Table tennis blades, also sometimes called rackets or bats, or table tennis paddles are an essential piece of table tennis equipment. Many people fail to realize that blades come in a variety of types and styles, each of which is designed for a specific style of play.
The blade itself does not include the rubber portion of the racket. Rubbers are sold separately and, much like blades, are available in a variety of types that serve different purposes and are designed for different styles of play.
Choosing the right table tennis blade for you requires a combination of several factors: Are you an offensive or defensive player? Are you a beginner or a more seasoned player? The answers to these questions will play a large part in choosing the right blade, though much of the selection is also a matter of personal preference.
There are many factors that affect blades and how they perform during play. The flexibility (or stiffness) and softness (or hardness) of the blade are major factors when determining how it will react when hitting a ball. These things are influenced most by the materials used to make the blade.
Most Blades are assembled from many then layers of wood bound together. While other materials may be used, they must be at least 85% wood to meet tournament regulations. Many modern blades include layers of carbon fiber or other synthetic materials, making them lighter weight and giving them a larger sweet spot for improved gameplay. However, composite table tennis blades are significantly more expensive.
Blades are generally classified by what type of play they work best with. Some are better for offensive players, some work best with defensive play, and still others are ideal for all-around play.
Beginning players should start with a more basic, inexpensive table tennis blade. Once a personal play style is established, players can purchase new blades that suit the way they play the game.
Aside from the materials used to assemble different table tennis blades, their other distinguishing feature is the shape of the handle. There are several different handle styles to choose from, and which style each player chooses is largely a matter of personal preference.
The most popular handle style is the flared handle. These handles are larger at the base and concave in the center. The second most popular is the anatomic handle, which is also larger at the base but has more of a concave section for ease of gripping. Both of these handle styles offer excellent control.
Handles also come in straight styles, which are round and have no deviation in circumference.
Asian-style penhold handles are also available. These handles are flatter than other styles. The Japanese penhold handle is longer and often has a layer of cork for a more comfortable grip; the Chinese penhold handle is more conical in shape and is shorter than the Japanese variety.