There have been many negative misconceptions over the years surrounding Chinese rubbers, and I hope to shed some light on them. The reality is that generalizations, even if often true, are very misleading, and you should get the real scoop before you make any buying decisions. By getting informed, you can take advantage of lower-priced diamonds in the rough that will match up to their more expensive counterparts.
(1) Myth #1: Chinese rubbers are of a lower quality.
Twenty years ago, this was largely true. Manufacturing was less advanced in China and quality control was low, so you would encounter lots of inconsistencies between sheets of rubber, and lower overall quality. However, times have changed. There have been great strides made in manufacturing and you can get very high-quality products and greater consistency out of Chinese factories.
If you do your research and try out different rubbers from all brands, you’ll see that there are high quality rubbers in all brands and you just need to find the one that suits your style.
(2) Myth #2: All Chinese rubbers are tacky.
It’s true that high tackiness (or stickiness) is a common trademark of Chinese rubbers and European/Japanese rubbers are mostly non-tacky. The typical Chinese National Team member (Ma Long, Wang Liqin, or Ma Lin) uses a tacky rubber on the forehand, such as DHS Hurricane 2, Hurricane 3, or the Skyline series. However, Chinese manufacturers know that the market demands a wide range of characteristics: fast, slow, tacky, non-tacky, so you’ll see the whole range provided. For pretty much any European or Japanese product, you’ll find a comparable Chinese alternative at 1/3 of the cost.
(3) Myth #3: You need an expensive racket to win.
When I was an equipment dealer, I had customers walk away because the Chinese racket I suggested was too inexpensive.
“A whole racket for only $65? No thanks. I’m looking for something around $200.”
The reality is that there is little correlation between the price and how well it performs if you know what to buy. Companies like Butterfly spend millions of dollars more on marketing and sponsorships, and those costs get added to the price tag. It’s true that they are also doing a lot of research and development and make high-quality products, but so do Chinese manufacturers like Double Happiness, Friendship/729 and Double Fish.
There are tons of players using rubbers that cost $14 playing at high levels. Do a survey of players with a USATT rating of 2000+ and you’ll see your fair share of Chinese equipment enthusiasts. My own rating is over 2100, and my racket costs only $60.
So when you make a buying decision, you need to do your research. If you find a rubber that has the characteristics that you need, go with it. If it’s an expensive European or Japanese product, you’ll probably find something similar from a Chinese brand and you can save some money.
In the end, equipment is only one part of your playing success. Take your focus off of equipment and get practicing!
My name is Arthur Lui, and I’m the founder of the Table Tennis Database (http://www.tabletennisdb.com).
Though I’m from Toronto (Canada), I love driving across the border and competing in the US Open. I've been to the US Opens in Fort Lauderdale and Las Vegas so far. I was fortunate enough to get my rating to 2131 through those competitions.
I started the Table Tennis Database in 2008 to solve the problem of finding consistent ratings to compare equipment. I found that comparing the manufacturer’s ratings on the package did not work well across different brands, so there was a need to put them on a level playing field. There was also a lot of information that wasn't described on the package, such as sponge hardness, tackiness, weight and throw angle. I knew that the online community of players could provide a lot of useful insight when searching for what to buy next. After hundreds of hours designing, coding, and caffeinated beverages, the Table Tennis Database was born!
Since then the site has exploded; there are over 2800 products in the database, with over 12,000 ratings and 6,800 reviews.