Do a quick search on the internet for the best ping pong paddles and you’ll literally get hit with hundreds of options. A lot of those quite frankly are junk. Now, I’m not a pro player but I’ve done my homework (over 50 hours of obsessive research) and I wouldn’t recommend any of the cheaper “off brand” paddles that people so often choose.
But why do most general consumers fall into that trap? Well, it’s because they don’t see the difference between an off brand paddle and one made by a reputable ping pong paddle company. Sure, intermediate to advanced players are going to know what they’re looking for but that doesn’t represent the general masses of players looking for the best ping pong paddle, at a really good price.
So, that’s what I’ve tried to provide here with our ping pong paddle buyer’s guide. If you’re in the market for a new paddle, but need help sifting through all the options, this article is designed to help you. I’ve created this product guide to help ALL kinds of players across ALL budgets. Whether you’re looking for a paddle under $50 or looking for a paddle designed for spin - I’ve researched it! I’m going to cover all the options across all the different price points, skill levels and abilities because no two players are alike, and there is no “one size fits all” approach to this.
To make things easier for you the reader, I’ve created a ping pong paddle chart to give you a quick, concise snapshot of each paddle that I think represents the best of the best across each category. You’ll see picture, a product description, along with a brief pro and con. No paddle is perfect, so it’s important to stay unbiased.
BEST RECREATIONAL PING PONG PADDLE
Stiga Pro Carbon
BEST PING PONG PADDLE FOR BEGINNERS
Xiom Muv 5.5S
BEST PING PONG PADDLE FOR INTERMEDIATE PLAYERS
Joola Spinforce 900
BEST PING PONG PADDLE FOR ADVANCED PLAYERS
Killerspin RTG Diamond TC Premium
BEST PING PONG PADDLE UNDER $50
The Stiga Evolution
BEST PING PONG PADDLE UNDER $100
Stiga Pro Carbon
BEST PING PONG PADDLE UNDER $150
Killerspin Kido 7P
BEST PING PONG PADDLE UNDER $250
Killerspin RTG Diamond TC Premium
Pro Power - Our Top Pick for competitive features at mid-price range
Killerspin Jet800 - Our Value Pick for a balance of features versus cost
Stiga Pro Carbon - Our Budget Pick for introductory players
Killerspin Diamond TC RTG Premium Paddle
As you’ll see below, there are many different way to judge and measure a ping pong paddles strengths and weaknesses. Weight, materials used, spin rating, speed rating as well as power vs. control attributes were all taken into consideration when we made this list. But, ultimately we looked at how the paddles would perform for the more common casual to intermediate table tennis player. With that type of player we asked ourselves these questions:
When we took those questions into consideration and examined the more technical specs - we came to our conclusion. The Pro Power edged out the competition for it’s best all around value while giving all players across multiple skill levels, something to like.
There’s more to choosing the best table tennis paddle than scouring online shopping sites for the cheapest available model. While there’s nothing wrong with imposing a budget on your purchase, it’s better to spend more now on a paddle that will last, rather than continuing to throw away money as your paddles wear out.
Here’s what you need to know about ping pong paddles, and why it matters.
It’s no classical instrument, but your ping pong paddle’s design influences its function more than you’d expect. In general, the weight of the materials in the paddles dictates how players move with the paddle in hand, but the consensus is the lighter the paddle, the better.
Still, a range of acceptable weights work to suit each player’s strengths, so considering the materials used to create the paddle can help you choose the right fit. While color choices are understandably slim, there’s plenty of room for unique design features. One of those features is unique handle shapes, such as flared versus straight, which lets you customize your grip on the paddle. Like with most paddle or racquet sports, the grip you have on your paddle, influences your shot selection and shot direction. Ping pong is no different.
If you’ve ever picked up a ping pong paddle in a college dorm or recreational facility, the materials of most cheap paddles are composite wood and rubber coating. After a few games, the rubber starts to peel off, and sometimes the paddles even crack when a player uses too much force.
In contrast, the best table tennis paddle uses high-grade materials that are strong AND lightweight. For many manufacturers, a top performance choice is carbon, which lies in between layers of wood and rubber.
Multiple layers often make up the wood portion of the paddle, the more layers of wood, the more strength and resilience. Higher-quality paddles tend to have tacky rubber materials on their blades, without any of the flopping that happens with cheaper paddles.
