Once you've decided to take your table tennis game seriously, and you're keen to take it to the next level, you're probably ready for your first real competition bat, that allows you to develop your own style, and ensures you're not held back by inferior equipment...
It's important to develop and improve your game with the right equipment. This does not mean going out to buy one of the most expensive blades that professional use, but you will need to spend a little more than your basic 'Kmart special'. You need something that allows you to develop the correct strokes, and that allows rapid development of your game when you put the effort into it. It should never be 'the equipment' that holds back your progress, but at the same time it should be something that offer value for money, and you should not be paying extra for an expensive brand name, especially since you will not notice the difference.
The huge variety of equipment available can be quite overwhelming and confusing, and if you believe the marketing of some of the equipment you'll think that only their bats will make you a world champion! This guide will explain what's really important in choosing the right equipment, and will offer some top choices from OOAK shop, that are not only highly regarded blade and rubber combinations, but also offer excellent value!
Choosing the right blade for your first competition bat is very important. A good competition blade for a developing player must give you good control and feel of the ball, and must be suitable for playing both fast and slow balls, so that you can learn to control the pace of the game. A fast blade makes it much harder to keep the balls short and low, if you can’t do this, you may never get the opportunity to blast the ball past your opponents, which is mainly what fast blades are good for.
Because fast blades make it so easy to generate high pace, you’ll also never learn to generate this pace with your own power and good technique, so you’ll also have to rely on fast equipment to give you this pace. Don’t worry, once you learn the right technique and can generate good power in your game, you can always change to faster equipment to give you more power, and then you’ll be able to generate a lot more power than those players that took a short-cut and started with equipment too fast!
Of course the choice of rubber will effect the overall performance of the bat as well, but once you sacrifice the feel and control of a good all-round blade, no rubber choice can ever bring that back!
So what do you choose? Well don’t be swayed by the marketing materials that some of the retailers or distributors use to promote their brands or products. The most heavily promoted brands or products are often the most over-priced ones, which is not really surprising since the cost of advertising has to come from somewhere!
Most major brands have a good all-round blade which is very suitable for a developing game. It is worth choosing a blade from a major table tennis brands, as it usually only costs a little more, and you’ll get a good quality blade, which is something you can’t always be sure off with the cheaper brands.
Here are a few high quality all-round blades that OOAK shop carries, that have a huge reputation for being among the best all-round blade on the market, but are not overpriced like some of the heavily promoted brands:
Once you’ve choosing a great all-round blade, you’ll need to choose some good rubbers to compliment them. Just like with the choice of blade, a good rubber for a developing competition player must have high control, with good grip so that you can generate high spin with the right technique. It must not be too fast, so that you’ll learn to generate good pace with your own power and good technique.
An All-round to Offensive style rubber is recommended, will allow you to develop an offensive game if this is the style of game you wish to play, but it must also offer enough control to play a defensive style game, which come natural to some players so this should not be discouraged. Once you’ve developed all the basic strokes and techniques, you can start to concentrate more on the style of play you wish to develop further, and not until then should it be decided whether different equipment to suit that style is appropriate.
There are many new hi-tech rubbers on the market that make it a lot easier to generate high spin as well as quick pace, but you must resist choosing those for your first serious competition bat as they do hinder your development. Choosing a good quality all-round to offensive rubber without the hi-tech features inbuilt will help you develop the right technique to generate high spin only when you need it, and good pace when you choose to do so, This will give you much more control of your game, and gives you more options when you need to adapt you game against certain opponents. Even many players in the top grades still use these rubbers, as they offer plenty of speed and spin potential with the right technique, and the control that they need to wins games.
As you develop your game further, you’ll still have the option to change to these hi-tech rubbers if it enhances your game, and you’ll be miles ahead of those that took a short-cut and started with these rubbers.
NOTE: Rubbers do come in several thickness sponges, where the thicker sponges offer more potential for speed and spin at high impact, but the thinner sponges offer much more control and still plenty of speed and spin at any level except perhaps the top level. For a developing player I would recommend a sponge thickness of around 1.8mm to 2.0mm.
So which rubbers do you choose? Well as with the choice of blades, you don’t need to choose from the highly promoted brands to get a top quality rubber suitable for your game, as all major brands have a suitable rubber for that level, and many at much more affordable prices.
Here are a few rubbers from OOAK shop, which are high quality and are recommended by many top coaches worldwide as great high-control offensive rubber, and are not overly high priced like some brands:
Although there are plenty of good choices from the Chinese brands as well, they don’t always offer the same quality or consistency, so you should make sure that the quality and consistency is decent, and you’re not sacrificing this just to save a few dollars.
To make it easier, below are a few blade and rubber combination that OOAK shop have put together, which are of high quality and very suitable for your first competition bat.
Of course there are cheaper options as well, which may not offer quite the same quality or consistency, but will still be a good bat and often a lot better than most bats you find in sports stores, and then at considerably cheaper prices too. Please feel free to contact us for other options, and we'll be happy to offer some further recommendations at the budget of your choice.
NOTE: OOAK Shop will also assemble these bats free of charge, which including cutting and gluing the rubbers, clamping the bat for good adhesion, and edge tape for a neat finish!
The guide above offers some excellent suggestions for developing players, or for players that have been playing for a long time, but are now ready to take table tennis seriously and are ready to improve fast, where the right equipment can make a huge difference.
If you feel you've reached this stage, and you're looking for something more, I would highly recommend you check out our World Class bat combinations from our Avalox range of blades, which covers some of the more advanced requirements for high level players.
If you're requirement is more specialised and you require equipment that compliments your unique style, this is an area that we specialise in, so please feel free to contact us for some expert advice, and we'll be happy to offer some recommendations.
Article and copyright by: haggisv