Have you ever wondered whether your ping pong paddle is too thick or not thick enough? The thickness of your paddle can determine what kind of play style you’ll have. Some paddles are better for fast-paced, attacking play styles, while others are better for defensive spin-oriented players. There are also some rules regarding your rubber you should probably take note of.
Your blade can be as thick or thin as you like as long as the surface is even and rigid. The average thickness of a blade is 5-7mm, but this is not a rule. Pimple-out rubbers are limited to 2mm on each side, while sandwich rubbers are limited to 4mm each.
A ping pong paddle doesn’t have to be a specific size. If you were trying to figure out how thick your paddle has to be, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got everything you need to know about how thick your ping pong paddle should be and what rules the ITTF has to regulate ping pong paddles.
In table tennis, three components make up a paddle. They are the handle, the blade, and the rubber. The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has some rules regarding the size and specifications of a table tennis paddle.
The blade runs through the handle, and some argue they are the same. But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to assume that they are different parts that make up the whole.
Ping Pong blades are made of wood for the most part, but there are plenty of blades that make use of other materials, such as carbon fiber, glass fiber, and compressed paper. The blade is the wood that makes up the inner layer of the paddle and gives it shape. It runs from the handle’s base to the paddle face’s tip.
The average number of layers, or the ply, for most paddles, is five or seven. This means that five to seven layers of wood and other materials make up the blade. However, there are rules about the composition of blades that specify how much non-wood material manufacturers can use.
The rules state that the blade must be at least 85% wood. Other materials can take up at most 7.5% of the blade’s thickness or up to 0.35mm (0.014 inches), whichever comes first. The most common blade compositions are 7-ply wood, 5-ply wood, and 5-ply wood with 2-ply carbon.
Pure wooden blades provide less speed than composite blades but allow players to get more spin out of their shots. Players who prefer wood but want slightly more power may opt for the 7-ply pure wood blade, while those who prefer spinning may go for the 5-ply pure wood blade.
There have been advances in the technology of the carbon material that’s used in ping pong blades, and now composite blades can offer players more spin without sacrificing power and speed. Composite blades of 5-ply wood and 2-ply carbon have typically given players more power and speed than wooden blades. They’re typically for players who prefer an attacking play style.
The ITTF actually has no ruling over how thick a ping pong blade can be. The thickness of your blade can also significantly affect your play style. Therefore, if you want to use a 3-inch blade, you’re more than welcome to do so, but handling such a thick blade in a match may be slightly tricky.
Currently, the most effective thickness of a ping pong paddle is between 5-7mm. This is the thickness that manufacturers and players have had the most success with, and paddles within this range are deemed to be the most effective.
The thickness of a blade affects its hardness and stiffness. The thicker your blade, the harder and stiffer your blade is going to be. A blade’s hardness determines how much feedback you’ll receive when hitting the ball. Harder blades are also more stable and are affected by the ball less, so blocking is easier and more controlled, and there is more power behind your shots.
The stiffness of a blade has to do with how rigid your blade is. A stiffer blade moves less than a flexible blade when hitting a ball, providing more power. At the same time, stiffer blades give you less spin as the ball’s dwell time is lower.
Thicker blades are also typically heavier than thinner blades, though this is not iron clad. The benefits of a heavier paddle are the additional power they provide, better blocking and smashing, and an easier time for players to play from further away from the table.
Thinner blades typically have less power but are softer and more flexible. The feedback that thinner blades give players is helpful for learning. Learning, in this case, means giving players an idea of how the opponent is hitting the ball and how the player, in turn, can adjust how they hit the ball.
Of course, feedback is excellent for beginners to help them understand the best way to hit a ball. Many agree that beginners should use a thinner blade to practice the best ways to hit the ball. The feedback from the paddle is helpful, and because thinner paddles have less power, the ball is easier to control for beginners.
Thinner, more flexible blades give players more spin on their shots. The flexibility of the blade lets the ball rest slightly longer on the paddle, giving it a longer dwell time. The longer the dwell time, the more spin you can generate on a ball.
The thickness of your paddle plays a significant role in determining your playstyle. Players with thicker paddles tend to play more offensively because of the extra power and decreased spin capability. This is because the extra power makes blocking and driving the ball easier. Players with thinner paddles tend to be more defensive because they will have an easier time looping and spinning the ball.
The thickness of a ping pong paddle’s handle is also not regulated in any way by the ITTF. If you want to use a 2-inch thick handle, you can. Although, it may be a little tricky to maintain your grip on the paddle unless your hands are extremely large.
Typically, handles have been categorized into four common types. There are straight, flared, anatomic, and penhold handles. Each has advantages and disadvantages for certain play styles, though penhold handles are typically only used for the penhold grip style.
