So you’re wondering what the best ping pong paddle is for you? You’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find an honest review of what type of paddles are available, some of the differences you need to look out for and which paddles suit different types of playing style.
This review is targeted at recreational table tennis players as we only cover pre-made paddles. If you’re a professional player, you will not find much use from it as you’ll be customising your paddle.
If you’re time precious and cannot read the entire article, here’s a summary of our recommended paddles.
|STIGA Titan||Beginner / All-round||80||77||82||Check price on Amazon|
|Thunderline 6 star||Beginner / Attacking||88||90||86||Check price on Amazon|
|Palio Master 2||Beginner / Defensive||80||90||80||Check price on Amazon|
|Idoraz Table Tennis Paddle||Intermediate / All-Round||99||93||90||Check price on Amazon|
|STIGA Pro Carbon||Intermediate / Attacking||99||100||80||Check price on Amazon|
|DHS 6-Star Premium Table Tennis Paddle||Intermediate / Defensive||75||85||90||Check price on Amazon|
|Killerspin JET 800||Advanced / Attacking||95||90||80||Check price on Amazon|
|Butterfly 702||Advanced / All-Round||80||85||90||Check price on Amazon|
Ping pong paddle buying guide
The first and most important consideration when buying a ping pong paddle is your skill level.
For recreational players, we use the following levels to categorise playing ability:
- You’re new to the game and are not concerned with style of play.
- Your focus is on getting comfortable with the basic strokes.
- You may have been playing for a few years and won your fair share of games.
- You know the difference between defensive and offensive strokes but still not sure exactly when to play them.
- You’re a regular player that has mastered both defensive and attacking strokes.
- You have a preferred playing style and you may have won a few tournaments against friends or colleagues.
There are two ways a player holds a table tennis paddle – the penhold and shakehand grip. Whatever your preference will influence the type of paddle you will buy.
The Penhold grip is where a player holds the paddle between his thumb and index finger. It’s not a common grip and can be difficult for beginners to use. The paddles are usually smaller with a short, thicker handle.
The shakehand grip is where a player holds the handle in the palm of their hand. This mimics someone shaking hands and is the traditional grip used by most players. Our reviews focus on paddles that are favourable for the shakehand grip.
Components of the paddle
The blade is the inner layer of the paddle which sets its foundation. All the other parts of the paddle connect to the blade, so it has a significant impact on game play. According to ITTF rules, the blade must be made from at least 85% natural wood. Other materials including carbon fibre, glass fibre or compressed paper are also used.
The materials used in the blade help define its density and flexibility. These properties then help determine how the ball will react on impact with the paddle. So we generally define blades in one of three categories:
- Offensive: these blades are stiffer with hard outer plys of wood. They are more suited to offensive players as they increase the amount of speed a player can generate.
- Defensive: these blades use soft and flexible plys of wood. They give the player better ball control and are suited to the defensive player.
- All round: these types of blades use a combination of hard inner plys with softer outer plys. They provide good control with a medium level of speed and suited for most players.
Unlike the ITTF rules for blades, the handle does not have any restrictions. There are a few common types of handle styles outlined below. We recommend trying them all to help decide your own personal preference.
You want to find a handle that is comfortable to hold and provides the right responsiveness to help give you a feel for the impact of the ball.
Flared (concave) handles are the most popular. They follow a shape that is thinner at the top than at the bottom.
Straight handles, as the name suggests, follow a consistent and straight shape. They can either have rounded profile, which would be the majority, or square.
Like the flared handle, Anatomic handles have curves at the top and bottom. Their difference is that they curve outward (like a convex lens) in the middle, which help mould to a players palm.
The rubber is the most recognized feature of a table tennis paddle and almost everyone is familiar with its red and black color. The use of color is an official rule by the ITTF to ensure players see the side of the paddle their opponent is striking the ball.
Rubbers also have the biggest impact on the trajectory of the ball. The right rubber can help a player execute amazing spin shots or flat, fast-paced drives.
The ITTF provide an approval mark for rubbers. So if you’re planning to play in an authorised table tennis tournament you must use an ITTF approved rubber.
The main differences to look out for with rubbers are:
- Sponge thickness: the area between the top-sheet of the rubber and the wood, is called the sponge. They act similar to a trampoline to impact the way the ball bounces off. Sponges can range in thickness from 1mm to 2.5mm. Thicker sponges (between 2-2.5mm) are suitable for more attacking play whereas thinner rubbers (between 1-1.5mm) for defensive players.
- Pimples: no not the ones you might find on your face! Rubbers usually have pips or pimples that can face inward (toward the blade) or outward (the side that connects with the ball).
