Table tennis might look like a smaller version of the full-size counterpart, but don’t let that fool you. Players of this sport are quite enthusiastic about it and take it as seriously as full-court tennis players do. It’s a wonderful addition to your home if you have anyone that plays or wants to. It does mean buying the right table tennis equipment though, so you do need to first determine what level of activity is going to happen, so you can buy the right things.
Many families and households just look to table tennis (Ping Pong) as a casual activity for fun with each other and friends, and there are certainly starter sets that come with everything you need in one kit for that. However, if you have anyone that’s deliberately trying to get good, or is already good and looking to win formal competitions, then the table tennis equipment you need is going to have to be more robust.
While table tennis is supposed to be fun, spending money, especially too much, rarely is. Making the right decisions is critical, as bad choices can ruin the enjoyment, but so too can over-analyzing the decisions and never actually getting it done. Fortunately, this guide to buying table tennis equipment is here to help you, first by covering a list of the potential individual pieces of table tennis equipment you might need, and then covering aspects like just how seriously your home will get about playing, where to put the table, and buying online versus buying locally.
Table Tennis Tables
Of all the tennis table equipment decisions you are going to make, this one is the biggest. It won’t just be the biggest in terms of size, but also the price tag, since it’s likely to be the biggest individual purchase you make in all of this. Most tables are pretty standard, but you are going to find differences between regulation competition tables, which are good choices for serious players wanting to practice a lot, and family-friendly tables that might be more kid-friendly and have safety features.
Do consider whether or not you can fit the package of one of these in your car or truck. If you can’t, you’ll need to order online for shipping or buy from a local store that does delivery to local addresses. The whole debate about buying online or from a local retailer is covered more later.
Table Tennis Bats
They’re sometimes called paddles or rackets, but the technical term is bats. You simply can’t play without them. It’s good to actually have more on-hand than the maximum number of players you anticipate being active at once, so that there are spares. Kids from parties might hang on to theirs and take it home, a bat might get dropped and stepped on, an angry player might smash it against the wall, and sometimes they just get lost. Having spares in advance means your replacements match the rest of the set.
Table Tennis Bat Cases
Only the serious players might actually have travel cases for their bats, but they do make for secure storage in your home if you want a formal place for them to be put away between games. At the least, it will protect the rubbers on the bats in between sessions.
Table Tennis Rubbers
The rubbers on bats are likely to wear down and deteriorate long before the bats do, so having rubbers to put back on them helps you extend the life of the bats. If you play a lot, you can figure on replacing the rubbers several times per year.
Table Tennis Balls
You can’t play the game without them, so you need a handful ready all the time for when the mood strikes your family. If you’re practicing for tournaments, you might need a higher volume of balls just to keep your robot going at full speed as long as it possibly can go. Buying cheap balls in volume is great if you want to save money, but a serious player might want to only practice on regulation-grade material.
Table Tennis Nets
Your table will likely come with a starter net, and if your family only plays casually, it might last a long while. Having replacement nets in vacuum-sealed bags ready to go helps though, as you never know when the moment will come that you’ve decided your old net has had enough, especially if your pets have their way with it.
Table Tennis Robots
If someone is going to be putting in long hours training alone, then one thing that can help them out quite a bit is a table tennis robot. You have to be sure someone is committed before putting down the money for one of these those. The cheapest models cost at least a hundred and a half, and even mid-level models run from five bills up to three grand. On the other hand, they often last up to a decade and make self-practice go light-speeds faster than they otherwise would. Don’t let children ever think these are toys though; they ideally would not even have access to them.
Table Tennis Shoes
Casual players are going to be fine wearing any kind of athletic trainers. However, competitive players know that the sport involves fast footwork and swift changes in direction. There are cheap shoes often for sale at tournaments, but also more premium footwear from specialty outlets. Both have their advantages, and the premium pairs often have some features the cheaper pairs don’t. Having said that, even the cheap pairs sold at tournaments and clubs often work better than just general trainers.
