The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) is the body that governs the rules and regulations governing the sport, court and equipment including the pickleball paddle and the pickleball ball.

Players of all skill levels especially beginners would be wise to consult the official rules and on-line information if they want to play pickleball tournaments. These pickleball frequently asked questions will assist in making a smart purchase for many people. More information on what are the 5 Rules of pickleball and other information is in our Learning Center.


Pickleball Frequently Asked Questions for Buying Paddles


1. WHO MAKES THE BEST PICKLEBALL PADDLE?

With the explosive growth in the sport there are companies who specialize in pickleball paddles that are competing with the large brands that built reputations in tennis.

The smaller companies have the advantage of a laser focus on one sport. Big companies have the advantage of larger research and innovation budgets and economies of scale.

Like in tennis, there is no one dominant manufacturer in pickleball. People who are name brand loyal, may enjoy trying new brands if they are beginners to the sport.

2. WHAT'S A GOOD PICKLEBALL PADDLE FOR A BEGINNER?

A good pickleball paddle is one that feels good to you. However, beginners should strongly consider lighter weight (under 7.3 oz.) models first. These may help with a shot like a service return or a volley.

Players of all skill levels may want to consider what your partner is playing with too. A power player may appreciate a finesse partner in this sport.

3. HOW DO I FIGURE OUT THE RIGHT GRIP SIZE?

The same way you figure out a tennis grip size. See our guide for details. Your index finger on your off hand should fit comfortably between the heel of your hand and the tips of your fingers grasping the paddle. Unlike ping pong paddles, with pickleball paddles there are different sized grips.

While a pickleball court size is much smaller than a tennis court and the ball can be on top of a player before they know it, the grip size should not be too small or too big as it could inhibit the execution of a shot.

Play can be fast and furious which can be a particular challenge for tennis players who play pickleball.

4. WHAT IF MY HAND IS INBETWEEN SIZES?

You should buy the smaller size and build up the grip area with an overgrip or grip tape. Some players, especially beginners, may question this but the answer lies in generating power. A too small grip can improve maneuverability but hurt power.

5. I NEED MORE POWER! WHAT PADDLES WILL GIVE ME MORE POWER ON MY SHOTS?

Generally speaking, the heavier the equipment, the greater the power. Heavy paddles are usually considered to be those that weigh 8.5 ounces or more.

A fiberglass surface is considered the biggest power generator. Paddles vary widely especially in tournaments where some pros receive paid endorsements.

Tennis players and platform tennis players may be able to play pickleball with a heavier pickleball paddle as they are used to hitting the ball with equipment already heavier than most pickleball paddles.

Ping pong players may need to play with a lighter pickleball paddle (at least at first) as that game uses lighter equipment.

If a player is used to tennis courts then pickleball courts will take some time to adapt to. Since the player is adapting to the court (especially the no volley zone aka the kitchen) the ball, and the equipment patience is a virtue.

6. CAN A PADDLE HELP ME CONTROL MY SHOTS?

Yes. You will want a lighter or a mid-weight model under 7.5 oz. with a carbon fiber surface. Platform tennis players are familiar with how important the surface is in striking the ball, and tennis players analyze strings.

Pickleball rules do govern the surface area as it impacts the flight of the ball. If you play pickleball with an overly abrasive surface on the equipment your team can be disqualified from tournaments. A question about this can be answered by information in the rules.

7. WHAT ABOUT AN EDGE GUARD?

In tennis, these are a necessity but with pickleball they are options. If you find yourself frequently scratching your paddle on the court or violating the double bounce rule when you play pickleball, an edge guard may be a valuable feature for your equipment.

Made of extra durable material, they are allowed in the rules of this sport as long as the maximum dimensions are not breached. This material can impact the weight distribution. The rules allow any material.

8. ARE THERE PADDLES MADE FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO HAVE ELBOW OR ARM ISSUES?

Sure. Look for models with polymer cores. They are considered to be the softest and should help absorb vibrations. Beginners and even those with higher skill levels can get injured by using the wrong equipment especially if their return shots hit off center.

A tennis player will often deal with bad elbows or shoulders. Pickleball is usually thought of as less stressful on arms in general. Part of the pickleball stroke involves a flick of the wrist and not always as much shoulder action as seen in tennis.

