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Table Tennis Bats
Rules and Regulations for VOC-free Glue

In 2008 the ITTF introduced new rules and regulations for table tennis rackets.
These included a requirement to only use VOC-free glue to affix rubbers.

Umpire checking racket by courtesy of the ITTF

Whether you call them table tennis bats, table tennis rackets, table tennis paddles, ping pong bats, ping pong rackets or ping pong paddles ... you'll need to know about the new rules and regulations that the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) introduced in 2008 relating to your table tennis racket.

By the way, although a racket is referred to as a paddle or a bat in some countries, the official Laws of Table Tennis call it a racket.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE

Before we go any further, it's worth noting the difference between the Laws (commonly referred to as the rules) of the game and the Regulations.

The Laws are the "basic" rules of the game and are mandatory for all sanctioned table tennis events, whereas the Regulations are supplementary to the Laws and are only mandatory for ITTF (International) events.

However, the Regulations may also be used for non ITTF events and it is for the event organiser to decide whether they will use any or all of the Regulations.

So, depending on the competition you are playing in, the Regulations may or may not apply. But as a general rule, the higher the level of competition, the more likely it is that some or all of the Regulations will be used in addition to the basic Laws.

You can read more about the basic racket rules here.

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The new rules and regulations

Table Tennis Bats - Racket Control by courtesy of the ITTF

In 2008 the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) introduced some new rules and regulations relating to the table tennis racket.

This included a new system for testing rackets to ensure that they complied with all the new and existing rules and regulations.

A new rule (now rule 2.04.07) was introduced which stated...

The racket covering shall be used without any physical, chemical or other treatment.

And a new regulation (3.02.04) was introduced which stated that...

Racket coverings can only be attached to the racket blade with adhesives that do not contain harmful volatile solvents

and that...

Racket testing will take place at ITTF events to ensure that rackets abide by all ITTF regulations

 


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The new racket controls

  1. Glue

    Since the 1980s, table tennis players have experimented with different types of table tennis glue to affix their rubbers to their table tennis bats.

    It was discovered that certain types of glue had the effect of increasing the speed of the table tennis rubber if the player re-glued the rubber at frequent intervals.

    This gave the attacking / offensive player a distinct advantage and gradually led to the development of "speed glue".

    However, this type of glue contained volatile compounds which gave off a distinctive odour. This odour is now considered harmful to a players' health.

    Glue testing for table tennis bats Mini-RAE Lite® device

    Therefore glues containing volatile compounds cannot be used, and testing for the presence of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) is now carried out at ITTF events.

    Since 7 October 2009, a device called a Mini-RAE Lite®, which can detect very small amounts of solvents, has been used to test rackets.

     

  2. Boosters and Tuners etc

    Table tennis bat cleaners - banned

    Boosters and tuners also contain VOCs ... so they're not allowed either.

    You're not allowed to change or modify your rubber's playing characteristics by using chemical or other treatments, nor change its friction, outlook, colour, structure, surface, etc.

    Your rubber must be used just as it's been authorised by the ITTF.

    If you want to clean your rubber, you should only use plain water.

     

  3. 4mm thickness for sandwich rubbers

    Table tennis bats - measure rubber thickness by courtesy of the ITTF

    Rule 2.04 has always stated that a table tennis bat with sandwich rubber must have a total thickness, including adhesive, of not more than 4mm.

    However, umpires have never been able to accurately check this ... until now.

    A new thickness measurement device has now been developed and is being used to check the thickness of your table tennis rubbers.

     

  4. Logos on rubbers

    Table Tennis Rubber - ITTF logo

    Regulation 3.02.01 was also amended to state that the ITTF logo and authorisation number, in addition to the supplier and brand names, must be clearly visible near the handle of the blade (so that they can be verified).

    Here's an example of the details you'll see on the lower portion of Butterfly Tenergy 05 rubbers.

    Table tennis rubber logo


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Stringent racket control procedures

The new regulations mean that racket testing now takes place at events where the regulations are being used and the player is responsible for using a clean racket, i.e. without VOCs and with the correct rubber thickness.

So it's important that you don't add anything to your racket.

However, all players are entitled to have their rackets tested voluntarily, without any penalties, before the match.

