Whether you play at the professional level or you’re totally new to the game, you probably know that sometimes in the world of ping pong (table tennis), how you perform comes down to your equipment as well as your skill level. Having one of the best ping pong paddles might not automatically make you the best player in the world, but it should improve your game quite a bit.
The same is true in a lot of sports–pro tennis players use great rackets, and you don’t see American football players in leather helmets any more. However, with ping pong paddles especially, because of the sharp angles involved, the importance of spin, and the variety of different levels of force the best players use to hit the ball, the equipment is absolutely crucial.
Of course, it can be hard to find a high quality table tennis racket that fits your playing style and your budget. That’s why I’ve compiled this in depth look at five of the best ping pong paddles on the market today, and also included some tips and tricks to help you get the best paddle to meet your needs.
Before we get to those product reviews, let’s talk about the basics–and how a better understanding of the ways in which ping pong paddles are constructed and used can help you save time and money by getting the right ping pong paddle for your style and level of play the first time.
The Blade and the Rubber
The best ping pong paddles are made by combining a high quality blade with a high quality rubber. While it may not be easy to tell which paddle is better than another simply by looking at them, understanding these two key components that determine how a given paddle functions will help you determine a given product’s relative quality.
The blade of a ping pong paddle is the actual wooden part of the playing surface. When you’re actually playing, the blade will be concealed by the rubber, which is the (usually rubber, hence the name) covering on the outside of the blade that actually makes contact with the ball.
The rubber’s depth and the type of rubber that is used will determine how the ball bounces off the paddle, which can help you moderate how much force you need to use to make the ball behave in a particular way. To put it in the simplest terms possible, the rubbers of the best ping pong paddles determine how “bouncy” the paddles are in play.
The blade is also very important. It has a little bit of effect on the level of bounciness, because of the types of wood that are used and how those pieces of wood are layered and put together. However, its primary influence on the game arises from its shape.
Blades are rated for how well they offer speed and how much control they give you over the ball. Many players who are just starting out prefer a balance of speed and control, and some top tier professionals do as well. On the other hand, some players with much more specialized playing styles prefer the blade to offer either more speed or more control, depending on how they like to play the game.
The quality of the blade and rubber also determine the paddle’s durability. The rubber especially plays a large role in protecting the blade.
Other Important Features: Handles, Side Tape, and More!
While it’s generally the best blades and rubbers that makes the best ping pong paddles, those are far from the only components that matter. The handles and side tape also play a huge role in both how good a given paddle is generally speaking and how well it will suit your play style.
The side tape covers the sides of the table tennis racket’s blade, while the rubber covers the front and back. Of course, the front or back is the primary striking surface, but the side tape still plays a highly important role in holding everything together. Its main effect is on the durability of your racket.
However, there is some debate about the best materials to use to make side tape, and some will argue that a more pliant material gives your ping pong paddle a bit more bounce, just as springy woods and rubbers give your paddle some of that same springiness.
Of course, the handles also play a huge role in how a racket feels in your hand and how versatile it is. Some players, for example, prefer flared handles, while others do not. There are also handles available in a wide variety of materials.
While the handles don’t generally have quite as much of an actual, measurable effect on play as the blade and rubber, it’s still important to have handles that feel good in your hand and enhance, rather than hurt, the overall durability of your ping pong paddle as a whole.
While I don’t have as strong opinions on handles as I do on blades and rubbers, there are two things that are absolutely vital to look for in a handle:
- It must fit in your hand comfortably, allowing for movement if necessary but never slipping out of your hand.
- Additionally, and maybe even more importantly, it should be made of high quality materials, and not simply slapped together as an afterthought after all the effort was put into the blade and rubber.
Even when it comes to handles, it’s not just about the handle itself. The grip is also important to the feel of a given ping pong racket. Just as the blade and rubber work together to achieve a desired effect, so too do the handle and the grip.
Again, most of this comes down to personal preference. Most players in the current time prefer rubberized grips, as they are a bit more pliant and comfortable (especially over the course of very long matches), but there are still plenty of players who use grip tape too.
Just as with the handles themselves, choosing a grip mostly comes down to personal preference, and you need to consider both the way you grip the racket and the way the grip contributes to the overall durability of your ping pong paddle in order to get the right grip for you.
Caring for Your Ping Pong Paddle
Before I move on to the product reviews, I do want to say a few words about caring for your ping pong paddle. While this isn’t going to be a full user’s guide regarding maintenance of the paddle–I’d have to write a whole different article for that–I’ll go over the most important things now.
