I often receive emails from table tennis players asking me to recommend the best table tennis blades for their style of play. I should have written this blog post years ago!
When you first start playing table tennis I recommend buying a decent premade table tennis racket. However, at some point, you will need to transition from your premade racket to a custom one and this where things get a little more tricky.
Once you enter the world of custom table tennis rackets you are exposed to hundreds of ITTF approved rubbers and thousands of potential blade options. How can you know which combination to select? And how do you glue it all together? It’s a bit of a minefield.
It’s my hope that this article will help you to understand a little more about the best table tennis blades and give you the confidence to select your own. I’ll also be recommending lots of different blades for certain styles of play.
The Best Table Tennis Blades
If you play table tennis for long enough you will almost certainly come across players who appear to be constantly searching for the “best” table tennis blade and rubber combination. These guys have a nagging sense that their blade isn’t quite right for them and believe that once they find the “perfect” one their entire game will suddenly fall into place.
Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case!
The perfect table tennis blade doesn’t exist (although the $400+ equipment.probably comes the closest). Please don’t waste your time and money endlessly searching for it. You’ll only be left feeling frustrated and unsatisfied – constantly doubting the quality of your own
And with a huge collection of blades, you never use…
So, am I saying that all table tennis blades are pretty much the same and you should simply grab the first one you find? Not at all.
You should 100% do your research, read reviews, try out different blades and try to select one that will compliment your style of player. Just once you’ve chosen one, stick with it for a few years and concentrate on improving your playing ability instead of constantly changing your equipment.
Wood vs Carbon
Before I start with my personal blade recommendations there is one last point I’d like to make.
Many players are unsure whether to go for a wood or carbon blade. A wood blade is made 100% from wood. These are also sometimes referred to as “allwood”. A carbon blade has a combination of wood and carbon. The most common contains 5 layers of wood and 2 layers of carbon.
Carbon blades are generally faster than wood blades and give the player less control and “feeling” over the ball. If you are a new player a carbon blade might make things a little difficult for you. Perhaps starting out with an allwood blade is a good idea.
However, the majority of top attacking players these days will use a carbon blade. Therefore, it is probably a good idea to prepare to transition from an allwood blade to a carbon blade at some point as your level improves. I think once you feel like you have a good level of control over the ball and its spin then perhaps you are ready for a carbon blade.
My Favourite Table Tennis Blade
I’ve been playing table tennis for over 15 years and during that time I’ve only had five different blades. Treat them well and blades will last a very long time. There’s really no need to be changing them every few months – like you might do with your rubbers if you are playing a lot.
For the last five years or so I’ve been using a blade that is very popular with attacking players here in the UK. It is a 5+2 carbon blade that offers a good amount of speed but also isn’t too fast or difficult to control.
It’s not the cheapest blade in the world, but I remember using a friend’s for the first time and immediately falling in love with it compared to what I had been using previously. For me, it was well worth the price. And I’ve got over five years of use out of it!
Butterfly Timo Boll Spirit
The blade I’m talking about is the Timo Boll Spirit from Butterfly. It’s a carbon blade that was designed for the European looping style of play. It has a great balance of speed and control and was used for many years by Timo Boll himself.
Sam Priestley (the guinea pig in The Expert in a Year Challenge) played with it for the last six months of the challenge and I know that a lot of the English national team have used it in the past too – including Paul Drinkhall and Liam Pitchford.
Personally, I couldn’t be happier with this blade and I doubt I will ever switch to anything else now. It works perfectly with the kind of medium-hard rubbers I enjoy, like Tenergy 05 or Evolution MX-P.
If you are an attacking, offensive player that likes to loop the ball then this is a great blade for you. If you have tried some of the super fast new carbon blades and found them too difficult to control then I reckon you will also really like the Timo Boll Spirit.
The only type of player I would advise to stay away from this blade is beginners. I know it can be tempting to immediately go out and buy a professional carbon blade but I reckon it will probably do your game more harm than good. Start with an allwood allround blade first and then perhaps progress to something like a Timo Boll Spirit after a year or two.
Other Offensive Blades
If you don’t fancy going for the Timo Boll Spirit there are loads of other options available to you.
Popular Butterfly Blades
Butterfly has a reputation for producing really awesome offensive blades…
- Butterfly Timo Boll ALC: The Timo Boll ALC is in many ways the updated version of the Timo Boll Spirit. Timo switched from using the Spirit to the ALC once it was released. Buy from Megaspin.net ($149.99).
- Butterfly Viscaria: This one is a favourite on the table tennis forums and was famously Zhang Jike’s blade of choice. In many ways, it is quite similar to the Timo Boll Spirit but if you believe the hype is even better. Buy from Megaspin.net ($149.99).
