If you want to take pickleball more seriously, but don't know where to start when looking for a paddle, this article is for you. Read on to learn how to find the right paddle...
When looking for a pickleball paddle, especially as a developing player, there are several key factors to consider. Nobody wants to play with a paddle that doesn't feel right.
Otherwise, keep reading...
Pickleball Paddle Criteria
Here are the primary considerations we will discuss: Weight and weight distribution, size and shape, grip and handle, surface and core material, brand value, and overall price.
There are more criteria than even these, but they cover the most important and impactful factors. These are the things you will notice the most when you play.
Weight is a key part of a pickleball paddle.
It affects every type of shot's pace and placement.
A heavier paddle like the ProXR Tour Graphite will provide more power and pace, but it may be difficult to control hard shots during quick net points.
A lighter paddle like the Wilson Juice is widely considered easier to control, but you will have to supply more power on your own.
There is no right answer. Pro players play with both light and heavy paddles. As a rule of thumb, you will probably try to stay between 7.5-8.5 oz.
Ultimately it's up to you and what feels good, and if you want more pop or quicker swings.
Size and shape affect a pickleball paddle's feel.
A wider paddle like the Electrum Pro can provide more surface area, making it easier to block the ball and make solid contact, but you have lesser reach.
A longer, skinnier paddle like the Gamma Compass will provide more reach and more torque, but it may not provide as much leeway on blocks.
Then there are hybrid paddles, such as the Engage Pursuit, which are a compromise between surface area and length.
Elongated paddles (our guide) are becoming very popular in modern pickleball.
Handle and grip affect a pickleball paddle's feel.
A shorter handle like the Head Gravity may feel more efficient and natural.
An elongated grip like the JOOLA Hyperion may feel better too. Lots of folks with two-handed backhands prefer a long handle, and find it more aerodynamic.
It's important to find a grip that is comfortable in your hands, and allows you to hold the paddle securely. View our guide on the best long handle paddles.
You can also place an overgrip on a paddle, such as these by Tourna. Many pros do this.
A paddle's materials affects its durability and performance.
Wood paddles are cheaper, but are not as durable as other paddles. Avoid wood!
Composite paddles are more durable, and can provide a balance of power and control.
Graphite paddles are the most durable, and can probably provide the best playability.
Then there is the core. Most paddles have a honeycomb core. There are a few companies, such as ProKennex and Gearbox, with carbon fiber chambers inside in lieu of honeycomb. This provides a different feel, but it's up to your personal preference.
Consider the brand, too.
Some brands may have a reputation for producing high-quality paddles, and have been in the market for longer, while others may not be as well-known.
Or, you may feel comfortable with a pickleball-only brand, such as Electrum.
Pickleball Paddle Pricing
You might consider avoiding paddles under like $50 if you plan to play regularly, as they are prone to breaking quickly, causing you to pay more in the long-run.
At the same time, if you are a developing player, you may not prefer the $300 paddle either. But if you are, check out this rundown on the best of the pricy paddles.
It's important to find a paddle that fits your budget and needs.
Pickleball Paddle Considerations
Weight, size, shape, handle, surface and core material, brand name, and price.
Find a balance between power and control, price and quality.
You will go through many different paddles as you continue along your pickleball journey.
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