Table Tennis Equipment: An Overview

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  • Post last modified:December 30, 2022
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Table tennis is a sport that is not only played for competitions but also is very popular as a recreational sport that can be enjoyed anywhere like in parks, offices, malls, schools, and homes. Table tennis, also called ping pong, is played between two players or two teams where each team is paired with two players. Each table tennis equipment is portable enough to taste the excitement of this beautiful game at the home with friends and family members.

You need four basic table tennis equipment to play the game i.e. table, net, racket (combination of a blade and rubbers), and ball.

Essential Table Tennis Equipment Needed

Types of Equipment NeededPurpose
TableRectangular playing surface
NetCentral divider of a table tennis table and as a barrier between two players/ teams 
BallThe small, lightweight, spherical object that is being hit for bouncing on the table
RacketCombination of a blade and rubbers for the purpose of hitting the ball
BladeThe inner part of a racket (Required for customized rackets)
RubberRubbers are pasted on a blade to form a racket (Required for customized rackets) 

Additional Equipment (If Required)

Types of Equipment Purpose
ShoeFor working on footwork with confidence
ShirtSpecially designed for necessary comfort
ShortTo make players comfortable while moving around the table
RobotProgrammable practice drills (without the help of a practice partner)
Racket CoverFor the protection of a racket from dust, dirt, and foreign particles
Table CoverRequired keeping the table in good condition

Let’s go into detail about the equipment needed to play the game of table tennis.

1. Table Tennis Table

Table tennis table

A table tennis table is the most important piece of equipment that acts as a playing surface. A standard table has dimensions of 2.74 m (9 ft) x 1.525 m (5 ft) x 0.76 m (2.5 ft). The table is rectangular consisting of a tabletop and an undercarriage structure. The purpose of the tabletop is to give the desired bounce while the undercarriage provides the necessary support to the tabletop and also plays an important role in other functionalities like compact storage, movement, and playback facility. 

The most important feature for judging the quality of a table is the thickness of the tabletop. While a high-priced 25 mm table gives you the best bounce, a 15 – 19 mm table tennis table is more meaningful for recreational activities with better value for money. 

Though MDF (Medium-density fibreboard) is most common for the material of a tabletop, plywood (for premium tables) and particle board are also used.

The surface of the table is uniformly dark-colored and matte. Blue and green colored tables are more popular. As per your need, you can opt for either an indoor table tennis table or an outdoor table tennis table. Outdoor tables are designed in such a way that they can withstand heat, wind, and moisture.

Related Topic:

  1. The 14 Best Ping Pong Tables in 2022 [Compared]
  2. The Best Outdoor Ping Pong Tables 2022: In-depth Buying Guide

2. Table Tennis Net

A net divides the table into two equal parts and it is fixed at the middle edges of the table.

Features of a Table Tennis Net

  1. The height of the net is 15.25 cm (6 inches).
  2. The top of the net should be at the same height throughout its length.
  3. The bottom of the net should be as close as it can be to the table but it must not touch the surface of the table.
  4. The net is fixed at the edge of the table from top to bottom with the help of supporting posts.

Material: Nylon mesh, Polyester cotton, and synthetic plastic are the most common materials for a net.

These types of table tennis nets are the most popular. These are:

1. Retractable Table Tennis Net

Retractable net

This portable, adjustable-length, and easy-to-clamp retractable net can turn any table into a table tennis table. You can open the net to the desired length and set it in seconds with the help of an easy button clamp. This easy-to-carry net allows you to play anywhere anytime.

2. Clip-On Table Tennis Net

Clip-on net

Compared to the retractable net, this easy-to-use net features a spring-activated clip that helps to keep the net straight with tension.

3. Professional Table Tennis Net

Professional table tennis net

This is the best among the three as it is sturdier and more stable. The hand-tightened screws enable to keep the net at the right height with the right tension.

3. Table Tennis Ball

STIGA 3 star table tennis balls

A table tennis ball is spherical, with a diameter of 40 mm. The weight of the ball is only 2.7 gm. The uniformity and consistency of the bounce depend on the quality of the material used and the standard of the manufacturing process. The new 40+ plastic balls are either white or orange.

Ping pong balls are classified with a star rating system. One star denotes the lowest quality and is suitable for beginners/amateurs.  Two-star balls are better to use for practice while three-star denotes the best quality balls which are suitable for serious play. Only ITTF-approved three-star balls are used for international tournaments.

All table tennis balls are either seamed or seamless. Through seamless balls are costlier, in terms of longevity, these balls are ahead of seamed balls.

Related Topic:

  1. The Best Ping Pong Balls to Buy in 2022

4. Table Tennis Bat

Both sides of a racket

A table tennis racket is used to hit the ball to produce the desired speed and spin. It consists of a blade and a rubber.

You can either buy a ready-made bat from the market or a blade and rubbers separately and paste the rubber properly on the blade to make a customized racket. 

As a beginner, you don’t need to worry about a customized racket. A ready-made table tennis racket is sufficient to build up your technique. 

Blade

Shakehand and penhold types table tennis blade

A blade is the inner part of a table tennis racket. Blades are made with wood or composite materials.  According to ITTF, at least 85% of the blade thickness must be of natural wood. There may be some use of adhesive materials like carbon fiber, glass fiber, and compressed paper to enhance the offensive nature of the blade. The nature of a table tennis blade depends on the no of plies (3, 5, or 7) and the type of material used.

The lower part of the blade is the handle which helps you to grip the bat. The handle is of three types.

