Taking Care of Your Pickleball Paddle

It’s an exciting day for you. Your local delivery service has left a package at your front door. And it’s from tennisracquets.com. It has to be your new pickleball paddle and you are ready to take it out for a test spin. Whether this is your first paddle or the latest in a long line of new paddles for you, the objective is to go out, have fun, and yes, to win (not that you are competitive or anything.)

You then discover this paddle is the best thing for your game since, well, the invention of pickleball. So you want to take care of it so it has a long and winning life for you. Here is how you do that.

How Long Should a Pickleball Paddle Last?

Just to be clear, there will be wear and tear. No matter how carefully you coddle your paddle, the surface will wear out, the grip will cease to help you hold the paddle, and the edge will get scraped, dented and abused. In addition, with the incredible efforts of manufacturers, the technology of paddles is going through rapid improvements so you will want to upgrade every couple of years anyway.

A well maintained paddle for an average user will hold up for 1 to 5 years. Pros, heavy hitters and daily players should make changes at the shorter end of that range. The graphics on the face will wear out but that is not necessarily a sign of the paddle’s end of useful life. It simply means you get to play a lot and that is a good thing!

On-Court Care for Your Paddle

  • Rule #1, #2, and #3-10 is simply this: don’t throw, drop, kick, fling, or beat your paddle on the court. Using a paddle as a frisbee will not improve the score or your game. These things, with all their amazing materials and assembly, are simply not made to take abuse. They are certainly not fragile but they are also not built like a tennis racquet that can take some punishment. (Note: that does not give you permission to go all John McEnroe on the tennis court.) Anyway, pickleball is a social game where tantrums are not encouraged or welcome.

  • Don’t use your paddle to roll the ball to your partner or to the competition. Whenever you scrape the edge on the court you shorten its life. When the edge guard wears out, the days for that paddle are numbered.

  • Don’t use the paddle to pick up balls for yourself. Again, you will gradually kill off the guard that is a thin layer of protection for the edge.

Off-Court Care for Your Paddle

  • Cleaning your paddle: using a bit of window cleaner or non-abrasive liquid dishwasher soap on the face is a good idea to keep sweat, dirt and grime from messing up the face. Dry it immediately with a paper or soft cloth towel. Do not submerge the paddle. Ever. If water gets into the carefully engineered core, it will impact weight, the sweet spot, and eventually ruin it.

  • Grip maintenance: no matter how much money you spend on a paddle, grips can and will wear out as you play and sweat. It will become slick and stop absorbing any moisture. Wiping it off after or even during play will help some, but the cost to replace a grip is minimal and worth it a couple of times a year.

  • Storage: Even the most die hard player puts their paddle away sometimes. (Note: if you are keeping it in your nightstand while you sleep, you have issues.) Consider buying a dedicated bag to hold it. Some overly large tennis bags may not be the right thing as they might hold too much other stuff scraping up against the face. Use a cover designed to fit that paddle.

  • Temperature: Try to avoid excessive heat or cold. This is especially true with less expensive all-wood paddles that can and will warp. Extremes can affect the pliability of any core and damage the face regardless of how expensive the paddle is.

All good things must come to an end. So when it comes time to replace your favorite paddle, turn to tennisracquets.com for the latest, greatest paddles. Big selection. Helpful staff. Accessories. Of course, if you do find that perfect paddle, you may want to buy a back-up just in case your pet Fido thinks it's a chew toy.