Paddle Palace: Equipment Info

Blade Selection Guide

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In table tennis, the term "Blade" refers to the wood part of the paddle, not including the rubber. When you order a Blade from the Blades Department on our website, it does not include the rubber. If you order from the Combo Specials Department, the Pro Specials Department, or the Pre-Assembled Recreational Paddles Department, rubber is included with the blade.

Blades: Shakehand vs. Penhold:

Shakehand and Penhold are the two basic blade types. If you hold the paddle like you are shaking hands, then you should choose a Shakehand blade. Over 90% of the blades we sell are Shakehand style. If you hold your paddle like you would hold a pen or chopsticks, then you should choose a Penhold blade.

Shakehand Handle Style:

Handle style is a personal decision. The shape and size of the handle that feels best in your hand is what you should use. For shakehand players, flared handles are the most popular, followed by anatomic and straight. The code for flared is FL, straight is ST, anatomic is AN, and conic is CO. STIGA offers two sizes of flared handles, Flared-Large (aka Legend) and Flared-Small (aka Master). In our catalog, the codes for these are FL (lg) and FL (sm). The DONIC Dotec blades have a unique cork handle that is designed for either a left-hander or right-hander. The code is LEFT and RIGHT. NITTAKU offers a few blades with a unique ergonomic handle, ERGO, which is comfortable for using with both a shakehand or penhold grip.

Penhold Style:

There are two styles of penhold blades: Chinese Style and Japanese Style. The Chinese Style is more popular. The Chinese Style normally has a rounded head, similar to a shakehand blade head but often a little smaller. The Chinese-style handle is smaller and shorter than a shakehand handle. The Japanese-style penhold blade has a handle with a protrusion on one or both sides around which the player wraps the index finger. The Japanese-style blade head is often more squarish in shape than the Chinese-style penhold, but it can vary from roundish to squarish, so check the image.

All Chinese-style penhold blades (C) are suitable for putting either one or two rubbers on the blade. Some Japanese-style penhold blades are designed for applying just one rubber (J-1), and some are suitable for applying either one or two rubbers (J-2).

Blade Speed:

The CLASS speed ratings of the blades range from the fastest rating of OFF+ to the slowest rating of DEF-. (OFF means offensive, ALL means allaround, and DEF means defensive). In general, offensive-style players prefer blades ranging from OFF+ to ALL+. Allround players prefer blades ranging from OFF- to ALL-. Defensive players prefer ALL to DEF- blades.

Besides the CLASS ratings, Paddle Palace has a universal number rating system for speed and control so that blades from all the various brands can be compared on the same scale. In basic terms, the faster the speed rating, the farther the ball bounces off of the blade, given an equal amount of force. Keep in mind that generally the faster the blade, the more skill it takes to control it. Also, the rubber applied to the blade makes a huge difference in the speed and control of the paddle. Each player’s skill level, playing style, rubber used, as well as the interaction of those factors, have a large impact on the amount of speed and control that a player experiences. Therefore, the speed and control ratings are only a general tool for choosing a blade, as they are not an inherent quality of the blade.

Blade Weight:

Most blades weigh between 70 and 100 grams before rubber is applied. An average weight is around 86 grams. Some players feel that a heavier blade provides more power but other players would disagree. Some players feel that a lighter blade is quicker, but again, there are varying opinions on this. Remember that power and quickness is not just a function of the blade; it mostly depends upon the skills of the player. Like handle style, the ideal weight of a blade for you is the weight that feels best. The weights listed are average weights for that blade, since individual blades will vary.


The number of plies (wood layers) of a blade normally ranges from one to seven. Five-ply blades are the most common. Over 70% of players use an all-wood blade. There are many blades on the market that add thin plies of materials such as carbon, glass fibre, titanium or kevlar to an otherwise all-wood blade. These non-wood plies may add speed or a different feel to a blade. Some players feel that mixed-ply blades offer a larger sweet spot, and/or possibly result in added control. Whether or not a blade has non-wood plies, every blade has a unique feel, and only by experimenting will you discover what works best for your game. For each blade, we indicate the number and composition of the plies. These are: W=Wood, C=Carbon, G=Glass Fibre, X=Texalium, T=Titanium, U=Aluminum, K=Kevlar, S=Synthetic, A=Arylate, R=Aramid, Z=Zylon

Rubber Selection Guide

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Table tennis sheets come as a square in a sealed package. The rubber is custom-assembled to a blade after the player makes their blade and rubber choices. Paddle Palace will assemble rubber to the blade as a free service upon request. One rubber sheet covers one side of a blade, so a shakehands blade requires two rubbers. ITTF regulations require red rubber on one side and black on the other.

Rubber Types:

There are four main types of rubber sheets: Smooth, Short Pips, Long Pips, and Anti-Topspin.

Smooth: Most players in the modern game of table tennis use smooth rubber, also called “inverted” rubber. The surface of the rubber is smooth with a layer of sponge underneath. Smooth rubber provides the most spin and is used by over 85% of tournament players. Hitters, loopers, all-around players and defensive players all use smooth inverted rubber.

Short Pips: Short pips rubber, also called “pimpled” rubber, has a bumpy surface and usually has a layer of sponge underneath. It is used by players who do not execute a great deal of spin in their game. Some close-to-the-table hitters, all-around players, and defensive players use short pips. Short pips often provide more control for players who have difficulty playing against spin. “Hard rubber” is the term for short pips rubber with no sponge, and it is used primarily for the old-fashioned “Classic” or “Hardbat” play.

