Why is a Ping Pong Paddle Black on One Side and Red on the Other?

My younger brother is good at many things. He has a great job, many friends and the unique ability to be able to take a nap anywhere.

But there is one thing he is just not very good at…ping pong.

He possesses many of the things that make for a good ping pong player — strength, hand-eye coordination and a ping pong paddle. But try as he might, he just can’t seem to win many ping pong matches.

Most of the time when he loses, he blames one thing. Not his strength. Not his hand-eye coordination.

He blames the paddle.

The other night, after yet another loss, he was once again admonishing the paddle for his loss when he posed an interesting question: why does a paddle have two colors?

Good question. Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

Why is a Ping Pong Paddle Black on One Side and Red on the Other?

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) allows the two sides of a paddle to have different surfaces. This is used to create varying degrees of spin and speed. In order to allow each player to know what type of shot may be coming, regulations specify that one side of a paddle must be red while the other must be black.

So, what are the differences between the two sides on a standard paddle?

According to ThoughtCo.com,

When you hit the ball with the red rubber, the ball jumps more (vertically) than the hit with the black side. Many players feel that red rubbers are usually a bit faster and less spinny than black rubbers, since slightly different materials (pigments and dyes) are used to give the rubbers their red and black colors.”

The same article stats that most professionals use the red side on their forehands and the black side on their backhands.

Maybe my brother should try that. Ah well, probably wouldn’t help him much. He just isn’t very good.