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Quick Reference Rules of Table Tennis by Dan Robbins

The Racket (frequently called the paddle or bat)
Size and Weight:
The racket may be of any size, shape or weight. The rules are liberal on this because a larger size or heavier weight would be a disadvantage, because of the speed needed to compete in the modern game of table tennis.

The Blade (the wood portion of the racket only)
At least 85% of the blade's thickness must be of natural wood. An adhesive layer within the wood may be reinforced with with fibrous material such as carbon fiber or glass fiber, but cannot constitute more than 7.5 % of the total blade thickness. A carbon fiber (graphite) blade will be made of wood laminations with one or two carbon fiber laminations. The carbon fiber will add stability and provide a larger sweet spot that provides an overall greater solid feel.

The Rubber (the rubber and sponge portion of the racket only)
A racket may be covered with a rubber top sheet that is attached to a sponge under layer. This rubber and sponge combination provides the playing surface of the racket. How the rubber sheet and sponge is combined determines what type of rubber sheet it is. 

The rubber sheet has two different surfaces. The first is a smooth surface and the reverse side is a pimpled surface.

When the smooth surface is glued directly onto the sponge under layer, the pimpled surface is exposed on the surface of the racket. This configuration is called "pips out" rubber.

Pips Out Rubber Sheet 

When the pimpled surface is glued directly onto the sponge under layer, the smooth surface is exposed on the surface of the racket. This is called "inverted" or "pips in" rubber. 

Inverted or Pips In Rubber Sheet 


The thickness of the top sheet may not be more than 2 millimeters. The total thickness of a top sheet with sponge combination cannot be more than 4 millimeter total.

Two Color Rule
Rackets used in competition, and at many table tennis clubs, are required to have red and black rubber sheets on opposite sides. This rule was enacted to prevent players who use either two different advanced specialized rubber sheets with very different playing characteristics, or rubber sheets of the same type with one side altered, from having an advantage over their opponents. Before the two-color rule, a player could, by using two very different rubber sheets on opposite sides of the racket, gain an advantage by twirling the racket during or between rallies. This would have the effect of confusing the opponent as to which of the two radically different rubber sheets was actually used to strike the ball. As a result, the opponent would be kept guessing as to whether the oncoming shots would be fast or slow, have a lot of spin or none at all. This confusion caused many unforced errors that the rule-makers sought to eliminate by requiring two colors of rubber sheets on a racket.


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