Table tennis racket
A table tennis racket (also called a "bat" or "paddle") is used by players in the game of table tennis. The "racket" is usually made from laminated wood covered with rubber on one or two sides depending on the grip of the player. In the USA, the term "paddle" is common, in Europe the term is "bat".
Table tennis regulations allow different surfaces on each side of the racquet. The different types of surfaces provide various levels of spin or speed, or in some cases, nullify spin. For example, a player may have a rubber that provides much spin on one side of his racquet, and no spin on the other side of the racquet. By flipping the racquet in play, different types of returns are possible. To help a player distinguish between different types of rubber used by his opposing player, international rules specify that one side must be red while the other side must be black. The player has the right to inspect his opponent's racquet before a match to see the type of rubber used and what color it is. Despite high speed play and rapid exchanges, a player can see clearly what side of the racquet was used to hit the ball. Current rules state that, unless damaged in play, the racquet cannot be exchanged for another racquet at any time during a match.
The rubber coating may be of pimpled rubber, with the pimples outward, or it may be a rubber that is composed of two materials, a sponge layer, covered by a pimpled rubber, with the pimples pointed inwards or outwards. Some racquets are not covered with rubber at all, because a "naked" racquet is more resistant to a spin. However, it is illegal to use these types of racquet in competition as they are not approved by the ITTF. Some types of rubbers are also not approved. Approved rubbers have the ITTF emblem on the base of the rubber.
Players have many choices and variations in rubber sheets on their racquet. Although a racquet may be purchased with rubber by the manufacturer, most serious tournament players will create a customized racquet. A player selects a blank blade (i.e., a racquet without rubber), based on his or her playing style. The type of wood and synthetic layers used to make up the blade will provide a slower or faster blade. The player can choose from different types of rubber sheets which will provide a certain level of spin, speed and specific playing characteristics.
Glue and gluing
Normally, a sheet of rubber is glued to a blade using various table tennis brand glues such as Butterfly, Donic, DHS, and many more. However, many players have found that it is acceptable to use glue that isn't designed specifically for table tennis, such as Rubber Cement and Tear Mender. The rubber is not removed until it wears out or becomes damaged. In the 1980s, a new technique was developed where the player would use a special glue called speed glue to apply the rubber every time he played. The glue would help provide more spin and speed by providing a "catapult" effect. This technique is known as "regluing" and became a standard technique for top players until speed gluing was banned in 2008.
Racquet construction and new rubber technology (skilled elite players typically select and attach the rubber to their own racquets and glue them before every match) contribute significantly to the amount of deviation from the expected ball flight path. The fairly recent development of speed glue speeds up the departure of the ball from the rubber considerably, though at the cost of some ball control on touch shots where little or no spin is put on the ball. Speed glue was allowed for the last time in the 2008 Summer Olympics. From the 2012 Summer Olympics on speed glue will be banned at the Olympic games.
Maintaining and protection
The surface of a racquet will develop a smooth glossy patina with use. The rubber surface needs to be regularly cleaned to ensure it retains a high friction surface to impart spin to the ball. Players use a commercial cleaner, or just water and detergent as cleaning agents.
The rubbers may get severely harmed by the sun.
- Table tennis bat regulations at sizes.com
- Neimark, Dashiel. "Tear Mender Glue Review". Table-Tennis-Equipment-Review.
- ITTF Bans Speed Glue, Boosters and Tuners - and Much More! By Greg Letts, About.com. Accessed September 2008
- "Table Tennis Information - Equipment maintenance". Webgenix. Retrieved 2007-07-10.