Learning how to customize a ping pong paddle could be a challenging task. The good news is that no matter what you are into, chances are you will find it suitable. Are you into cars? Easy. Are you into certain vehicle makes? Easy. How about a movie or some cartoon characters? Doable. Your favorite artist? Piece of cake.
However, things could become more difficult if you want a deeper level of customization, such as your name, your face, your company logo or a portrait of your puppy – just a few ideas. If you have never done it before, customizing a paddle could be tricky. What kind of tools do you need? Does the blade matter? How do you assemble it together?
These are the first things crossing your mind and the good news is there are plenty of ideas over the Internet – not too detailed though. Finding answers will be daunting, but not impossible. All in all, this guide will give you all the details you need about customizing your paddles and coming up with unique designs.
Why customize a ping pong paddle
There are more reasons wherefore you might want to customize a ping pong paddle. Again, you can find some good options out there when it comes to your hobbies, favorites and passions. But things will become difficult if you need something more personal. Bottom line, here are the main reasons wherefore you might go personal when it comes to customized ping pong paddles.
· Birthday gifts – Nothing will make a table tennis player happier than a deeply customized paddle. Make sure you go for a high quality paddle though.
· Employee perks – Whether you run a sports shop, a table tennis shop or some of your employees enjoy table tennis, customized paddles make excellent employee perks.
· Wedding gifts – Customized paddles make great gifts when your best friends get married, especially if they are also into table tennis.
· Marketing products – Find a star and get them to use your quality paddle. Customize it with your company and there you go.
· Leaving presents – A custom paddle is wonderful for a key employee deciding to seek a new challenge.
· Christmas gifts – Whether it comes to Christmas, Hanukkah or any other celebration, you can surprise your friend with a unique gift.
· Hen and stag parties – While this option may not work for everyone, it is great if you have a few table tennis players in the group.
· Office tournaments – It could be an office or any other type of business. Get your logo on custom paddles or a nice motto.
· Corporate gifts – This option is better if you run a sports business, especially a table tennis based one. Surprise your partners.
· Unique art – You might as well want to customize a ping pong paddle for yourself, so what are you waiting for?
The list can obviously go further than that. There are many reasons wherefore you can customize a paddle, but the real challenge is in how you actually do it.
The concept behind customized ping pong paddles
A standard ping pong paddle features a few parts as a simple assembly – you got the blade and the handle in one part, as well as two rubbers. These types are suitable for particular types of play, not to mention the grip. On the other hand, a custom paddle is based on the player’s preferences in terms of style or functionality.
Customization can go in two different directions. Sometimes, it is all about the design. It makes no difference how thin or thick the rubbers are – you just want a particular design. Other times, it is about the actual functionality – you will customize the paddle based on your needs.
It might be worth noting that customized ping pong paddles will not be perfect, as they have a few drawbacks. First, buying a premade paddle could be more cost-efficient than doing it yourself – suitable for those who want customization for functionality.
Second, if you plan to compete in actual tournaments, you must make sure the materials and sizes you use are suitable for the table tennis tournament rules and regulations. For instance, ITTF rules ask for 85% or more natural wood in the blade, while the rubbers should not exceed two millimeters in thickness – including the sponge and the glue.
At this point, you must decide why you want to customize a ping pong paddle. Is it for the overall design and style? Is it for the actual functionality? Either way, there are a few options to consider.
How to customize a ping pong paddle for style and design
This option is great for both professionals and amateurs. If you are a pro, you might want to advertise for your sponsor or perhaps you want to thank your mother for being your top supporter. If you are an amateur, it could be any reason – advertising, fun and so on.
Amateurs do not really need to consider industry specifications and rules. If you count yourself in this category, you most likely play against friends, colleagues and family. While the blade can take a bit of customization too, most of it will go on the rubbers.
The blade could have an intricate design, a nonslip texture or perhaps a logo. You will find many options in commerce for such designs – simply lookup online. Something more personal could be engraved in a specialized shop. Unless you like woodworking and you have the tools for such applications, you can reach out to a professional carver and get the job done for a relatively low fee.
Rubbers make better customization because they are more visible – after all, you will hold the handle most of the time and no one can see it. Rubber customization asks for more work though.