Simply put, outward facing pimples are suitable for more defensive players. Shorter pimples are useful for players who block and counter attack. Longer pimples are more suited for general defending, especially against spin.
Inverted rubbers (pimples facing inward) hit the ball with the smoother surface. This popular rubber type suits attacking players who use spin, due to a larger contact area with the ball. Players will find it easier to control the ball with this type of rubber.
Manufacturers will almost always provide a self assessed rating of their paddles. Their testing process can vary but they usually provide ratings for the following:
The speed attribute looks at how quickly the ball comes off the paddle. Speed ratings depend on many factors, such as the blade and rubber type, but it is useful when comparing rubbers. Most attacking players focus on generating more speed.
The spin value refers to the amount of ball spin a paddle can generate from a stroke. Spin is not only influenced by the stroke played and the paddle used, but also the speed and spin of the incoming ball.
There are a variety of spin strokes, which suit both attacking and defending styles, such as topspin, backspin and even side spin. It’s good to know your preferred playing style to determine how much spin you need.
The definition of control can vary between manufacturers. Without a standard defined its difficult to use this when comparing paddles. For many manufacturers it refers to the players ability to control the ball with the paddle.
You’re unlikely to see a paddle with high speed, spin and control. But faster rubbers do generally have a lower control rating. Control is a feature that is more associated with defensive players, as they like to control the tempo and direction of their opponent.
If you’re looking for your first ping pong paddle, the STIGA Titan is an excellent choice. As an entry level paddle, it provides great all round attributes and will help beginners start to craft their use of spin and control. It includes ITTF approved inverted rubbers so you can use it at tournaments. The overall construction of the bat feels good, however there is a noticeable difference with the more advanced paddles.
The Titan is one of the lightest paddles on the market weighing in at only 5.6 ounces – with the biggest contributor being the 5-ply extra light balsa wood blade. Other features of the paddle include a 2mm sponge, which slightly favours an attacking player, and a very comfortable flared handle. You’ll easily feel the difference compared with low-end paddles that you’ll find at your local game room!
As for stroke play, the paddle does provide some decent control. You can really feel the ball impact against the paddle which helps direct the ball in your desired direction. It was also useful in practicing spin strokes, especially back and side spin shots. It’s not that effective for top spin however, and for the power the STIGA Titan generates it’s rated higher than it should.
- Light weight
- Good entry level paddle with excellent value
- Provides good feel for ball impact to help with control
- Does not generate a lot of speed, spin or control
Looking for something with a little more zip? Then the Thunderline 6 Star premium paddle is sure to take you up on your challenge. It’s a perfect choice for beginners that have, or would like to improve, their attacking and all round game.
Let’s start with the paddle itself. The construction of the paddle has high quality feel to it and the rubbers appear to be fixed strongly to the blade, so you should be able to get some good use out of it. The blade is made up of 7 ply wood and has a stiff feel. While the ITTF approved rubber and high elastic sponge, both 2.0mm in thickness, really gear the paddle towards attacking power strokes. The weight is slightly higher than the STIGA Titan, however at 6.5 ounces its still a light paddle.
The overall manufacturer characteristics appear true to form, with the Thunderline providing some impressive stroke ability. It often gets reviewed against the STIGA Pro Carbon, which is our recommendation for the intermediate all round paddle, and many players actually prefer this. You can generate some serious speed with the Thunderline and improve your top spin attacking game – both on the backhand and forehand. The ability to defend using chop or block off-spin strokes is little less than described and you might find the STIGA Titan has the slight edge for this.
But overall the Thunderline 6 star premium is a terrific product and our best table tennis racket for beginners with attacking play.
- Great for improving attacking play
- Quality construction and design
- Value for money
- Control is sacrificed against attacking attributes
- Doesn’t generate as much spin as others
The Palio Master 2 comes designed from the UK from a recent collaboration between the top Chinese table tennis brand Palio and the UK-based Expert Table Tennis.
The Palio Master 2 features ITTF approved CJ8000 rubbers which are made for spin. You will notice the rubbers have some tackiness to them which is great for focussing on topspin, backspin and sidespin strokes. From our observation, the sponge thickness appears to be in the mid zone (1.5 to 1.7mm) and is quite soft – making this an ultimate paddle for control. This basically makes it easier for players to return serves with spin and helps keep more balls on the table.
Expert Table Tennis have completely redesigned the blade. It’s made of all wood and appears softer than the other beginner paddles. This gives a decent sweet spot to work on your looping game. It’s a great paddle for beginners who are looking to work on new techniques and learn new strokes.
After a few weeks of playing, we noticed some small gaps appearing in the sponge glue. This may have been isolated to our paddle and is not calls for major concern. However it’s something to keep on eye on.