First and foremost is keeping your paddle clean. This involves using gentle cleansers on the playing surface that won’t damage the rubber, wiping down the grip to get rid of palm sweat, and keeping your paddle protected from the elements at all times.
On this last point, I’ll mention that getting a decent case for your ping pong paddle is very important, especially if you ever intend to travel with it. While cases can be a bit of an added expense, they’ll make your paddle last longer and perform better–not to mention that they’ll keep it looking fresh at all times.
On top of that, many of the best ping pong paddles come with cases molded especially for them, meaning you’ll save money and essentially double the available protection for your paddle.
Here’s one final piece of advice: check your paddle for damage and wear every time you put it away and every time you get ready to play. Replacing a worn out rubber is a lot cheaper than replacing an entire paddle!
Killerspin Jet 200 Table Tennis Paddle
Killerspin is one of the biggest names in the table tennis world. As far as companies in the United States go, they’re one of the biggest, or maybe the biggest, devoted solely to table tennis. With their playing areas, apparel, and of course wide variety of paddles, they’ve made a huge splash in the industry.
Killerspin’s Jet series is their flagship collection of paddles, and the Jet 200 is one of their signature Jet models. It’s designed to be an easier to use but professional quality paddle for the intermediate player who has graduated from the kinds of cheap paddles that come with tables but still wants something a bit simpler to use and more affordable than the highest speed pro rackets.
As such, it’s designed more for control than for speed. Newer players and players who don’t rely so much on speed will certainly appreciate this, and many of the players I know have talked and written about how the improved control rating of the Killerspin Jet 200 has helped them greatly improve their game. This is one of the prime features that makes the Jet 200 one of the pest ping pong paddles.
Of course, there are other standout features besides a flared handle design that’s perfectly designed for increased control. The paddle also comes in a great case that doubles as a “memory book” you can have friends, family, pros, and great opponents sign to keep your favorite table tennis memories alive for years to come.
Although it doesn’t directly affect play, the memory book aspect of the case is actually one of my favorite things about this paddle. I believe it shows that the company is truly invested in introducing people to the world of table tennis and keeping them comfortable there, as well as getting the sport more recognition.
On top of making products, the company Killerspin also owns several table tennis clubs, and owning one of their paddles can often net you free entry. This is only an added bonus if you live in a major US city that already has a Killerspin club, but it’s still a cool feature–and who knows, the company might expand in the next few years.
Of course, the case and the paddle both look great. As far as aesthetics go, it’s also one of the best looking paddles and best looking cases around. You’ll certainly turn heads if you go with this paddle, so if getting a great looking product is top of your list, this might be one of the best choices for you.
To make it look even better, Killerspin now offers this paddle in a wide variety of colors, meaning you can easily choose one to suit your taste, whether you prefer a more classic wood look or a brighter, more eye catching color.
However, everything isn’t about the look and the company’s mission. Let’s talk about how this paddle performs!
The 5 ply wood construction of the blade leads to greatly enhanced durability, and the flared handle, as mentioned before, helps offer great control over the ball. The rubber on this paddle is nothing to sneeze at, either–its 2.0 millimeter thickness and Jet Rubber construction give it plenty of bounce without sacrificing control.
In addition to a great rubber and blade, this ping pong paddle offers solidly built PVC side tape, which further increases the durability of the racket as a whole.
On the other hand, the Jet 200 isn’t quite perfect. I do wish the handles were a little more solidly built–while comfortable, they simply don’t seem as durable as the rest of the product.
The weight also seems a little high to some players. I think a lot of this comes from the focus on control and durability for beginning and intermediate players, though, so it’s not necessarily a drawback. Rather, it’s something to consider. The increased weight allows you to take more intricate swings, but doesn’t allow you to react as quickly to your opponent’s moves.
For the beginner or intermediate player, this is one of the best ping pong paddles on the market. For anyone who’s a bit more focused on speed than control, it may not be the best choice, and they may want to look at other Killerspin Jet models.
As a relatively budget friendly product with a lot of enhanced features, I recommend the Killerspin Jet 200 to anyone looking to upgrade their ping pong playing experience and improve their game.
