Table tennis paddle rules including rubber explained(ITTF)

The table tennis is a game that is played between two players or two pairs. The rules of the game made mainly to equipment, serve and invalid movements.

We are going to describe ITTF rules and explain the rules about paddle in detail here.

In recent years, due to the continuous advancement of technology, more and more games have become a bit of a chemical formula.

The main reason for this is that advances in technology have caused some athletes to choose to inject too much stimulus at the scene.

It is this situation that makes many games unfair, so internationally stricter testing equipment is set. Especially in the area of table tennis, the selection of rackets must also be stipulated by rules.

table tennis paddle rules

Table tennis paddle rules by ITTF

Can special-shaped table tennis rackets be used in international competitions?

Many ping pong players have doubts. We shared the rules of the ITTF table tennis rules for the use of ping pong rackets in the game.

In table tennis, we will find the phenomenon that the referee checks the player’s racket. The basis for their inspection is mainly the provisions of the 2.4 of the ITTF Rules on rackets as follows:

2.4 Rackets

2.4.1 The size, shape and weight of the racket are not limited. But the bottom plate should be flat and hard.

2.4.2 The floor thickness should be at least 85% of natural wood. The adhesive layer of the reinforced bottom plate can be made of fiber materials such as carbon fiber, glass fiber or compressed paper. Each adhesive layer does not exceed 7.5% or 0.35 mm of the total thickness of the bottom plate.

2.4.3 The racket used for hitting the ball should be covered with a layer of ordinary particle glue with the particles outward, together with the adhesive, and the thickness should not exceed 2 mm; The thickness does not exceed 4 mm. “Normal particle glue” is a layer of natural rubber or synthetic rubber without foam. The particles must be distributed on the entire surface with an average density of not less than 10 particles and not more than 30 particles per square centimeter. “Sponge glue” is a layer of foam rubber covered with a layer of ordinary particle glue, the thickness of the ordinary particle glue does not exceed 2 mm.

2.4.4 The covering should cover the entire face, but not beyond its edge. The part close to the handle and the part gripped by the finger may not be covered, or may be covered with any material.

2.4.5 The bottom plate, any interlayer in the bottom plate, and any covering and adhesive layer used to hit the ball should be a whole with uniform thickness.

2.4.6 Both sides of the racket, whether covered or not, must be matte, with one side bright red and the other side black.

2.4.7 Due to accidental damage, wear or discoloration, there is a slight difference in the integrity and consistency of the color of the surface. As long as the performance of the surface is not significantly changed, it can be used.

2.4.8 At the beginning of the game and when the athlete needs to change the racket during the game, he must show the opponent and the referee the racket he will use and allow them to check it.

Most table tennis rackets purchased by people for entertainment are just for the convenience of playing. Amateur table tennis players who choose to participate in the game need to pay more attention when choosing a table tennis racket.

Detail explanation of the paddle color rules

You need to understand the rules about table tennis rackets in the table tennis competition.

Both sides of the racket (rubber) should be black and red

The colors on both sides of the racket should be black and red. Rubber combinations such as “black / black” and “red / red” are against the rule. Even if the color is different, it is against the rule. For example, “blue / black” is not acceptable.

It is a rule that is related to not only the racket regulations but also the rubber regulations.

Why red and black? The reason is that the other opponent can find the side of the paddle easiest to distinguish. It is said that this color combination is used because it is easier to distinguish than other colors and it is clear.

The history of this rule goes back to the 1983 World Championships. An unknown player wins the tournament. The player said that he had black adhesive rubber on the front and black anti-rubber on the back. Which helped him a lot.

If you are playing table tennis, you can understand it, but if it is black on both sides, it is difficult to understand the rotation.

Furthermore, if you attach rubbers that have very different properties such as “highly rotating sticky” and “non-rotating anti”, the confusion will be deepened.

This event triggered the rule to put different colored rubber on both sides of the racket. A few more years later, it was limited to the combination of “red and black”.

You can find the detailed explanation and differences on Red and Black side of a paddle here.

Is the rubber properly attached to the racket?

The rubber attached to the racket should not be too large or too small for the ball striking surface . If the rubber sticks out of the racket more than necessary, or if the rubber is too small and the grain of the racket appears, it is against the rules.

However, a size of about 2 mm is allowed.

You can’t just stick the rubber with an adhesive and start playing in the match without cutting it.

85% or more of the racket material must be natural wood

Conversely, other materials can be used within 15%.

Hyundai table tennis uses various materials for rackets. Carbon, special fiber, etc. By using special materials, we can improved the momentum and expanded the sweet spot of the racket.

It seems that there were rackets made of aluminum at the dawn of the age when table tennis was evolving from play to sports. This is a rule violation by the current default.

The rubber thickness, including the adhesive layer, does not exceed 4.0 mm at maximum.

If the rubber thickness exceeds 4.0 mm, it is considered a rule violation.

The special thickness of general rubber is about 2.1 mm. The default is twice that. If it exceeds 4.0mm, it should look quite unnatural.

The rubber surface should be flat

If the surface of the rubber is excessively uneven, it may be against the rule . By default, the difference between irregularities is set to a maximum of 0.2 mm.

I’m guessing, the reason why this regulation was made is that “the change in the hit ball becomes unreadable”. If the surface of the rubber is uneven, the ball will fly in an unexpected direction.

This won’t continue the rally. It seems that the rules of table tennis require the ball to be changed depending on the rotation and angle.

The gloss of the rubber surface does not exceed the standard

If the rubber surface is too shimmering, it may be against the rules. The gloss standard set by default is 24% or less .

If you are using a commonly sold rubber, it is the default that you do not have to worry about. If you apply oil to the rubber to increase its luster, it may violate the rules.

