Best Ping Pong Paddle Reviewed: Our Top 5 Choices
There are many different levels of ping pong (or table tennis, if you prefer) players in the world.
From casual to grandmaster, with plenty of intermediate levels between. No matter your level of skill, unless you’re completely new you probably have an idea of what kind of player you are.
Do you like to constantly stay on the attack, relying on overwhelming your opponent? Or do you prefer to take it slow, content on just keeping yourself in a good position so you can just get that one good whack in when your opponent overextends?
Whatever playstyle you choose, there’s a type of paddle out there for you.
The only problem: finding out which one that is.
On top of the confusing terms thrown out and wide variety of different constructions for paddles, you also have to contend with each individual brand’s unique ratings for what their paddle’s stats are.
It can be overwhelming to choose a good paddle without feeling like you’ve wasted your money, especially when there are very few truly objective measure for determining what a “good paddle” actually is: after all, you could buy the best paddle on the market, but if it’s an aggressive paddle focused on maximizing power at the cost of control and you’re a defensive oriented player that values ball control above most else…well, it’s not going to do you much good.
So today I’m going to take a look at the best ping pong paddles I can find, and show you the best by type.
As a little bonus, I’m going to do a quick overview of common terms that will be used like “tackiness” so we all have a common reference point.
Ready? Let’s begin.
OUR BEST CHOICE
Killerspin RTG Diamond TC
- Advanced competition table tennis racket designed for players who enjoy an ultra-fast dynamic game
- Head dimensions: 6 x 6 1/4″. Speed: 12. Control: 8.2. Spin: 9.4. Racket thickness: 9/16″
- High-tension Fortissimo rubbers
- 2 layers of Titanium Carbon and 5 layers of wood
A Quick Overview Of Terms
A Quick Overview Of Terms
Shakehand: one of the main types of grip, and the most common here in the western world. It’s probably what you’re used to- you just hold the paddle upright in your fist and play that way. It stands in contrast to…
Penhold: most common in Asian countries (particularly China and Korea), this essentially involves holding the paddle upside down clutched in a few fingers as you would hold a pen. It may sound awkward, but has a few distinct advantages (which we won’t cover here) and has been used to win more championships than you might expect. Paddles designed for this grip typically have much smaller handles.
Tackiness: in short, this is how sticky the rubber is. To simplify things: a tackier rubber gives more control (since the ball sticks to the paddle longer and gives you more ball contact time) while less tacky rubbers give more power (since they bounce off the paddle faster, and lose less of their kinetic energy in motion).
A Quick Overview Of Terms:
Blade: The part of the paddle you hit the ball with (so, everything but the handle). Lighter, harder materials make for a more aggressive paddle, while thicker material makes a better defensive paddle.
Sponge: Most ping pong paddles incorporate a sponge somewhere in the design. Thicker sponges are for aggressive players, while the inverse is true for defensive players.
And those are the main “weird” terms you need to know! Now let’s proceed to the reviews!
Top 5 Paddle Models
Best Ping Pong Paddle Brands
Killerspin’s top of the line.
In terms of construction, this thing is amazing. 7 layers total: five of wood, two of titanium carbon, giving this paddle a very firm consistency for extraordinary power. As that might suggest, this paddle is made for an aggressive player, but still allows for a fair bit of control.
It is rated with a control of 8.4, spin of 9.4, and power of 11.7. For reference, this puts it at around the same control and spin as the other Killerspin paddle on our list, but significantly higher power in large part due to the high grade Fortissimo rubber around the thin, hardcore.
Of course, top of the line performance comes with top of the line price: this sucker will run you over $200.
Well worth it if you plan to go pro, but I’d avoid it if you’re a more casual player unless you’re a true enthusiast who just wants to up their game no matter the price.
Designed for aggression above all else.
Using Stiga’s own ratings out of 100 this paddle has a speed (or power, the two words are interchangeable in any practical sense) of 99, a spin of 100, and a control rating of 80.
