Are Wooden Pickleball Paddles Good? Why players don’t play with wooden paddles

You’re not alone in being confused about whether or not you should have a wooden pickleball paddle. Wooden paddles are the first ever pickleball paddle with which the game of pickleball was invented back in the 1960s, in Washington. As pickleball grew, wooden paddles were replaced by composite and graphite paddles, which makes many players question the change. Are wooden pickleball paddles good? Why were they changed? Were there any performance-related issues? What potential drawbacks are there? And so on…

Are Wooden Pickleball Paddles Good

The simple reason for eliminating wooden paddles was to make the game better and the technical reason was to address drawbacks related to wooden pickleball paddles. They were weighty and could break easily if you’re being too aggressive. Wooden paddles aren’t for everyone. Granted. But that doesn’t degrade them for everyone else too. Wooden paddles are great paddles for starters and those who aren’t sure whether they should invest in a high-end pad for their budget crises and career plans. Of course, pickleball ain’t everyone’s cup of tea. Besides, weight and sound can be a deal breaker, there are certain things you should know about wooden paddles before making the final move.

Things you should know about wooden paddles?

Well, wooden pickleball paddles have quite a dark side, in terms of both pros and cons. These paddles can provide the best of the best advantages for their price and durability. At the same time, these can be a pain to play with for their weight and noise. And guess what? These are only the extremes of wooden paddles. There’s a lot lying in between. 

  • Cost-effective
  • Best durability
  • Manageable power
  • Weight
  • Noise
  • Not good for tennis elbow

First, let’s look at the positive side:

Cost-effective:

Wooden pickleball paddles are the cheapest ones in the market. A good quality wooden paddle costs around $10-$15 while a high-end graphite or carbon fiber paddle is $300-$400. See the price difference? Yup! It’s hella crazy. Although, certain graphite paddles have been manufactured keeping the price point under $100. Still, they’re for beginners and don’t last long.

Best durability:

Compared to graphite, carbon fiber, and other materials, wood stands as the most durable material for pickleball paddles. Wood naturally is abuse and wear-resistant which makes them already solid enough. On average, wooden paddles stay the same for a course of 5-10 years, while the paddles of other materials easily get dead spots within a year.

There’s a popular belief that wooden paddles often break from the center joint. It’s partly true. Only those paddles with two-part construction break from the center. Even those paddles that break from the middle are repairable without altering the feel of the paddle making the Wooden pickleball paddles the most durable ones on the market.

A senior player in our editing team has his first-ever wooden paddle still in the same condition. Even we play with it casually and admire how solid of a thing a wooden paddle is!

Manageable power: 

Wooden paddles provide immense power and pace, naturally. While wooden paddles are best for kids and starters, they can be perfect for pro players too for the aggressive volleys. They don’t have an inside core and sweet spot-like factors—the paddle is the same from every angle and every shot feels the same no matter if you hit it from the center or near the edges. That’s why wooden paddles are suggested for beginners for improving their accuracy through consistent shots. 

And bear in mind, wooden paddles aren’t basic. These paddles come with customized tackier grips for improved playability. You can cover up the edges with an edge guard. Also, you can choose various size options for the handles and the surface just like in the typical composite/graphite paddles. 

Did you know tennis also had wooden rackets?

Surprisingly, yes. Pickleball isn’t the only sport with wooden rackets. Tennis also had wooden rackets back then when technology wasn’t introduced. For several decades, tennis players have used wooden rackets. They were replaced because tennis is an agile game and the strings create a vibration on the ball’s strike. The vibrations get way too intense in a wooden frame which results in tennis elbow. Therefore, they had to replace them with shock-absorbent rackets. 

Who buys wooden pickleball paddles:

Who buys wooden pickleball paddles

For the advantages wooden pickleball paddles provide, some communities still prefer them over graphite and composite paddles. The following list will give you an idea about who buys wooden pickleball paddles so you can frame your decision on whether you fit in the category or not. 

School and Colleges:

Schools and colleges are the biggest buyers of wooden paddles. They buy sports gear in bulk, and the price and durability of wooden pickleball paddles provide make them the first choice for schools and colleges. 

Clubs and YMCAs:

Pickleball Public clubs and non-profit organizations are the biggest buyers of wooden pickleball paddles. The reason is the same as for schools and colleges–the budget is tight and they want the gears to last forever. 