9. WHAT IS A SWEET SPOT AND HOW DO I HIT IT?

All paddles have a sweet spot at the center. But some are built to have a larger spot for players to hit better off center shots.

People who like to play pickleball will often change equipment if they feel they are not making shots such as a service return which is such an important part of the game.

10. DOES THE SHAPE OF THE PADDLE MATTER?

It can. While the majority of paddles are 15.5 to 15.75 inches long, there are some that are slightly longer and narrower. They have the advantage of allowing the player to reach some tougher shots.

They do have smaller sweet spots as a result and play is impacted in part if one player is not covering their side of the court as they play a competitive pickleball game.

The pickleball court size is unlike a badminton court or tennis court because of the no volley zone. Often sharp angle shots are important in the no volley zone (kitchen) and makes this sport different.

11. NO LIST OF PICKLEBALL FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS IS COMPLETE WITHOUT DISCUSSING THE SOUNDS OF THE PADDLE. ARE THERE QUIETIER MODELS?

There sure are. But some are noisier than a new pair of tennis shoes! Paddles with polymer cores are usually quieter due to the softness. Players in tournaments generally don't care and tournament rules do not cover sounds.

Some companies make models where the description will tell you they are especially quiet. Some homeowners associations have rules about sound levels and approved equipment.

12. AS A FORMER TENNIS PLAYER, I AM USED TO HITTING A TWO HANDED BACKHAND. IS THERE A PADDLE FOR ME?

Absolutely. You will want to find a paddle with a longer than usual handle/grip. Look for handles at least 5 inches long and preferably a bit longer. The shot is different in this sport and more of a challenge for some.

With the tennis court so much wider and longer, a player and partner must play as a team often going side to side as part of the strategy. In pickleball, even with the angles, there is not as much side to side movement. Team play is still critical in both sports especially in tournaments.

The tennis net is a bit lower and the tennis ball bounces higher changing a shot in many ways vs. the sport of pickleball. But working well with a partner in doubles is important in both sports. Your team may play at a center or be part of larger tennis community.

13. HOW LONG DO PADDLES LAST?

A model that is well-taken care of should last about three years. But surfaces will get worn and paddles with aluminum cores are subject to denting and pitting. Having a cover or a bag with durable material will protect it. The rules do not require changing equipment.

Competitors in tournaments will carry several including carbon fiber models depending on the level just like tennis. Beginners may want to upgrade their equipment with more advanced material as their skill levels increase.

In addition, manufacturers are continuously improving their technology making older ones obsolete. Professionals will replace their paddles at least annually.

14. IS A PICKLEBALL PADDLE DIFFERENT FROM A PING PONG PADDLE?

Yes. While both sports use the term paddle, they are very different. Ping pong paddles are much smaller, lighter, shorter and thinner and should never be used on a pickleball court. Tournaments would not approve them for play.

The pickleball ball will tear up the surface of a ping pong paddle. A ping pong ball would be useless to play an outdoors game.

15. SHOULD I HAVE ONE FOR INDOORS PLAY AND ONE FOR OUTDOORS?

It is something to consider. Your area may have a court for tennis and/or pickleball inside or outside. Outside pickleball play brings wind into the game.

Some players will play with heavier paddles for an outside pickleball game to generate more power compensating for the wind.

16. ARE THERE PADDLES MADE JUST FOR MEN OR JUST FOR WOMEN?

No. All paddles are made for either women or men. The ball is the same too.

17. IS THERE AN AGE LIMIT FOR THIS GAME?

People of all ages can enjoy a pickleball game especially seniors. Even seniors who are beginners will find this sport is easy on the body and a pickleball court easy to cover and the ball easy to hit.

Due to the smaller sized pickleball court, kids enjoy learning and playing this game too. They also enjoy the sound when their paddle hits the ball.

Ping pong fans will enjoy the ability to play a game almost anywhere as pickleball courts are inside and outside. Pickleball paddles are also sturdier than ping pong paddles.

18. SHOULDN'T I JUST BUY THE CHEAPEST ONE?

While your budget can be one consideration, it is more important to get the right weight and the right sized grip than anything else. Quality paddles will pay off for you in the long run with better play and better ball striking.

