Downloadable books

Hardbat Table Tennis

Hardbat Table Tennis - What is it? Can I still use a hard bat?
Find out here...

Hardbat Table Tennis

In the early days of table tennis, the table tennis racket (bat / paddle) wasn't as sophisticated as it is today.

Known as a hardbat, table tennis was a simple game played with this simple racket.

The hard bat comprised of a wooden blade with ordinary pimpled rubber attached, with the pimples facing outwards.

But as the years passed, players discovered that modifications to the racket could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

So the table tennis racket saw continual development, culminating in the sponge rackets we use today.

Great deals at

^ Top of page ^

Hard bat table tennis

Harbat Table Tennis Champion - Victor Barna

Hard bats were initially used by everyone, and were wielded particularly successfully by the Hungarian and English players who dominated the World Table Tennis Championship for the first 25 years.

Hungarian Victor Barna (1911-1972) was World Champion in 1930, 1932, 1933, 1934 & 1935 and gives his name to the Dunlop Barna hardbat table tennis racket favoured by many players even today.

^ Top of page ^

The end of hard bat table tennis

World Table Tennis Champion 1952 - Hiroji Satoh

In 1952 at the World Table Tennis Championships in India, Japan's Hiroji Satoh (pictured right) astonished the world with his unexpected victory in the men's singles - in part due to the unique sponge racket he used to bamboozle his opponents.

His new sponge racket was completely different to the traditional hardbat rackets and the other players were unable to cope with the different playing characteristics.

Here's a short video which explains what happened at the 1952 World Table Tennis Championships.

The introduction of sponge rackets accelerated after 1952 and soon changed the game forever.

The hard bat was therefore in decline by the late 1950s and this effectively was the end of the hard bat era.

^ Top of page ^

The resurgence of hardbat table tennis

Although the hard bat is still legal (providing it meets the current rules - including red and black rubbers), none of the top players use one.

Sponge rackets are now favoured by the modern player, but some older players still prefer to use a traditional hard bat.

Table tennis rule 2.4 says that...

"A side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be covered with either ordinary pimpled rubber, with pimples outwards having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 2mm or sandwich rubber, with pimples inwards or outwards, having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 4mm.

Ordinary pimpled rubber is a single layer of non-cellular rubber, natural or synthetic, with pimples evenly distributed over its surface at a density of not less than 10 per sq. cm and not more than 30 per

The surface of the covering material on a side of the blade, or of a side of the blade if it is left uncovered, shall be matt, bright red on one side and black on the other."

However, the modern game is based on speed and spin and hard bats just cannot compete with the modern sponge rackets.

^ Top of page ^

Hardbat table tennis tournaments

Hardbat Classic

Despite the general demise of hardbat table tennis, you'll still find traditional hard bat tournaments - where only hard bats can be used - which are very popular with certain players.

In Europe there are several hard bat tournaments. And in the USA there are hard bat tournaments including one very high profile tournament held in Las Vegas - "The Hardbat Classic" - with a top prize of $100,000.

^ Top of page ^

Hardbat table tennis in the USA

Hard bat tournaments were revived in 1997 when Dr. Michael Scott convinced the USATT to include a hardbat event in the U.S. Nationals.

American Marty Reisman, a former English Open winner and 1949 World Championship semi-finalist, came out of retirement and won the event at age 67 ... perhaps the oldest national champion ever in an open event, in any racket sport.

The resulting ferver led to a resurgence of interest in hardbat play and in 1998, then USATT president Jim McQueen initiated the hardbat sub-committee to standardize hardbat rules.

And so a new era of hard bat table tennis began.

^ Top of page ^

Watch Hardbat table tennis

There are dozens of video clips on YouTube of recent hardbat events. But to really see hardbat at its best, check out footage of the greats during the classic era - Richard Bergmann, Victor Barna, Bohumil Vana, Ferenc Sido, etc.

^ Top of page ^


Great deals at
For more information about the history of table tennis, take a look at my other articles...

General history of table tennis

Significant events in the history of table tennis

^ Top of page ^

Claim Your FREE Membership

and Join Me at the TOP TABLE

Claim Your FREE Membership

And get Exclusive Information via Email from

Tips •  Strategies •  Techniques •  Tactics
Rules •  Equipment •  Coaching •  News & much more

Enter your details here

First Name

Email address

We respect your privacy

Join me at the Top Table Join me at the Top Table

Claim Your FREE Membership and Join Me at the TOP TABLE

And get Exclusive Information via Email AllAboutTableTennis

News & much more

Enter your details here

First Name

Email address

We respect your privacy