Wondering if you can play pickleball with the ache in your elbow–or let me say “tennis elbow”? Well, pickleball has a lot of wrist action and it’s common for anyone to develop a tennis elbow. However, you can still be lucky and prevent and cure tennis elbow by taking certain precautions. And by “certain precautions” I mean saying goodbye to random paddles because that is what causes or worsens a pickleball elbow.
Contrarian, there are specialized paddles for lateral epicondylitis and after playing for 2 years with them, I can conclude that the best pickleball paddle for tennis elbow is the ProKennex Ovation Pro Speed II. It’s lightweight, has elongated handles, the surface has enormous power and spin that reduces pressure and tension on your arm, and the soft and enlarged grips constantly maintain the comfort level. Basically, players with tennis elbows can continue playing only if they have tendonitis-specific pickleball and lightweight balls.
No, tennis elbow wasn’t my problem. It was even bigger–I had an injured elbow and for 4 years it restricted me to play tennis. Luckily, I found this sport (Pickleball). In my initial dinking era, the sport was generous to my elbow but when I started volleying, my elbow was also blessed with lateral epicondylitis. Jesus! I could cry…the burning pain was too much and bought several of my days doing nothing at all. I was about to give up on Pickleball until my friend offered me his anti-vibration paddle and everything felt worth living again. This was the beginning of my search for the best pickleball paddle for tennis elbow and currently, I own 15 injury-specific paddles among which I’ll review the top 6 today.
Top 6 Best Pickleball Paddles for Tennis Elbow in 2023
As I said, you need a relatively lightweight pickleball paddle (not too much or it won’t generate power) with a large sweet spot, larger handles, a thick core, and a performance-oriented surface; here’s the overview of what I’ve chosen for the best pickleball paddles for tennis elbow.
1. ProKennex Kinetic Ovation Pro Speed II – best for constant tennis elbow
ProKennex Ovation Pro Speed II was the first-ever paddle I played with to overcome the issue and since that, I’ve played with and tested 15+ pickleball paddles and no paddle has ever come close to the level of comfort and ease Pro Speed II provides.
Technicalities first: it’s a carbon-fiber-faced paddle with a polymer honeycomb core embedded that makes the touch and spin incredible. It falls under a mid-weight paddle category weighing around 7.7-8.0 oz. still, the oval shape makes the surface very light, resulting in two benefits.
- The handles are heavier which overall increases the weight and power of the paddle.
- The lighter surface makes it easy to swing and drive the ball effectively with the backhand.
The handles are elongated making the overall length of the paddle 15.43”–large enough to deal with the overhead shots and tackle volleys at the NVZ. Plus, the sweet spot is generous being complemented by 7.6” width. Also, it’s an edgeless paddle with an oval shape, so all you get here is the sweet spot which exactly makes it the best for injury-prone players. The center deals with every shot and makes every shot lethal and accurate. With everything considered, there are two things that I think are a bummer for any entry-level player. The oval shape has no edges, so you must have enough practice to rely on the sweet spot only and keep up your consistency (that’s why I’ve added Pro Flight from ProKennex’s lineup). The second thing is the price which might be a deal breaker because no beginner is willing to spend over $200 only if he sees some serious potential in it.
- Its oval shape provides added sweet spot.
- No vibration at all, thanks to Kinetic Energy technology.
- The larger handles make volleys better.
- Incredible touch and spin
- The price
- Control-orientedness for beginners
In a nutshell:
The speed, spin, and performance of Prokennex Ovation Pro Speed II are exceptional. You can play with a high-end advanced pickleball paddle that provides everything on the court, but later on, you’ll have to suffer elbow pain. ProKennex Pro speed is the same but what it also provides is protection from any inflammation through reduced vibration and lightweight, so you’re not missing anything.
2. ProKennex Pro Flight – for serious elbow injuries
For the runner-up, the same brand takes the cake through its lighter and traditional-sized paddle—the Pro Flight. It just weighs 7.4 oz and is even more helpful in reducing the strain and inflammation in the elbow. The reason why I didn’t put it on the top is its limitation to cater to advanced players in pro techniques. This paddle, for its performance on the court, is more suitable for intermediate and beginners. However, this can also complement the best for those who love dink rallies and single’s strategic play.