This is unequivocally an offensive paddle made for an aggressive player that wants to take control of the pace to start and keep it that way the whole game by attacking strange angles at high speed.
It achieves this with a lightweight 7 ply blade, 2 mm thick S5 rubber, and a flared handle for extra grip.
The Stiga Pro Carbon will cost you a higher than average price (a little over $100) but it’s one of the best around for aggressive players on the competitive stage.
One of the preferred paddles of professional players.
According to Butterfly, more than 50% of participants used their rubbers and blades in 2017, which is quite impressive. The paddle is designed for superior control, using a very tacky and quite thick 2.1 mm Wakada rubber over a variable blade (Butterfly traditionally lets you mix and match parts to your preference).
It will only run you a bit under $100, which seems pretty fair given the high proportion of professionals that prefer their rubber (nearly 60%, where it’s “only” 56% or so that prefer the blades). Not bad.
A good, versatile paddle.
As you might expect from what is essentially the official brand of international tournaments, DHS makes a perfect paddle for balanced “all rounder” players that like to equally play offense and defense.
It has a 5 ply blade (5.6 mm thickness) with a 1.5 mm rubber coating. In keeping with it being the name brand of ping pong paddle, its blades can come attached to any style of grip you choose: they offer the 6006 in flared, straight, and even penhold grips.
Compared to some of our other brands with their more specialized paddles, the 6006 is quite cheap, at under $100.
This makes it a great paddle for beginners who want a quality paddle that can be used in any setting and are still finding their style before branching out to a more specialized paddle if they find their playstyle lends itself to a more offensive or defensive style of play.
A perfect transitional blade.
This one is interesting, designed sort of as a training paddle for intermediate players to get a handle on controlling spin at higher power. It’s not quite designed to be professional grade but is viable enough that one could use it in a tournament if it fits their playstyle well enough.
The blade is exceptional at a 7 ply wooden blade with a 2 mm soft sponge to increase power, coated in “Joola Infinity” rubber designed for the aforementioned spin training. The rubber can be replaced or upgraded, leaving you with a very good blade that can be re-sheathed in whatever rubber best suits you at a later time.
It will run you close to $100, leaving you with a price as intermediate as the paddle. I quite like this one, since it’s good for anybody looking to step up their game but already knows what their playstyle is.
Best Paddles by Purpose
Best Professional Ping Pong Paddle
Killerspin RTG Diamon TC
Want power? This paddle’s got it.
A quick recap: 8.4 control, 9.4 spin, 11.7 power (out of a 10 point scale). It’s constructed of 7 layers (5 wood, 2 carbon) and uses Fortissimo rubber. I think the impressive thing is that of all the aggressive paddles we’ve looked at today, this one has the highest control.
I’ll admit a bit of bias as to this being the best professional paddle: I prefer an aggressive game. I get bored if there’s too much back and forth, and I like the flashy power hits and experimenting with how I can make the ball curve and bounce at weird angles while my opponent dances to my tune.
Admittedly, I’m not the best player, and I prefer that playstyle in part because I lack the skill to play the defensive game very well, but hey, it’s what I like, and this paddle performs perfectly for that playstyle.
Best Ping Pong Paddle for Spin
STIGA Pro Carbon
Top of the line for power and spin.
We already talked about this one up above, but a quick refresher: speed of 99, spin of 100, control of 80 (all out of Stiga’s 100 point scale).
While some paddles match the Pro Carbon in spin, most don’t come up with this paddle’s power, either. Most power paddles I’ve seen go with a more firm, less tacky rubber to eke out even more speed with control. The Pro Carbon, on the other hand, sacrifices that extra control for a bit of unpredictability.
Essentially it turns a downside (the lack of control, relative to its other stats) into a potential upside, making your opponent play a reactive game and letting you control the pace.
Best Ping Pong Paddle for Control
Another great Stiga.
This one takes the spot due to a bit of extra quality and a good all-rounder stat spread.
