Table tennis rubbers have different levels of tackiness, with some having a very low-friction surface and others being super sticky. But how does this affect the rubber’s performance? In this article I’ll be comparing tacky and non-tacky rubbers in detail so you can understand the differences.
Brief Overview of Tacky vs Non-Tacky Rubber
Tacky table tennis rubbers usually have a harder sponge and generate spin by allowing the ball to dwell for longer on the paddle due to the rubber’s sticky surface. Non-tacky rubbers typically feel more powerful but have less spin capability.
Tacky rubbers are often referred to as “Chinese-style” rubbers, however it is possible to get Euro/ Japanese style rubbers which also have a tackier surface.
|Tacky Rubber||Non-Tacky Rubber|
|Generates spin primarily by gripping the ball||Generates spin primarily by allowing the ball to sink in|
|Typically uses a harder sponge||May use soft, medium or hard sponges|
|Less powerful and slower||More powerful and faster|
|Lower throw angle||Higher throw angle|
|Good for blocking||Good for smashing|
|Higher spin capability but harder to apply||Lower spin capability but less force is required|
The main way that tacky and non-tacky rubbers vary is in the way that they generate spin.
- Tacky rubbers generate spin primarily by gripping the ball when it is brushed.
- Non-tacky rubbers generate spin primarily by allowing the ball to sink into the sponge/ rubber during the stroke.
In both cases, the amount of spin applied to the ball depends on the amount of “dwell-time” it has with the rubber. It’s just the way that they rubber increases that dwell time which differs.
Tacky rubbers are designed to stick to the ball for longer which allows the spin to be applied. They are typically paired with hard sponges to avoid the dwell time from becoming too long which would result in it feeling very slow and weak.
Non-tacky rubbers let the ball sink into the sponge/ rubber layer. Using a softer sponge will increase the dwell time which means that it is easier to generate spin. Harder sponges feel more powerful and faster because the dwell time is reduced.
So which are more “spinnny” then? Tacky or non-tacky rubbers?
Tacky rubbers often have more spin capability, but make it harder to apply spin compared to non-tacky rubbers.
The generation of spin with a tacky rubber is highly dependent on technique, and if you have very good technique then you’ll probably get more spin with a tacky rubber. Non-tacky rubbers are more forgiving in general, and make it easier to apply more spin with less force.
It’s not very clear cut, so make sure you try both types of rubber if you’re unsure which is the best for your technique.
Power and Speed
Non-tacky rubbers typically feel more powerful than tacky rubbers. This is assuming that they are the same hardness.
Tacky rubbers grip the ball more which means they slow it down slightly. Hence, when you hit the ball with the same force, it will not travel as quickly with a tackier rubber.
To make up for the loss of speed, most tacky rubbers have a harder sponge layer which helps to make them more powerful. However, if you are comparing it to a non-tacky rubber with a hard sponge, it will not feel as powerful. This is most notable when looping and smashing.
The lack of power can be useful though in some cases with tacky rubber, particularly for blocking. Tacky rubbers are also useful for blocking because they have a lower throw angle. It can also make it a bit easier to control the game and slow it down.
Caring for the Rubber
Tacky and non-tacky rubbers can be cleaned in a similar way by using water or a dedicated cleaner. It is recommended that paddles with either type of rubber are stored in a case. However, with tacky rubbers it’s also a good idea to cover them in a film to help them stay stickier for longer.
Tacky rubbers typically last longer than non-tacky rubbers because they have a harder sponge. However, the tackiness will decrease over time.
Check out my guide to how long table tennis rubbers last to learn more.
Examples of Tacky and Non-Tacky Rubbers
Here are some examples of inverted table tennis rubbers with various degrees of “tackiness”.
Very Tacky Rubber Rubbers:
- Friendship/792 Battle II
- DHS Hurricane
- Yinhe Apollo III
- Donic BlueGrip V1
- DHS Skyline
Moderately Tacky Rubbers:
- Yasaka Rakza Z
- Yinhe Mercury II
- Tibhar Grip-S Europe
- Yinhe Big Dipper
- DHS Tin Arc 3
- Butterfly Tenergy
- Butterfly Dignics
- Andro Hexer Duro
- Donic Barracuda
- XIOM Vega Pro
- Victas V>15 Extra
- XIOM Vega Euro DF
- Andro Plasma 470
- Stiga Mendo MP
- Tibhar Nimbus Sound
There are 4 main types of rubber. Check out this article on the types of table tennis rubber to learn about each of their pros and cons.
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