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What are the advantages/disadvantages of carbon blades verses all wood blades?
Generally, carbon blades are faster and more suitable for the advanced table tennis player. For a beginner, it is best to choose a very slow, controlled wood blade. This will allow the player to develop solid strokes because the ball has more dwell-time on the racket. A faster blade is better for an attacking player who contacts the ball at the top of the bounce. A controlled blade is better for a defensive or all-around player who plays from many different distances from the table.
Wood blades have more feel and vibration than carbon blades. As a beginner, it is important to “feel” the ball. For this reason, I would suggest using an all-wood blade for the first three years. After a player has excellent strokes and feeling, it would be advisable to possibly move up to a carbon blade for added power. At the elite level, table tennis players who mainly use power to win points generally play with carbon blades for a hard feel. Elite players who use touch to win points generally play with all-wood blades for a much softer feel.
Carbon blades have a larger sweet-spot due to the reinforced layers and harder feeling of the blade. This will give slightly more room for error if the player doesn’t contact the ball in the center of the racket.
The final factor to consider is the cost. Most wood blades cost between $40-$100. Most carbon blades cost between $60-$200. If a player uses the racket for at least 1 year, paying the extra money is possibly worth it. The racket will last for 5-10 years.
In the first 3 years of playing, I would encourage the beginner to select the 5-ply, all wood Nittaku Rising blade. For those players wanting to use a fast carbon blade, I would suggest using the Nittaku Survellian. For those players wanting a fast wood blade, I would suggest the Nittaku Ludeak (which I personally use).