Stiga are one of the most well-known and trusted brands in world table tennis (as well as Padel, Pickleball and Hockey). So, it’s unsurprising that many players have chosen to play with their premade rackets.
The Stiga Evolution sits towards the higher end of their range, yet is priced reasonably. This could make it excellent value for beginner to intermediate players looking to upgrade their equipment.
I got my hands on a racket for this Stiga Evolution review. As a player for nearly 20 years, and a coach since 2012, I’ve given this racket a thorough evaluation so you can decide if it’s right for you.
Importantly, this also makes the Stiga Evolution a very controlled, consistent, predictable racket for developing your technique. Playing close to the table is very effective, and you’ll be able to consistently surprise your opponent with awkward angles.
In fact, this is a great all-round racket that allows you to experiment with different playstyles as long as you don’t want to attack from more than a few steps away from the table.
Perfect for: Beginner to intermediate level players with 1 – 3 years playing experience.
We recommend the Stiga Evolution for players who want the flexibility to try different playing styles but rely more on consistency than power. It’s quite forgiving with technique, making it a good racket for beginner to intermediate players.
Design of the Stiga Evolution
My racket arrived in a plastic casing, which made some bold claims about the product’s capabilities. Exciting things like:
- Shock dispersion tube to absorb vibrations.
- Crystal hardened blade for increased speed.
- Microscopic air-capsules in the rubber for maximum elasticity and outstanding control.
Those are a lot of marketing words, so I was excited to get the racket in hand and test it out.
The first challenge was getting into the plastic packaging, which frustratingly requires scissors to cut around the sharp plastic edges. I find that plastic packaging for table tennis rackets is unnecessary for practical and environmental reasons.
There’s no storage case with the racket, so you’ll need to find yourself something clean to store the Stiga Evolution.
The racket consists of a 6-play blade made of Ayous, Awan, and Kiri woods. This structure suggests the racket will be good at close to the table whilst being very light (albeit not as light as Balsa rackets).
I struggled to find many details about the rubbers, both of which are stamped with the word “Premium”. It turns out these 2.0mm rubbers are literally named “Stiga Premium” so we can take that word with a pinch of salt (premium compared to what?!).
The Stiga Premium rubbers aren’t available to buy individually, and are only sold on the Evolution racket. The good news is that they are ITTF certified so can be used in ranking tournaments.
On my racket, a few design features stood out to me.
- The handle is mostly hollow and it’s possible to look directly through it.
- Secondly, the handle is mainly dark wood with red patterns across it which I think looks great.
- Lastly, the edging tape is very thin and won’t fully protect the rubbers from impact or peeling.
- Weight: 158g
- Speed: 94
- Spin: 96
- Control: 90
- Handle: Slightly Flared
- Blade: 6-ply wood
- ITTF Approved: Yes
- Sponge Thickness: 2.0mm
Initial impressions of the Stiga Evolution
Pulling it out of the packaging, the most immediately noticeable thing is how light the racket is. At just 158 grams, this is a very light-feeling racket.
There is a clear feeling that the racket is quite head-heavy. With the hollow handle, most of the weight sits at the top of the racket.
Otherwise, I feel like the Stiga Evolution has a comfortable grip (it is slightly flared). It’s designed for shakehand players but would equally work for players with a penhold grip.
Playtesting the Stiga Evolution
The Stiga Evolution definitely took a few minutes to get comfortable playing with. The main challenge was adjusting my strokes to make up for the lighter weight of the racket. It’s only ~20g lighter than my racket but that feels very significant with the paddle in hand.
Even adjusting for the weight, I repeatedly found shots dropping into the net when I had to add my own power to the return. It felt like I was muscling the ball over the net, or needing to bring the racket angle more horizontal to add more speed.
Serving & Return
I was impressed by the serving capability of the Stiga Evolution. The rubber felt grippy and produced strong spin that made the returns difficult for my opponent to handle.
The lack of speed generation was actually beneficial for serving as I found it incredibly easy to keep the ball low over the net and short on the table. Paired with a good ability to pick the ball up on flicks for a 3rd ball attack, it felt like this was an extremely effective strategy.
However, the racket was less effective at generating speed on longer serves. My opponent found these serves very easy to return.
When returning serves, I felt the Stiga Evolution did a great job of feeling ‘controlled’ by minimizing the impact of incoming spin. This is a great feature for beginner to intermediate players who may not be able to read spin very accurately.
As I’ve already mentioned, stepping in and flicking the ball felt very easy and controlled, although I rarely won points this way due to a lack of speed.
Driving and Looping
The Stiga Evolution performed well playing drives close to the table, catching the ball on the way up to its peak and playing a relatively flat shot. Like the serve returns, I always felt controlled but found it difficult to play winners.
Stepping further back is where I started to struggle with this racket. The lack of power being generated meant my drives kept falling into the net. To combat this, I started adding more power into my strokes but this risks a breakdown in technique and I found myself missing more shots than usual.
On the positive side, I was able to generate good spin with the rubber. Whilst not incredibly spinny, it’s more than enough to get good shape on loops away from the table.
Blocking & Chopping
Perhaps surprisingly, I found that the Stiga Evolution excels at defensive shots.
Blocking was incredibly easy as the racket absorbs a lot of the impact of the ball, reducing the speed and making it easy to place the ball back onto your opponent’s side.
Whilst the racket produces a more defensive block, it’s very easy to keep returning the ball even against fast/spinny attacks. Perfect when your strategy is simply to “return the ball just one more time than your opponent”.
Even chopping was effective with the Stiga Evolution. Just like serving where I was able to generate good spin, I found the same when chopping the ball. The contact and flight of the ball felt very predictable so I was able to consistently chop with quality.
Overall impressions of the Stiga Evolution racket
As an advanced player, I knew straight away that this wasn’t a good racket for me. The super light weight and lack of speed reduced my ability to attack with any serious quality.
However, when I changed my playing style to focus on playing close to the table and using angles to move my opponent around, I started winning plenty of points.
There’s plenty of grip on the rubbers to help beginners develop good technique, and as a coach I am happy to encourage people to play close to the table. By returning balls from closer to the table you give your opponent’s less time to respond.
The other advantage to consider with the reduced weight of this racket is that it’s perfect for anyone with wrist/forearm issues, plus it’s very easy to shorten your strokes and return your racket back to the ready position.
Should you buy the Stiga Evolution?
This is a very impressive pre-made table tennis paddle that performs far better than its rubbish plastic packaging suggests.
The control and spin generated close to the table will be great for many beginner to intermediate players, especially anyone who hasn’t committed to a single playstyle yet.
The Stiga Evolution is also a significant step up from the normal premade rackets that are found in homes and rec centers across the world.
Whilst it’s not my personal favorite beginner racket (that’s the Killerspin Jet400), I’d happily recommend this to any beginner who wants to take their game to the next level.
Have you tried this racket before? Let me know what you thought in the comments below! I hope you found my Stiga Evolution review useful.
David's been playing Table Tennis since he was 12, earning his first coaching license in 2012. He's played in national team & individual competitions, although he prefers the more relaxed nature of a local league match! After earning his umpiring qualification in England, David moved to Australia and started Racket Insight to share information about the sport he loves.
Blade: Stiga WRB Offensive Classic | Forehand: Calibra LT | Backhand: Xiom Musa
Playstyle: All-Round Attacker