- Butterfly Primorac: A classic Butterfly allwood offensive blade that has been around for over 20 years. It isn’t as fast as some of the carbon blades I’ve mentioned above but is still a great choice. Buy from Megaspin.net ($73.99).
Wood Offensive Blades
There are also loads of great offensive blades from other brands too. Here are a few of my favourite allwood offensive blades…
- Yasaka Ma Lin Extra Offensive: A 5-ply allwood offensive blade. Similar to the Butterfly Primorac but faster and harder. This one has been very popular for many years. Buy from Megaspin.net ($51.95) or Tabletennis11.com (€37.90).
- Stiga Infinity VPS V: Another offensive allwood blade. This one was developed by Stiga in collaboration with top players from the Chinese national team. Buy from Tabletennis11.com (€59.90).
- Tibhar Stratus Power Wood: A 5-ply allwood offensive blade with a fantastic combination of speed, control and feeling. Definitely, one to try if you like allwood blades. Buy from Tabletennis11.com (€41.90).
- DHS Power G7: An allwood 7-ply Chinese blade that comes recommended by Ma Long. A great option for offensive players on a budget and one of the most popular blades on TableTennisDB! Buy from Tabletennis11.com (€33.20).
Carbon Offensive Blades
And here are some fantastic carbon offensive blades…
- Stiga Carbonado 145: A new 5+2 carbon blade from Stiga that is produced in Sweden and features a completely new style of carbon, never before used in table tennis. Buy from Tabletennis11.com (€189.90).
- Yinhe T-11+: A great value 5+2 carbon blade with a balsa core. This blade is fast and super light. It’s great for loopers you like to stay close to the table. Buy from Megaspin.net ($39.99).
- Donic Waldner Senso Carbon: This is a 3+2 carbon blade and isn’t as fast as some of the others. It is based on the popular Donic Allplay, just with added carbon for extra speed. Buy from Tabletennis11.com (€54.90).
- Tibhar Drinkhall Powerspin Carbon: I couldn’t finish without mentioning Paul Drinkhall’s carbon blade. It’s a complete rip-off of the Butterfly arylate carbon blades but quite a bit cheaper. Buy from Bribar (£69.99).
Popular Allround Table Tennis Blades
As I mentioned earlier, if you are a relatively new player you should stay away from the offensive and carbon blades until you have developed your strokes and control. The temptation is to buy a really expensive and fast blade… but that isn’t going to help you learn.
Instead, have a look at some of the classic allround wood blades that have been used by improving players for years. These will be a lot cheaper and will make it much easier to learn how to loop and block and actually “feel” the ball on your racket.
The Eastfield Allwood Table Tennis Blade is a classic 5-ply allround blade offering medium speed, exceptional control, and fantastic feedback. This blade makes it easy to loop, smash, and attack. But is also perfect if you want to block and control the ball, even chop.
It is modelled on classic allwood blades of the past, such as the Stiga Allround and Donic Allplay, and is perfect for serious beginners or intermediate players. It’s the kind of blade that coaches are always recommending to their young players.
The lack of speed found in this blade means that newer players are safe to combine the Eastfield Allwood with modern fast rubbers and still have plenty of control. This can be a good “next step” once you begin to improve your skills.
If you are looking for something that is easy to use but doesn’t lack the quality of more advanced options, this is the blade for you!
There are two that stand out to me…
- The Stiga Allround Classic is probably the most popular blade of all time with over 1 million sold! It was first released back in 1967 and is still hugely popular today.
- The Donic Appelgren Allplay is another classic Swedish allround table tennis blade that has sold a huge number. It is a little bit faster than the Stiga Allround Classic but it is still very much an allround blade.
Cheap Table Tennis Blades
The most expensive table tennis blade in the world is the Butterfly Zhang Jike Super ZLC. It is available for $412.99 from Megaspin.net and has hugely positive reviews from players and reviewers alike.
If that price seems absolutely ridiculous, don’t worry – it is. While the Zhang Jike Super ZLC is certainly a very good blade you definitely don’t need to spend that kind of money in order to get something nice. In fact, there are plenty of great blades available for just a fraction of the price.
If you are on a tight budget, or just looking for your first blade, I think that Yinhe blades are a great place to start. Yinhe is a Chinese brand that makes very inexpensive blades and rubbers that are meant to be comparable to the expensive branded alternatives.
My favourite cheap Yinhe blade is available at Megaspin.net…
- Yinhe N-9: At $13.99 this is the cheapest blade available on Megaspin – but it isn’t a bad blade by any means. In fact, it has received a lot of very positive reviews. The Yinhe N-9 is pretty fast allwood blade, with great control, that is quite hard. I can’t quite believe how cheap this is compared to other similar quality options. Buy from Megaspin.net ($13.99).