- Solidly made rubber and 5 ply wood blade make for exceptional durability
- Great looking, high quality case with plenty of special features included with the paddle
- Available at a very budget friendly price point
- Designed to enhance control and spin to help beginners and intermediate players get pro level skills
- PVC side tape further enhances durability
- Higher weight and focus on control reduce speed quite a bit
- The handles don’t seem to be quite as exceptionally well made as the other components of this ping pong paddle
Sport Game Pro Ping Pong Paddles
This budget friendly offering from Sport Game Pro offers 2 paddles and a fabric carrying case that’s highly lightweight but still substantial enough to protect the paddles from the elements while traveling–whether it’s around the world or just down to the local bar for a quick game.
While the inclusion of two paddles at a price that wouldn’t be unreasonable for a single ping pong paddle is obviously a big bonus feature for me, I’m going to focus the rest of this review on the quality of the paddles themselves.
There’s good news on this front: these are conscientiously designed, very powerful paddles. While some of the other best ping pong paddles available today choose to focus more on speed or more on control, the focus with these paddles from Sport Game Pro is on spin.
They achieve their higher spin rating than many other ping pong paddles on the market by providing a slightly tackier rubber, allowing the ball to remain in contact with the rubber for slightly longer.
While Sport Game Pro focused on spin more than anything else during the design and manufacture processes for these ping pong paddles, they also put a lot of emphasis on speed. While they’re not the fastest ping pong paddles on their market due to their slightly higher weight, they’re a lot faster than the average paddle.
Of course, because ping pong paddles can never have perfect control, spin, and speed, there’s a little bit less control here. As such, I would recommend these most strongly to very aggressive players, rather than more defensive ones, because of their emphasis on speed and spin over pinpoint accuracy.
In other words, these ping pong paddles are designed to win matches through surprising and powerful moves rather than with a more slow burn kind of strategy. If that kind of play sounds like your style, these paddles may be the best choice for you.
In terms of their durability, these ping pong paddles have a lot to offer, with 5 ply wood blade construction and thick rubbers with a 2.0 millimeter spunge. Their handles are also solidly constructed and flare in a comfortable, natural way, as well as featuring a nice grip.
However, I do have at least one small gripe when it comes to these paddles. One of the ways they’ve achieved such a high quality at such a low price is by treating the rubber and the blade as a single unit and completely sealing them together during the manufacturing process.
Unfortunately, the upshot of this is that the rubbers can’t be replaced. This is a shame because of the fact that rubbers do eventually wear out–and when that happens with these paddles, you’ll need to replace the whole unit rather than just the rubber.
That being said, the rubbers are more conscientiously designed and well manufactured than a lot of rubbers on the market, especially with paddles at this price point, and their thickness and material construction greatly enhances their durability. All that essentially means that the rubbers wouldn’t need to be replaced for quite a while anyway.
In my opinion, these ping pong paddles are best for aggressive intermediate players looking for a budget friendly option that will help improve their game. I think they’re also a great choice for anyone who wants to upgrade the paddles that came with their ping pong table set–because this kit comes with two paddles, it’s a great option for home play as well as play in leagues or tournaments.
Additionally, these paddles simply look great. While the pads are a bright red color, the handles have a slightly more intricate wood grain style design that makes them look really classy–perfect both for showing off in public or for accenting a home rec room or man cave.
The side tape included with these paddles is also of a very high quality. Best of all, they come pre assembled, which makes them a great choice for beginning or intermediate players not used to assembling their own paddles.
- Kit includes two paddles and a carrying case at a price that would be fair for just one paddle with no case, meaning you may get a lot of value for every dollar spent.
- The rubber, blade, handles, and case are all of sturdy construction, enhancing both durability and power.
- The tackiness of the rubber is designed to increase the amount of spin you can put on the ball, and the overall product is designed for speed–making these paddles perfect for more aggressive players.
- They feature a great, classic ping pong paddle look and offer plenty of durability and versatility, being perfect for both travel and home play.
- The rubber is not replaceable, meaning upgrading or servicing these paddles is not very doable.
Because of the design’s focus on speed and spin, they don’t offer quite as much in the way of precise control–though this again makes them ideal for more aggressive players rather than the more defensive table tennis players among you.
Stiga Pro Carbon Table Tennis Racket
Stiga, one of the top names in ping pong paddles–particularly for intermediate players or those who are no longer beginners, but just starting to play in a truly competitive way–packs a lot of unique features into their Pro Carbon table tennis racket.
Let’s start with the basics: the blade and the rubber. The blade is constructed of 7 ply balsa wood, which makes for a much lower overall weight while still offering plenty of durability and power.
