Table Tennis/ Ping-Pong Ball Recommendations and Rants

They Don't Make Them Like They Used to...

Photo of Stiga 3 Star Table Tennis Ball
Stiga 3 Star 40mm Table Tennis Ball. (c) 2006 Greg Letts, licensed to About.com, Inc.
I'm going to slip into my "things were better in my day" mode for a while here, so please bear with me and don't take my complaints too seriously!

What has happened to the quality of ping-pong balls these days? Talk about use once and throw away!

These 40mm table tennis balls just don't last - remember the days where you had the same Nittaku or TSP 38mm ball in your bag for 3 years? Now you have to carry out a six-pack to make sure you aren't in danger of running out!

I Want to Know - Who's Responsible?!?!

Is it a grand conspiracy by the manufacturers to make us table tennis players buy more balls? Or are they just sending all their worst balls to where I play in Perth? I don't know, but I'm getting increasingly fed up with paying over $3 for a ball that cracks within a month. I need a table tennis ball repair kit!!

Having got that off my chest, here are my evaluations of the old balls of the past, and the current balls on offer.

(PS - I've read that many of the balls these days are made by the same manufacturer - that may be true but this is still how I feel about the different brands of balls)

38mm Table Tennis/Ping-Pong Ball Reviews

TSP White 3 Star: My personal favorites - the old TSP white balls stayed easy to see even as they got old, and lasted quite a while before cracking. An even bounce and true flight were other characteristics. (Sigh! - oh, the good old days!)

TSP Orange 3 Star: I never liked these that much - they just didn't seem to match up to the white version.

Nittaku White 3 Star: My second favorite ball - they lasted the longest of any ball I knew, but they did seem a little heavier and less spinny than the TSPs. Probably just in my mind though.

Nittaku Orange 3 Star: I don't really remember using these much - so they must have been OK I guess.

Butterfly 3 Star: Never a favorite of mine - it just didn't seem to feel as nice as the TSP or Nittaku.

Peace 3 Star: I think these were used for the 1988 Olympics. We got some over here to try, and I think it is fairly safe to say they were utter rubbish. A bad batch maybe - but we didn't bother ordering any more to find out!

Doublefish 3 Star: I quite liked these myself - they played a lot like the Nittaku. Some other local players didn't seem to appreciate them though.

Double Happiness 3 Star: I don't think any of the locals liked these ones much - too cheap and erratic quality.

Stiga 3 Star: Never saw many of these - they seemed OK to me though - a bit like the TSP but didn't last as long.

40mm Table Tennis/Ping-Pong Ball Reviews and Recommendations

Nittaku 3 Star White/Orange: These seem to be the best of a bad bunch. They last longer than everything else, but then they should for the price they are charging! The feel and bounce is OK as well - but they still don't last as long as the old 38mm balls IMHO.

Double Happiness 3 Star Orange: I like the way these play, and they last almost as long as the Nittaku and are a bit cheaper.

Double Happiness 3 Star White: Play like the DHS Orange but last about half as long! Needless to say these are the balls we are using in pennants and competitions!

Stiga 3 Star White/Orange: Both versions play OK, but neither last all that long. At over $3 AUS a ball - not good value for me.

Stiga Club: I have a couple of people I play who are always trying to use these balls in matches with me - I like to give them a hard time about it but the Club balls actually seem to bounce and feel alright. Good value at the price.

Butterfly 3 Star Orange: I picked up a gross of these cheap for my robot, and occasionally grab a couple to use in match practice. I quite like these actually - they play well and last pretty long too.

Butterfly Training Ball: These are good balls. They play just as well as the 3 star balls (IMO) and are much cheaper - if I was running a club I'd be using these.

Butterfly Youth Training Ball: Rubbish - we received a gross of these balls, and honestly at least 20% of the balls must have been virtually unusable due to deformities.

Possibly a bad batch but I doubt we'll be ordering these again to check!

TSP 3 Star: I haven't seen any 40mm versions of the TSP balls - whether they have stopped production or we just don't get them locally I don't know.

Conclusion

So what's the point of all this? Nothing much really - just wanted to say my piece and put it up on the net, where maybe a manufacturer might read it one day (and laugh his head off, probably!). With all the improved technology these days, are the manufacturers really trying to tell us that they can't make a table tennis ball that actually lasts more than a month? That we've gone backwards since the 38mm balls? Who'd like to bet that they can make balls that last for years, but just don't want to? I mean, why would they?

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