Despite taking the same dimensional specs as the Oval-shaped Pro Speed II, Pro Flight has wider edges since it has the advantage of its square shape. The tackier handles are the same measuring 5”. However, the difference is the weight distribution. Here the weight is even on every part of the paddle which makes the swing easier with less pressure on the arm. Even players with elbow injuries can play with it comfortably.
As for the performance, there’s a Cloud Cell poly core with wider cells making the paddle surface deeper and smooth. It makes the drop and lob shots sharp and accurate as the moderate speed will help you in high and deep arcs with a slow speed. You’ll also get a replaceable Air-O-guard edge guard that makes you play with precision even under high wind.
- Notably lightweight with reduced vibrations
- Aerodynamic design
- Evenly distributed weight
- Wide-cell honeycomb core
- Sweet spot
Can’t afford a pricier paddle? Take a break, save a few pennies and get back here because there’s nothing but the Pro Flight of Prokennex that may save you take a long flight away from pickleball. It’s best for seniors, beginners, and intermediates who’re suffering from serious elbow strain and injuries.
3. Head Extreme Elite Fiberglass – best affordable paddle for tennis elbow
No more price issues, the 3rd best pickleball paddle for tennis elbow is quite affordable, has a unique shape, and offers the best paddle-ball contact taking the shock to the least. Its fiberglass surface with the polypropylene core inside provides optimum power and pace that can take your volleys and drive to the next level while the lighter hold-on protects from tennis elbow and tendonitis.
These were the paddle I always give credit to the paddle for how dramatically I improved my serve with it. You can even play a league or tournament match with it and the reliability of the paddle will live up to the mark. It’s 7.8 oz heavy longing 16” in the length and 7 ⅞” in width. The grips are small measuring 4.125” with a 5” handle length. Besides, it’s also a flexible paddle you can take with you for your practice sessions.
The best thing about the paddle is its diamond shape which makes the swing classic and transparent. You can legitimately trick your opponents with an easy swing. And interestingly, it doesn’t cause any tension over your wrist and tendons. The foam handles make the grip comfortable and allow extended hours of play. However, it can be a little noisy.
- Affordable price point
- Excellent power and spin
- Fast-paced backhand volleys and drive shots
- Comfortable foam handles
- Extra surface area
- The noise can be minimized
If you’re tight on budget, of course, Head Extreme Elite can be a considerable option but what makes it the bee’s knees is the loaded features it provides besides protecting your elbow from strain, inflammation, and injured tendons. Trust me, it’s more than just practice or casual gear for pickleball. The pace and power of the paddle will always keep you a step ahead during cross-court dinks and back-hand volleys.
4. JOOLA Vision CGS Pickleball Paddle – for extended hours with no strain
Joola Vision CGS is a full-sized elongated paddle that’s built to empower players who can’t play longer matches owing to growing aches in their hands. It’s a power + control paddle with the best touch and feel. Above all, it’s the lightest paddle in the entire Joola lineup weighing only 7.8 oz. The aerodynamic shape boosts pace and increases responsiveness even when the wind is your enemy. I love to mention how Joola helped me attempt successful returns of lob against the wind. That match was an unexpected win!
The 16 mm polymer honeycomb core combined with the Carbon Fiber surface was one of the reasons you’re seeing this paddle in the list of the best pickleball paddle for tennis elbow. This is because carbon fiber is naturally effective in reducing vibration and keeping up power and spin. The graphite surface lacks power and pace. Speaking of spin, this paddle is a boss! The fiberflex surfacing holds the ball smoothly and adds insane spin to the ball.
