To help you place your shot right where you aim it to be, with a significant reduction in the foot and kitchen faults, we’ll get you equipped with the best pickleball paddle for control. If you’re pressed on time, the best control-oriented pickleball paddle is Paddletek Tempest Reign Pro or Engage Pursuit EX Graphite 6.0. Both these paddles are lightweight, and elongated, provide utmost accuracy, and have helped 467 and 832 players to get better with reduced faults as of March 2022, respectively.
Pickleball is really a Finesse game. A Finesse and lightweight paddle reduces strain and makes it maneuverable. Plus, when it’ll have a larger sweet spot with a wider edge, it serves in blocking high-paced shots to encounter mis-hits. If it’s elongated, then baseline shots and handling volleys make the deal easy-peasy. Last comes the graphite surface–helping with accuracy and precision; with the reflection coming out of the polymer core being minimized, so the speed and bounce become manageable and hence the paddle becomes the ultimate pickleball weapon for control”.
What makes the best pickleball paddle for control?
For ages, there have been debates about power vs control paddles. Some myths also say power paddles are pro paddles, while they associate control paddles to beginners. Until 2018, this could have made sense, because, after that, a revolution came in the paddle industry with newer technologies, multiple cores, and surface options that changed the entire course. As per my research and expertise, the following factors in a paddle help the player get better at their game:
- Larger sweet spot
- Wider edges
- Graphite surface
- Elongated shape, or at least handles
- Reduced deflection
So far, these are the facets that will give you “control” over the paddle, on your shots, and pretty much on your strategies as well. Here’s how. Although, I’m yet to include the technologies in it, that further add up to the performance of the paddle. So, before I get to the reviews, let’s read the factors to make you sure what the best touch pickleball paddle exactly is.
Things to consider before buying:
To make an informed decision and want to know more about control paddles, this guide is at your service. Well, the whole thing is about playing, but not getting played. While that being said, you must first consider the following facts and figures before buying any paddle because that will clear much of the bewilderment and help you get the best pickleball paddle for control.
Sweet spot and the Grip:
The sweet spot is where your complete control mechanism depends. For a common understanding, let’s say, the larger sweet spot provides the best control, which is true. But the question is, how to know if the paddle has a bigger sweet spot?
Consider the paddle with standard width (8 inches or more, in a ratio to standard length.
Whereas, for the gripping mechanism, focus on the handle’s shape and length. Some handles come with a sweet foam with built-in holes and a contour shape. That’s where your focus should be.
Plus, the handles should be elongated as it creates a tennis-like effect and allows greater maneuverability and smooth management. It further allows both-hand compatibility, an added benefit.
Surface and Core Material:
Previously, it was a common myth that poly and Nomex were associated with power paddles, while aluminum was for control. However, things have not been the same since various advanced technologies have grown.
Various pickleball paddle manufacturers, such as Selkirk, Paddletek, Prolite, etc. have introduced their highly empirical core technologies that feature both power and control.
Regardless, here I suggest going with either poly or aluminum core with any of the proprietor’s special technology. Remember, the goal is to get a thicker core with a more cushioned effect and less vibration.
The surface, just like the core, has gone through many chemical works that gave rise to various successful technologies for the hitting surface. Liquid graphite, SPINTAC, spin fiberglass by the head are some of the latest innovations regarding the surface.
As a result of these technologies, the surface became more textured or glossy, allowing greater playability, especially if you play spin shots. The dink and cross courts are also amazing with the control at max.
Lightweight or heavy?
“All the way to lightweight”. Think of it in general science: the heavier the body, the tougher it is to manage. Therefore, a lighter paddle will provide the best control for the following reasons:
- First, you can easily hold them without getting strain on your wrist, hence better maneuverability contributes to better control and finesse.
- Second, a lighter paddle doesn’t bring on strain and aches on your hand, particularly wrist strain, which allows for a variety of shots such as soft dinks and trendy spin and a longer period with greater pliability. It further helps in tennis elbow as well.
