Pickleball Paddles

With their explosive growth, paddle manufacturers have multiplied and new pickleball paddles come on the market all the time. For the new player or for tennis players moving over there can be confusion.

With their explosive growth, paddle manufacturers have multiplied and new pickleball paddles come on the market all the time. For the new player or for tennis players moving over there can be confusion.

Finding the best model can be a very personal choice just as it is for tennis racquets. Is a composite pickleball paddle right for me?  Should I get a graphite pickleball paddle? Finding the best paddle can be confusing for those who have never played a racquet sport before. 

What is the best type of pickleball paddle? Materials, weights, and even sounds vary considerably. Prices range all over the map. With all the different pickleball paddles on the market today, it is smart to do some homework. Read More

Materials

Pickleball paddles have three important pieces and the materials in each will impact your play.

Core

 Other than solid wood paddles, the core is made up of honeycomb shaped material. This material can be aluminum, Nomex, or polymer (sometimes called a polypropylene honeycomb core).  Each has their own positives and negatives. Polymer cores dominate with about 81% of the market.

Face

The hitting surface can be covered in fiberglass (composite), graphite, or carbon fibers. Graphite and carbon fiber are similar but produce somewhat different results. A graphite face will also increase the cost.

Grip

The handle dampens vibrations but the grip covering the handle can really impact how you play pickleball. These will vary based on tackiness, absorbency, thickness, softness and surface contours. 

Grip size is fairly standard but can be adjusted with grip tape to get you to your correct grip circumference

A new paddle may have a cushioned grip. Some feel this makes for the ideal. For others, a comfortable grip is not not padded.

Popular brands

The newness of this sport and its rapid growth means the market has two categories of popular manufacturers of pickleball paddles:

Big Boys

As expected, the tennis racquet companies are major forces including: Head and Wilson. With big research and marketing budgets, they make the investments for players to find the right equipment for them.

Specialists

Smaller companies making a good pickleball paddle include Franklin, Harrow, Gamma, Onix Sports, Paddletek, Prolite, and Selkirk. These companies make a great paddle for their customers knowing what they want.

Picking a perfect pickleball paddle

While price should be considered, other factors should drive your decision.

Weight

Weight should be your biggest concern.

  • Light paddles (under 7.4 oz.) give you more control and are easier to use with less strain on elbows but generate less power and depth because you need more energy and swing to hit the ball hard. They can help with volleys and other shots requiring quick reaction time.
  • Heavy paddles (over 8.4 oz) give you power and depth but at the expense of ball control and higher risk for injury. They can really help with baseline drives and serves. 
  • Players with existing injuries such as tennis elbow or wrist or shoulder injuries will not feel improvement playing with heavy models. If they are experienced players, staying with mid-weight models is the wise path.

Playing ability

What is your playing ability and experience? Like tennis racquets, it does not help you to play with  pickleball equipment made for someone with a very different level of skill than you.

A beginner will struggle to hit with equipment made for a professional and could get injured due to the generally heavier weight and smaller sweet spot. A professional might not get injured playing with beginner's equipment, but they won't get the spin, power, shot placement or finesse they demand from their pickleball paddle.

General fitness

A very fit person may find a heavy pickle ball paddle easier to use than someone not as fit. A pickle ball paddle will require some degree of strength to play the game.

Noise restrictions

Some places (particularly gated communities) have approved lists of pickle ball paddles due to noise considerations. Nomex cores generally produce the loudest sound and a polymer core the softest.

Your first pickleball paddle

In trying to decide what is the best pickleball paddle for beginners there are a number of factors to consider. When buying your first pickleball paddle, or any new paddle, finding your own perfect paddle might mean trying several out first.

5 Tips

1. If you truly are a complete novice at racquet sports - no tennis, no racquetball, badminton at picnics only, it makes sense to begin with a less expensive, lighter weight paddle. This way you can have fun right away and minimize the chances of injury. 

2. Soon enough, you’ll be hooked and tennisracquets.com sells higher end graphite paddle as your skill improves. Remember: if you’ll play at places with noise restrictions and an approved list of pickleball paddles, you will want to start there. 

3. Beware of a super cheap solid wood paddle! They are not helpful in learning the game or avoiding injury. And they are noisy too.

4. If you are new to pickle ball but converting from tennis or you are generally a good athlete, a midweight, perhaps a graphite pickleball paddle, will make sense for you as your game will grow into the paddle quickly.  Take a look through our Pickleball Equipment Gear Guide.

5. Check out our Getting Started with Pickleball guide to give you some basics.


Edge Protection

Every pickleball paddle has some sort of protection around the head. This will protect the paddle as you reach for drop shots or other low balls. A low profile edge guard can be a desirable feature.

A thicker protection barrier might seem like a good idea but it might have a smaller hitting surface. In addition, the weight in a pickleball paddle might be out of balance if the edge is too thick.

Paddles for tournament play

With all the different paddles on the market today, there is tremendous variety found among professionals. An approved list is maintained by the governing authority for pickleball and it is enforced at tournaments.

Expect to see exotic graphite carbon fiber face paddles and all the latest materials available. A premium grip is almost standard.

Shop for the best

Selection: from beginner to aspiring intermediate to pro, you will find a good paddle that is right for you. Price: always competitive and running sales for sharp eyed shoppers, we make it easy to buy.

One stop shop: with apparel, shoes, balls and more accessories than you  can imagine, tennisracquets.com can outfit you from head to toe. We are here to answer your questions. Call us! 


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Pickleball Clothing & Apparel