The first memory I have of ping pong was at the park during hot summer recreation days in California when our city had a program where kids from our town would play caroms, get involved in arts and crafts. In addition, one of the most popular activities was ping pong. I remember that for paddles they had these terrible sand paper monstrosities that could hardly keep the ball in the same zip code even if slightly over hit. This prospect of playing a sport where I had zero control of the ball was hardly motivating for me. Not long after my initial introduction to the sport, someone brought in some beginner level ping pong paddles that had actual rubber on each side of the paddle which was a huge improvement in terms of getting the ball under control. Although these entry level paddles were only a couple of dollars each, I found myself keeping the ball much closer to the table when hit.
Let’s fast forward ten years. I hadn’t played the game much and certainly didn’t put much thought into possible advancements in technologies with table tennis paddles. I saw that there was a paddle that had little rubber bumps on one site (also known as pips) and then smooth rubber on the other. The rubber was much tackier that that I had used previously. This “tack” seemingly gave me more control over the ball because I could spin the ball and control the shots that were hit at me with greater ease. With greater control came greater confidence. I could attack and defend more easily than I ever could. Maybe the difference was that my previous experience with the sport was so lousy. These paddles with pips out and a smooth surface on one side were so much better that I gained more confidence than my opponents using the same equipment love it. Not long after I began spending some time with better equipment my game improve to the point that my competition became defenseless. My skills and confidence had even developed to the point that I could defeat competitors with my off hand.
Fast forward a couple more years
and I again gained regular access to a ping pong table. This time I had gotten
a chance to borrow a paddle of a co-worker and it was a pre-assembled Chinese
import that had a retail value of 30.00. I felt immediately as if I was playing
a different sport. My chops had more bite and my loops took my opposition
further away from the table so I could easily close out points. To this day, I
was amazed with the vast improvement in the quality of ping pong paddle by only
investing incrementally more in my equipment. It makes perfect sense to spend
the amount of money on a paddle that the professionals do. In the game of table
tennis, getting the right ping pong paddles and ping pong rubbers makes all the
difference where you stand in the win / loss column. To answer the question
posed in the title of this writing, yes. It matters.