On the downside, lighter paddles don’t produce much power, but as far as it is concerned, a lighter paddle can be powerful by applying some lead tap, but a weighty paddle cannot be carved for cutting off weight.
This would have cleared a lot. Now, getting a paddle as ideal as mentioned in the guide must seem complicated to you, and here, to your amazement, all the listed products are in accord with the features listed above.
Also, I have used each of these paddles in my previous games. I’m not reviewing them just for their reviews and success, but for how they actually perform. So let’s get to the next section.
Top six pickleball paddles for control
- Prolite Illuminate 2.0
- ProKennex Kinetic Ovation Flight Paddle
- Paddletek Tempest Reign Pro
- Engage Pursuit EX Graphite 6.0
- Head Extreme Tour
- Prolite Ignite Hybrid
Prolite Illuminate 2.0 – Best Controlled Touch
I can go for Prolite Illuminate 2.0 any day for the best pickleball paddle for control with its top-quality carbon fiber surface and a 13 mm thick polypropylene core. It’s the most upgraded version in the I-series by Prolite with a significantly improved blend of touch and feel.
While it meets the requirement of a perfect control paddle through its super light 7.4-7.8 oz weight range and 5” elongated handles, its surface provides me the best touch and feel with your shots being placed in the right direction of the opposite court.
- Contoured tacky grip for strain-free hold
- UV print face with carbon fiber material
- 13 mm high-quality polypropylene core
- USAPA listed and approved
- Has a low profile tapered edge
Illuminate 2.0 for its excellent gripping mechanism, highly reactive, and responsive feature tops my best pickleball paddle list for control. Besides many solid reasons, they are extremely cost-effective and I bet you can’t get a better paddle at the same budget with the same quality features.
Prokennex Kinetic Ovation Flight Paddle – Best for Fast Volleys
ProKennex Kinetic Ovation Flight, just like Kinetic Pro Speed, was built in partnership with Steve Dawson and Jennifer Dawson, (both are USAPA champions and Gold medalists). While the former was dedicated to accelerating the game, kinetic ovation has much more stability it enables through its larger sweet spot.
They kept pretty much all the features similar to pro Speed, except that the ovation is in oval shape and so far, it’s the only pickleball paddle that I discovered with this unique shape. I also feel like the cloud poly core’s cells are a bit closer than the pro-speed, so it provides a much better pop effect. Although they miss the spin, this paddle surely gives a better touch and control with a pinch of power.
- Air-O-Guard edging
- Carbon casing frame with kinetic system technology
- Carbon frost micro-textured surface
- Cloud core technology
- Larger sweet spot
- Extremely lightweight
- Comfort Cushioned gripping style
Going to invest a thick amount in a paddle? Go for none other than ProKennex ovation. The design is unique, it functions impressively, and has a high-quality face and core built-in – nothing you could ask for more in a paddle.
Paddletek Tempest Reign Pro – for Accurate Shot Placement
Upgrading the Wave pro, Paddletek introduced the Tempest Reign Pro–bringing 360-degree change in its power paddles lineup, having a max of control. It mimics a tennis racket that tempted several former tennis players to transition to this, having Catherine Parenteau as a valuable name. Even though Reign Pro has a signature edition of her name.
“The Reign allowed me to feel confident with my topspin and rolls!”– Catherine Parenteau
At 16.5” in length, it gives 1.5 extra lengths than standard with sides being useful to carry up drives and rolls near the nets. Helping me in groundstroke and spins, it takes a step ahead in control paddles to provide me with accuracy while I try to excel in spins and hard strokes.
Through its design, the total weight gets shifted to the end; providing two benefits:
- It contributes to the power and pace.
- There is no weight on the surface, which ensures no vibrating effects travel through your hand and causes arm and shoulder soreness and aches.
- Smart Response Technology
- Graphite Polymer Composite honeycomb core
- Textured graphite surface
- Unique color options
- ⅛ inches edged shock guard
- Excellent combination of speed and precision
- Quality sweet spot
Paddletek is one of the trusted paddle manufacturers in the pickleball world while having a tempest reign dominating pickleball courts for quite a few years. They are entirely power-oriented with high-quality features, so you must have them in your top consideration.
