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There is an endless variety of rackets, blades, and rubber sheets available. It is beyond the scope of this manual to cover all the different kinds. Therefore I recommend getting a racket of good quality and medium price capable of producing all the strokes discussed in this manual.
A racket is composed of two main parts-the blade or wooden part, and the rubber covering on the face of the racket. Please look at Photos 1 & 2 on the next page. According to official table tennis rules, the rubber covering must be colored bright red on one side of the blade and black on the other side. Plain wooden rackets with no rubber covering and sandpaper rackets are both prohibited. These types of rackets do not permit a player to perform the strokes described in later sections, so please use one of the recommended types.
If you have been using sandpaper, plain wood, or hard rubber, a sponge rubber racket will feel heavy and uncontrollable at first. By following the instructions in this book, you will soon learn how to angle your new racket correctly to compensate for spin and how to apply your own spin to the ball. Robo-Pong 2000 simulates playing with inverted sponge rubber so you should be able to quickly adapt to your new racket.
It is important to have your own racket and to take good care of it. Look for a racket that is comfortable in your hand and feels well-balanced and not too heavy or too light. The fit of the handle in your hand is important. Handles come in several shapes, so try out a variety of shapes and sizes before deciding on one. The wood from which the racket is made should be of medium stiffness, such as basswood, willow, or birch. The blade should be of 5-ply construction. A good starting blade would be the Newgy Acclaim or the Newgy Applause.
The rubber is the next item to select. The most versatile rubber, and therefore the one that I strongly recommend for learning the basics, is inverted rubber. Inverted (pips-in) rubber has a smooth, grippy surface on top of a layer of dense cellular sponge (see Photo 2 ). The smooth, grippy outer surface is the best surface for applying spin to the ball. The underlying layer of sponge rubber gives a catapult action to the ball and increases the amount of speed that can be applied to the ball. This is the rubber choice of 95% of all top players.
The rubber, such as Newgy Mercury or Omega, should be rated medium in spin and speed, high in control, and be 1 1/2 millimeters thick. If these ratings are not displayed on the package, you may need to ask the vendor for these ratings. Look for the ITTF logo on the rubber surface to assure that the rubber is manufactured to ITTF specifications.
Be sure to keep your rubber clean by washing with soap and water after every use and storing it in a protective case. Dirty rubber does not play as consistently as clean rubber.
Although you may buy preassembled rackets (blades with rubber already attached), it's much better to select the blade and rubber separately and have the supplier glue the rubber onto the blade. This way, you may replace the rubber without also replacing the blade. The rubber on most preassembled rackets is all but impossible to remove. Your rubber should be replaced when the tackiness of the surface is noticeably different between the center of the racket where you frequently strike the ball and the edge of the racket where you seldom hit the ball. If you need additional help with equipment selection, contact the Newgy Customer Service Department.
When purchasing a table, look for a smooth, even surface of 3/4" thickness with a sturdy frame underneath. Your net set should be made of cord and have top and bottom strings for adjusting the net tension. Since the side nets of Robo-Pong 2000 attach to your table net, having a good net set is crucial to having the side nets function correctly. Cheap plastic nets and flimsy net posts do not offer enough support for the attachment of side nets. If you have trouble finding good net sets locally, call Newgy Customer Service.
When setting up your table, give yourself plenty of playing room at the player's end of the table. You need a lot of space so your strokes will not be hampered and to give yourself a sense of unrestricted movement. Also it is helpful to keep your playing area clean and free of objects that balls can roll under or into.
Table Tennis Racket, Front
Typical table tennis racket with inverted rubber, front view
Table Tennis Racket, Side
Typical table tennis racket with inverted rubber, side view.