A Table Tennis Rubber Could Make All the Difference

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table tennis rubber is used on a table tennis paddle. Table tennis is one of the many exciting indoor sports that have received a steady growth in popularity in the past years.

It’s like pool but with all the speedy highlights or like chess but none of the eerie silence. Like any other sport though, the athlete needs his or her gear in good shape. In table tennis, you should consider your table tennis rubber.

This article will be covering some tips and information on table tennis rubber, along with its types and how it may affect your game. After all, it is that which hits the ball 100% of the time that might make a difference in your game.

The Right Table Tennis Rubber for the Right Player

table tennis rubber

The table tennis rubber
A good thing to consider for starters is to know you’re playing style.  Although some may choosehow they would like to play, it’s better if you let it come naturally. It’s more like how you get the “feel” of the game.

If you have been playing for a while, you probably just bought any basic paddle out there and started learning. All beginners are somewhat like this. After playing for some time, one will see how he/she plays. Ask yourself, are you more of a calm and sneaky defender? An in-your-face type aggressive player? How do you hit the ball with your forehand stroke? How about the backhand?

The answers to these questions will determine your playing style and will help you later on in choosing the right table tennis rubber for you.  The rubber is composed of two parts: the sponge and the top sheet rubber.

The Table Tennis Rubber Sponge

The sponge is the layer before the rubber top sheet that comes in contact with the blade. The sponge may be bought separately for custom users but most tope sheets come with their own as well.  Sponges vary in thickness, composition and hardness.

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Sponge thickness may vary from 1.0 mm to 2.5 mm depending mostly to the player’s style. The thicker the sponge, the faster your strikes will be. Thicker sponges result in more “bounce” when in contact with the ball adding to speed with the cost of control. Thicker sponges also add weight to the racquet making it heavier for beginners. With more speed as an advantage, it suits the offensive-minded players.

Thinner sponges decrease the bouncing effect mentioned earlier and results in slower speeds but you have more control. This is more built for the defensive type of players. Some professionals tend to re-glue their rubbers every now and then or before play. This claims that thicker sponges are best for these situations since tend to absorb more glue than thinner ones.

Sponge hardness affects ball physics when hit as well. Softer sponges tend give out more spins. The ball “sinks” into softer sponges giving way to longer “dwell-time.” This has its perks though since that fraction of a second difference makes you more in control with the ball. If you like to loop your shots and like precision as to where you want the ball to land, this will be in your favour.

Vice versa, harder sponges have decreased dwell time and results in faster strikes and lesser spins. If you like to smash a lot then this one will work for you.

Most commercially available types of table tennis rubber come with their own standard sponges that are built for them. If you want to tinker with your equipment, it is also possible to try a number of combinations. This however is not suggested for beginners. Asking a coach or a pro will also be of some help since it’s more of an “experience” thing when it comes to these combinations.  Just keep in mind that the maximum overall thickness (sponge+rubber) must be 4mm.

Some may wonder if it’s possible to use no sponge at all. Well, the answer is – yes you can. It is very effective and light for precision looping and defending but is illegal in competitions since it  is not approved by the International table Tennis Federation.

The Table Tennis Rubber Topsheet

The topsheet rubber puts the “rubber” in table tennis rubber. This is the one that makes primary contact with the ball. It covers both surfaces of your paddle and comes in the standard red and black surfaces. Several surfaces have different effects and purposes during play, so it’s important to plan ahead and know your playing style as stated earlier.

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Smooth and Rough Rubbers

Table tennis rubbers have these so called “pimples” which represents their surface type. The Pimpled surface may either be inward or outward bumps. A quick note for beginners is to start with smooth rubber or “pimples in” surfaces. This provides you a good all-around feel for your striking and it doesn’t limit much in your spin strikes. Rough surfaces or “pimples-out” are anti-spin surfaces and are used by advance players.

Grip Factor

Grip or Tackiness refers to how the surface affects the ball in play. If you use “chopping” blocks you can notice that some surfaces provide resistance and affects the ball’s movement. More grip equals more spin and vice versa. Some surfaces offer little or no resistance at all – strikes seem smoother and the ball just flies off after the hit.

As a general guideline, tacky rubbers increase spin effect on balls but arebad for defenders since it’s affected also by your opponent’s spin. Less tacky ones are preferred together with speed glue to the sponge. This way you are less affected by the opponent’s spin while still retaining striking power.

Putting it All Together

Now that you know some of the differences between the parts of your table tennis rubber, it’s time to put them together. Beginners should stick to standard packages or “pre-made” rubbers where in the rubber and sponge are already together and all you need is to glue them to the blade. After gluing, cut off the excess around the paddle and apply special edging tape to affix the edges around it.

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With a number of combinations out there, make sure you try it out as each will result in unique effects. Factors such as weight and throw angle come into play.Table tennis rubber combinations tend to hit the ball lower or higher given with the same stroke. Make sure you get the feel for this as it is more to the style of play. One or the other, it provides no advantage on its own.

If you want to tinker on combinations, it is best to borrow different table tennis paddles from fellow players or ask advice from coaches. Trying them out and figuring how it affects your own game first is a must. Give it a few days or so and make sure you try out your entire arsenal of shots on this. Once you get the hang of the custom paddle, go with that combination.

With proper training, one will improve over time. Keep practicing on what works for you and the table tennis rubber will be the game changer later on.

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