It rates a 96 on spin, 94 on speed, and 90 on control out of Stiga’s 100 point scale, giving it a perfect balance. This is achieved with a nice construction, being made of a 6 ply light blade, a 2 mm sponge, and high-quality premium rubber.
While a few other paddles around have a higher control rating on their respective scales, this one backs up that control with a good amount of power and spin as well, making it perfect for someone that plays a game with the goal of being able to cover all their bases: safe returns, devastating spikes, and attacking the angles with good spin.
This one also has a relatively modest price for a pro level paddle: under $100. This makes it perfect for the intermediate player looking to play in local tournaments, or even all-rounder professionals (which is a large proportion, as they have no weak matchups and can bank on consistent plays).
Best Custom Built Ping Pong Paddle
As you might expect, it’s difficult to tell you what the best custom built paddle is or what its specs are. After all, the whole point of a custom built paddle is it’s built to the individual’s specifications and will vary completely from person to person.
To that end, I feel DHS is the best brand for custom paddles for simple fact that they’re one of the only major brands that offer almost complete customization (they have a wide variety of blades, rubbers, and handle styles you can mix and match as you please on their website) at pretty reasonable prices.
They’re perfect for anyone that looks at the other major brands with their pre-built paddles and determine none quite meet their preferred playstyle or are too heavy, or they really want an otherwise aggressive paddle with a really tacky rubber, or what have you.
Many brands’ custom paddles come down to simply offering a customizable look rather than quality, but DHS bucks this trend quite well. Give them a look.
Best Recreational Ping Pong Paddle
Killerspin Jet 200
Good, cheap, easy to use.
When thinking about what makes a good recreational paddle, I thought back to when I first started playing. My reflexes were slow, I didn’t like running around a bunch or stretching to catch the ball, and I had a lot to work on.
So I thought: what makes a good recreational paddle isn’t what necessarily makes the best one. In fact, it is in many ways the opposite concept.
This paddle has a control of 8.5, a spin of 7, and a speed of 6 (using Killerspin’s 10 point rating scale), meaning it results in an overall slow game when compared to some of the higher end paddles…and that’s a good thing.
Whether you’re just playing with some friends or learning so you can step up your game, you want to start at a relatively low speed, with enough spin to keep things interesting but enough control the ball goes where you aim it.
In addition to its appropriately low stats, it has an appropriately low price: under $50.
This isn’t going to be the paddle that carries you to the regional championships or anything, but in any more casual setting it’s perfect, and cheap enough you can buy a couple for your game room.
Best Budget Ping Pong Paddle
Surprisingly good, for the price.
Scores out of 100: 61.5 for speed, 59 for spin, 85 for control.
You could honestly do a lot worse for under $50 than a 5 ply handle and Wakaba rubber (the same used on the best Butterfly up above).
It makes for a slow-paced game on your end, but that’s great for a defensive player. While ITTF approved, I doubt this one sees much tournament use at the higher end, but for someone skilled at the game and looking to climb the ladder a bit before breaking the bank on a high-end paddle, this is a downright great budget option.
Give this one a look if you’re a more casual player or defensive specialist and see how it feels in the hand. While not quite as good as the Killerspin Jet 200 in a lot of ways, it still gives a pretty solid performance for half the price.
BEST OVERALL PADDLE
Killerspin RTG Diamond TC
Choosing the best ping pong paddle is an inherently subjective matter, but I hope I managed to cover a wide enough variety of paddle for every kind of player.
While I stand by Killerspin’s Diamond as the best ping pong paddle, it really could have gone to any of the professional level paddles on this list. The Diamond simply fits my preferred playstyle the best.
That said, it doesn’t discount that any of the DHS, Stiga, or even JOOLA paddles on this list aren’t the best for somebody out there, though Stiga in particular tends to like to compete in the same arena as Killerspin with its aggressive paddle designs, while the two other major brands trend toward more all around or defensive play styles (which makes sense for DHS in particular as the former official provider of the Olympic table tennis games; they needed equipment that covered all the bases).