain about the lack of speed but I don’t think that’s really a problem. It’s all about the techniques!
10. Yasaka Ma Lin Extra
- Number of Layers: 5 Wood
- weights: 88-90g
- Blade Type: OFF
- thickness: 6mm
- composition: walnut-spruce-ayous-spruce-walnut
- fit very well with 2 Mark V on both sides
Yasaka Ma Lin Extra Offensive (check price/ read review) is a fast blade with good speed and a large sweet spot. Many players in my club play with this blade. I’ve also tested it. Very good control, and spin. It’s light also. If you want a good and light blade, which is easy to flick, to drop shot, backhand smash, this blade is for you. However, far from away from the table, it lacks a bit of power. I recommend this blade for new players, to intermediate players.
The center veneer is a little bit thicker and harder, which gives additional power. One of the best 5 plies blades! Not very stiff, well balanced. Suitable for close and play away from the table, for both celluloid 40 and new plastic 40+ ball. Its Stiffness allows for stable passive blocking. Solid quality blade. Great for looping close and mid-distance. The CPEN version is also very good.
I recommend you upgrade Ma Lin Extra Offensive to the Ma Lin Soft Carbon (which is faster) for the new plastic ball. This is the blade of Mattias Falck.
MA LIN SOFT CARBON (Ply: 7 (5+2) Weight: 89 g) has the same outer veneer as the famous Ma Lin EXTRA blade. Its medium-soft characteristics are appreciated by players who want an increased ball feel. It’s a little bit faster than the Ma Lin Extra due to 7 plies. In SOFT CARBON Yasaka is using a special, very thin Carbon fiber to improve the speed and enlarge the Sweet-spot.
Together with the thicker wooden middle core, it gives good power. The combination of the “power part” (carbon+thicker middle veneer) and the softer outer veneer makes Ma Lin SOFT CARBON the perfect choice for power players who need a good ball feel for best performance.
- Top 10 rubbers for backhand
- Table tennis blades by brands
- Official website of table tennis manufacturers
You should read
Coach EmRatThich was born in Hanoi, Vietnam in 1983. He started playing table tennis at the age of 8. After finishing his Ph.D. in Paris, University Pierre Marie Curie (Sorbonne University) in 2011, he is now a table tennis coach in a small club in France (about 153 players). Interested in table tennis coaching for a global audience, he founded pingsunday.com, one of the best online coaching programs for table tennis players. Using the Chinese coaching philosophy, his table tennis lessons are free, which allows many table tennis players to improve fast. He can speak English, French, Vietnamese, and a little bit of Chinese.