Engage Pursuit EX Graphite 6.0- Ideal for Finesse Game
The Engage EX 6.0 is the sole paddle in history that took the longest in its manufacturing and ever since its launch, it made even the most versatile players replace their paddles with EX 6.0.
Engage Pursuit EX Graphite 6.0 has the largest sweet spot, showcasing Engage’s Control Pro Core on the inside. It’s paired up with an Omnidirectional friction-based graphite surface–allowing compatibility for spin shots with pinpoint accuracy. I love how the timings of this paddle come in forward when the ball reaches you slowly, and it still hits it with a good pace to let it land beyond the kitchen.
As a remarkable feature, they give off various weight options so you can add the power of your choice, besides staying in control.
- Control pro “black” polymer core
- Graphite rough textured skin
- Omnidirectional friction-based Graphite
- Vibration control technology
- Various weight options
- USAPA approved
Among the paddle with the best long-term flexibility period, Engage Pursuit EX remains unrivaled. Although they’re originally made to get players better with their errors and shot placements, these paddles are the finest choice to get your soft play and quick games alike; with a power boost.
Head Extreme Tour – Most Lightweight Control Paddle
Besides Sarah Ansboury, a US Open 2016 champion; the only paddle with the most global ratings elevated Head Extreme Tour to be the most popular pickleball paddle for control.
60% of the control factor comes out of the optimized tabular core (OTC) that reduces deflection, vibration, shock, weight–everything other than the quality. The rest gets covered with its elongated handle and 6-edged shape. It’s also the lightest in the head lineup, weighing only 7.5 that’s quite attractive for injury-prone players and kids.
On the top, the surface has a composite texture with an extra spin technology. I normally opt for this paddle when teaching 3.0 players–“how to shift the playing style from dinks to spin real quick without losing the accuracy”.
- Optimized tabular core
- Comfortable grip
- High-end graphite/ carbon hitting surface
- Extreme spin texture
- Control stabilizer technology
- Extremely lightweight
If you want top-level control along with combined power and spin at maximum accuracy, then consider a close look at the head extreme tour. Quality featured paddle at extreme cost-effectiveness, makes them a total bargain.
Prolite Ignite Hybrid – Well-Balanced Control Paddle
ProLite Ignite is known for its unique pentagon-shaped design with cut edges that increases the surface area and enhances the power and manageability.
Prolite Ignite does actually ignite the court with its fast-paced shots transitions between the slower ones. Unlike the above paddle, they carry a few more ounces in its handles so it does power work. Besides, the tapering helps in switching between grip styles and position so it allows me to keep my game unpredictable yet completely in control.
The elongated handles provide me ultimate control and finesse regardless of the shots I play. What’s more? The surface is also textured so I can do some rollings and spin. And to your surprise, they’re extremely cost-effective, which makes them a 10/10 deal.
- Tacky contoured grip
- 13 mm Polypropylene honeycomb core
- Low profile tapered edge guard
- Textured polycarbonate surface
- Tennis style cap
- USAPA approved
Want a paddle fire like Ignite? Then I guess nothing can beat the aesthetics of Prolite ignite while also getting you covered for control and efficiency. On the top, they are extremely budget-friendly, so grab the purchasing opportunity and get the maximum grab at the ball.
In a nutshell, the best pickleball paddle for control is the one with the largest sweet spot, being ultra-lightweight, and having the thickest honeycomb core. However, numerous paddles have the exact features, but since we’re focusing on more than providing control and finesse, considering the above-reviewed products saves your time and effort.
Though, for a 99% assurance of purchasing the right one, have a pick from the following three.
- Prolite Illuminate 2.0; For tacky grips, excellent maneuverability, and cost-effectiveness.
- Kinetic Ovation Flight Paddle; For the best control, healthy durability, and dual-purpose technologies.
- Paddletek Tempest Reign Pro; For a larger sweet spot, Smart Response Technology and a perfect combo of speed and precision.
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