Long pips: Long pips rubber has extra-long pips that reverse the spin of the opponent. The unpredictability of the spin from long pips can give the long pips player an advantage over the opponent who has not learned to read the spin. It is difficult to play offensively with long pips, so most players who use long pips only use it on one side.

Anti-Topspin: Anti-Topspin rubber has a smooth surface but does not generate much spin and it is slow in speed. Anti rubber neutralizes the spin of the opponent. Most players who use anti block with it on one side and use a different rubber on the other.

Choosing Rubber:

Speed and Spin: With so many rubber sheets to choose from, how do you choose? The Paddle Palace Rubber Ratings are a good place to start. Look at the speed and spin ratings of the rubber and match one to your playing style. Offensive players who use topspin, drive, loop, and smash usually prefer rubber with a high speed rating, while defensive players who primarily use underspin, chop, push, and block usually prefer slower rubber. Loopers and choppers prefer rubber with a high spin rating. Keep in mind that the faster or spinnier a rubber is, the harder it is to control. Rubber that is spinny also is more affected by the opponents’ spin.

Sponge Thickness: Sponge Thickness affects the speed of the rubber. Thicker sponge provides more speed and somewhat more spin. Thinner sponge provides more control. Thicker sponge adds weight to the paddle, and also gives a more cushioned feeling. Thinner sponge is lighter and gives a woodier feeling. Offensive players prefer 1.8 to 2.5mm. Allround players prefer 1.5 to 2.0mm. Defensive players prefer OX (no sponge) to 1.6mm. Loopers prefer thicker sponge. Choppers prefer thinner sponge. Developing players or players who need more control should choose a sponge thickness that is on the thinner end of the range that fits their playing style.

Pre-Assembled Paddles Department

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Paddles in the "Pre-Assembled Paddles Department" are pre-assembled at the factory and are designed for players who are newer to the sport, or who primarily play recreationally. The characteristics and prices are well-suited for developing players in schools, homes, and recreation centers. The Speed Ratings in this department are on a different scale from the speed ratings in the blade and rubber departments, and are intended only for comparison with other pre-assembled recreational paddles. The pre-assembled paddles are generally slower, impart less spin, and have more control than the pro gear. Choose the pre-assembled paddles with thicker sponge for more speed and spin.

Combo Specials Department

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Combo Specials are a great bargain for professional blades with rubber. Paddle Palace offers a selection of the most popular blades as Combo Specials. The price includes everything you need for a complete paddle. The Shakehand Combo Specials include the shakehand blade and two sheets of rubber. The Penhold Combo Specials include the penhold blade and either one or two rubbers, as indicated. Assembly (cutting and gluing the rubber to the blade) by our expert staff is free, or you can choose to receive it unassembled. We apply free edge tape, and shipping is free to USA for all Combo Specials.

Rubber options for the Combo Specials include all rubbers from the brands STIGA, NITTAKU, TIBHAR, JUIC, DONIC, YASAKA, XIOM, DR NEUBAUER, and HALLMARK. There is no extra charge for any rubber with current price under $50. Over $50 there is an extra charge per sheet, as indicated on our website when ordering.

The Combo Specials department helps you select your complete blade and rubber step-by-step. First you select the blade (and blade handle style), then forehand rubber (and color & sponge thickness), then backhand rubber (and color & sponge thickness). For the rubber, the chart shows any extra charge for the more expensive rubbers.. You will be asked to select YES or NO for "Paddle Assembly".

Paddle Palace Pro Specials Department

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In the Paddle Palace Pro Specials Department, Paddle Palace has selected specific combinations of blades and rubbers, and we are offering them for a great bargain! These blades and rubbers are popular with tournament-calibre players and are well-suited to a wide range of playing styles. All are custom pre-assembled by Paddle Palace with smooth, inverted ITTF-approved rubber with red on one side and black on the other.

We assigned an overall speed and spin rating for each Pro Special blade/rubber combination. These ratings take into consideration the combined characteristics of the blade, rubber, and sponge thickness. The ratings are intended as a tool only for comparing these particular blade/rubber combinations.

Table Selection Guide

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Table Top:   Look for tables with thicker tops. Thicker tops give a more consistent bounce and are less likely to warp after years of use. Tables must be at least 3/4" to meet USATT and ITTF standards, and Paddle Palace recommends tops of at least 3/4". The tables that are used in national and international competition normally have a minimum of 1" tops.

Net Set:   Some tables have net posts permanently attached to the frame ("built-in net sets"). These make setup and takedown a little quicker but may not be as adjustable or sturdy as separate net and posts. It can be easier later on to replace your net or net set if your net set is not built-in. At Paddle Palace, the listed table price includes net set.

Frame:   Look for tables that have larger, sturdier legs and support frames. Sturdier frames contribute to a more consistent ball bounce and also help prevent the top from warpin. If you set up and store your table regularly, a larger frame increases durability.

Wheels:   Larger and stronger wheels are important particularly if you set up and store your table frequently.

Assembly:   Some tables are pre-assembled and others require some assembly.

Quality vs. Price:   Consumers must balance their need for a quality table with their budget restraints. Often it makes sense to purchase a more expensive high-quality table that will have a long life. For some consumers price is the greater concern and they may choose lower price over durability. At Paddle Palace, we only carry the mid-range to high-range quality tables because we want to ensure a high rate of satisfaction from our customers.

Table Shipment:   Click Here for info on Table Shipping