Is Auxiliary Agent / Organic Solvent Adhesive allowed?

Since 2008, post-processing using organic solvent-based adhesives and auxiliaries is totally prohibited. Also, anti-processed high-rubber is prohibited. Using these will violate the rules.

The Enez test can be used to check if volatile compounds are used.

Since it is a relatively new regulation, I think that many people used to use “auxiliaries” in the past. Please note that it cannot be used now.

According to rumors, there are still players who are processing rubber at international competitions. I wish the players of each country to hurry to tighten the rules so that they can compete fairly.

The rubber is peeled off or partly removed?

The rule may also be violated if the rubber attached to the racket is peeled off or partially removed. It’s likely to be overlooked as a small competition, but it can be pointed out.

It’s a more realistic fault than any of the rule violations I’ve listed so far. As you practice, the rubber sometimes comes off. Before the game, you need to be careful.

Rules for remodeling/processing (How much should I do?)

There are many players who modify or process commercially available table tennis rackets to their liking. By modifying or processing, the range of motion of the wrist may be expanded or the weight may be reduced to make it easier to hit.

In particular, people with pen holders often modify and process it. I would shave and modify the racket so that it fits my hand.

The question is, are there any rules for remodeling / processing?

 If you modify it too much, it may be against the rules.

It’s ok, if the above rules are not violated

Modification or processing of the racket is permitted. However, it will be modified or processed within the range that meets the criteria described above.

If you embed metal in the racket and exceed the rule that “85% or more of the material of the racket must be natural wood”, it is against the rule.

Also, when wrapping the grip tape, the default must be observed. It seems that if it is overly glittering and you wind something that reflects light, it may be considered a rule violation.

Perhaps it is considered that the standard of gloss (of the rubber surface) is less than 24% in glossy timepieces (There is no actual example; it is just a hypothesis and possibility).

When modifying or processing, it must be done within the specified range.

If you confirm with the referee and he says it is OK, there is no problem with your own racket.

By the way, isn’t there a problem in terms of “self-made racket” beyond the level of modification and processing?

Even if you make your own racket, you may still be able to play an official match.

However, in the case of a self-made racket, it will be caught by the standard rule. You must pass the check by the referee of the competition before the match. If you get permission from the referee’s pre-check, you can play with your own racket.

If you do not take permission, you will not be able to compete using your own racket because it is considered a rule violation. It is safe to use a commercially available approved racket. That should have better performance.

There is no default size for table tennis rackets due to international rules

You can actually make a huge racket and play against an opponent (you might lost without even getting one point).

The point is that it is “under international rules” that your table tennis can be of an size. In Japan, there is a rule that JTTAA ( Japanese Table Tennis Association Approved) and manufacturer name must be displayed that says- the name of the manufacturer should be displayed clearly in your paddle.

How should a professional table tennis paddle be?

The basic equipment of table tennis is two paddles or rackets, a smooth table with a net that divides the table in half, and ping pong balls.

The table tennis racket is made up of four parts with very specific technical characteristics that directly affect the type of game you want to develop. We refer to the handle, the wood, the sponge and the rubber.

The handle is the part with which the shovel is picked up and according to its shape and anatomy several types can be distinguished.

Among them are the straight handle, the concave that is narrow in the middle and with a wider base, and the anatomical handle that adapts to the palm of the hand.

Sponge is the material between rubber and wood, and can be found with thickness measurements from 0 to 2.3mm.

The greater the thickness, the greater the speed, but the control in the blow is lost, while the lower the hardness, the better control is obtained to respond to fast and effective blows.

Other technical rules including racket

Cases that give the point to the player:

•  the ball hits his opponent’s racket more than once,

•  the opponent touches the surface of the table with the hand that does not hold the racket,

•  the ball is returned with a racket that the opponent could no longer hold in his hand.

What happens if the paddle hit the table?

Sometimes Table tennis seems like an exciting sport. It is not unimaginable that a player’s paddle can easily hit the table during an extreme point of the game.

Is it permissible? Can you touch the paddle on the table during the game? What will happen if you do so or hit the ball perfectly but the paddle hits the ping pong table unintentionally?

Most players know that if the racket actually moves the playing table, it is considered as a fault. But the thing is any touch could have moved the table.

You can tap your paddle against the top of the table during the game If the table does not visibly move. In fact, you can do anything o the table during a point.

You can lean on it, sit, or even jump on the table, as long as you don’t move the playing surface. seriously! Try it out sometime.

The referees will do objection if the table was moved and they could see it clearly with their naked eyes.

If they(referee) haven’t witnessed it move, who else is there can cut a point from you. This is the only solution to this kind of situation.

So if your paddle hits the table, assume it didn’t happen. Just keep playing. Don’t lose concentration and give up. Keep the ball hitting until the referee calls for a stop.

Rules for ball touching freehand or ‘paddle holding’ hand

During the game, only the hand can touch the playing surface. And many players do so if you have ever noticed sharply. This is where it matters that the table was moved or not.

You can lose a point if this happened. But the main thing to know is if you have touched it during the game. If you didn’t touch it while playing then it doesn’t matter. You WON’T lose a point.

Also, if you touched the side of the table then it is permissible. But not on the table top.

Don’t be confused. The rule of touching the ball and touching the table is completely different. Your hand or finger can be touched by the ball. The rulebook defines your hand as any point of contact up to your wrist.

I have explained what happens if the ball touch your hand or fingers here.

you can find out more on ITTF website here.


Because of the factors of artificial processing, in addition to the strict testing and inspection of athletes, the tools for entering the game must also be prescribed by rules.

Since the table tennis racket has been tested by the ITTF, the rules for rackets are stricter. Whether it is rubber, sponge or even other rackets, the rule mentioned above must be used as the selection criterion.

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