Of course, it’s not all about the blade: the rubber also plays a huge role in how well a given ping pong paddle performs. Luckily, the rubber here is also of exceptional quality. Better yet, it’s also approved for ITTF tournament play, which means this is a great racket for those who want to really start making a name for themselves in the wide world of table tennis.
Interestingly, one of my favorite parts of this ping pong paddle in particular is actually the design of its handle, as opposed to just the blade and rubber. The handle features a really cool innovation that I haven’t heard of in a lot of other rackets, especially at this more mid-range price point: a Shock Dispersion Tube (which Stiga often refers to simply as the SDT).
The Shock Dispersion Tube is a specially designed core running through the middle of the handle that transfers much of the energy from the impact of the paddle and the ball down the tube and out of the handle as opposed to letting it reverberate throughout the handle in its entirety.
This results in less vibration, especially when it comes to power hits, and faster recovery time. This feature, combined with the paddle’s emphasis on speed in its construction, makes it ideal for more aggressive players who want to fill every hit with plenty of power.
This ping pong paddle is also designed with spin first and foremost in mind, with a slightly tackier rubber surface, extra carbon filling between the rubber and the blade, and a carefully weighted design.
Of course, the emphasis on spin and speed does result in reduced control, which makes this table tennis racket much more suitable for more aggressive players. It’s also a bit more suitable for those with at least a little bit of experience under their belts as opposed to true beginners, who may not want a paddle this fast, preferring instead something that offers a bit more in the way of control.
The paddle is also very durable, and the rubbers can easily be replaced, which is great both if you want to upgrade them or if you need to replace them because of the wear and tear that comes with playing ping pong regularly, especially if you use a more aggressive table tennis style like that which this paddle is clearly designed for.
Between the replaceable and ITTF approved rubbers, the interesting and effective innovation inherent in the Shock Dispersion Tube, the lightweight but durable balsa wood blade, and the heavy emphasis on speed and spin capabilities, I would recommend this to intermediate players as well as those who are starting to take the game seriously and engage in official tournament play as well as recreational play.
It’s not as great a choice for those just starting out because it tends to be quite fast and not offer much in the way of control. While the price isn’t astronomical by any stretch of the mind, it is a bit higher than most beginner table tennis paddles on the market too, so it may not be the best ping pong paddle for beginners for that reason too.
- Ultra lightweight yet highly durable construction with a seven ply balsa wood blade
- Interesting and game changing innovation in the form of the Shock Dispersal Tube, which greatly enhances recovery time and reduces vibration during and after hard hits
- High emphasis on spin (with a spin rating of 99) and speed make it perfect for more experienced and aggressive table tennis players
- ITTF approved and easily replaceable rubbers make this seem like more of a long term investment than ping pong paddles that lack those features
- Not as budget friendly as some other ping pong paddles on the market, especially for beginners
- Does not allow as much control over the ball due to its higher emphasis on spin and speed
Ping Pong Paddle JT-700
The JT-700 from Sport Game Pro offers a lot of prime features, especially for those in the beginning or intermediate stages of their table tennis careers. This ping pong paddle comes with a lot of attractive features that enhance speed, spin, and durability.
Let’s start with the blade. The 5 ply wood construction greatly enhances the durability of this model when compared to others, especially others in the same price class as the highly affordable JT-700.
The 5 ply wood construction also helps to keep the weight balanced. While there’s still plenty of weight here to throw around to help you take those powerful swings, the paddle isn’t so heavy as to prevent fast, surprising moves or quick changes in direction as necessitated by the way the match is going.
Moving on to the rubbers, which may be the most impressive part of this product. Their 2.0 millimeter sponge gives them plenty of power, and they’re tacky enough to allow the ball to have that extra moment of contact with the paddle necessary to allow you to put some truly great spin on your shots.
In addition, both the blades and the rubber are conscientiously designed with a steady focus on durability, which possibly makes this product a better investment for the future and longevity of your ping pong career than some other models available in this price class.
The durability unfortunately doesn’t extend to the handle, which doesn’t feel quite as well made as the rest of the product. While it’s not bad by any means, it’s obvious that the designers focused more on the longevity of the rubber and efficacy of the blade than on the comfort or durability of the handle.
With proper care and maintenance as covered in the buyer’s guide at the beginning of this article, though, there shouldn’t be any problem keeping the handle in great shape for a long time.
