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Thin or Thick Pickleball Paddle? Pros and Cons (11mm, 14mm, 16mm...)

Have you heard about thin and thick paddles, and are curious what's the difference, and which one you should play with? Read on to learn about paddle width and what is best.

You're a dedicated pickleball player who has hit a plateau. You've been playing for a while now, but something just isn't clicking.

Your game lacks either a bit of power or control, and you may not be mastering some crucial shots. But your technique and decision-making seem fine. So what is it?

It could be that you're not playing with the best paddle thickness for your game. Read on...

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pickleball paddle core

Pickleball Paddle Thickness: Does It Matter?

It's possible that the thickness of pickleball paddle thickness is making a difference in your game. It's a sneaky, overlooked aspect that has a big role in your shots.

It matters a lot. Core thickness can strongly influence our gameplay. If your paddle type is a good fit for you, your game will click. If it's a bad fit, your pickleball level of play may suffer.

"Thin" paddles usually means 10-12mm range, whereas "thick" is upwards of 16mm and sometimes even 20mm. The Selkirk LUXX is the best thick paddle for touch and feel.

Doesn't sound like a big difference! But it is.

Below we will show you the top thin and thick paddles in the pickleball market today.

For quick picks, view the Gearbox Pro Power and the ProKennex Black Ace, two of the top-rated power/offense paddles on the market (thick and thin, respectively). Also be sure to view related paddle guides at the end.

Distinct Feel of Thin and Thick

After playing some games with a thicker paddle, you may notice a significant increase in the touch and control of your shots.

Wondering why this can't always be the case, you switch from a thinner paddle to this thicker one. Suddenly your shots are more precise, and your finesse is on point.

Or vice versa. Thicker paddle to a thinner paddle, gaining more pop and zip on your shots.

This scenario is not uncommon. Many players have found that choosing the right pickleball paddle thickness is a game-changer for their individual skill set and style of play.

Let's explore the pros and cons of thicker and thinner paddles, and help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

What is the "CORE" of a pickleball paddle?

The core of a paddle is the inner layer, sandwiched between the face and the handle.

It is typically made of honeycomb, polymer, or carbon fiber material and is the basis for how the ball bounces off. Some cores are more springy, more dense, and all in between.

The thickness of the core can vary from about 10-20mm, and this small difference can have a big impact on the performance of the paddle.

A thinner core (12mm or less) typically has more power.

You will often feel more of a backboard effect with thin core paddles.

There is less core compression, and more density. Thin paddles "feel" harder.

This type of core is ideal for players who want power, and is often favored by players who have a more offensive play style or are not as focused on their control.

A thicker core (16mm or more) offers more touch.

You will get better feel and placement with a core that can compress. Think spongy feel. They will feel gentle and soft, as the ball almost feels like it smushes into the paddle face.

This type of core is ideal for players who seek more control, and want to place the ball reliably. It is favored by players who play a patient game or already have enough power.

A thicker core is more forgiving, will feel more soft and will absorb the ball's energy.

[Learn about the official new ball of the PPA pro tour in 2024]

Best THIN Pickleball Paddles:

Gearbox CX11 (best all-around thin core paddle)

This is an attacker's paddle, through and through. You will have nice reach with the elongated shape, and your shots will zip.

Shop this paddle on Amazon by clicking HERE

gearbox pickleball paddle

ProKennex Black Ace (most power of ANY paddle)

Your punches and blocks will pop off this paddle like no other. This is truly the power paddle of any counterattacker's dreams.

Shop this paddle on Amazon by clicking HERE

black ace pickleball paddle

Engage Omega Evolution Elite (lightest and thinnest)

This is a light, swift, easy to wield paddle for a newer player who is working their way up and can use help with quick hand battles.

Shop Engage deals on Amazon by clicking HERE

pickleball paddle engage omega

Best THICK Pickleball Paddles:

Diadem Warrior Edge (newcomer onto the scene)

This is a thick and solid paddle that will give you a good feel at the net. You will be able to hit your touch and drop shots with ease. The Warrior has taken the pickleball market by storm and you will not find a much better elongated, plush paddle.

Shop this paddle on Amazon by clicking HERE

pickleball paddle diadem

JOOLA Hyperion 16 (used by Ben Johns!)

This is the best overall paddle on the market, potentially. It is forgiving, and its thick core will give you a solid foundation for all kitchen play. You may also want to view the Scorpeus, which is the next generation of this paddle.

Shop this paddle on Amazon by clicking HERE

pickleball paddle joola

Gearbox CX14 Ultimate (innovative core!)

One of the most technologically advanced of the thicker paddles. Also, at 14mm, this is the lower end of thick. It is more like medium, in case you don't want a super thick paddle. You will feel touch up at the net, but you can also rip big swings and get a boost of pop. This is one of the best paddles on the market in 2023.

Shop this paddle on Amazon by clicking HERE

pickleball paddle gearbox ultimate

Which Paddle Thickness is Best?

Use a thinner paddle if you want more power and don't need as much help with control.

Maybe you have trouble zipping hard shots, and already have strong placement.

Use a thicker paddle if you have enough pop on hard shots, but could use more feel.

As a tiebreaker, thin paddles may feel easier to maneuver on quick shots at the kitchen.

[View the latest paddle deals on Pickleball Central today]

Core thickness is not the only factor that determines the performance of a paddle. The face material, weight, grip size, and shape also play a role in how the paddle performs.

Experiment with both thick and thin paddles and see what best suits your playing style!

Related Guides:

Other articles pertaining to new paddle releases and considerations.

View both thin and thick paddle deals on Amazon and Pickleball Central today.

When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. It does not affect the price at all. PaddlePal is completely viewer-supported and we will not present a product unless we have researched the market to provide accurate, informed recommendations.


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