Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why choose to play HardBat? Doesn't everyone play better with sponge?
A: There are many facets to answering this question. Rather than try and answer it here, a separate page has been set up with various players' opinions, including testimonials from players who chose to switch to hardbat. Read those accounts HERE.
Q: What is a HardBat?
A: An old-style (ping pong?) paddle with short pips and no sponge.
Q: Where can I buy a hardbat?
A: Any all-wood bat equipped with an approved surface is a hardbat. From there it's a matter of preference. Many hardbat devotees prefer Hock paddles, but they are becoming difficult to find. Don Varian owns the Hock company, and makes paddles out of original Hock materials, and they are quite nice. Valor table tennis ( makes a variety of excellent Hock-like paddles designed for hardbat. Paddle Palace makes a nice Hock clone called, cleverly, the "Hawk".
Q: Who is Marty Reisman?
A: 1958 and 1960 U.S. Champion and author of "The Money Player". He was one of only two American men to reach the semifinals of the World Championships. Among world class players, he was the most outspoken in his support of hardbat, making him an important figure in the hardbat effort.
Q: How can I find out about hardbat events?
A: There is currently no single source of information about upcoming events. However, many tournaments include hardbat events regularly, so ask your local tournament directors and watch the USATT magazine for tournaments that list hardbat results. The largest hardbat events in the U.S.A. are held during the U.S. Open, the U.S. Nationals, and the Cary Cup. There are even larger ones held regularly in England, Germany, and France. But better yet, start one up yourself!
Q: What do the hardbat ratings mean?
A: They are calculated based on play in hardbat-only events. They were first formulated in early 1998 by Scott Gordon, and became so popular that the USATT decided to use them to seed hardbat events in major tournaments. They have also been a testing-ground for the David Marcus rating system/software now being used at
Q: How do I submit hardbat results for ratings?
A: Just send them to me. There is no charge. Email is preferable, but contact me if you prefer to fax or use the post office.
Q: How can I learn more about the hardbat game?
A: Marty Reisman's book "The Money Player" is about the clearest case for hardbat ever written. It's also a really fun book to read. While we don't all agree with everything Marty said, the book is compelling and is bound to make even the most determined equipment junkie think twice. Information is also available on this website, the Yahoo hardbat egroup, the hardbat thread on the OOAK forum, and any book on table tennis written pre-1952. Books by Jack Carrington and Doug Cartland are particularly good. Watch for them on eBay.
Q: Where can I find footage of championship hardbat play?
A: There are dozens of video clips on YouTube of recent hardbat events. But to really see hardbat at its best, you'll want to check out footage of the greats during the classic era - Richard Bergmann, Victor Barna, Bohumil Vana, Ferenc Sido, etc. There is a wonderful compendium called "Legends of Table Tennis", by Wild Goose Productions, but it is also becoming difficult to find. It's probably up on YouTube, however.
Q: When did the Hardbat "movement" start?
A: Hardbats were on the way out as soon as Hiroji Satoh won the world's with a sponge bat in 1952. By the mid-1960s, hardbat players were clearly outgunned and pretty much everyone used sponge. But a few holdouts continued clinging to the idea that the sponge was detrimental to the sport. Top U.S. players such as Marty Reisman, Bobby Gusikoff, and others continued to maintain that something needed to be done to limit the power of the bat to restore balance to the game. Hardbat events would be held occasionally, but by 1990 they had for the most part died out.

In 1997, Dr. Michael Scott convinced the USATT to include a hardbat event in the U.S. Nationals. Marty Reisman came out of retirement and won the event at age 67, perhaps the oldest national champion ever in an open event, in any racquet sport. The resulting ferver over the exciting style of play led to a resurgence of interest in hardbat play.

In 1998, then USATT president Jim McQueen initiated the hardbat subcommittee to standardize hardbat rules. The rise of the world wide web at about the same time, made it possible for easier organization of otherwise dispersed enthusiasts.

Q: I heard that matches in the old days were long boring pushing rallies that lasted for hours. I even read about a rally that lasted 2 hours.
A: At the 1935 world championships, several of the matches experienced long pushing rallies, one indeed lasting 2 hours. However, the reason for this had nothing to do with the hardbats in use. The organizer of the event had supplied very poor quality tables that had little bounce, and the players quickly learned that they couldn't attack effectively. Nobody was happy. Luckily, the tables were replaced with good quality ones in time for the finals.

Unfortunately, the records set during that tournament have been used by some authors as evidence that the sponge paddle "rescued" the sport. In fact, the situation at the 1935 worlds was a one-time occurance. The ITTF responded quickly, and in 1936 the net was lowered to 6" to doubly-ensure that the 1935 debacle would never be repeated. That was almost 20 years before the appearance of the sponge bat.