If you’re not yet familiar with it, the International Table Tennis Federation, or ITTF, governs the sport of table tennis across international competition. It has rules and regulations that specify what materials professional level rackets can use. ITTF also gives its stamp of approval on products that meet its specifications.
While recreational table tennis players don’t have to worry about conforming to ITTF rules, you’ll often see pro-level ping pong paddles that carry the ITTF-approved label. This means that the equipment is competition-level, and in general higher quality than cheap rackets that are available cheaply at big box stores or online.
Overall, the ITTF’s rules can seem nitpicky, but their guidelines ensure that no player has an unfair advantage over his or her opponent. Therefore, ping pong paddles must have materials of a certain thickness, can’t have multiple joints in the surface, and must adhere to a specific level of rigidity.
Still, it can’t hurt to choose a ping pong paddle that is professional-level, if only for the fact that you know you have a quality paddle in hand no matter where you’re playing, or the level of competition you’re facing.
It can feel overwhelming to look at all the choices available and make a purchasing decision. While all the paddles we list here have helpful features and quality materials, there are a few things to consider when choosing your next table tennis paddle.
Do you play for fun with friends from the office? Are you a little more serious and like to play in tournaments and competitions or are you all-in and are you aiming to go pro? Ultimately, what you plan to do with your paddle will determine what level of equipment you need.
Since players who expect to compete will need to adhere to ITTF guidelines, choosing paddles with the stamp of ITTF approval will ensure compliance. For recreational players who don’t plan to train for competition, aesthetics and function are still important, but strict regulations are not.
Although it’s possible to pick up a set of ping pong paddles from your local sports store for around twenty dollars, those won’t last long for any athlete who’s even semi-serious about playing. However, investing hundreds of dollars into a paddle isn’t the smartest choice for someone who rarely plays.
That said, it’s often true that the more you spend, the higher quality you can expect. Still, our picks come from the top names in the table tennis industry, so whether you’re on a budget or not, you can find a paddle that will meet your needs, budget and otherwise.
You may have borrowed a friend’s paddle, or picked one up at your local sports store, and thought that it just felt right in your hand. There’s something to be said about how a paddle feels when you first get ahold of it and try it out.
That’s not to say you should choose a paddle just because you like the way it looks. But if you’ve had hands-on experience with a specific paddle, it might prove worth trying out long-term.
The three most common measures of ping pong paddles are the ratings for control, spin, and speed. Manufacturers post this information either on a 10-point or 100-point scale, and there are often discrepancies between their systems. However, in general, these numbers can help buyers compare the strengths of each paddle.
A high control rating usually correlates with a tackier racket surface, since the rubber is what holds the ball as you hit it. The spin rating reflects the orientation of the rubber on the paddle blade, but it also depends on the quality of the rubber and its thickness.
For speed, this measure depends on how much force the paddle absorbs, and how quickly it redirects that energy into a return. Power paddles, like the Pro Power we’ve listed, are designed to whip the ball back at your opponent and are great for offensice minded players. Like us!
These six ping pong paddles all come from big names in the table tennis world, so quality is the primary factor. However, there is still plenty of variation in the types of materials used, the skill level they’re best suited for, and their overall cost. Our first three picks fall into the recreational category, while the final three reflect advanced play.
With seven tightly knit layers, the Killerspin Jet800 delivers power in a trim package. In total, it has five wood layers and two carbon layers that accommodate an aggressive game. The carbon layers absorb impact, letting you rebound faster from hard shots.
Following the design of Killerspin’s other paddles, the Jet800 uses Nitrx-4Z rubber, which has ITTF approval. The grippy surface helps you direct the ball and control what your opponent sends your way. While other paddles in the Jet line cater to more balanced games, the 800 focuses on aggressive play and that’s why we love it!
While looks aren’t as high of a priority as performance, the Jet800’s wooden side tape and burnt wood handle result in a classy looking paddle. Killerspin makes it a set with a memory book and a marker that also writes on the paddle if you’re the type who likes to track your victories.
These are nice cosmetic touches that add to the value of the Jet800. Killerspin has paid attention to the details here and it shows in the package you get with the Jet800.
The singular potential drawback to this model is its weight. For players who are unfamiliar with these paddles, there is a noticeable heft in-hand. However, if players can tolerate a short adjustment period, soon they won’t notice the slightly heavier materials.
