Table tennis rubber selection guide (2023)

lar→ Guide to choosing table tennis rubbers


You may notice that most of our rubber sheets have ratings for speed, spin, and control. A speed rating below 50 means very good control. 50-70 is a good overall rating, and anything above 70 is considered fast for offensive play.

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Preferred rubber sheets are mostly inverted flat and sticky. Some players still use the points for faster, more direct shots. Others may use long pips on one side, giving a knuckleball effect and reversing the opponent's spin. A small percentage of players use an anti-spin rubber for defense, which also reverses the opponent's spin. Long pips and anti-spin are mainly used for easier control against loops and spin serves, but it also takes more practice and getting used to. The sponge behind the rubber comes in different thicknesses from 1.2mm to 2.5mm. The thickness of the sponge and the color of the top sheet (red or black) can be selected before adding a rubber sheet to the shopping cart.

The finer the sponge the better the control, a thicker sponge gives you more speed with less control. Therefore, it is possible to slow down a fast racket by using a thinner rubber sponge. Some players will use a fast offensive rubber on the forehand and a slower, more controllable sheet on the backhand. All gum sheets are charged per sheet only. For a complete racket you will need 2 sheets of rubber.

Rubber FAQ

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by Jason R. Shaver ( Partner)

How does sponge thickness affect performance? If it does affect speed, why are rubber sheets given a speed rating no matter what thickness is chosen?

The quick and easy rule of thumb is that thicker pads (2.0mm or more) result in more offensive play. 1.9mm to 1.5mm is used by more 'control' or all players, while smaller numbers are common for both short and long rubbers.

When you hit a ball and make contact, the sponge catches the ball and slows it down. As the ball continues to move towards the sponge and hits the wood below, the sponge helps kick the ball back.

Throughout the above process of catching and throwing the ball, the sponge allows the rubber top sheet to rub against the ball, adding a greater amount of spin than could be achieved without the sponge.

By looking at the speed and spin ratings of different rubbers, you can see that they don't break them down for different sponge thicknesses. This is because the sponge effect changes depending on how you hit and throw. For example, if you hit a soft shot, the sponge will slow the ball down (absorbing shock), but a hard loop will speed up your shot (allowing you to hit bigger shots).

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Some tires are labeled by thickness (in millimeters), such as 1.9 or 2.0, while others are labeled MAX, MX, or Maximum. ITTF rules state that the maximum of the sponge and top layer cannot be more than 4.00mm. There is no hard and fast rule for rubber topsheet thickness (1.4mm to 1.7mm are common thicknesses for topsheets), so the manufacturer produces sponges labeled Maximum to be as thin as possible. As thick as possible while maintaining, if less than 4.00mm, they usually include a large enough margin of error to counteract the thickness of the glue used to attach the rubber to the sheet.

Why is the hardness of a rubber sheet important?

The grade represents the hardness of the sponge. A lower number means a softer sponge, a higher number means a firmer sponge. To give you an idea, a rubber band is around 25 and a car tire is around 80. Most table tennis rubbers will have between 30 and 45.

  • A lower number will tend to provide more effects at lower speeds (including services).
  • A higher number will tend to provide more spin at higher speeds.
  • Players who tend to play the 'Chinese' style (straighter elbow when looping) will find that a higher number is better.
  • Players who tend to play in a 'European' style (bent elbow when looping) will find a smaller number better.
  • Higher rated players tend to enjoy higher numbers than beginners.

Beginners (below 1200 USATT rating) will not be able to feel the difference. If in doubt, choose a smaller or medium number.

What is a high tension/prestressed/tensile rubber sheet?

With the ban on VOC-based glues (such as quick glues) and reinforcement, manufacturers need another way to deliver extreme effects. Quick glue that is worked by swelling the sponge with what is basically a combination of rubber cement and paint thinner. This has the effect of massively stretching the topsheet beyond what would be done with normal manufacturing. Tension rubbers are rubbers in which the top layer is stretched before it is glued to the sponge during manufacturing.

There are two different methods of 'stressing' rubber, chemical and mechanical:

  • mechanically tensioned rubbersthey are produced by gluing the rubber top sheet to the sponge in a negative pressure chamber (such as a weak vacuum), this causes the sponge to expand (visualize a marshmallow in the microwave).
  • Chemically stretched rubbersThey are produced using the same basic method as normal speed gluing, but the solvent is soaked into the sponge instead of the glue. This allows you to use stronger tails, which keep the effect on much longer than typical fast and intensifying tails.

It seems like each brand has their own spin on the processes above, here are some highlights:

  • Mariposa
    • High voltage
    • spring sponge
  • Pan
    • Formula
  • yin ele
    • Maximum Tense
    • High voltage
    • MoxA
  • Xiom
    • energy sponge
  • Yasaka
    • tensor

What is non-slip rubber?

(Video) how to choose best table tennis rubbers (part 1) - backhand side

An anti-spin rubber is a special rubber built to not generate any spin on the ball. The term anti-spin is actually a misnomer. The rubber does not automatically produce 'flat' shots, rather it tends to 'reverse' spin coming your way. If your opponent lands a heavy hit, your return show will have a fair amount of backspin.

Anti-roll topsheets are generally hard (and durable) and soft, more like a hard car tire than a regular table tennis rubber. The sponges range from medium soft to extremely soft. This has the effect of slowing the ball down, even to the extreme where dropping a ball on rubber barely produces a bounce. The best example of this is Butterfly Super Anti and Butterfly Super Anti Special.

There are two main groups that use anti-spin rubbers, "combo stick" players and beginning "modern defender" players. For combination batsmen, anti-spin rubber (especially with soft sponges) allows the player to deal with fast, difficult loops and drives, and changes in speed can really confuse opponents. For modern defenders, the long-term goal is often to switch to long-nosed rubbers. By starting out with anti-spin, players can focus on developing the fundamentals of their style.

additional information

How to Choose a Rubber Sheet by Greg Letts


Compare Rubber Grades

see also

Table tennis racket assembly guide

Guide to choosing a table tennis racket



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