How to Keep a Ping-Pong Paddle Tacky

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A table tennis paddle sits on an orange ping pong ball table tennis table. (Image: singkamc/iStock/Getty Images)

Winning a game of table tennis requires more than quick reflexes -- you also have to control the ping-pong ball, and that takes good tack. Tack refers to the stickiness of the rubber covering both flat faces of the paddle. Maintaining the rubbers correctly will prevent them from collecting dust and debris that will lead to permanent tack loss.


Commercial cleaning aids exist to remove the dust and debris, but water and a towel will suffice. Dampen a line-free towel with clean water and don't let the water drip when you apply it to the paddle. Move the towel across the surface in one direction. This cleaning needs to be done frequently and on both sides of the paddle. Do it you have a spare 10 to 15 seconds between matches. Avoid wiping a sweaty body part over the surface since sweat dries out the rubber.


Once the match ends, cover the paddles with self-adhesive plastic sheeting. Not only does this protect them from more dust, the glue adds a little tack to the rubber after removal. If you're in a tournament, check with the rules committee to ensure your method is OK; some won't allow players to use plastic sheeting with non-water-based glues.


The storage case, the one included with your paddle, offers the best long-term protection for your rubbers. Whether inside the case or not, keep your paddle out of direct sunlight to avoid exposing it to ultra-violet light. UV light breaks down rubber, making it brittle. Broken down rubber becomes hard and non-tacky.

Increase Tackiness

Natural tackiness varies by rubber type. Adding tack to less-sticky rubbers will enhance your game, but you must follow set guidelines for tournaments. Many tournaments allow coating rubbers with a thin layer of glue, but the glue cannot be solvent based. Once the glue dries, your paddle will no longer be tacky. Washing the paddle thoroughly after each game will keep the rubber’s surface exposed and tacky.


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