A few days ago, while I was training, one of my students asked me a question: “Coach, what’s the difference between a 5 ply blade and a 7 ply blade?” A child nearby chimed in, “Isn’t it simple? One is thinner, and the other is thicker.” Everyone laughed after hearing that, but the child wasn’t entirely wrong. However, this question is definitely not that simple. So today, I would like to write an article to discuss this question in detail.
In fact, the structure of the blade is an important consideration for many people when purchasing table tennis equipment. The differences in blade structure result in variations in speed, control, and other aspects, making them suitable for different playing styles. This article will discuss the comparison between 5 ply and 7 ply table tennis blades.
5 Ply vs 7 Ply Table Tennis All Wood Blade
When it comes to all wood ping pong paddles, there are two concepts we need to understand: “5 or 7 ply” and “large core.”
The term “5 ply” or “7 ply” refers to a blade made up of five or seven layers of pure wood without any fiber materials. On the other hand, the term “large core” means that the middle layer of the blade is exceptionally thick, usually about half of the total thickness (although there are some exceptions where it can be relatively thinner). The large core structure is currently a popular blade construction.
Blades without a large core structure are now mostly found in lower-end pre-made paddles, where all five layers of wood have similar thickness, or sometimes the middle layer is exceptionally thin.
The advantage of the large core structure is that it allows for a deeper ball impact, prolongs ball contact time, and is beneficial for executing looping shots. As looping has become the primary attacking technique in various playing styles (except for fast attacking with short pips rubber), almost all professional blades now feature a large core structure.
Another concept that many players often confuse is the understanding of blade “bottom power” or “kick.” They tend to equate it with the speed of the blade. In simple terms, bottom power refers to the ability of the blade to convert its own elastic potential energy into the kinetic energy of the ball during a stroke.
In other words, a blade with good bottom power allows me to achieve greater power in my shots with less effort. On the other hand, a blade with poor bottom power may feel like it “breaks” when too much force is applied, resulting in a significant loss of power that is not effectively transferred to the ball. The quality of bottom power is not necessarily determined by whether the blade is 5 ply or 7 ply.
The main difference between 5-ply and 7-ply blades is how they behave when hitting the ball. A 5-ply blade is more flexible and bends more, while a 7-ply blade is stiffer and bends less.
With a 5-ply blade, the ball stays on the racket for a longer time after impact. This extended contact allows for more friction, giving you better control and the ability to put more spin on the ball. It is especially useful for shots that require medium to high power. However, when you hit the ball with less force, the racket may feel slower because it takes longer for the flexible blade to bounce back into shape.
On the other hand, a 7-ply blade is stiffer and bends less upon impact. This means the ball spends less time on the racket after you hit it. As a result, shots with a 7-ply blade may have less spin and arc compared to a 5-ply blade. However, the stiffness of the blade allows for quicker rebounds, making it suitable for shots that require less power. Even when you hit the ball with less force, the racket quickly transfers the energy to the ball, resulting in faster shots.
In summary, a 7-ply blade is better for shots that require less power and are closer to the table. It provides a faster rebound and is suitable for players who prefer a quicker playing style. On the other hand, a 5-ply blade is ideal for shots with medium to high power and offers better control and spin. It is well-suited for players who rely on spin and control in their game.
It’s important to note that the terms “soft” and “hard” are often used to describe the feel of 5-ply and 7-ply blades respectively. This refers to how the racket absorbs vibrations. A 7-ply blade feels more solid because it quickly dissipates vibrations, while a 5-ply blade may feel a bit hollow or shaky due to longer-lasting vibrations. Adjusting to the feel of a 5-ply blade may take some time if you haven’t used one before.
7 Ply Carbon Blade VS All Wood Blade
The structure of carbon/fiber blades typically consists of 5 wood layers and 2 carbon layers, or 5 wood layers and 2 fiber layers. The total number of layers usually exceeds 7.
A carbon blade is constructed using a combination of wood and carbon layers. Typically, it consists of multiple wood layers and one or two carbon layers. The addition of carbon enhances the blade’s rigidity and speed, resulting in a faster and more powerful playing experience.
The carbon layers provide extra stability and a larger sweet spot, allowing for precise shots even at high speeds. This makes the carbon blade an excellent choice for players who rely on aggressive and fast-paced attacking techniques. It offers exceptional power and control for players who prefer an offensive playing style.
All Wood Blade
An all wood blade, as the name suggests, is made entirely of wood without any carbon or composite materials. These blades provide a more traditional playing experience with a focus on control and feel. They offer a softer and more flexible response, allowing players to generate spin and execute delicate shots with precision.
The all wood blade is particularly suitable for players who prioritize touch, finesse, and the ability to vary their strokes. It provides excellent control and is favored by players who rely on spin-oriented techniques such as looping and defensive play.
Generally speaking, carbon blades are harder than wood blades, slightly faster in speed, but may have less natural spin. However, it’s important to note that this can vary depending on the specific model. For players who focus on looping shots, they may prefer wood blades or softer carbon blades. On the other hand, for players who prioritize fast attacking shots, carbon blades are a popular choice.
Pure wood blades tend to have slower speed but offer better control, spin, and “kick” effect. Carbon blades, being harder, have faster speed than wood blades but may sacrifice some control. It’s worth noting that there are various types of carbon blades, including aggressive woven carbon blades like Rosskopf Attack and thinner carbon layers like Ma Lin Soft Carbon.
Wood blades excel in “eating” the ball, meaning they can grip the ball more deeply upon impact. This allows for enhanced friction and stronger spin. Due to their higher flexibility, wood blades may have slightly slower shots, but they offer better control. The slower speed is compensated by the ability to generate stronger spin. Additionally, pure wood blades have the advantage of providing a better overall feel in hand.