Beginners: 

Maybe you’ve seen a few people in your society playing pickleball and you also want to try it. That’s where wooden pickleball paddles come in helpful. These paddles are perfect for getting started and learning the game. Once you know whether it’s a worthy sport to continue and play on a daily basis, only then you should invest in a pricier paddle. 

For Kids: 

Wooden paddles are primarily used for the kids–to teach them the game. These paddles are abuse-resistant and can be given to kids without any fear of getting the paddles broken

For Picnics: 

If you’re planning a family trip to a beach or a farmhouse, you want to take a few sports gear and equipment to take with you. For a one-time play, you’ll thank wooden paddles for their existence. Their price and durability will pass several trips without costing too much. Also, they don’t need much maintenance so you can store them in the store room, packed in the case. 

Why shouldn’t you buy wooden paddles?

Why shouldn’t you buy wooden paddles

In the current era of pickleball, players who use wooden pickleball paddles aren’t even 1%. The primary reason, as everyone knows, is the weight and noise. That’s not all, however. There are much better paddles out there with quality material that also offers great performance and keeps you injury-free. Of course, anyone would prefer a better substitute. The second reason is the very own negative side of wooden paddles that we’ve discussed below.

Weight: 

Weight is the biggest turn-off in the wooden paddles and it’s an inevitable factor. For example, a graphite or carbon fiber paddle can be built with less than 7 oz weight, and a wooden paddle can be weighed down to 9 oz only because wood is generally heavy. 

Weight of paddle

Let’s compare paddles of modern-day material vs wooden paddles.

The heaviest graphite or carbon fiber pickleball paddle in 2023 weighs 8.5 oz (maximum) and the lightest wooden pickleball paddle weighs 9 oz. The gap is quite horrible, isn’t it? The average wooden paddles are 10-14 oz heavy, which makes it exhausting for the players to keep playing for more than half an hour. 

Noise:

Wooden paddles and Plastic balls = we can only sense destruction. Don’t even think of a wooden paddle if you live in a Green community where there are strict rules for noise issues. They’ll throw you out. Besides, there are many lawsuits for pickleball noise issues, it’s already not a wise decision to take your wooden paddle to a public court near residential areas and play with it. You’ll have cases filed against you. Not to mention, you’ll have a new enemy: The Leftists! 

Not good for pickleball/tennis elbow:

Wooden doesn’t absorb shock and vibration–in fact, intensifies it. Players with wooden paddles are most likely to have a tennis elbow and that’s why you can’t play with wooden players on a regular basis. The longest you can play with a wooden paddle is an hour if you previously have any elbow pain or injury. Kids, in this case, are lucky, because they don’t aggressive games. Their hold on the paddle is gentle and they simply tend to have fun after all. 

Performance  

Wooden paddles don’t provide finesse and spin. Wood is the most inconsistent paddle material for unpredictable games. There’s no spin and ball-holding ability which can adversely affect your performance if you’re playing against any skilled players. Also, you’ll miss the softer feel and touch that paddles with quality materials provide. Unless you want a wooden paddle for testing the game and practicing basic shots, they aren’t something you should have high expectations of. 

Final Move: Are Wooden Pickleball Paddles Worth It? 

Even though we reached the conclusion, the answer to “are wooden pickleball paddles good” is still a yes and no. “Yes” for the healthy players who don’t have any injury-related issues with weight and their environment doesn’t have noise issues, i.e., on a beach, play area, etc. “NO” for those who want lightweight and finesse-oriented paddles that also provide a good variety of shots. With everything considered, wooden paddles are good for recreational players and kids only. These paddles aren’t something a regular player should go for. 

Despite the drawbacks, if you’re so into buying wooden pickleball paddles, these 3 paddles will be worth your consideration. These are the best of the wooden pickleball paddles lineup and would certainly make your experience and playing time worthwhile. 

  • Rally Meister – best for young and senior beginners 
  • Amazin’ Aces – best lightweight wooden pickleball paddle 
  • Kanga Wood – best for kids 

These paddles are lighter than many wooden paddles out there. The average weight range is 9 oz, which is quite close to a heavy-duty carbon fiber paddle, so it doesn’t make much difference. These paddles also stand out for their durability and price, so you’ll ultimately have a great playing experience with them. All in all, just be wise with your decision because that’s what the motive of this article was! 

Wish you love and luck <3

Robby Anderson

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