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History of the Table Tennis Paddle

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Submitted By pappyaka
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I wanted to discuss the history of the table tennis paddle. When given this assignment, I instantly wanted to do some research on what the table tennis paddle used to look like, the material that it was made out of and etc. To begin with, I read that the table tennis paddle originally was developed in the late 1800’s and did not change until the early 1900’s. The first table tennis paddle was called the “banjo racket” because of its looks and it also was constructed like a small drum, and made a drum like sound when you hit the ball with it. The first paddle was also around 19 inches long, which is unheard of nowadays. As we neared the start of the 20th century, the paddles then started to become made of wood covered in sandpaper, followed by a “cork-faced” racket, which players liked because they thought it, improved their overall performance. As we neared the middle of the 20th century, the changes in the racket increased significantly due to a first time impact from Japanese technology. They tried adapting the racket so it would help a player either on the offensive or defensive side. For example, it says that they made a racket that was wide and had a “pimpled rubber” surface that was preferred by players on defense. Next, they developed a sponge type racket. When the sponge racket was implemented with rubber and was 1mm, it was said that it was more difficult to create spin on the ball. I found it interesting that they finally stuck with this type of material and instead went to a 2mm “pimple rubber racket” while they also tried ways to increase the spin and the way to defend the spin. And from then on, the table tennis paddle has stayed the same for the most part. The only changes could be customizations, where people had grips put on to the handle. According to the ITTF Handbook’s rules on the racket, it can be any size or shape, it just has to have a “flat and rigid blade”. The thickness of the pimpled rubber can not be greater than 2mm. Also, the rules state that one side has to be red and the other side has to be black. Another important part of the blade is that it has to be made up of 85% natural wood, which I now know came from one of the original designs of the table tennis paddle. That is what I learned in doing research on the history of the development of the table tennis paddle from the late 1800’s until present time.

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