Carbon blades, with the added carbon layer, become harder and have less deformation. This results in reduced control and a somewhat vague feel. However, carbon blades offer faster-shot speed. With good technique, they can generate significant spin as well. Achieving high-speed shots with high spin requires advanced skill and technique.
Top 3 Best 5-Ply All Wood Table Tennis Blade Recommendations
The Butterfly Korbel is a popular all wood table tennis blade that is highly regarded by players worldwide. Named after the legendary Swedish player Jan-Ove Waldner, also known as “The Mozart of Table Tennis,” the Korbel blade offers a balanced combination of speed, control, and feel.
Known for its versatility, the Korbel blade offers a balanced blend of speed and control. It provides a good level of power for attacking shots while maintaining excellent touch and precision for controlled play. This makes it suitable for a wide range of playing styles, from aggressive attackers to tactful all-round players.
The Korbel blade’s medium stiffness and moderate flex contribute to its exceptional feel. It allows players to have a good sense of the ball contact, enabling precise shot placement and spin generation. The blade’s natural feel and feedback are highly appreciated by players who value touch and finesse in their game.
The Maze blade is crafted with a blend of high-quality wood and carbon layers, providing a balance between control and explosiveness. The carbon layers enhance the blade’s stiffness, resulting in increased power and speed during aggressive shots. This makes it an ideal choice for players who rely on quick, attacking play.
With its unique construction, the Butterfly Maze blade offers excellent feedback and responsiveness. The carbon layers contribute to a solid and direct feel, allowing players to have a good sense of the ball’s contact. This enables precise placement and effective shot execution.
While the Maze blade excels in offensive play, it also offers a decent level of control. The carefully designed composition provides stability and accuracy, allowing players to maintain consistency and make precise shots even during fast-paced rallies.
The Nittaku Violin is like a symphony conductor on the table tennis court, commanding attention with its harmonious blend of speed, control, and feel. Crafted with utmost precision and artistry, this blade has gained recognition among professional and advanced players alike.
Imagine holding a musical instrument in your hand, each layer of the Violin blade resonating with its own unique tone. The composition of fine wood materials, meticulously selected for their exceptional quality, creates a melodic balance between power and finesse.
When you wield the Violin blade, you become the master of control. Its exquisite craftsmanship allows for precise manipulation of the ball, guiding it effortlessly to its intended destination. Every stroke becomes a virtuoso performance, where accuracy and touch intertwine.
Yet, like a fine violinist, the Nittaku Violin demands mastery. It calls upon players with refined skills and techniques, those who have honed their artistry and command of the game. In their hands, this blade becomes an extension of their musical expression on the table tennis stage.
Top 3 Best 7-Ply All Wood Table Tennis Blade Recommendations
The Clipper blade is known for its incredible speed, allowing players to unleash lightning-fast shots with ease. The blade’s composition, coupled with its medium-to-hard feel, generates exceptional power, making it an excellent option for offensive-minded players who rely on quick and aggressive shots.
Durability is another strength of the Clipper blade, as Stiga ensures that it is built to withstand the demands of intense gameplay. Its solid construction and quality craftsmanship contribute to its longevity, allowing players to rely on the Clipper blade for years to come. This is one of my favorite ping pong paddles and I have used it for several years. I think it has served an important part in my whole career.
For players seeking a powerful and versatile blade that can elevate their game to new heights, the Stiga Clipper is a compelling choice. With its combination of speed, control, and spin potential, it empowers players to dominate the table with confidence and precision. Even if you are a defensive player like me, Stiga Clipper is still an ideal choice for you.
The Nittaku Barwell is a highly regarded table tennis blade known for its exceptional quality and performance. It is a 7-ply all-wood blade designed to cater to the needs of professional and advanced-level players.
The Barwell blade features a construction that consists of a medium-thick ayous core surrounded by a red-dyed ayous ply of similar thickness. This is followed by a thin penultimate ply of limba and a very thin outer ply made of walnut. With its meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail, the Barwell offers a seamless combination of speed, control, and feel.
When it comes to performance, the Barwell blade offers a solid and reliable playing experience. It exhibits a high level of control, allowing players to execute precise shots with accuracy and confidence. The speed of the blade falls within the high OFF- to low OFF range, providing a good balance between power and control. This makes it suitable for a variety of playing styles and strategies.
Players will appreciate the Barwell blade’s versatility and suitability for various shots. It excels in FH and BH drives, delivering solid performance with minimal vibrations. FH loops against backspin can be executed with power and spin while maintaining a comfortable ball arc. The blade also offers good control for pushes, touch shots, and service returns, allowing players to execute these shots with precision and finesse.
Joola Xylo 7
The Joola Xylo 7 is an outstanding table tennis blade that offers exceptional performance and quality. As the latest addition to the Joola Xylo series, this 7-ply all-wood blade stands out with its unique features and characteristics.
Constructed with seven carefully selected wood plies, the Xylo 7 delivers a well-balanced playing experience. The combination of different wood materials ensures a harmonious blend of speed, control, and feel. Whether you’re an aggressive attacker or a strategic defender, this blade offers versatility to suit a variety of playing styles.
The Xylo 7 boasts a comfortable grip and ergonomic design. The handle is smooth and perfectly sized to fit your hand, allowing for a secure and comfortable hold during intense gameplay. The wings on each side of the handle have been sanded slightly, enhancing the grip and eliminating the need for additional sanding.
With a thickness that provides the right balance of rigidity and flexibility, the Xylo 7 offers excellent speed without sacrificing control. It allows for powerful shots and precise placements, giving you the confidence to dominate the game. Whether you’re driving, looping, or blocking, this blade offers consistent performance and reliable ball feedback.