Customizing rubber implies imprinting the required design on it. You cannot do that with your own printer – not even if you have a sophisticated printer. Anything that is too hot will most likely ruin the rubber too – the ball will go in unwanted directions due to the uneven surface.
Such procedures are not always doable at home unless you own professional equipment. The general idea is fairly simple – you will have to reach to a professional. You can do it online and get the rubber delivered at home or you can find a local service working with customized rubber – you will most likely be able to bring your design or upload it online.
How to customize a ping pong paddle for functionality
There are two main parts in ping pong paddles – the blade and the rubbers.
Deciding on the blade
A blade consists of a few different layers of ply. You could get a paddle with three layers or anything up to seven layers. Again, unless you own some professional equipment, you will not be able to design your own paddle, so you must buy it from commerce. The thickness plays a serious role in the process because it affects the performance.
Thin blades are suitable for those who like control, as well as trick shots. They are flexible and allow all kinds of tricks. They make great choices for average and occasional players – great for slow-paced games.
On the other hand, thick blades are excellent for power players. If you tend to be aggressive and attack during your ping pong games, go for a thick blade. You can smash the ball so hard that the opponent may not even see it coming.
Deciding on the rubbers
There are two rubbers in a professional ping pong paddle. They glue to the blade and they transmit energy to the ball. Good rubber is required for performance, but also for durability. While ping pong balls are lightweight, the blade would not be able to take all the stress.
Official ping pong rules are pretty clear. You need two rubbers. If you are new, you might as well play with one only, but it will affect your balance and style. Back in 1986, rules involved having a red rubber and a black one. The idea was fairly simple – the black rubber is meant to produce spin, while the red rubber is good for speed.
If you have some experience with the game, you may notice the difference. Most newbies will not be able to see it – bottom line, if you want your paddle to look professional, opt for two different colors. Then again, if you are only interested in customizing a piece of equipment in style and design too, colors obviously become irrelevant.
Considering the pips
Pips are often overlooked when learning how to customize a ping pong paddle, yet they are just as important for your playing style. These small “pimples” are responsible for the texture of your rubbers. Some pips can be short, while others are longer than average.
Each rubber has two different sides. One of them is smooth and the other one features pips. The smooth side is good for your spin. To balance things or mix more playing styles, you can have one rubber with the smooth side out and the other one with the pips out. This combo gives you more options in terms of playing.
If at least one of the sides has the pips out, you need to decide between short and long pips. Short pips are quite offensive. They add to your power and allow you to come up with super fast rebounds. On the other hand, long pips are more defensive and allow you to stop aggressive shots.
How to put your ping pong paddle together
Now, assuming that you have chosen the right blade, rubbers and design, how do you put everything together? Can you come up with your own ping pong paddle from scratch? Absolutely.
Apart from the actual parts, you will also need some special table tennis glue. It may look like you can use any type of glue, but you cannot. This type of glue is particularly designed to work well with rubber. Other types of glue may look alright, but they will not hold. A few games later, you will be left with a bare paddle.
Get a small clean sponge as well. Put some glue on it, then spread it all over the rubber. The layer should be relatively thin. Let it dry. Make sure it is well dry – read the instructions. Failing to wait can ruin the final result. If the glue needs 10 hours to dry, wait for 10 hours.
New rubbers tend to absorb more stuff, so you might need two layers – apply the second one once the first one is dry. While waiting, clean the blade and prepare it for the operation. Get rid of all the dust, spread a thin layer of glue and let it dry. Apply the blade and put some pressure – make sure you have an even result. The rubber could be a bit larger than the blade – use scissors to cut around it.
Perform the same steps for the other rubber. Avoid trying to apply both of them simultaneously or you will struggle to cut around the blade. Once the paddle is done, place it on a flat area, put something heavy on it and let it there overnight. It will compress the glue and ensure a more durable experience.
The bottom line, you do not have to be a genius to customize a ping pong paddle. It does depend on the final look you hope to achieve though. Unless you own any sophisticated manufacturing equipment, there is a decent chance you will need to buy a few things from commerce. You may need a professional service to add some customization on the paddle or the rubbers too. Whether you are after functionality or design, you will most likely end up putting everything together yourself and this is what gives you a great rewarding feeling.