The right equipment
During my time as a coach I often experienced players using inappropriate rubbers and blades. Even coaches sometimes do not know what material to recommend to their players.
The andro team has the philosophy that the one and only perfect rubber and blade do not exist. We rather believe that for every player and his style to play there are matching rubbers and blades available that support his style.
Today I would like to give you a brief guideline on how to find the perfect racket for your style!
The blade – the basis
I often see players using blades that are too fast. You should not forget that the blade can be seen as an extension of your arm. This is why you receive the first and thus the most important feedback on your hit through the blade. You should consider changing to a faster blade only in case you are already using maximum rubbers and you do not come around upgrading your speed reserves.
Usually blades of the category OFF- are totally sufficient for the common offensive player. Such blades offer you a good balance between speed and control.
Another big influence on the blade’s characteristics is the used kind of wood as well as the artificial fiber that might have been used for the blade composition. Soft kind of wood (like Balsa) lead to a lot of control combined with less speed. Hard wood as well as artificial fibers (like Carbon) deliver speed and a direct playing feel.
Even 2nd league players like Erik Bottroff continuously question themselves about the best fitting material.
The sponge – soft, medium or hard?
If you take a look into the andro catalogue, you find a lot of rubber descriptions describing the big advantages of a certain product. andro makes it even more detailed by giving an exact information about the sponge hardness of a rubber. Having a soft or a hard sponge makes a big difference in terms of playing characteristics.
In general hard rubbers are faster and they cause a direct rebound. Topspins can be played with more power and even more spin. There is only one condition: you have to reach a high acceleration in the moment of hitting the ball. This is not as easy as you might imagine and the result of a slower acceleration is that you cannot bring the ball into its typical topspin curve. Furthermore harder rubbers only work in combination with good footwork and a well educated technique as the direct rebound does not allow any kind of tolerances.
Professional players usually have a good footwork and a fast acceleration which leads to the fact that harder rubbers are more appropriate for top players.
The big opposite is a soft rubber. Soft rubbers give you the feeling that the ball takes more time until he leaves the rubber. This leads to a better feedback and to more feeling for the ball. In addition to that soft rubbers support a higher curve for topspins which helps a lot especially when you need to open the rallye with a topspin against backspin. On the other hand you need to accept that the rubber’s speed reserves are limited. This is also the reason why blocks and counterspins with the intention to make a direct point are very difficult to play, although you have a great feeling for the ball.
Rubbers which are listed as medium rubbers offer a good balance between both worlds. Many, many other steps in between make it possible to find the matching rubber for you and your personal style of playing table tennis.
The surface – providing spin
Nowadays all sandwich rubbers have a grippy surface. Anti-Spin rubbers are not that usual any more as they are not effective enough any more.
Today the question is: spinny or extremely spinny surface? This point has a big influence on our own vulnerability on spin and on how much rotation you are able to produce with your own skills.
Grippy rubbers also support the curve of your topspins as the ball leaves the rubber in a higher ball-throw.
The perfect racket
You should have recognized that there are plenty of options to create your own racket. This is why you should try to analyze your playing style carefully, if you aim to find your perfect racket from this huge pool of table tennis materials:
What is your strength and what is your weakness?
Which skills do you usually make points with and which skills lead to a loss?
By following these questions you might try to find a good balance with your material to finally create the best possible racket for you.
By the way: it is not only about soft and hard rubbers. As already mentioned before medium rubbers combine the advantages of soft and hard rubbers. I use to recommend especially to beginners rackets with medium rubbers so that they have a good basis to learn all techniques at the same time on a reasonable level. The rubber should not be thinner than 1,8 mm because only rubbers starting from this thickness can unfold they playing characteristics 100%.