Racket testing by ITTF

Rackets that don't pass the racket control test before the match cannot be used but they can be replaced by a second racket - which which may be tested immediately if time permits, but if not, will be tested after the match.

Where rackets do not pass a racket control test after the match, the offending player will be liable to penalties.

In addition, this new regulation states that the ITTF will maintain a register of all racket control failures.


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Advice to players

As a precaution you should therefore take the following steps:

  • Air your new rubber outside the plastic bag for at least 72 hours before gluing it to your table tennis bat.

  • Only use water based glue or VOC-free, pressure-sensitive, adhesive sheets.

  • Only clean your table tennis bat with water - don't use any other substances.

  • Adding natural substances such as oils, etc. is illegal and will be detected.

  • Do not stretch your rubber. You must use the rubber as it's been approved by the ITTF and as it comes from the producer.

  • You should use a thin layer of glue to avoid exceeding the 4mm thickness limit. Make sure the surface is flat and does not bulge. Sometimes the rubber is too thick when it comes from the factory. It's your responsibility not to use it.

  • Always carry a spare table tennis bat if you can.

The ITTF intends to impose the strictest penalties on those that break the rules. This includes players, coaches, National Associations and manufacturers.

So, take care of your table tennis bat and don't break the rules - you have been warned!

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The Table Tennis Rules and Regulations Explained

Rules of table tennis This new book explains SIMPLY and CLEARLY everything you need to know about the rules and regulations of table tennis.

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RECOMMENDED TABLE TENNIS BOOK

The Table Tennis Rules and Regulations Explained

Rules of table tennis

This new book explains SIMPLY and CLEARLY everything you need to know about the rules and regulations of table tennis.

Click here for more details


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MORE PAGES ABOUT
THE RULES OF TABLE TENNIS
For more information about the rules of table tennis, take a look at my other articles which explain the Official Laws of Table Tennis and the additional Regulations (for higher level play) in more detail...

The Laws of Table Tennis

  • The basic rules of table tennis
    If you're just starting to play and you need to know the basic rules of table tennis, you'll find them here...

  • The official rules of table tennis
    The official rules of table tennis are known as The Laws of Table Tennis ... so if you need to check the official wording, you can read them here...

  • Table tennis table dimensions
    What size is a table tennis table? Do you know what the official rules say about the size dimensions of a table tennis table?

  • What do the rules say about your racket?
    Do you know what the rules say about your racket? What size can it be? Which colours are allowed? When can you change your racket? Find out here...

  • What do the rules say about the serve?
    The table tennis serve is one of the most controversial aspects of the game. Make sure you know the service rules. Read them here...

  • Frequently asked questions about the serve
    The service rules are very complex, so let's answer some of the most frequently asked questions. Read them here...

  • What is a good return?
    What do the rules say about a good return? Can you use your hand to play a shot? What happens if you touch or move the table? Find out here...

  • When is the ball in or out?
    What do the table tennis rules say about the ball hitting the white lines, net or edges of the table? Is the ball in or out? Find out here...

  • What do the rules say about playing doubles?
    Whether you're playing singles or doubles, the rules of table tennis are essentially the same. However, for doubles play there are a few subtle variations. Read them here...

  • What do the rules say about volleying the ball?
    Do the table tennis rules allow you to volley the ball? Yes and No... Let me explain

  • Expedite system
    How long can a game of table tennis last? If both players keep the ball in play, can they continue playing forever? What do the rules say about this? Find out here...

Regulations (for higher level play)

  • Table tennis room size
    What table tennis room size do you need? It's probably more than you think! Find out here...

  • Racket testing
    In 2008 the ITTF introduced new rules and regulations relating to racket (paddles/bats) testing, and VOC-free glue. You can read them here...

  • Are players allowed to take breaks during matches?
    What time limits are specified in the regulations? What happens if a player is time-wasting? Find out here...

  • Yellow Cards and Red Cards
    Yellow and red cards are a recent addition to table tennis. But what do they mean? Find out here...

General

  • Table tennis terminology
    Do you know your table tennis terminology or are you confused by your chops, pimples and twiddles? Here's a table tennis glossary for you...

Frequently Asked Questions


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