There is one more downside I should note, though, and that is that the rubbers on this paddle are not replaceable. Although this shouldn’t be a huge problem because of the rubbers’ exceptional performance and durability even in those long, tough matches, it is something worth considering.
All in all, I would recommend this set to the confident, aggressive intermediate player who wants a better ping pong paddle to continue improving their game but isn’t necessarily ready for the rigor and much higher expensive of a truly professional level paddle yet.
This paddle offers plenty of the features and benefits you’ll find in professional level products, with almost no serious drawbacks besides the fact that the rubbers can’t be removed and replaced. Additionally, it comes at a much lower price point than many other products, and is a bit easier to use–especially if you’re already a player leaning toward a more aggressive style of ping pong.
- High durability and some great spin and speed features available at a steal of a price
- Tackier rubber allows for much greater control over the spin of the ball than many comparable ping pong paddles, especially in this price range
- 5 ply wood construction enhances durability and keeps the weight well balanced, especially for those of you who like to make swift, surprising moves that catch your opponents off guard
- Unfortunately, the rubbers on this model are not replaceable
- The prioritization of speed and spin over control mean that this table tennis racket can feel a bit temperamental for newer players of the sport
Butterfly Balsa Carbo X5 FL Blade Pro-Line Table Tennis Racket
Butterfly is often considered the Cadillac of ping pong paddles: their products are extraordinarily feature rich, highly durable, and respected throughout the sport, but often come with a high pricetag.
The Balsa Carbo X5 is a bit more affordable than some of their other models, but its price point is definitely well above those of the beginner or budget markets. That being said, it may still be the ideal choice for you if you’re one of the more serious and dedicated ping pong players reading this article.
In addition to its balsa and carbon blade, from which it derives its name, it also boasts Bryce 2.1 rubbers. The balsa and carbon blade provides a lower weight, allowing you to get plenty of speed and dexterity, which can really improve your game. It’s also highly durable, especially compared to purely wood blades.
The Bryce 2.1 rubbers offer a little more tackiness to let you put some serious spin on the ball, but their prime feature is their high tension construction. The way they’re manufactured and the actual rubber from which they are made are designed to prevent loss of energy when the paddle strikes the ball, meaning you can apply more of the force of your swing to the ball itself.
While the blade and the rubbers are the real stars of the show here–as is true with most ping pong paddles–the handle is no slouch either. Its grip is lauded for its comfort factor, and the handle is considered to be the perfect width and weight to allow for explosive and surprising moves.
This paddle is constructed for more aggressive players, meaning it puts a lot more emphasis on speed than on control. Butterfly clearly marks on their blades which end of the control versus speed spectrum each paddle falls on, and this model is all about control.
In addition to their cool, clear marking system, Butterfly as a brand has a few other things going for it as well. Each of their paddles is hand assembled in the United States, and their brand is one of the most popular at the highest levels of the sport.
That means that this racket is approved by the ITTF for tournament play, and because of its quality construction can really be used as a professional instrument, if professional play is something you’re interested in.
I haven’t found any real drawbacks to this paddle except for its pricetag and its lack of suitability for defensive players. Of course, this product provides a ton of utility value even at such a high price, and Butterfly offers plenty of comparable products for more defensive players or for those of you who like to blend both offensive and defensive elements into your ping pong playing style.
I would recommend this paddle for any intermediate or advanced player who is thinking of serious competition in ITTF tournaments, as its durability and extra features can really improve your game–which makes it well worth the higher end price for anyone who’s deeply serious about the sport of table tennis.
- The blade’s combination of balsa and carbon fiber makes for an extremely durable and powerful paddle that is still incredibly lightweight, allowing for plenty of explosive movements to help you surprise or overwhelm your opponent
- Rubbers are made with high tension technology that allows them to apply more force to the ball, and also offer just the right of tackiness to allow for some serious spin
- The handle is not just comfortable, but also designed with a more offensive style of play in mind, just like the rest of this paddle
- The paddle is hand assembled in the United States and is ITTF approved
- Sits at a price point that’s definitely in the professional class, and close to the top of the market (excluding custom ping pong paddles, which can be extremely expensive)
- Its design’s focus on speed rather than control means it is not well suited to the play style of defensive players, although Butterfly offers comparable models focused on the more defensive end of the sport as well
We hope you found what you came for. We do appreciate some feedback and thoughts on your favorite ping pong paddle.