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What is the Difference between Chinese Rubber and European Rubber?

difference between Chinese rubber and European Rubber

For a table tennis player, the most crucial element is the “weapon” in their hands—the table tennis racket. The table tennis racket is composed of a blade and rubber, and only when these two components are matched reasonably can the maximum effectiveness be achieved. There are many brands and types of ping pong rubber, and currently, there may be hundreds of them available on the market.

However, people are accustomed to categorizing the rubber on the market into two types: Chinese rubber and European rubber. It’s important to note that when referring to Chinese rubber or European rubber here, it doesn’t necessarily mean rubber produced in China or Europe but rather emphasizes the performance of the rubber itself. We will provide a detailed comparison of the specific differences between the two shortly.

difference between Chinese rubber and European Rubber

The difference between Chinese Rubber and European Rubber

The main difference between Chinese rubber and European rubber lies in the fact that Chinese rubber is tacky, while European rubber is grippy.

Therefore, the basic characteristics are that Chinese rubber, being tacky, tends to have a speed relatively slower than European rubber but can generate a strong spin. European rubber, on the other hand, has a relatively faster speed, but its surface is not exceptionally hard, ranging from relatively soft to moderately hard.

The difference in hardness brings about a significant impact during the moment of striking the ball, making them suitable for players with different technical characteristics.

Chinese Rubbers

difference between Chinese rubber and European Rubber

When it comes to Chinese rubber, the first thing that comes to mind for many is undoubtedly the classic DHS Hurricane 3 NEO. In fact, not only DHS Hurricane 3 but the entire Hurricane series of rubbers is considered a classic representation of the Chinese style.

The surface of Chinese rubber is extremely tacky. I remember when we were kids, we would often press the ball firmly against the racket, then flip the racket upside down. If the rubber was brand new, the ball would stick to the racket and not fall off.

The sponge of Chinese rubber is relatively hard, but the rubber’s resilience and stickiness are significant. Therefore, when the ball penetrates into the sponge, there is not much deformation between the ball and the sponge. The sponge provides good support to the rubber.

However, due to the high resilience of the rubber, it is easier to exert force on the ball through the stickiness of the rubber’s surface. Therefore, it’s much easier to generate spin with Chinese tacky rubbers.

Some may wonder: Isn’t it true that the deeper the ball sinks into the sponge, the larger the contact area between the ball and the rubber? Wouldn’t that make it easier to create friction? Why doesn’t Chinese rubber use the German-style sponge, like a cake sponge?

This is because if the sponge of the rubber is too soft, there would be significant deformation between the ball and the sponge. With the inherently high stickiness of the rubber’s surface, the ball would stay on the rubber’s surface for a longer time. This would result in a longer ball detachment time after hitting, and a significant portion of force would be lost in the friction between the rubber and the ball. This would lead to lower shot quality and reduced ball speed.

Chinese rubber is considered more beginner-friendly as it helps novices better understand the sensation of creating friction on the ball and generating spin. However, many European athletes do not prefer tacky rubber. Some complain that Chinese rubber is too slow, but this is not correct. Players like Ma Long and Zhang Jike use Chinese rubber, and are their shots slow?

The real reason is that the sponge of Chinese rubber tends to become hard, requiring regular regluing to maintain good elasticity. Since tacky rubber easily creates friction, there is a higher demand for control in terms of rotation and power. Both too much or too little friction can lead to mistakes. In contrast, non-tacky rubbers require more power and speed, and without good explosive power, it becomes challenging to penetrate the ball into the sponge.

European Rubber

difference between Chinese rubber and European Rubber

Which rubber is the most classic European-style rubber? Which rubber is most widely used by players in Europe? Without a doubt, it is the Butterfly T05. Although Butterfly is a Japanese brand, most of its rubber styles are European in nature. Of course, there are many classic products from other European brands as well, such as Donic Bluefire. These rubbers are used by over 50% of players in any European table tennis club.

The surface of European rubber is minimally tacky but highly elastic, and the sponge is relatively soft. When the ball makes contact with the rubber’s surface, the thick rubber deforms quickly and recovers rapidly, similar to pressing a spring with your hand and it immediately bounces back.

In situations where there is not enough power to penetrate the ball into the sponge, European rubber offers a faster ball speed than Chinese rubber. However, since the sponge is softer, with sufficient power to penetrate the ball into the sponge, the rubber becomes more effective. When the ball contacts the racket’s surface, the grippy rubber makes the sponge deform more easily, wrapping the ball in the sponge and increasing the contact area between the ball and the rubber’s surface. This, in turn, amplifies the force applied to the ball’s surface.

Therefore, for many amateur players in Europe, they don’t prefer using Chinese rubber because they haven’t mastered the proper technique to generate power. Using Chinese rubber makes them feel that the speed is slow and not as elastic as European rubber.

However, European rubber also has its clear disadvantages. When it comes to close-to-the-table play, including shots within the table, the control of European rubber tends to be poorer. Many close-to-the-table shots require precise and small movements, demanding high explosive power from the wrist, which can be a challenge with European rubber.

Hybrid Rubber

Due to the distinct advantages and disadvantages of traditional European and Chinese rubbers, some table tennis brands have started to consider combining the strengths of both, giving rise to hybrid rubbers. Dang Qiu, a Chinese-German athlete, is currently using hybrid rubbers, specifically the Butterfly Dignics 09c.

difference between Chinese rubber and European Rubber

The Butterfly D09C rubber is sticky like Chinese rubbers but incorporates high-tech porous sponges similar to European rubbers. This design allows the rubber to have good speed while still being able to generate spin. The key aspect is that the control of the rubber is also quite good. Of course, these are all relative considerations because combining these advantages is a challenging task. When compared to traditional Chinese or European rubbers, looking at individual aspects like spin and speed, hybrid rubbers may still lag behind to some extent.

Which kind of rubber should I choose?

Many table tennis enthusiasts may wonder which type of rubber is suitable for them. In fact, the most significant determining factor for this question is your coach!

In China, you’ll find that almost all children in training use DHS Hurricane 3 or Friendship 729. No one uses European rubber because coaches say that European rubber requires high technical skills, and they can consider using it when they grow up. However, in Europe, I’ve heard exactly the opposite. European kids start training with European rubber, and coaches say that Chinese rubber requires high demands on footwork and power, suggesting that they can consider using it when their skill level improves.

difference between Chinese rubber and European Rubber

Why do we hear completely different opinions?

It’s quite simple, as the two types of rubber correspond to two different techniques. So, it depends on whether your coach is Chinese or European. If your coach teaches you the Chinese playing style, they will emphasize friction, and generating spin, rather than focusing on power first. In that case, they will lead you to choose rubber like DHS Hurricane.

If your coach follows the European playing style, with more aggressive and power-oriented strategies, then you should prioritize European rubber.

Setting aside these factors, if you already have a certain foundation or are no longer a beginner, you can consider the following:

Chinese rubber:

  • Affordable, you can get a good rubber for around $5. Personally, I use Mercury II, which is around $5.
  • Prefer push shots, not very offensive, with more emphasis on control and defense.
  • Pursue spin, especially in receiving serves and serving, like to vary spin and placement to create opportunities.

European Rubber:

  • Suitable for power players, for example, Ovtcharov.
  • Pursue speed, and enjoy topspin rallies.
  • Have a sufficient budget.

For players who want to combine the advantages mentioned above, you can consider Hybrid rubber. This type of rubber doesn’t have obvious shortcomings, and it’s very user-friendly. If you like it after trying it, you can use it in competitions!


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