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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. 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 fiber. Graphite and carbon fiber are similar but produce somewhat different results.
Grip (handle): The handle dampens vibrations but the grip covering the handle really impacts play. These will vary based on tackiness, absorbency, thickness, softness and surface contours.
The newness of this sport and its rapid growth means the market has two categories of popular paddles:
While price should be considered, other factors should drive your decision:
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.
Heavy paddles (over 8.4 oz) give you power and depth but at the expense of control and higher risk for injury.
Your playing ability and experience. Like tennis racquets it does not help you to play with a paddle made for someone with a very different level of skill than you.
Your general fitness level. Example: a very fit person may find a heavy paddle easier to use than someone not as fit.
Noise restrictions where you play. Some places (particularly gated communities) have approved lists of paddles due to noise considerations. Nomex cores generally produce the loudest sound and polymer cores the softest.
Check out our Getting Started with Pickleball guide to give you some basics.
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. Soon enough, you’ll be hooked and tennisracquets.com sells higher end paddles as your skill improves. Remember: if you’ll play at places with noise restrictions and an approved list of paddles, you will want to start there.
Beware of super cheap solid wood paddles! They are not helpful in learning the game or avoiding injury. And they are noisy too.
If you are new to pickleball but converting from tennis or you are generally a good athlete, a midweight paddle will make sense for you as your game will grow into the paddle quickly.
Selection: from beginner to aspiring intermediate to pro, you will find a paddle that is right for you.
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