Why Are Ping Pong Paddles Red And Black? Some Interesting Facts

You may have wondered, “Why Are Ping Pong Paddles Red And Black?” if you have played table tennis for the first time.

Table tennis players often ask this question when they are just getting started.

If you’re curious about the colors, you may also want to know what makes these rackets different when you play ping pong.

When hitting the ball with the black rubber side, you will notice more jumps. On the other hand, the red side makes the ball travel faster.

Here are why they differ and what effect they have on your gameplay. We will also discuss the history of ping pong paddles during the process.

Why Are Ping Pong Paddles Red And Black

What Is Reason Of Red And Black Paddles

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) ordered that table tennis paddles be different colors in 1986. That rule is meant to ensure fair play during games.

Table tennis players used a variety of rubbers on both sides of the racket before the rule was adopted. The rubbers enabled them to deliver shots and spins of various types.

Some players, for example, wore inverted rubber on one side and long pips on the other. Both sides of the racket are freely used when hitting the ball during the game.

The rubber on both sides of their table tennis paddles was often the same color. As a result, players cannot determine which side of the racket their opponents are using.

Because of this, they cannot anticipate the type of shots their competitors will deliver and how the ball will react. This leaves them feeling frustrated and cheated.

In competition, paddles must have one side of black rubber and one side of red rubber, a rule of the ITTF.

Both sides may have different rubber properties. Nowadays, most paddles have different rubber on each side, just as they did in the past.

Now, players can identify the opponent’s rubber type based on the colors. Ultimately, it will enhance fair play and appreciation of the sport.

Ping Pong Paddle Color Difference History

Source: ettu.org

A table tennis racket has a color difference due to past players using rubbers of the same color.

Chinese player Cai Zhen Hua is among the athletes who prompted the ITTF to stipulate this rule.

The two-time World Vice-Champion famously topped his Ping Pong Paddle with two black rubber sheets.

He used backhand rubber on one side to deliver fast spins, perfect for offensive play. Meanwhile, he returned the ball with low speed using an anti-spin rubber with a soft sponge.

Cai Zhenhua was known for quickly changing the sides of his table tennis bat during matches. He often kept turning before making a shot when using the handshake grip.

Due to this, the opponents were unsure which side of the rubber paddle he would use.

Instead of a fastball coming at them from Cai Zhenhua, a spinning ball came from the Ping Pong Table.

As a result, opponents often misjudge his plays and make mistakes when they return the spin or shot.

When they played Cai Zhen Hua, they’d then get frustrated. The result is that they can’t predict his inconsistent play and loss.

The ITTF implemented the two-color paddle rule in 1986 due to the dominance of players like Cai Zhenhua.

All players competing in tournaments must now use red and black ping pong paddles to encourage fairness.

What’s The Difference Between Red And Black Color Of Ping Pong Paddles?

Source: iStock

After understanding the reason behind the racket’s color difference, you might also be interested in knowing how the two colors feel when playing.

Ping pong paddles with the red side tend to be faster and produce less spin than those with the black side.

A more tacky rubber is used on the black side, which gives the ball more spin.

Due to the way rubber is made, there is a difference in performance. Manufacturers use different materials to color the rubber, such as dyes and pigments.

The red side of the blade has a more translucent appearance, which sometimes allows you to see the blade underneath.

The black rubber, however, tends to be opaque or non-transparent.

These materials also affect the characteristics of the rubber and its color.

Black pigment produces tacky rubber that is softer and lasts longer. In contrast, red dye produces rubber that is harder and bouncy.

Therefore, the red rubber side is typically used for the forehand and the black rubber for the backhand.

The black rubber is preferred by Chinese players for their forehands, however.

The black side is more suited to their playing style because it is tackier and provides more spin.

Despite the slight differences in speed and spin, the differences between these colors are not that noticeable.

Tennis rubber sheets are often constructed in the same way, so they play similarly.

Even so, it’s still important to remember that some players switch up their rubbers from one side to the other.

Aspects To Consider With Color

The color of the rubber can also affect other elements of the game and ping pong ball performance.

This includes the color of your shirt and the ball itself. It is beneficial to wear a shirt similar to your rubber.

You can make it difficult for your opponent to see your swing if you serve the ball close to your body.

You can also use the color of the ball as a visual trick. Less contrast makes it easier to see orange and white balls against the red side.

When you serve, you can use the red rubber so that your opponent will have a hard time identifying your type of swing.

Wearing a red jersey and hitting the ball from the red side will conceal your spin from your opponent.

Competitors, however, are not allowed to wear shirts matching their paddles.

A fair and legal shot requires the receiver to see the ball’s contact with your racket.

Which Side Is Better To Use?

Source: pingpongruler

Different colors offer different speeds and spins. Therefore, you can freely flip the paddle in play if you wish to return the ball in a particular manner.

A table tennis ball with a red side usually spins less and faster.

This is why most professional players prefer to use that particular rubber on their forehand.

In contrast, black rubber tends to have more spin and be slower. This makes it an ideal backing hand rubber.

It’s important to note that this isn’t always the case. Some brands of paddles have less spin on the black side than the red side.

There are even table tennis rackets with both sides of rubber of the same type.

Ping pong rules state that since there are so many paddles available to a player, you can inspect their rackets to determine the rubber they are using.

You can predict what kind of spins they will deliver in-game with this data.


We hope you learned why ping pong paddles are red and black from our article if you were curious.

Since many past players had difficulty predicting the opponent’s spin or speed, the ITTF adopted the rule to make the game fairer.
Players and officials can see which side of the racket was used to hit the ball with the colors.

This also affects the rubber’s texture, which ultimately determines the speed and spin of the ball.

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