What is the effect of sponge thickness? Is it the same for anti/long pips rubber as for offensive rubber?

 Answer by: Stellan Bengtsson, Only player to have won singles, doubles and teams at both the Worlds and Europe Championships. 67 International singles, doubles and team titles. Coached Jorgen Persson, JO Waldner, Peter Karlsson and Erik Lindh, all World and Europe Champions.

The thicker the sponge the faster the ball speed. The density of the sponge also has an effect. Thicker means faster, the ball doesn’t stay as long on the racket. That means less control and more speed.
            For anti it is about the same, thicker means more offensive and more effect.
            For long pips thicker means less control but more effect.

 Answer by: Massimo Constantini, ICC Head Coach, ITTF High Performance Coach

The effect of sponge thickness is related to spin, speed, and control, the 3 basic areas in table tennis. Every player, every day must deal with these 3 areas. With some exceptions, these principles can be applied to all kinds of rubbers.

A thin sponge gives better control (block and push) and less speed than a thick sponge. The spin created by a thin sponge can suit a player whose style matches up well with the attributes of a thin sponge.

A thicker sponge will have less control (block and push) but will enhance good speed and spin. A very thick sponge will give a lot of speed and spin and reduce control for a simple reason: the rubber is more elastic so to allow the ball to penetrate the sponge and create a spring like effect.

Whatever spin you impart, the thicker sponge will accentuate it, making it more effective. Naturally, playing with this kind of sponge, you have to deal with the control issue, which is the most important issue in table tennis.

 Answer by: Jasna Rather, Head Coach,TexasWesleyanUniversity Table Tennis

Sponge thickness allows a player to play certain styles easier. For example, loppers prefer thicker sponge (from 2.1 to MAX). Overall players that play at a high level prefer 2.0 to 2.2, defensive players require thinner sponge. Recreational players also prefer thinner sponge because the ball doesn’t bounce out of control.

               For long pips it also plays an important role because the thicker the sponge, the nastier the ball comes to the opponent. On the other hand, it is much more difficult to play with and it will take longer to master the consistency. Thinner sponge doesn’t create as much spin and zigzag as thicker sponge.

 Answer by: Samson Dubina, Rated 2461, 2009 US Men’s National Finalist

Thicker sponge gives more of a trampoline effect producing more speed and spin.  Most offensive players use sponge that is at least 2.0mm.  Thinner sponge gives more control and feels harder because the ball sinks deeper to the wood.  Many defensive players use sponge that is 1.0-2.0mm.

 Another factor to consider is the weight.  For senior citizens, kids, and all beginners, I recommend a light racket.  Having 1.0-2.0mm sponge will help keep the racket light.

 Anti/long pips rubbers are not grippy and therefore give spin reversal.  By having sponge, the anti/long pips will grip the ball more and give less reversal.  For the nastiest block with spin reversal, I suggest to use no sponge or very thin sponge.    For the mid to long distance chopper, I suggest using 1.5mm sponge to give more speed to the ball.   From fifteen feet away from the table, the racket must have some speed to carry the ball back to the table.  Although it will have less spin reversal, it will be able to produce more spin on its own and will be more consistent from that distance.

 Thicker sponge is faster

Thicker sponge is spinier

Thicker sponge has less control

Thicker sponge is heavier

Thicker sponge gives less reversal on anti/long pips

Thicker sponge gives more of its own spin on anti/long pips


Answer by: Tahl Leibovitz, USATT National Coach and Paralympic Gold Medalist

The thinner the rubber, the more spin you can make but at the same time you will have less speed.  Players often have trouble deciding between using 2.3 or 2.0 rubber. You have to decide if you win points more with speed or spin.  You also need to know that sometimes a ball with less spin and more speed can be effective.  However it is always better to have a combination of both speed and spin in your attacks.  I like using the 2.3 rubber because when I block, the ball comes back faster at the opponent and I am able to generate a better first opening ball.  If you tend to smash more, 2.0 might be the way to go.

If you are using long pips I would recommend using no sponge or a very spinny sponge to get the maximum effect.  However if you tend to attack with long pips you might want to use a 1.3 sponge.  Just remember that the thinner the sponge when using long pips or anti the better the deception your opponent will have to deal with.  Also remember that when it comes to anti or long pips the thinner the sponge, the more difficult it will be to attack.

Answer by: Scott Lurty, Rating 2328, SPIN New York Coach

For sponge thickness, the thicker the sponge for inverted and short pips the more spin and speed you can produce. With a thinner sponge you get more of a direct feeling, lighter weight, and a reduction in speed and spin which can be seen as a form of control.

Answer by: Sara Fu, Texas Wesleyan University Team, 2011 NCTTA Women’s Singles Champion and Mixed Doubles Champion, Rated 2437.

Normally, thicker sponges are faster but they have less control and spin. Thinner sponges are slower, but they are much easier to control the ball and they can produce more spin and the ball feels more solid than thinner sponges. For pips, thinner sponge is definitely better because they can easily create various spins to confuse the opponent.