Table Tennis Rubber Guide
Are you a little overwhelmed by all the rubber and blade choices? Confused about the rating or terminology? This guide should help you learn some of the terminology, and give you some suggestions on the equipment that might suit you. Although correct technique and practice is far more important than equipment for improving your game, you do need to select equipment appropriate for your level and style, so that it helps you develop your game, instead of stalling it. This guide is by no means complete, but should help you learn the basics, so that you can make a more informed choice.
1. Rubber types and terminology
Inverted rubbers (also commonly referred to as 'Reverse rubber' or 'Smooth rubber' as it's smooth on the outside), is currently the most common used rubber, used by powerful attackers through to talented defenders. This rubber's versatility allows an extensive variety of stroke play. Offensive rubbers generate high levels of speed for powerful strokes and high spin, All-round rubbers generally have more control allowing you to play both an offensive and defensive style game, whilst Defensive rubbers are generally the slowest, allowing you to generate or manipulate the spin and control the pace of the game. 'Glue Effect rubbers' are a special type, generally for the more offensive style players, where tension is built into the rubber to give it extra speed (and sometimes extra spin) and a different feel, although these are generally not recommended for beginner or developing players.
Inverted rubbers have a topsheet (smooth black surface pictured) and a sponge (yellow surface which attached to the blade), and are usually sold glued together already.
Anti-Spin rubbers are a special kind of inverted rubbers that have a high immunity to spin, and are generally very slow, allowing you to control the pace of the game, and take most of the spin out of the game. It can also be useful for people that have a lot of trouble against spin.
The final type of rubber are Pimple Rubbers (pictured on the right), the name referring to the pimples on the outside of the rubber, instead of the smooth surface of the inverted rubbers (which have the pimples facing inside). These types of rubbers are generally used to control or manipulate the spin in the game. Short pimple rubbers (also commonly referred to as 'short pips'), realises the fastest possible ball speed close to and over the table. They are most suitable for direct over the table hard hitting and quick speed - blocking where the generation of spin is less important. They generate less spin, but are also less sensitive to spin. They are popular with defensive, or combination bat players (player with very different types of rubbers on either side on the bat) who are capable of changing the rhythm of defense into attack.
Long pimples rubbers, are primarily used to control incoming spin, making it easier to manipulate the spin by either returning the opponent's spin, or changing it when you return the ball. These rubbers are generally quite slow as well, allowing to change and control the pace of the ball as well. Compared to anti-spin rubbers, long pimples are generally take a little more adjustments to control the ball, but have more ability to manipulate the spin which makes them more dangerous. Medium pimple rubbers are somewhere between long and short pimples, having more offensive potential but not quite the slow pace and spin manipulation ability compared to long pimples.
2. Rubber ratings and sponge thickness/hardness
Rubber are usually rated according to Speed, Spin and Control, and can sometimes be chosen in a few options of Sponge Thickness and Sponge Hardness.
3. Chinese versus Japanese/Euro style rubbers
Some people think that the higher-priced Japanese or Euro rubbers are always the better choice, since the more expensive ones must be better. Although these rubbers are generally of better quality, a Chinese rubber may be a better choice for your style of game, regardless of the price differences. The most common combination of rubbers for the Chinese National players (who have dominated the top 10 for the last decade or so) is a hard tacky Chinese rubber on the forehand, and a softer Euro/Japanese rubber on the backhand, so this clearly illustrates that both types of rubber have a place in table tennis.
In general (and there are now many exceptions) Chinese rubbers have a tacky (sticky) topsheet with a harder sponge, whereas Japanese/Euro style rubbers have a grippy (but not sticky) topsheet, with a softer and more lively sponge. The difference between the two have become more fuzzy in recent years, as the Chinese have stepped up their quality and have also added new rubbers to their range, which are much closer to the Euro/Japanese style ones. Similarly the Euro/Japanese now make some Chinese style rubbers, as they realise there is a demand for them.
Generally speaking the main difference between the 2 types of rubber is that the tacky surface of most Chinese rubbers makes it easier to generate high spin for serves and pushes, and the slower sponge gives better control in the short game. The grippy surface and more lively sponge of the Euro/Japanese rubbers make it easier to generate pace and the softer sponge allows you to ‘feel’ the ball better. Looping with these rubbers takes less effort and can be done with a more compact stroke, whereas Chinese style rubbers reward a bigger and more powerful stroke. Which rubber suits you better depends very much on your style, level and what rubbers you’re used to.
4. Rubber + Blade recommendations
OOAK shop carries a wide range of rubbers and blades from many brands, and although we don't carry everything, we're quite sure we'll always have something to suit your style and needs. Below are some rubber recommendations that are commonly asked about, along with the reasons we recommend them. Of course there are many options for every style, and if you need more advice, feel free to contact us for a chat. Note that everyone perceives how a rubber plays a little differently, depending very much on your style and previous rubber experiences, so use the recommendations below as a guide only.
A) Good quality and performance at a budget price
(1) Defensive style - The classic 729 FX rubber with a thin sponge (1.0mm or 1.5mm) offers great control, high spin and still some offensive potential. For super defensive, combine with the LKT Toxic 3 blade, or for something a bit ore all-round, try the LKT Instinct or the Blackwhirlwind and you've got a great defensive setup at a low price.
(2) All-Round style - The 729 FX Lightening offer good all-round potential at a low price. Combine this with a Galaxy N-10 blade or a 729 Bomb blade, and you've got good offensive potential but enough control to play defensive strokes with high control.
(3) Offensive style - For a fast offensive game at a low price, it's hard to beat the Gambler Outlaw or the Hurricane 3 Neo, as they're among the fastest Chinese rubbers around. Combine this with the 729 Bomb blade, and you've got a fast and high quality combination at a great price.