For those that don’t mind a heavier paddle in hand, and have a natural swing for power, this would undoubtedly make a great first paddle and regardless make it one of the best table tennis paddles on the market today.
Some consider the Jet800 to be the best ping pong paddle for novice players, we say for anyone who plays recreational to semi-serious, you can’t go wrong with the Killerspin Jet800.
With ITTF approved specs, the Stiga Pro Carbon is a 7-ply paddle that also features carbon technology. It uses a transparent hydrophilic gel lacquer in place of a typical lacquer blade treatment, which Stiga claims increases players’ speed.
Lightweight balsa wood makes this paddle feel slight in hand, but Stiga boasts its high speed and elasticity...a lethal combo from a top-of-the-line racket manufacturer.
Stiga’s trademarked ultralight rubber uses microscopic air capsules for elasticity, which allows players like you and me, tighter control and sensitivity. This is ideal for soft volley play at the net or when you’re aiming for the corner to put your opponent away with deadly accurate placement.
Further, the concave handle has a unique recess that Stiga explains increases touch sensitivity when handling the paddle. This allows you to feel where the paddle’s sweet spot is and isn’t.
While beginners may have no complaints, if you’re a more experienced player, you might feel limited, working harder to take advantage of the sweet spot in this paddle and producing significant amounts of spin..
Like other paddles in this class, players can run into a learning curve of sorts as they adjust to the weight of this paddle. Overall, this paddle makes our list of best ping pong paddles for 2018 because of it’s ability to generate speed for those who like to play closer to the net - this is typically seen by beginner players looking to improve.
The Butterfly 603 carries an ITTF approval stamp, and its manufacturer enjoys a positive reputation throughout the world of table tennis. With improved specs over its previous models, Butterfly’s 603 still utilizes the same flared handle and 2.1mm rubber we’ve come to expect from other paddles in their lineup.
The Butterfly 603 makes it on our list of best ping pong paddles because of it’s Wakaba rubber. Wakaba rubber is tacky for superior spin and speed, giving players more control over the ball and allowing players the ability to slow down the game and dictate pace.
This will allow you to more accurately put topspin or backspin on your serves or returns. However, other paddles in this price range tend to offer a higher measure of speed, and that combined with the paddle’s relatively short handle means this paddle’s target audience could be somewhat limited.
A carrying case and racket cover come with the 603 paddle, which is an unexpected touch at this price point. This is a nice touch we don’t see all that often.
The Butterfly 603 represents the best ping pong paddle from Butterfly for aspiring young players taking their game to the next level.
The 603 sits perfectly in the middle of Butterfly’s paddle lineup as the ideal table tennis racket for someone moving from an entry level paddle to a more serious paddle without spending hundreds of dollars. In fact, many players rave about the rubber that Butterfly uses on this paddle and claim it’s the best rubber used for an intermediate focused bat.
For pro-level power, Killerspin delivers, big time! In addition to the carbon that other paddles use, the Killerspin Diamond TC RTG Premium Paddle also incorporates titanium into two of its whopping seven layers.
Layer upon layer of material is a design feature making its way into the game of pickleball but, it’s been a part of ping pong for years now, and the KillerSpin Diamond uses this approach wisely. Seven layers add to this paddle’s power and finesse characteristics. In addition, both a flared and straight handle option are available, letting you customize your preferred grip.
The Diamond TC RTG is ITTF approved and therefore is a tournament level paddle, so most recreational players may not fully utilize all of its features. A high power rating means fast-paced play, so this paddle suits aggressive players best. If you’re a smasher and a banger, this paddle is for you!
Killerspin’s Fortissimo rubbers give you exceptional rebound and spin, with elastic and soft compounds that combine to create a 2mm thick sheet. This is ideal if you’re the type of player that likes to force the pace, dictate the style of play and put away winners all day long! Last but not least, you can expect this paddle to last longer than traditional recreational models and lower-priced ping pong rackets.
If you’re looking for a big boy ping pong racket from a big boy manufacturer then the Killerspin Diamond TC RTG must be considered.
DHS is another brand that caters to professional level players, so its DHS Hurricane II delivers performance and durability. However, the manufacturer does not openly disclose ratings in line with the system other paddles use, making it difficult to compare specs. Still, one look at the Hurricane !! and it’s apparent this is a serious paddle for the serious player.