AL- Anatomic, Fl – Flared, and ST – Straight

Flared handles are the most popular and it is a convenient way to hold a racket

Rubber

Pimples-in type rubber
Pimples-in Rubber
Pimples-out type rubber
Pimples-out Rubber

Table tennis rubber is the outer surface of a racket that comes into contact with the ball at the time of hitting.

It is a combination of a sponge and a rubber top. Various thickness of the rubber is available in the market, ranging from 1.0 mm to 2.3 mm. The thicker the rubber is, the more it will be capable to impart spin with speed while thinner rubbers are good for control. 

Table tennis rubbers are of two types, pimples-in, and pimples-out. Pimples-in rubbers are more popular among all levels of players, i.e. beginner, intermediate, advanced, and also amateur. These smooth rubbers are great for producing many varieties of spin. Pimples-out rubbers are used by selective players which help them to block and control the ball for longer rallies.

Related Topic:

  1. The 11 Best Ping Pong Paddles in 2022

Additional Table Tennis Equipment

Table Tennis Shoe

Table tennis shoe

Like in every sport, in the game of table tennis you need proper shoes. Table tennis shoes are lightweight and specifically designed with thin rubber soles and low-heel caps for stability and quick side-by-side movement. Also, these shoes consist of an upper mesh construction that increases the air exchange rate to keep your feet dry and cool. And the most important feature is the strong grip that helps you to work on your footwork with confidence.

Shirt

Table tennis shirt

Shirts used for this game are lightweight and made with moisture-wicking materials for absorbing sweat from your body. Also, these shirts are tailored slightly loose so that you can feel comfortable while playing. You may also notice that all table tennis players use only bright and vibrant colored shirts. The issue of visibility against the white ping pong balls rules out the use of white-colored shirts.

Short

Table tennis short

Shorts for table tennis are lightweight and not tight-fitted. Shorts are dark-colored and available at a very reasonable rate. The most common material used for table tennis shorts is polyester.

Robot

Two table tennis robots

A Table tennis robot is a ball-throwing machine controlled by a remote. This ball machine gives you the advantage to hone your skills when you are a sort of practice partner. There are various attributes like topspin, backspin, frequency, and oscillation which can be increased or decreased within a certain range (like 1 to 5, 1 is minimum and 5 is maximum) mentioned in the remote. In this process, you can use the best combination of attributes for your pre-programmable practice drills as per your playing level.

Racket Cover

Protection cover/ case for racket

A racket cover or case is very useful to protect your racket, especially for the protection of rubbers from outside dirt, sunlight, heat, and other harmful foreign materials. Though racket-shaped covers are cheap and more popular, the rectangular hard cases offer the best protection for the edges of rubbers.

Table Cover

Protection cover for ping pong table

Table tennis tables are very high-value items and to maintain them properly, you must use covers. The use of a table cover increases the longevity of your table by keeping it free from scratches, dust, dirt, and moisture. Polyester and nylon are the most used materials for table covers. 

There are 3 types of table tennis cover, indoor, outdoor, and dual functions (Both indoor and outdoor). To protect outdoor tables from water and harsh weather conditions, outside covers are heavy-duty and made from water-resistant materials.

Table Tennis Equipment: Some Useful Tips

Here are some useful tips for your new table tennis racket:

  • After receiving your racket, the first step is to remove the protective films on the black and red rubbers.
  • You should store the racket inside its case between uses. If left out for a prolonged period, clean the rubbers.
  • As you use the racket, the rubbers will attract dust from the ball and will lose their feeling of stickiness. Clean the dust by wiping them down with a bit of water on a clean cloth.
  • Following about a year of heavy usage, the rubbers will slowly lose their spin and replace your bat with a fresh one to make your shots more effective.

Some Common Queries on Table Tennis Equipment

1. What does “40+” indicate on table tennis balls?

The mark “40+” indicates that these balls are made of plastic. In another way, it can also help you to distinguish between a plastic ball and a celluloid ball. Plastic balls are made with a tolerance of over 40 mm whereas the average diameter of a celluloid ball is 40 mm (39.5 mm – 40.5 mm).

2. Why are Table Tennis Rackets Red and Black?

After the Tokyo Olympic Games, 2020, in addition to the red-colored rubber, green, blue, pink, and violet rubbers are also legal to use on one side of a racket but the other side must remain black.

The reason for using two different colors is to distinguish the class of the two different rubbers used on the forehand and backhand sides.

3. Can badminton shoes be used for table tennis?

As both badminton and table tennis are indoor sports, the shoes used for these two are quite similar in terms of weight, grip, and comfort. So in the initial stages of table tennis, a badminton shoe does the job quite well. But for advanced and serious players, it is always beneficial to use table tennis shoes as these shoes are more lightweight and have thinner soles than badminton shoes.

Wrapping Up

These are the basic table tennis equipment that you require to start your journey with the game of table tennis.

There are many popular brands like Butterfly, Stiga, Donic, Joola, and Killerspin which offer quality table tennis equipment.

Take proper care of your table and bat for longevity. After the play, cover your board with a good cover to protect it from foreign materials.

Keep your bat inside a table tennis bat cover for protection from dust. If it gets dirty, clean it with plain water and a clean cloth.

Indranil

I am a table tennis enthusiast and with a playing experience of 20 years, I like to share what I have learned for the development of skills in the early stages and proper equipment reviews for the best outcome. For any queries, mail me at info@tabletennisarena.com

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