B) Price is not as important as performance, I want the best!
As I'm sure that many of you know already, there is no such thing as the best bat... the best bat is the one that suits your style and level best. There is certainly difference in quality though, so the recommendations below are for highest quality products, for the styles described:
(1) Defensive style - For choppers the TSP Triple Power Chop Sponge offers outstanding control and spin abilities. For those that like to chop but also like to mix in some blocks and occasional spinny loops or hits, the Donic Desto F3 Big Slam or the Vario Big Slam both in 1.8mm offer great chopping ability with some good offensive potential too. Combine this with a top quality defensive blade such as the the TSP Yanagi Alpha or the unique JUIC Bamboo Chop Shot and you've got a top quality defensive setup.
(2) All-Round style - There aren't that many rubbers classed as 'all-round, but many offensive rubbers, used with a thinner sponge are excellent all-round rubbers. For example the JUIC NanoCannon or JUIC Nano Spin 2.0mm or Donic Coppa 1.8mmm on a JUIC Hybrid Carbon or Donic Walner AllPlay blade makes a top quality all-round bat (although leaning towards to more offensive).
(3) Offensive style - If you want great speed but still good feel and control,
it's hard to go past the
Darker Hinoki blades, which are made of the highest quality materials but
among of the Japanese Master blade makers. Particularly the 1-ply blade like the
Darker Speed 90 will give huge speed while still offering some dwell for
spin and control. The types of blades tend to combine well with softer tensioned
rubber, particularly with thinner sponge (like 2.0mm) as maximises the feel and
control of the blade, while giving it plenty of spin potential. Something like
Donic Acuda S2 or the
JUIC Air Condle would combine very well.
C) I want MAXIMUM SPEED, with as much spin potential as possible
(1) Close to the table - Balsa blades are great for this, as they offer good control when you hit the ball softly, but huge speed when you apply only a little effort! Blades like the TSP Balsaplus 8.5 and the JUIC Air Titan are fairly light weight but offer huge speed in close. Although this blade will feel fast with most rubbers, a short pimple rubber like TSP Spectol 1.8mm or 729 802-40 1.5mm works great for flat hits and is very insensitive to spin. If you need more spin, a tacky rubber like 729 Geospin tacky 1.5mm will work very well as well.
(2) Long distance - If you want high speed potential as well as good spin for fast powerlooping, the 1-ply blades like the Darker Speed 90 combined with a fast rubber like the Coppa X1 Platin Turbo or the JUIC Air Condle would be hard to beat, but we won't be responsible for the holes you punch into your opponents! For something still powerful but a bit easier to control would be the Avalox P700 blade with similar rubbers. For a more hitting rather than power looping style consider the Galaxy T-1 blade combined with a Coppa X3 Silver for great hitting power, while still being able to produce high spin loops at lower speeds.
D) I want to trick players with deception and tactics, rather than raw power or spin
(1) Close to the table - A long pimple rubber on one side, combined with a spinny rubber on the other tends to make one of the trickiest combinations you can find. The Re-Impact blades offer the among the best for this style of game, as they are light weight (aids quick movement), one side significantly slower than the other (greatly improved control of pace) and are optimised for long pimple rubbers. Although these blades are a little more expensive, they are hand-made in Germany, and offer something truly unique. Combine the famous Re-Impact Tachi blade with a long pimple such as Giant Dragon Meteorite (in OX) or a Palio CK531A and a soft Tensor like Donic F3 Big Slam 1.8mm on the other side for spin and hitting power and you've got one of the most deceptive combination you can find (with the right technique of course!).
(2) Away from the table - A long pimple (with sponge) that has high control against loops and great potential to vary and even generate some spin, would be great for chopping away from the table, and as the TSP Curl P-1R is the most common choice even at elite levels! Using 0.6mm sponge will give you more control, 1.0mm or 1.5mm will sllow more variation and the ability to generate spin. For a more defensive style, the TSP Yanagi Alpha would be a top choice, or for a bit more offensive power, try the TSP Toccata Carbon. Combine this with a Powerful and spinny forehand rubber, like the TSP Triple Power Offensive Sponge and you can chop with good control and high spin, but attack fast and spinny when the opportunity arises.
E) I block/hit/punch on the backhand but I'm a fast powerlooping on the
F) I need the ideal blade for looping
G) I can't handle spin, what equipment will help me cope?
(1) inverted rubbers less sensitive to spin - Something like Donic Coppa, JUIC Driva Smash Ultima or good old Yasaka Mark V are non-tacky and relatively insensitive to spin, even though you can still generate good spin with them. For a cheaper Chinese option you could consider the 729 Focus 3 Snipe.
(2) Antispin or pimple rubbers - The JUIC Anti Super Spin or the JUIC Neo Anti are excellent choices, as they are insensitive to spin, take the pace off the ball, easy to use, and they tend to take the spin off the ball, which often troubles the opponent as they don't expect this. Long pimple rubbers are a little trickier to use, but are also trickier for your opponent as they return some of the spin back to them. Giant Long or CCT National Pogo are among the easier ones to use, and are very effective. For maximum effect use them without sponge (called OX) or choose the thinnest sponge option for good control and easier to use (if you come from inverted).
(H) I have an injury or disability, I need a very light bat with light
(I) I'm a developing player, and need a quality bat with a good balance of speed, spin and control that won't hold me back.
(J) I want an ultra fast bat for power drive and smashes
(K) I want a bat for maximum spin
(L) I want a really light setup
(M) I want good quality and long lasting rubbers
(N) I want something similar to the old classic rubbers like Sriver / Mark V
(O) I want a very tricky setup to trick my opponents