I briefly touched on the subject of cloned table tennis blades in a recent article looking at how to spot fake table tennis equipment. The basic idea is that some of the Chinese table tennis brands deliberately (and fairly overtly) try to create their own version of popular blades.
Chances are a Chinese clone of your favourite Butterfly blade isn’t going to be exactly the same, but I think you’ll be fairly surprised at how good some of them are. Plus, they are a lot cheaper!
Here are a few of the best ones…
- Sanwei F3 Pro: This is an excellent clone of the popular Timo Boll Spirit and Timo Boll ALC blades sold by Butterfly. It looks great too and is only a third of the price! Buy from Megaspin ($49.95).
- Yinhe Pro-Feeling: This is Yinhe’s attempt to clone a Viscaria and Timo Boll ALC blade. From the looks of it, they have done a really good job. The Pro-Feeling is even faster than Viscaria and almost half the price. Buy from Megaspin ($89.95).
- Reactor K-1: This is a very well-priced Stiga Clipper Wood clone. It’s a soft 7-ply wood blade with a decent amount of speed at a really great price. Worth a try. Buy from Megaspin ($29.95).
Handmade Table Tennis Blades
Handmade blades are a little bit niche but I got interested in them a couple of years ago and now it feels like they are becoming more popular among players. In terms of aesthetics, these are definitely the best table tennis blades available.
There are loads of people making handmade blades in small batches or individually for customers. For me, though, there are two companies that stand out…
OSP are probably the “market leader” when it comes to handmade blades and if you go to a big club or tournament you will definitely see a few players using OSP blades. They are based in Hungary.
The brand is owned and run by master blade-maker Robert Palatinus, and Laszlo Peli – an expert on all things to do with handmade table tennis blades. They have managed to get the balance just right between being able to produce enough stock for their growing customer base, whilst also keeping the production small and hands-on.
I have personally tried the OSP Ultimate, OSP Martin and the new carbon OSP Ultimate 3CRW.
Animus is a newer brand of handmade table tennis blades from Italy. However, they have done a really good job when it comes to design and marketing. I always think they look really cool.
I reckon you will be seeing a lot more from Animus in the future as they have so many different woods and styles to suit every player.
I haven’t been able to try any Animus blades yet but I hope to get my hands on one very soon.
Buying a Table Tennis Blade in Australia
If you’re looking for a wide range of top-quality table tennis blades available online in Australia, I recommend checking out OOAK TT Shop. They have great selection of budget Chinese blades (Yinhe, LKT, Friendship etc.) as well as all the big names you’d expect to see (Donic, Joola, Tibhar, Nittaku etc.)
There are so many possible blades to buy that it’s really difficult to know where to start. I hope that this rather long blog post has given you a few ideas. Here are my recommendations…
- Are you a beginner? If so, don’t worry about custom blades. Instead, buy yourself a decent premade table tennis racket. Something like a Palio Expert 2 will be fine.
- Are you looking for your first custom racket? If so, grab yourself an allwood allround blade. My favourite is the 5-ply Eastfield Allwood blade.
- Are you an experienced offensive player? If so, you can’t really go wrong with a carbon Butterfly blade. Something like a Butterfly Timo Boll ALC should be good.
- Are Butterfly blades too expensive for you? If so, perhaps the Tibhar Drinkhall Powerspin Carbon might be a good choice. It’s very similar to the Timo Boll ALC.
- Are you on a really tight budget? If so, you can’t go wrong with the $13.99 Yinhe N-9. A very good offensive blade for the price.
- Is money no object? If so, you will probably really enjoy the $412.99 Butterfly Zhang Jike Super ZLC. It is probably the best table tennis blade in the world!
- Do you want to have the same blade as me? In that case, you’ll want to buy the Butterfly Timo Boll Spirit. I’ve been using it for over five years and I still love it.
As I said at the start of this post, I would definitely recommend trying out other people’s blades and bat combinations before making a decision. I only settled on my Timo Boll Spirit after trying a friend’s racket and loving it.
But remember, buying an expensive new blade isn’t going to turn you into Ma Long. It isn’t a magic pill for instant success. You need to put the work in and do the training. You can find out more about that on my table tennis coaching page.
And please, don’t spend years searching for the best table tennis blade. It’s a wild goose chase without a goose!
Thanks for getting this far! If you think I’ve missed anything or would like to share a blade with us that you really rate then please leave a comment below. I love hearing from you all and getting your feedback.