Flared handles get thinner towards the middle and flare out at their tips. They don’t need to be held very tightly, as the flared tips help maintain your grip. They are easier to grip if you have smaller hands but can be uncomfortable if you have larger hands. It’s one of the most common handle styles you can find.
With a flared handle, you can make more powerful swings because you don’t have to worry about the paddle flying out of your hand. The flared handle makes it easy to change grips according to the type of shot you want to play. It best suits players who predominantly use their forehand, stand mid-distance from the table, and prefer looping the ball when playing.
The downside of the flared handle is that it isn’t very forgiving regarding the backhand. Changing to the backhand and adjusting your grip can be pretty awkward due to the handle’s angles. So, the thing that makes it an excellent handle for the forehand is what makes it detrimental to your backhand.
The anatomic handle, otherwise known as the ergonomic handle, has a wavey shape. The top of the handle is narrow and widens out in the middle before narrowing closer to the bottom. It gets wider again at the tip, which is why many confuse it with the flared handle, even though it doesn’t flare. This type of handle is also pretty hard to find, making it a less popular choice than other handles.
The handle style makes it comfortable for some players, but it can also make it pretty uncomfortable for others. Depending on your hand size, the handle may fit like a glove or feel like you’re trying to hold a tennis ball.
Much like the flared handle, the anatomic handle makes it easier to perform powerful shots without worrying about losing your grip on the paddle. When it fits a player’s hand, it gives them a more stable feeling than other handles, which also lets them swing harder.
Unfortunately, the anatomic handle isn’t great for switching between the back and forehand. The handle makes it difficult to adjust your grip in time to make a backhand shot optimally. It also doesn’t allow as much grip adjustment as other handle types.
The straight handle gives players more flexibility in their wrists. The flexibility makes it an excellent choice for players with a balanced backhand and forehand because switching between them is easier. Straight handles don’t flare at the tip and don’t change size midway.
Straight handles are typically thicker than others and suit players with larger hands. They are better for players who predominantly use their backhand, as the flexibility allows them to achieve the right angles. The straight, wider handle also gives the paddle a more balanced feeling, giving players more control.
On the other hand, the straight handle means that players must grip it more tightly to avoid losing their grip. Gripping the handle tighter can reduce the amount of wrist flexibility you have when making shots.
Penhold handles are designed for penhold style players. They are shorter because of the way players hold the paddle. It’s typically a straight handle to provide some stability and wrist flexibility. Flexibility is essential for penhold players, as much of their spin comes from the wrist flick.
You will have noticed that ping pong paddles have a layer of rubber on each side, probably red and black. These rubbers have a lot of effect on how the ball acts when you hit it. Different rubbers give the ball extra spin, make it travel faster, or cause it to go more slowly but with more control. There are two main types of rubber you can apply to your paddle.
The first type is pimple-out rubber that, as the name suggests, has pimples sticking out of it. There are also two types of pimpled rubber – short and long pimples. Short pimple rubbers are excellent for harder hits without much spin, and they’re not affected much by your opponent’s spin.
Long pimpled rubbers are used by defensive players that prefer to spin the ball, as the long pimples can produce unexpected spins and confuse your opponent. This type of rubber is typically used without any sponge between it and the paddle.
The second type of rubber is called sandwich rubber. Sandwich rubber consists of short pimples that face inward toward the paddle and a sponge layer between the rubber and the blade. This sponge cushions some of the force of the ball and trampolines the ball away.
Sandwich rubbers are further divided into two types – tacky and anti-spin rubbers. Anti-spin rubbers are slippery and don’t have any traction when hitting the ball. This can cause the ball to continue spinning the same way your opponent hit it, even if you chop it. It doesn’t provide much power, so it’s used on the backhand side to confuse the opponent.
Adversely, tacky rubbers are incredibly sticky and are the rubbers most used for players who prefer to put spin on the ball. However, there is a catch. Because this rubber is sticky and forces the ball to spin in the same direction as the paddle moves. If you wrongly predict your opponent’s spin, the ball will go in the wrong direction. This means you will have to be able to anticipate the spin on the ball.
The ITTF ruling takes both types of rubber into account. Pimple-out rubbers may not be thicker than 2mm on either side of the blade. On the other hand, sandwich rubber is limited to 4mm on each side of the blade because of the sponge layer.
A couple of factors will determine how thick a ping pong paddle should be. Firstly, there are no regulations on the thickness of a ping pong paddle’s blade. It can be as thick or as thin as you like. There is also no rule about the thickness of a paddle’s handle, so you should choose a size that feels right. The blade thickness that manufacturers and players have had the most success with is 5-7mm.
On the other hand, rubber thickness is regulated by the ITTF, and pimple-out rubbers are limited to 2mm thick on either side, while sandwich rubbers are limited to 4mm each. Putting everything together, the ideal thickness that a ping pong paddle should be is between 9-15mm thick.