Over time with use and wear, ping pong paddles lose their “stickiness”. Stickiness for a ping pong paddle refers to the amount of grip the rubbers have.
You will know when the stickiness is gone from your paddle when the rubber starts to feel smooth. When your rubber is sticky, your hand will stick to the paddle if you touch it and you will not be able to run your hand through it.
Why should you have a sticky paddle?
There are many benefits to having a sticky paddle. Having the right amount of grip will allow you to generate larger amounts of spin on the ball. This gives you an advantage of playing trickier shots for your opponent to read and return.
Similarly, rubbers that have lost their stickiness will lose their ability to block spin shots from your opponent.
With no grip or stickiness, the smooth rubber can force the ball to slide off your blade. This can have the ball end up in a position that you didn’t intend or it could result in a weak return stroke.
Simply put, a smooth rubber can impact your gameplay and could be the difference between a win or loss.
How to make your paddle sticky
We’ve covered why you should keep your paddles sticky. Now we’ll take a look at different methods of keeping your paddle sticky.
1. Replace the rubber
The most logical method of keeping your rubber sticky is replacing the entire rubber and this will give you the best results.
Better still, you can tailor the type of rubber to your playing style. If you use a lot of defensive spin in your game, there are rubbers that are more suited to that. Similarly, if you’re all about power, you can choose a rubber that compliments your power game.
While this method will produce the best results, it’s likely going to cost you more. While you might be able to find a rubber for as cheap as $5-$10, if you’re going to the effort of replacing your rubber you’re likely going to spend more. Some expensive rubbers can cost around $90 each.
As a rule of thumb, cheaper rubbers will last for around 3 months, whereas more expensive rubbers (around $50) will last much longer. This also depends on how well they are maintained.
2. Using sunflower oil
Another way of adding more stickiness to your rubber is by using sunflower oil.
This is achieved by applying the sunflower oil over the rubber using a paint brush. After you cover the entire rubber, leave it to dry and then repeat the process.
You can continue the process until you get the desired amount of stickiness.
This solution is temporary so the stickiness will not last more than a month with regular play. Yet, it’s easy and cheap enough to apply if required.
3. Clean the paddle
The next method, which is something every player should know, is not just about making your paddle sticky.
Cleaning your paddle has a few benefits, including removing any dust and dirt, but it is also used to rejuvenate the stickiness in the rubbers.
You can clean your paddle by following these steps:
1. Purchase a specific paddle solution
You’ll need a rubber cleaner solution for the job. The right solution can incredibly extend the life and effectiveness of your rubber.
Solutions contain the right mix of substances to preserve the stickiness of your rubber. Some possible options include MightySpin Cleaner or
DO NOT use an alcohol based solution, like methylated spirits. Using alcohol tends to dry out the rubber, which will cause cracks and an unpleasant look.
If you are set on not buying a specific solution, a safe alternative is to use regular dishwashing liquid.
2. Apply the solution
Next you need to apply the solution to the rubber. Don’t use a brush as it tends to damage the rubber.
If you purchase a cleaning solution, they generally come as a kit, so will include a sponge or micro fibre cloth. Either is fine to use.
Apply the solution to the sponge and gently rub the rubber. You don’t want to rub too hard.
3. Dry your paddle
The final step is drying your paddle. The best way to dry it is letting it dry on its own.
Lay your paddle down in a cool, dry place. Don’t leave it in direct sunlight.
Do not wipe your paddle down with a cloth or towel. This will only add dust or debris from the cloth back on to the rubber, reversing the entire cleaning process.
4. Apply a Booster
Some players like to apply a fume free substance called a “booster” to their paddle. This helps temporarily increase the rubber stickiness and can also increase the speed of ball.
The concept of boosting is contentious among the table tennis community and it has not been ruled out as being illegal.
For this method, you’ll require a booster substance, preferably a VOC-free water-based booster like the Falco.
There are different application methods, some players like to apply a glue and a booster. Yet, others only require a booster solution.
Apply the booster solution to the rubber and let it dry. You might notice it will curve in a dome shape, this is normal. After 24 hours, you can then apply a second coat of booster solution.
Some chinese rubbers require a third coat, but for most this is not necessary.
Using a booster will soften your rubber and will generally last a few hours. Some boosters promote lasting for weeks but the effectiveness will wear off over that time.
5. Apply a protective film
After cleaning your paddle, some players decide to add a protective film to the rubber.
A thick film helps protect the rubber from catching any unwanted dust or dirt. It also preserves the sticky coating and prevents the rubber from drying out.
The film is simple to apply. Films, like the Mightspin, normally cover a wider area of the paddle and can be cut to size. After every use, you simply attach the film to the rubber and store it in a paddle case.
When your paddle is in use, it’s important to keep the film hidden, usually in your paddle case. This will prevent any dust from gathering on the film.
How to keep your paddle sticky for longer
Now that you have a few options for increasing your paddle stickiness, here are a few tips on how to keep the rubbers stickier for longer.
Use a cover
As we’ve mentioned a cover is a great way to protect your paddle when its not in use. A cover can help keep it free from dust and dirt, and combined with a film provides great protection for your rubbers.
A cover is easy to use after every game. But more importantly it should become a habit.
Buy a good paddle
Spending a little more up front may save you more dollars in the long run.
A good quality paddle will likely come with a decent set of rubbers. These will be stronger and more durable than anything you might find on cheaper paddles.
If well maintained, using a cover, your rubbers can last for up to a year with heavy hitting.
Maintain your paddle
It’s important to take good care of your paddle. If you decide to spend the money to buy a good quality paddle, you should not forget to do the right things to keep it in good condition.
Your paddle should only be used for playing and definitely don’t lend it to your friends or colleagues.
Your paddle should be stored somewhere in a dry and cool location, away from the sun and definitely not left on the table.
Give it a clean from time to time using our method above. No matter what you do, your paddle will gather dust and get dirty. A clean every so often will do it a world of good and improve your game.
Finally, ensure you also look after your table and keep it well maintained. Having a dirty table will also dirty your paddle with any dust and debris. Read our guide on how to clean your table.