Table Tennis Books And DVDs
Some starter sets will come with rule books and DVDs covering the basics of the game and possibly even how to assemble the table itself. Players wanting to get far more serious about table tennis though are going to seek out study materials that cover the many aspects of the game. The right educational material of any form, book or video, will break the game of table tennis down into its many components, tactics, and strategies, and go over each of them in detail, often providing specific exercises a player can practice on their own or with partners in order to improve their individual performance within a game.
How Serious Is The Level Of Play Going To Be?
If you’re just looking for family fun, then you might not want to sink too much money into the table tennis equipment that you buy. That’s especially true if you think the gameplay might not get taken too seriously. If this is the passing fancy of your growing kids or just another activity to put in a man cave where a lot of drinking takes place, then it’s not always wise to waste money on premium hardware that might suffer neglect or abuse, or just go unused. Generic starter models and base equipment at economic price points are good places to start shopping, and you might find that’s all you ever need. An all-in-one kit that comes with the table and a full set of player supplies can often be set up within an hour and mean playing that night on a whim.
Should anyone be taking table tennis more serious than this, then you can move up to higher-grade supplies and equipment. You might have a family member who is an active tournament participant or looking to be, and for some students, there’s even occasionally scholarship money on the line. If a member of your family just seems to have a knack or passion for it, then it makes sense to let them explore it. This is where you might want to get into more of the nitty-gritty like finding out what brands and models get used in competitive play, as well as stocking up on DVDs, shoes, and possibly robots.
Where Are You Going To Put The Table?
You can’t play table tennis without the actual table. The sizes are rather uniform, so you have to measure your home for possible spots where it can go, and then choose from among those. Once you put a table up, you’re probably going to want to leave it there for a while. While most table tennis units can be folded up and moved around, it’s not always easy to do so or a one-person job, so don’t plan on folding it up and out like a sofa bed when you have guests.
One thing you’ll need to decide before you go shopping is whether or not you want your model to be an outdoors unit. Table tennis is often envisioned as being an indoor sport and activity, and it usually is, so players don’t have to worry about sunlight, precipitation, the wind, or the cold and can play anytime. Having said that, an outdoor unit often does make for a fun addition to an outdoor room or backyard entertainment area.
An outdoor ping pong tables does need to be more sturdy and durable than an interior model, and they’re certainly on the market. Just make sure it’s what you really want and need though. They tend to be more expensive and heavier to move. You’re also likely going to be replacing lost balls more often.
Buying Table Tennis Equipment Online Versus Buying Local
When you do decide what specific pieces of table tennis equipment you want to buy, then your final decision is often choosing whether or not to buy from a local retailer or ordering online. Both situations have their pros and cons.
Buying online means you are going to have the most tremendous selection of choices available. You can even order internationally in some cases, which might not make sense at first, but if you or a player in your family follows the professionals and wants to use the very same gear that some of the stars use, you might have to look overseas to find particular products and brands.
In addition to selection, you’re also going to often find the best prices online. This is especially true for anything you buy in bulk or any kind of volume. It helps if your orders are large enough to trigger free shipping, since shipping and handling costs can eat up the possible savings in some cases.
The downside to the Internet and ordering from it is that you do have to wait for your packages to be delivered, with the rare exception of same-day delivery in major markets from Amazon warehouses or the like. There’s also always the possibility of lost or damaged shipments, so you do have to order far in advance of any scheduled needs to make sure you have what you need.
On the other hand, buying online offers some conveniences of its own. The selection might not be as much, but you get things right away. Don’t have enough paddles or balls for an upcoming party or weekend? Just run out to the store.
Another factor that some consumers consider important is keeping their dollars in their community. They figure if they shop local, they help out local jobs and businesses. This can be true, but not necessarily if you shop at a major sporting goods chain. You might support local jobs, but most of the profits go to shareholders living around the world. Supporting a family-owned and operated local sporting goods store is quite another matter though.
Table tennis is supposed to be fun, and even though this activity can get physical and competitive, it should honestly be a stress outlet in the long run. Having said that, there are many decisions involved in buying tennis table equipment, since you have to balance your needs with your budget, and decisions are almost always a source of stress, particularly when money is involved.
Hopefully, this guide has opened your eyes enough to the various factors involved in buying tennis table equipment that you can make informed decisions that allow for safe fun without running out your bank account.