19. SHOULDN'T I JUST BUY THE CHEAPEST ONE?

While your budget can be one consideration, it is more important to get the right weight and the right sized grip than anything else. Quality paddles will pay off for you in the long run with better play and better ball striking.

20. I'M HAVING A PICKLEBALL PARTY FOR MY FRIENDS THAT DON'T HAVE THEIR OWN EQUIPMENT. IS THERE A WAY FOR ME TO AVOID BUYING HIGHER PRICED PADDLES FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT NOT EVER PLAY AGAIN?

Yes. Your guests are wearing their tennis shoes but may not want to hit the tennis court. This social game is fun so a minor investment in pickleball paddles can make for a fun party.

Add in a ball or two and you are ready to go to a pickleball court. Skill levels don't matter! Just being good sports matters.

There are very low cost bundles of solid wood paddles that come with a ball or balls. While you might not want to repeatedly play with these paddles, they are ok for a party.

You need not worry about USAPA rules of course.

21. ARE THERE LISTS OF PADDLES APPROVED FOR TOURNAMENTS?

If you want to play in a tournament sanctioned by the USAPA, you may only play with a model on their approved list. Hundreds of paddles are approved. A specific ball will also be used.

If you are playing in a non-sanctioned tournament, like a club championship, you may or may not have an approved list. Be sure to check. This pickleball FAQ does not have enough room to list all the equipment options for this game!

22. DOES THE COLOR OF THE PADDLE MATTER?

If it matters to you, it matters! In terms of construction, no. There are some players who believe a surface with the same color as the balls will help disguise the type of shot being hit giving that player an advantage.

Pickleball balls are not the same as a whiffle ball used in a backyard baseball game. Many different colors are offered to add some color to the game and USAPA rules are neutral on color.

23. ARE THEY EXPENSIVE?

Compared to other sports equipment, the answer is no. Good quality pickleball equipment is available at many price points. Beginners don't have to buy the most expensive equipment but as skill improves, the need for better equipment will go up.

View it as an investment. Better quality will last longer and improve play. A senior pickleball player will see improvement with more experience and better gear too.

24. WHERE CAN I FIND A PICKLEBALL COURT?

While resorts like Indian Wells Tennis Garden have pickleball courts and facilities for other sports, you can increasingly find pickleball courts everywhere. Look wherever there is a tennis court or other similar facilities.

Pickleball courts can be set up anywhere you have a flat surface and portable nets are available. The average player will enjoy a pickleball game wherever a ball and paddle are seen.

Remember, Barney McCallum, Bill Bell and Joel Pritchard invented this game on a driveway on Bainbridge Island using a whiffle ball. And while Bainbridge Island is not a sport mecca (some see it as the center of the pickleball universe), they made this sport easy to learn the rules and for people of all ages, including seniors.

Many people who gave up tennis now find themselves in pickleball tournaments. They find themselves attracted to this game as a return to competition no matter their ages.

Some are even finding teams to play on! Barney McCallum and Bainbridge Island would be proud!

Tennis courts now increasingly have pickleball lines painted on them. When a player hits the ball on one of these lines it may skid a bit. Players in both sports of all skill levels easily adjust to this however.

The USAPA does regulate the court dimensions, lines on the court, and how the net crosses the court at particular heights. Pickleball courts, ideally, are professionally constructed to prevent cracks and uneven surfaces.

Courts have surfaces that should not be too slippery unless they get wet. The ball should bounce uniformly all over the court just like with tennis courts. Rules from the USAPA even dictate how wide the lines are on the court.

Whereas a tennis court requires a larger area, and a badminton sized court needs specific infrastructure to support the net, a pickleball court should be easier to construct and USAPA rules easier to follow.

25. WHERE CAN I GO TO GET MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT PICKLEBALL PADDLES?

Just as the ball is different in tennis and pickleball, equipment can be confusing. Check out our buying guide for pickleball paddles for more information or call us. This pickleball FAQ is just an introduction.

Our staff wants to help you have fun with the game of pickleball. Have questions about this game's equipment? We have an answer.

Tennisracquets.com is your partner and can provide more material on pickleball paddles and other equipment. Every player has individual preferences in a ball and other equipment.

We have equipment for pickleball, tennis, platform tennis and other sports. If you are in the southeast Michigan area, we have curbside pickup too.


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