With DHS’ reputation for producing professional-grade paddles for international ping pong players, the Hurricane II is practically a steal in comparison with similarly equipped paddles.
The exceptional spin on this paddle is due to its relatively slippery rubber, this is unique for a non-custom paddle. It meets the highest standards demanded by the game’s top pros that incorporate massive amounts of spin in their game.
If you’re moving from a good recreational paddle to a more sophisticated paddle designed to deliver touch and exceptional english on the ball, then the DHS Hurricane II is a fantastic choice!
A high-grade carbon-balsa wood combination, the Pro Power paddle earns its name from a competitive power rating.
Although it suits players who focus on a strong offense, the paddle is also very well balanced. PRO XP-1 high tension rubbers offer tactical spin capabilities, and the lightweight design is comfortable in almost any sized hand.
Beginning recreational players may find that managing the speed and power of this paddle poses a slight challenge at first, since learning to let the paddle do the work requires conscious effort.
For professional level players, the Pro Power is as close as you’ll get to the perks of a custom paddle, without investing the time and money in one. Are their better paddles on the market than the Pro Power? Absolutely. But, they’re easily double the price.
For those looking for more Control there is the Pro Control paddle as well. Take the same design elements but add specs designed for the control oriented player in mind and you’ve got the Pro Control. There is a little something for everyone here!
The Pro Power is our top pick for a balanced game that rivals professional-level play, without the high investment that custom paddles require.
Recreational players will adapt to it and immediately feel that they’re playing with a next-level paddle while more advanced players will appreciate it’s pro-grade five layer balsa wood design.
It represents the perfect combo of pro-level performance and affordability. Ultimately, each player has their own criteria for what makes the best ping pong paddle, but by our measures and knowing that most players fall into the “casual” skill level, the Pro Power is the total package of features and power at a palatable price point.
So you’ve decided to break out of the standard ping-pong mold and play with a paddle all your own. Whether you just want to change it for different looks or change the way you play, custom ping paddles are easy to come by and use.
In this section, we’re going to cover the basic information you should keep in mind. Making a custom paddle requires you to make a new blade and new rubbers.
These are two main parts of paddles. The blade is the skeleton of the paddle, and the rubbers located on blade determines how the ball travels. The good news is, its not overly complicated. With this helpful walkthrough, you can do it!
Standard ping pong paddles like the Killerspin Jet 800 come with the blade and rubbers as a single assembly. They are designed for a specific playstyle and grip. A custom ping pong paddle is made to each player’s personal specifications and style.
If you have a custom paddle, you can have a thin blade paired with thick rubbers or vice versa. You can also have the handle shaped to accommodate either of the two types of grips: pen or handshake.
Two main disadvantages come with having a custom ping pong paddle. First, depending on the materials used, it can be expensive to make one compared to buying it premade. Secondly, you have to ensure that your materials fall within the rules of the International Table Tennis Federation.
For example, your blade must be at least 85% natural wood, and your rubbers can be no more than 2 millimeters thick including sponge and adhesive.
Now let’s take a look at each of these parts of the paddle and discuss how you can customize them to suit your style of play. We’ll start with the blade.
Blades are made of several layers of ply, usually three to seven. Unless you’ve got some pretty advanced equipment, you aren’t going to be able to make your own plywood, so you’ll have to stick with prefab. The different thicknesses of ply influence how your force is transferred from the paddle to the ball.
Thin plywood works best for paddles dedicated to controlling the ball and executing tricky shots. This is because they’re flexible and have plenty of give to them. These properties of the wood lend themselves well to slower-paced games. If you’re just batting a ball back and forth across a table casually, keep a lighter blade on hand.
Thick blades, on the other hand, work best for power players. If you use a thicker paddle, odds are you prefer to send the ball blistering across the court at breakneck speeds...So fast, you don’t want your opponent to see it. It’s similar to the differences between power hitters and place hitters in baseball. You need something that’s between three-quarters and a full inch thick.
Next, let’s consider the rubbers. The rubbers are the two pieces of rubber that glue onto the blade. Its purpose is to transmit the energy from your swing to the ball; if you didn’t have good rubber, your paddle would likely not last very long due to the thinness of plywood and the constant stress it would be experiencing.