While it’s priced slightly higher, the Palio Master 2 is one of few entry level paddles that players will notice some major differences to practice their chopping, looping and control game. It receives our recommendation for best ping pong paddle for beginners with a defensive game.
- Excellent for control
- Gives players the chance to work on their spin game
- Helps players make return shots against aggressive opponents
- Construction quality
- More expensive for a beginner paddle
Moving into the intermediate category, our recommendation for the all round paddle comes from a unique company. Idoraz started as a small family business and only sell the one paddle, which is fast becoming a hit among table tennis amateurs.
When you first hold the Idoraz paddle you immediately notice that it is light (weighing only 6.4 ounces) and comfortable to grip compared with some other paddles in this class.
The paddle is equipped with thick (inverted) ITTF approved rubbers. They have a medium level of tackiness which is the company states is specially built to give extra-control over the backspin. Playing both attacking loops and defensive chops felt quite natural. We experienced a decent amount of spin, but the balance and control is what makes this paddle stand out. Boasting a 2mm sponge coating, the Idoraz will help you develop your defensive game as it provides great control against an opponent with both speed and spin.
We also shouldn’t forget about the strong speed that the Idoraz generates. The company has given the paddle a 99 speed rating. While we don’t agree completely, we do highly rate the speed the paddle produces and a rating in the 90s is justified. Both backhand and forehand drives bounced consistently and cleanly off the sweet spot.
The only real negative point that we could pick up on for a paddle in this class is the paddle may not be all that suited for players with larger hands. We found the handle slightly shorter than others and larger hand players may struggle a little.
But aside from this – its an impressive product from Idoraz and receives our best table tennis paddle for intermediate all rounders recommendation.
- Excellent all round paddle with superior control
- Great for practicing both spin and speed game
- Good value for the price
- Shorter handle – may not suit large hand players
- Construction material quality appears lower than others
Table tennis players of all skills would be familiar with the STIGA brand and they are the only manufacturer who have multiple paddles in our recommended list.
Of all the paddles from STIGA, the Pro Carbon is the most popular among amateur players. It’s slightly heavier than a lot of premade paddles, however this blade is considerably lighter when compared to other offensive blades. This is made possible with the blade constructed from 7-Ply ultra light balsa wood. It also features two layers of carbon technology which aims to improve speed and response. Overall, the weight of the paddle is just right for people who are starting to develop an offensive playing style.
The STIGA Pro Carbon uses the Stiga S5 rubber – an ITTF approved inverted rubber with little complexity that is well suited for amateur play. Ultimately, this rubber is made for players who love the flat hitting and smashing power game. It impresses with the amount of control and pace it could generate from both sides of the paddle. The rubber is on the softer side and absorbs vibrations extremely well.
The S5 rubber has some tackiness to it but this does fade rather quickly. You’ll even notice the difference after 8-10 plays. While players can still play a range of decent defensive shots, hitting the ball rather than slicing, the amount of spin you can generate from the rubber is limited and a lot more effort is required to effectively hit shots like flicks or slow loops.
With the Pro Carbon, STIGA have created a comfortable yet powerful weapon for the intermediate attacking player. If you play aggressively, love hitting flat shots and have a need for speed, than this paddle is a great choice.
- Value for money compared to higher priced paddles
- Performance-Level Table Tennis Racket
- Comfortable – light with a long handle.
- Speed: Very fast, bouncy.
- Being an aggressive style paddle the control suffers
- Spin generation is limited
- Average durability of rubbers
After trialling a number of paddles in this category, the DHS 6 star is our pick for a defensive paddle for intermediate level players. DHS, originating from China, is one of the largest and oldest suppliers of table tennis equipment and current official ping pong supplier of the World Table Tennis championships and Olympic Games. So they know a thing or two about creating good gear.
This paddles comes in two sizes and caters for both shakehand grip (6002 model) or the penhold grip (6006). Our review only covers the shakehand version. The 6 star blade is constructed of 5-ply wood which measures at around 5.6 mm in thickness. The overall construction has a high quality look and feel. You get a really large sweet spot area and the vibrations are kept to a minimum when playing all types of strokes.
The blade is covered with soft inverted rubbers – specifically some of DHS’s popular amateur rubbers – the Hurricane 8 for the forehand side and Tinarc for the backhand. We found both of these to be quite tacky, with the Hurricane 8 providing insane amounts of spin than the backhand side. Underneath its fitted with a 1.5 mm sponge and this helps provide that extra bit of control and vibration reduction. Together these features make this a perfect paddle to practice with in becoming a looping legend!
The comfort level of this paddle is arguably the lowest among all our recommendations. While the hand follows a flared design grip the paddle is quite heavy and can does take some getting use to if you normally play with lighter paddles. This can definitely impact reaction time and it really goes down to personal preference.
