Speed
4.2 / 5
Spin
4.5 / 5
Control
4.6 / 5
Value
4.8 / 5
Overall Score
4.5 / 5

Pros:

Great value, quality construction, good rubber

Cons:

Speed could be better, more aggressive players may want an upgrade

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The STIGA Evolution Table tennis racket is a rock-solid pre-assembled paddle that delivers a high level of quality and is perfect for intermediate players. There's a reason the Evolution is always a best-seller: it gives players a lightweight and well-balanced racket with professional quality rubber at a relatively modest price. It's a great racket for those making the transition from beginners to more serious players who demand more from their paddle. Also, this paddle is ITTF approved so you can use it for tournament play.

Specifications

  • Performance-Level Table Tennis Racket
  • ITTF Approved Rubber for Tournament Play
  • Features Shock Dispersion Technology (SDT)
  • Performance Ratings- Speed: 96 Spin: 94 Control: 90
  • Premium Rubber, 2mm Sponge, and 6-Ply Light Blade

Premium Rubber

The first thing you'll notice about the Evolution is the big step up in the quality of the rubber. The Evolution has what Stiga calls "Premium" rubber. This is the tackiest rubber that STIGA offers and players will definitely notice a difference over the lower quality covers of cheaper paddles.

If you had been using a paddle with entry-level rubber, the Evolution will allow you to put substantially more spin on the ball. This will, however, require you to make the necessary adjustments to your playing style to get used to it. The Premium rubber makes an especially big difference on serves, giving you the ability to put maximum spin on the ball with little effort. Due to the stickiness of the rubber, this paddle is not recommended for complete beginners.

STIGA Evolution

Balance and Overall Feel

The Evolution is balanced such that more of the weight of the racket is in the head than the handle. This makes it great for defensive players that tend to play closer to the table, using chops to put backspin on the ball. This factor might make it not as good for more aggressive players that play farther back, and do more backhand and forehand loops standing far back from the table. More aggressive players may want to consider a step up to a faster blade with something like the pricier STIGA Pro Carbon instead.

The sponge is surprisingly good on this racket. This makes it great for defensive play, allowing slams to be controlled and returned much more easily without struggling to keep the ball in play. The sponge also gives the paddle very consistent ball placement, which is important for a defensive player.

STIGA Evolution Handle

While the handle is definitely made for the shakehand style grip, others have reported that it works reasonably well as a pen-hold paddle as well. As someone with average sized hands, the concave handle fits in my hand well. Others have reported that due the concave handle, the base can be too wide for players with smaller hands.

About STIGA

STIGA is a Swedish company that has been making table tennis products since 1944. They are a world leader in the industry and they offer fantastic service. I would not think twice about purchasing a product from them, they are about as reputable as a company gets in this market. They have a great track record of offering outstanding customer service and making things right when their customers experience issues with their products.

Final Thoughts

The STIGA Evolution is an ideal paddle for intermediate players that want to push their game to the next level. The stickiness of the rubber and the overall build quality are outstanding at this price point.

STIGA Racket Cover

If you decide to purchase a higher-quality paddle like the STIGA Evolution, I would highly recommend you get a racket cover and keep the paddle in at all times (when not in use). It's important to prevent the rubber on your racket from being exposed to dust and protect it from scratches and abrasions that can cause the rubber or edge tape to peel off. A simple $10 investment like the STIGA Table Tennis Racket Cover will substantially extend the life of your racket and protect your investment.

The Evolution is particularly great for players that prefer to play closer to the table and more defensively as the blade and sponge offer a good amount of control for this type of player. The only downside of the Evolution is that the blade material and the overall balance may not be ideal for more aggressive players. If you tend to play farther back from the table you may want to consider the STIGA Pro Carbon instead.