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Why are Ping Pong Paddles Red and Black?

Why are Ping Pong Paddles Red and Black?

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If you have ever played ping pong, or table tennis, before then you have probably noticed that the paddles have a different color on each side: red and black.

You may have even wondered why they are different and felt a slight difference when playing, like a bit more of a jump when you hit the ping pong ball with the black side. Let’s take a look at why they are different and what that difference means.

History of Ping Pong Paddles’ Color Difference

There is a specific reason why there are red and black sides to a ping pong paddle, which all originated many years ago when various ping pong clubs started having tournaments and competitions.

Players participating in a match would break the rules to try to gain an advantage. So officials specified that the paddle had to have two different colors to prevent the players from using two different specialized rubber sheets that created an unfair advantage over their opponent.

History of Ping Pong Paddles’ Color Difference

Today, all ping pong paddles are inspected to ensure that they have been made correctly and that they meet the standards laid out by officials to prevent cheating. Having different colors also allows players and officials to monitor which side of the paddle the ping pong ball was hit with at any given time.

The Differences between Red and Black Ping Pong Rubbers

Many players agree that the red side of the ping pong paddle is a bit faster with less spin than the black side. This is because each side has been made with different materials including dyes and pigments; these materials are used to give each rubber its color, but it changes the texture of each slightly. You may find that the red rubber is somewhat translucent whereas the black rubber tends to be opaquer.

Many manufacturers try very hard to make the red and black rubbers the same so that they play the same way, but some manufacturers are happy that the differences are there. Naturally, some players over-exaggerate the minute differences between the two.

For the most part, the two different rubbers don’t have hugely noticeable differences other than slight variations in speed or spin. But, it is important to note that there are a few versions that have drastic differences between the two. Some players say that they can tell the difference between the red and black sides from one brand to another, while others claim that it is negligible.

Because the red side is considered faster with less spin, most professionals will be seen using the red side for their forehand and the black side for their backhand. Some players claim the black side is a bit tackier than the red side, giving the ball a bit more spin, making it a popular choice for top Chinese players to use as an advantage.

Need to know Ping Pong Table standard dimension? Here's an article for you: What are the Dimensions of a Regulation Ping Pong Table?

The Differences between Red and Black Ping Pong Rubbers

Other Considerations with Color

If a player wears a shirt that is the same color as the rubber you use, that is a great advantage, especially if you serve and play with your paddle closer to your body. This will made it harder for your opponent to see your swing before you make contact with the ball.

However, in competitions, you cannot wear a shirt the same color as the paddle as your opponent must be able to see any contact made with the ball in order for it to be legal.

Another visual trick has to do with the color of the ball. Orange and white balls are harder to see against the red side, whereas a white ball on the black side is very obvious.

Is There an Advantage to Using the Red or Black Side?

Typically, any ping pong paddle with red and black sides has a competitive advantage for each side. The particular brand that one player uses may have less spin on the black side, whereas the paddle another player uses may have a paddle that has more spin on the black side.

Although this isn’t always true, the red side normally makes the ball go faster in most cases. The black side is normally known for adding good spin on the ping pong ball.


If you have been wondering why ping pong paddles are red and black, you finally have the answer. Not only does it help the judges, officials, and players see which side of the paddle the ball was hit with, each side also has a slightly different texture that makes the ball do different things. The red side is best for making the ball go faster, while the black side adds extra spin to the ball.

Need to assemble your own Ping Pong table? We got you covered: How to Assemble a Ping Pong Table

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