Good quality table tennis blades and rubbers aren’t cheap, so it makes sense to takes steps to protect your expensive ping-pong paddle from damage. I’ve listed a number of methods you can use to help keep your paddle in good condition for as long as possible. Remember, look after your bat properly, and it will look after you out on the table!
Ways to Protect Your Ping-Pong Paddle
- Manufactured Rubber Protection Sheets. These are sheets of stiff plastic that are designed to be placed on the playing surface of your rubbers, in order to keep dust and dirt from getting on the surface.
Some manufacturers, such as Joola, include these sheets with their rubbers (such as Tango), while others manufacturers, such as Butterfly, sell them separately.
Some of the rubber protection sheets have one side that is slightly sticky, to make it stick closely to the rubber and make an airtight seal. Many players claim that this is because contact with air causes the rubber to deteriorate faster, but I can’t say that I have ever noticed this. Personally, I think it is just to help the protective sheet stay on less tacky rubbers. The only problem with this is that the sticky side also tends to pick up dust and dirt unless you are very careful in handling it, which kind of defeats the purpose!
Greg’s Verdict – The rubber protection sheets work fairly well, regardless of whether they are sticky or not. If they come with the rubber that you buy, then go ahead and use them. If not, don’t buy them separately, as I’ll show you cheaper alternatives in a minute.
- Alternative Rubber Protection Sheets. There are a number of cheap alternatives to manufactured rubber protection sheets, if your rubber does not have one supplied with it. These include:
- Overhead Transparency Sheets. These can be cut to the size of your paddle and provide a nice stiff plastic rubber sheet cover.
- Cling Wrap. I’ve heard of players using this, but I think it would be a bit too fragile and fiddly to be practical. You would get a fairly good seal using it, but I don’t think it would last very long unless you were ultra careful. Mind you, it would be cheap to replace!
- Plastic Sleeve From Rubber Sheet. This is my own personal favorite. Just be careful to only cut one side of the plastic sleeve that your new rubber comes in, and you have a cheap and very effective rubber protection sheet for both sides of your racket, which you can easily slide your racket into. Another plus is that since the sleeve is still intact, when you are using your ping-pong paddle, the sleeve will stay closed, keeping any dust or dirt from getting on the plastic.
- Zip Lock Plastic Bag. This alternative is sometimes used by players that speed glue or boost their racket. The plastic bag protects the rubber surface, while the bag can be closed to minimize the evaporation of the solvents in the speed glue, making the speed glue effect last as long as possible.
- Paper. Butterfly is well known for using a piece of paper to protect the playing surface of the rubber when it is in the unopened plastic sleeve. You can use this paper sheet to protect the rubber, although it generally won’t stick as well as a plastic sheet.
Greg’s Verdict – Unless your racket comes with a rubber protection sheet, the use of one of these alternatives will help keep your rubbers nice and clean when they are not in use. I’d recommend the plastic sleeve myself – you can’t beat it in my own opinion.
- Racket Case. These are to protect your whole racket when it is not being used. There are a number of different types of racket cases out there, but the principle is the same – the racket case is there to protect your racket from damage when you are carrying it around in your bag. For that reason, I’d recommend staying away from the racket cases that only cover the head of the racket, leaving the handle unprotected. A racket case that holds two paddles is a good idea, so that you can be sure that you have your main and backup paddles together.In the About.com table tennis forum, it was even mentioned that some players use a gun case, which is made of aluminum (so it’s nice and light), with foam inside which you can cut a hole in to put one or more rackets. Sounds great, but you might get a bit more attention than you want from airport security when flying with your table tennis bat!
Greg’s Verdict – A good racket case is an investment that will pay for itself by protecting your rackets from all the other junk you carry in your table tennis bag. A must.
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- Temperature Extremes. Table tennis rubbers don’t like extremes of heat or cold. Too much heat will quickly bake the rubber and turn into into a sheet of antispin, while too much cold will make the rubber more brittle and kill the spring in the sponge. So don’t leave your ping-pong paddle sitting in the sun on the dashboard of your car. I also take my paddle on to airplanes as part of my hand luggage, because I don’t know how cold it is going to get in the baggage hold of the plane, and I don’t want to risk any damage to my paddle. Whether that’s overkill I don’t know, but at least if my luggage gets lost, I’ll still have my paddle!
Greg’s Verdict – Unless you have money to burn, keep your paddle at the same temperature that you are comfortable at. Too much hotter or colder and you will shorten its lifespan.
- Edge Tape. This is a roll of cushioned tape that you can stick around the outside edge of your table tennis bat, which is designed to help protect the blade from splintering or denting if you accidentally hit it on the edge of the table (or on the floor, as all you fellow defenders would know!). Some edge tapes are narrow, and designed to just protect the blade, while others are wider, and help protect the rubber sheet from chipping or being pulled away from the blade.
Greg’s Verdict – Edge tape is a good idea, and works pretty well. For me, it’s one of those things that I know I should use, but I don’t get around to it as often as I should. That’s why the edges of my blades are all dented!
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