You’re going to have two different rubbers, one on each side of the paddle. The official tournament rules were updated in 1986 to require the two rubbers to be of different colors: red and black. In theory, the red side imparts more speed and less spin. Whether this is true is up for debate; if you’re good enough and have proper technique, you should notice little difference. Even so, the rules are that you need red and black rubbers.
The next thing to think about is how you want the rubbers installed. Do you want the pips facing inward or outward? The pips are the small protrusions that give the rubber its textured surface. Longer pips add more speed to the shot. Typically, rubbers come already attached to the sponge.
It’s definitely possible to make a custom ping pong paddle from scratch. Here’s a great guide on how to do so.
However, we’re going to assume you have your blade and rubbers already picked out and ordered, now it’s just a matter of putting them together. You will need table tennis glue; it is specially formulated to work with your rubbers. If you try to use other types of glue it will not hold properly.
Use a small sponge to spread a thin layer of glue on your rubber and allow it to dry. New rubbers are going to be more absorbent than you’d expect so it’s going to take two layers. So, allow the first layer of glue to dry. It should still be a little sticky to the touch. Next, apply a second layer. Remember that you can always add more glue if needed.
While you’re waiting, sweep any packaging debris or dust off your blade, put a thin layer of glue on it, and let it dry. This shouldn’t take more than fifteen to twenty minutes as long as you don’t overdo it. Then apply the glued rubber to the blade, ensuring that it adheres. Now take a sharp pair of scissors and cut around the blade so the rubber matches the blade shape.
Repeat the entire process for the other rubber. If you try to attach both of them at once, it will be tricky to cut them properly. After both sides of the blade are covered and the glue has set, place it on a flat surface and put a heavy object on top to compress it further.
Video Source: Ben Larcombe
For the best Ping Pong Blade, you’ll want the Butterfly Viscaria paddle. This paddle features a carbon-poly fiber and plywood construction, giving it loads of extra power! If you’re a player that likes to put speed and power into your shot, the Butterfly Viscara is right for you.
It is heavy and relatively inflexible, so it sends balls in a flatter arc - provided you have good table tennis fundamentals. Novice players will struggle controlling this paddle. However, if you have solid attack technique, this paddle gives you ample speed and power that will overwhelm an unprepared opponent, and is well worth the price.
Need something with a lower price point or different play style? Look for the Joola Rossi Emotion. The main draw of this blade is that it has a penhold handle, making it best suited to players with a penhold grip.
The penhold grip places the index finger and thumb on one side of the paddle so that only one side is used. It’s harder, and more unpredictable because most players use a handshake grip.
The blade is made of five layers of plywood coupled with two layers of veneer. The relative thickness leads to more power without sacrificing control. Its main disadvantage is that it’s not suited for defense.
The layers of carbon increase the optimal striking surface of the blade, so it is a little more forgiving to newer players who haven’t gained most precision yet. The penhold grip will take some getting used - so be patient if your trying that style for the first time.
If you’re really on a budget, check out the Petr Korbel.This blade, unlike the others on this list, does not have any augmentation to the material. It is pure plywood, which makes it a little stiff, powerful and appealing to people who prefer simpler aesthetics.
The flared handle lends itself well to penhold and shakehold grips, so no matter which style you learned you’ll be able to use this blade. Like the other blades we’ve seen, this one isn’t ideal for defensive minded players.
The Tenergy 05 rubber sheet can compensate for many weaknesses of a stiff blade. It has proprietary sponge technology that is able to compress and keep the ball on the paddle for longer periods of time - perfect for spin!
This imparts an unpredictable spin on the ball and can throw opponents off their rhythm. However, the extra springiness can make the ball move too fast for players to control until they get used to it.
If you’re someone who’s just starting out or who’s on a budget, the Mark V Yasaka might be a good choice. It uses speed glue technology, which, while outdated by later models can still hold up. This rubber has a good all-around performance profile.
It works well for power, spin, and control, so using this on a blade allows new players to become acquainted with their playing style. Serious players who are looking for characteristics that stand out might want to try another rubber.
Thank you for reading through our list! We hope it has gives you some direction so you can make an educated buying decision when looking for the best ping pong paddle for 2018! Is your favorite paddle not listed? Let us know what paddle you’re currently playing with and why we should include it! We’d love to hear from you!