Some forehand players use a paddle with a right side up Chinese logo or black side of the paddle on their forehand. A large minority of some other forehand players prefer to use a ping pong paddle with a left side up Chinese logo, or red side of the table tennis bat on their forehand.
In addition to those two options, there are people who use either one for their forehand as well as those who switch between them based on shots and matchups. If you’re confused at this point, don’t feel bad – I am going to explain why someone would want to do that!
Probably the most famous example of a player using a red-side-up bat for his forehand is Jan-Ove Waldner, a former World No. 1 from Sweden who won four Olympic Gold medals. In his career, he used a bat with a red side up for his forehand almost exclusively and even wrote an article about why you should use the red side in your forehand. This seems to be the only case where we see such extreme favoritism of one side in table tennis.
Red Side-Up Bat For Forehand
A very popular reason is that the ball will bounce differently as it comes off the rubber on the other side of the paddle. The logic behind this is that by using a new blade, where one side has a red rubber and another – black rubber, the two rubbers behave differently when they come into contact with the ball.
If you hit with topspin on this red-side of the blade and put more power and angle than usual on it (as Waldner does), then: the ball bounces off your opponent’s backhand, so he has to heavily twist his body sideways in order to send it back which puts him at a disadvantage position, the ball flies away from the net, so it is difficult for him to attack you.
This would be true if there were no friction between the rubber and the blade. However, as soon as you hit the ball with any power, this becomes false because of friction. The explanation is that both rubbers have two different surfaces – one red-black rubber has a rough surface, whereas another – black-red has a smooth surface. So when both rubbers are placed together on one blade (playing paddle), they form a single rubber with an averaged roughness value. This makes them work differently in terms of friction force against air molecules surrounding each other under normal circumstances nor not at all unique conditions. Because of this effect, you cannot see which side of a ping pong paddle is forehand/backhand in certain situations.
Testing For Forehand & Backhand
The best way to find out which side is the forehand/backhand of the rubber on your paddle is by testing it against different combinations of rubbers from other paddles/balls that have been already tested and proven to work just fine. So, if you have two same new rubbers from two different brands of a ping pong paddle placed on a blade one under another with a smooth ball, choose the side with less friction against the ball – it will be the backhand side.
If both sides show almost equal resistance to air molecules flowing around them, then this would mean that this particular combination gives zero difference between these two sides. If you want to be precise, make sure there is no dust on the table and place the paddle vertically (handle up) under a strong light (like direct sunlight falling from above – not reflecting from all around). You can see which side has a stronger reflection of light. This will be the forehand side if the ball happens to be in front of you when playing, and this will be-backhand side if it’s right behind your butt.
The only exception could be when one wants to play without any spin or with very little top/lobbed underspin – then these two sides are almost equal. A simple test would help discover that- just tape one rubber or put glue on it so that it becomes completely non-functional.
The other exception would be if you bought the paddle used and don’t know this information – so I guess, it’s better to go with the forehand side for a non-spin game.