Choosing a blade must be the most important and also an annoying thing when you plan to play table tennis properly. There are hundreds of choices on the market and multiple types of their characters, what is the right choice for me? What kind of blade suit me well? Or even, what’s my playing style? Everyone must have thought about these questions.
Well, the character of a blade can be defined by its weight, wood and carbon, and structure. Different combinations create countless choices, but there is a general method which could guide you to find which one could be the potentially perfect one for you.
Before you start, you may want to learn about First Speed and Second Speed to give you a better image of what you are seeking.
Playing table tennis is all about Speed and Spin, which actually mean First Speed and Second Speed. If you can play either of them to the perfection you will win the game. Like your smashing is too fast to be seen or your loopping is spinny enough to make the ball bounce back to your table.
But we all know that is not gonna happen, what we can do is to find the balance between speed and spin and do our best to make it effective. Therefore, how your blade performs is valuable.
Let’s see how weight, material and structure affect the character of a blade:
Weight: The heavier your blade is, the more power you need to generate to do the blocking and pushing and smashing, it may slow your movement a little bit if your blade is way to heavy for you. However, a heavy blade can raise the upper limit of your smashing, it will always be faster if you play your smashing with a heavier blade if you have the power. Imagine you throw a cobblestone and a brick to your television, we all know the difference.
Wood and carbon: Different wood sheet has a different character, and it is almost impossible to explain, but we can sum it up in three aspects and extract useful information: Thickness and Hardness.
The thicker and harder the wood sheet is, the more power it needs to make it band and generate elasticity, and the quicker the ball will bounce away.
So, we can imagine the following situations for instance:
Hard/thick surface combines with thin/soft core. When you play a gentle touch, the surface will barely band and stop the impact force transmitting to the core, bounces the ball away immediately with little elasticity. When you play smashing, you will have to generate more power to penetrate the surface to gain the elasticity of the core.
Thin/soft surface combines with hard/thick core. It is easier to make the surface band and gain its elasticity with a gentle touch and the surface will hold the ball for a little bit longer. When it comes to smashing, it’s easier to use the elasticity of the core as well.
Sounds like the second situation is way better than the first one? Well, NO.
Usually, the softer and thinner the wood sheet is, it has less elasticity and its recovery is slower. Which means even though it’s easier for you to use its elasticity, but it may not as powerful as the hard/thick one.
So, it’s all about balance. Just like the First Speed and Second Speed.
However, the carbon part is simple. The carbon sheet itself provides elasticity and it’s light. The more expensive the carbon sheet is, the better elasticity you are buying.
Structure: Structure is the answer all the manufacturers give to seek the balance we mentioned above.
We all know that KOTO is a beautiful wood and provide a firm and solid feeling with decent elasticity, but have you ever seen a blade made by KOTO surface and KOTO second layer and KOTO core? I bet you haven’t. Why? Cuz that is for Superman. An all-KOTO blade will be extremely hard and need massive power to gain its elasticity, along with huge vibration.
Maybe you can do one or two lighting smash with it but after that, you need to generate power to play every serve and block and loop etc. It’s exhausting and unworthy.
So, learn the structure of a blade and think about what you need, it will help you to make a good choice.
In general, a suitable blade will enhance your advantage and not make your weakness weaker. But never think that a blade can save the practice for you. It’s a weapon, not a buff.