Overall, the DHS 6 star is a great choice for improving your defensive block and back spin shots, making it our pick for best table tennis racket for intermediate defensive players.
- Amazing for defensive play – especially loop shots
- High level of spin and control
- Quality construction by trusted brand
- Comfort – one of the heavier paddles
- Doesn’t generate much speed
So now to the paddle that the majority of readers would be interested in – the advanced attacking category. The Killerspin JET800 is our recommendation and it will not disappoint. Chicago based company Killerspin, have produced a premium-quality paddle with the serious, attacking-style player in mind.
The JET800 Speed N1 blade consists of 7 layers – 5 layers of premium wood between 2 layers of carbon fibre. This blade was created for flat hitting attacking play. Compared with the Stiga Pro Carbon we found this to generate much more speed, while it also provides a larger sweet spot to help with defending and absorbing hard hitting shots. If you’re switching from cheaper, inferior paddles, the paddle will take some getting use to because of the power it can generate.
The quality of the blade is of a high standard compared with other paddles in the category. It’s also worth noting that the blade is large – again larger than the Stiga Pro Carbon – which definitely helps with returns and defending an opponent’s smash.
The rubbers used on the JET800 are the celebrated Nitrix-4Z inverted ITTF approved rubber. The rubber and blade combine to provide high overall spin on serves and attacking top spin loops. We found the rubbers’ responsiveness and quality to be consistent with other paddles in the Killerspin JET series.
Weighing in at 9.4 ounces, the paddle is on the heavier side which generally suits the attacking player. It also comes with a flared handle providing a comfortable grip for the majority of players. It does come with a slightly shorter handle so for those with extra big hands it may seem a little crammed.
Overall, this is a top quality paddle for players that are looking to enhance their game and move into the pro level. The Killerspin JET800 receives our recommendation for best ping pong paddle for advanced attacking players.
- Quality construction made with high standard materials
- Made for attacking play generating crazy speed
- Large blade with a large sweet spot
- Weight and comfort
- More expensive – big step from intermediate paddles
- Shorter handle
- Average spin for slower defensive shots
Butterfly originated in the1950s and is the popular brand name of parent company Tamasu. Originating from Japan, the brand is a powerhouse in table tennis, creating a range of quality equipment, sponsoring many events and associated with champion players such as Timo Boll. Butterfly have definitely brought this knowledge and quality craftsmanship to the Butterfly 702. It’s an amazing premade paddle and while its intended for the advanced amateur, it would handle quite well in tournament play.
The blade is constructed using 5-ply wood with two reinforcing layers of carbon fiber. This is similar to the Killerspin JET800 and STIGA pro carbon and gives the paddle a really nice sweet spot that you just don’t find in the beginner and intermediate paddles. The outer carbon layers provide the softness against the harder ply wood which make this a cracking all rounder paddle. We found the paddle produced a real ‘zip’ in shot making so the speed was impressive.
It comes with two different ITTF approved inverted rubbers. The Butterfly Wakaba 2.1 (Black) Rubber on the backhand and Flextra 2.1 (Red) Rubber on the forehand. Both rubbers and sponge thickness come to 2.1mm giving this paddle its attacking flair. The Wakaba rubber will produce a little less spin and speed, but is fantastic for defence as it provides a high degree of control. Whereas the Flextra rubber has great all-round characteristics, perfecting the balance of speed and spin for the advanced recreational player. Shots that played really well from this paddle included the forehand and backhand loops, the attacking forehand topspin drive and defensive lobs.
The quality of the paddle can also be found in its comfort. It’s one of the lightest paddles we’ve tested at 6 ounces and with the flared handle design it was great to handle. Another positive is the handle length coming in at just under 4 inches which is a relief for some of the larger handed players.
Overall, this paddle combines quality construction and materials, together with the right balance of comfort and practicality to give it our recommendation for best ping pong paddle for the advanced all round player.
- High quality construction and materials
- Excellent control
- Well balanced for both attack and defence
- High price
- Two different rubbers – uncomfortable for some
A few final thoughts
We hope we’ve helped you with your decision making in selecting a new ping pong paddle. As mentioned upfront its important to select a paddle for your skill level and playing style and we’ve structured our reviews with this in mind to make it easier for you select.
While there are a great range of pre-made paddles, we do recommend these for amateur play only or if you’re playing the odd tournament here and there. Professional players are more advanced in understanding what works for their playing style. For these players, we recommend conducting more research in buying the blade and rubbers separately to be better suited for tournament play.
As more and more products are released we’ll do our our best to continually test as many paddles we can get our hands on, but if you have a paddle that you think should make our list, we’d love to hear from you.