Recent changes to hardbat rules (12/2015)
We have specified the timing requirements for expedite, as well as
made clear that the new 40+ ball is allowed in hardbat events at the
discretion of the tournament organizer.
Recent change to rubber approval process (7/2015)
We have removed the $30 fee for submitting rubber sheets for testing.
If you would like the hardbat committee to consider a particular product
for our list of approved hardbat surfaces, contact the hardbat committee
Hardbat Use in Regular (Sponge) Events (12/2012)
Rule #188.8.131.52.2 that allowed legal hardbats to also be legal in USATT rated
events for the past 10+ years was repealed in December 2012. That means if
you want to use a hardbat in normal USATT rated (i.e. "sponge") events, you
must construct it out of ITTF legal rubbers, and it must be red/black.
If this rule change affects you adversely, please voice your concern to
The rule change does not affect hardbat events.
Official Rules for Classic Hardbat Table Tennis Events
MOTIVATION: To define a game which:
> approximates as closely as possible table tennis as played in the
1930s/40s, before the advent of sponge rubber,
> is understandable to spectators,
> balances offense and defense,
> minimizes mechanical advantage due to equipment variation,
> minimizes deception to players caused by easily-produced intense spin,
> minimizes confusion to spectators caused by easily-produced intense spin,
> eliminates combination bats and the associated advantage of twiddling,
> fosters longer rallies than occur in sponge play,
> lessens the importance of serve and service return compared to sponge play,
> encourages participation by players of all skill levels,
> and therefore is uniquely enjoyable for players and spectators,
> and is not so restrictive as to be detrimental to promoting itself.
The game of Classic Hardbat Table Tennis is the same as the USATT's
definition of Table Tennis, except in the areas of equipment (blade,
surface, adhesive, and balls) and rules (scoring, clothing, and
In order for a player to participate in a hardbat event, he/she must use
an acceptable hardbat.
An acceptable hardbat is defined as either:
- a racket composed of the following approved components:
- Blade, as defined in section 1.1;
- Racket Covering, as defined in section 1.2; and
- Glue, as defined in section 1.3.
- in limited situations, a pre-assembled hardbat racket, as outlined
in section 1.4.
The blade shall conform to the USATT definition, except that it shall
be comprised solely of rigid wood (no carbon or other non-wood plies).
The handle may incorporate decorative non-wood inserts or inlays.
If two hitting surfaces are used, both surfaces must be identical,
and the composition of the blade must be internally symmetrical
with respect to each surface. That is, it shouldn't matter which
surface is used to hit the ball... they both must be identical.
1.2 RACKET COVERING
Each playing surface must be covered with a racket covering explicitly
listed on the current
Approved Hardbat Racket Coverings list.
If two sides of the blade are playing surfaces,
then it is prohibited to use different Racket Coverings on the playing
surfaces. In other words, "combination" rackets are prohibited -- if the
hypothetical "Acme" racket covering is used on one playing surface, then
the "Acme" racket covering must be used on the other playing surface.
Each racket covering must be attached to the blade in a manner described
in section 1.3 (GLUE).
An unused non-playing surface must have either an identical covering as
the playing side, or sandpaper, or it may have no covering (bare wood),
or it may be covered with a "paint sheet". Paint sheets are thin self-
adhesive sheets typically used to cover the backside of a penhold blade.
An unused non-playing surface may not be covered with any rubber
incorporating sponge, nor may it be covered with medium-pips or
long-pips rubber. A player who uses a non-playing surface to return
a ball during a point, loses the point.
All racket coverings must be non-reflecting, but otherwise can be any
color except white, orange, or yellow. The two sides may be the same
or different colors.
The Approved Hardbat Racket Coverings list
is generated by the hardbat committee and subject to change at any time.
Rubber must be affixed to the paddle with a thin-drying standard glue that
adds no perceptible effect to the paddle, or with a glue sheet. Typical
rubber cements or wood glues are acceptable. Thick-drying flexible glues
such as silicon glues that could provide a springy base are not allowed.
Glue sheets are allowable (instead of glue) so long as they provide no
perceivable thickness or springiness to the surface.
1.4 PRE-ASSEMBLED HARDBAT RACKET
A "pre-assembled" hardbat racket is defined as a mass-produced, typically
inexpensive prepackaged racket with an all wood blade and factory-covered
with the same pimpled rubber on both sides and no sponge. A player may use
a pre-assembled racket at the discretion of the tournament organizer.
This situation is intended primarily for local hardbat events, and would
typically occur if the tournament organizer wishes to provide rackets for
players new to hardbat that don't have their own rackets. Pre-assembled
(recreational) hardbats are not to be used in championship or 4-star events.
Pre-assembled hardbats are not considered approved hardbats for
use in regular USATT (sponge) events.
Hardbat events may use 38mm, 40mm, or 40+ "plastic" balls, at the discretion
of the tournament organizer.
The rules of play are the same as defined by USATT, except for the
areas of scoring, clothing, and foot-stamping.
Hardbat games are to 21 points, service switch every 5 points, according
to the scoring rules in use prior to the introduction of 11-point scoring.
Clothing shall conform to USATT rules, with the exception that long pants,
long-sleeved shirts, warmup suits, hats and visors are all permitted.
Players shall not use stamping of feet as an instrument of distraction,
diversion, or in any way as to disrupt the opponent. Foot-stamping is only
allowed if it is the reasonable and natural consequence of moving one's
body to reach the ball. Foot stamping is never allowed during service.
The expedite system for hardbat matches is the same as for regular USATT
matches except that the time threshold for commencement is 20 minutes and
the total points scored exception to the time threshold is 38.
Last modified 06/30/2009 by the USATT Hardbat Advisory Committee,
with changes approved by the USATT Board 10/2009.