Joola Vision CGS has 16.4 inches elongated length that comes at the sacrifice of the width at 7.3in. The surface doesn’t have a larger sweet spot, but the area is enough extended to play spins and drives with an effortless swing. The handle is extra at 5.5 inches which are best for two-handed players and worst for those who like a nearer hand-surface contact. The larger handles make the shot incredibly aggressive but lack control. That’s why I consider this a pure big game paddle. Rookies have no chance with this! Plus, the wrapping
- Extended length of surface and handles
- Incredible spin and easy swing
- Anti-vibration honeycomb core
- Lightweight with added power
- Narrow paddle body
Being an aggressive player and having to sacrifice power because of a tennis elbow isn’t a king move right? And that’s where the Joola Vision CGS comes to the rescue. With its lightweight, a crazy amount of spin, and exceptional power, you can keep up your swag and protect your elbow simultaneously.
5. Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro – for ex-tennis players
The ideal combo of accuracy and power makes the Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro an ideal paddle for any tennis player learning and moving to pickleball. The extra-large handles, measuring 5 1/4″, also complement keeping the tennis-like feeling alive. However, this shouldn’t be misunderstood that pickleball is copying tennis or wants to be like it. That’s the debate about Tennis vs. Pickleball war that you might be familiar with. And related to that, this paddle can make any injured tennis player love pickleball and make a career out of it.
Other than large handles, the paddle has an 8″ wide body paired with an approx 10.6” surface made of carbon fiber. This makes the sweet spot gigantic and ultimately all your shots are accurate and powerful. It has an Ultra Cushion High Tack Performance Grip which further helps in increasing comfort when playing against aggressive and tough opponents. Whereas, the 7.6-8.0 oz midweight complements advanced pickleball strategies very well.
Above all, it has a propriety Smart Response Technology (SRT) that backs you up with added power and spin. That is how it keeps the players at comfort. The surface embedded with SRT doesn’t require manual power–even the regular shot is lethal and makes your opponent lose their position. As a result, it also reduces tension and pressure created on the surface and channeled on your wrist.
- Added power and spin, thanks to SRT surface
- Well-cushioned grips
- Wider surface area and enlarged sweet spot
- Best weight for advanced pickleball strategies
- The handles are too large for regular pickleball players
Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro is the best bet for any ex-tennis player who transitioned to pickleball for ease as well as looking to keep up the power and pace across his shots without losing the accuracy and committing faults.
6. XS XSPAK Pickleball Paddles – best anti-tennis-elbow paddle for drills and practice
Now I’ll end my list with the XS XSPAK pickleball paddle. XS XSPAK is a brand that I discovered just a few months ago, and their package was so extravagant that I couldn’t resist getting them. There were two paddles, 4 balls, and a good quality neoprene bag–what’s more could you ask for?
Well, about the paddles, I was expecting something average that a family or recreational players could use–but these paddles exceed my expectations. At first look, the graphite surface was so fine, I was already feeling the power and spin coming out of that thick and smooth texture. Inside was the honeycomb core and the overall dimensions were 15.6” x 8”. Although it’s not a 16” elongated paddle, you’ll still feel like achieving a great height with this paddle.
The sweet spot was classically enlarged to 8” in width and 10.7” in length. The handles are long measuring 4.9”. The sweet spot is exceptional and absorbs the shock and vibration when dealing with groundstrokes, front-hand volleys, and overhead shots. Plus, the handles have quality foam wrapped around them. They don’t get sweaty even in warm weather.
In terms of performance, it’s not a perfect paddle you can take to your 10,000-dollar worth tournament, but it still gives you an edge when you’re improving your accuracy and practicing several shots and drills.
- Smooth and shock-absorbant graphite surface
- Excellent blend of control and spin
- Incredible sweet spot
- Wide-body and extended length
- It may not last long
- Not the best paddle for a pro player
XS XSPAK provides an exceptional wide-body pickleball paddle with extra length and tackier handles that can bring a positive change to your drills and practice matches. This paddle is excellent for improving kitchen faults, volley serve, and lob shots. Besides, the graphite surface protects the best from any pain in the wrist and elbow
Which brand makes the best paddles for tennis elbow?
Hands down. PROKENNEX. Each of its paddles is specially designed for comfort and stability. They’ve their propriety Kinetic Technology that’s been the most effective in dealing with lateral epicondylitis (pickleball/tennis elbow). Their paddles with these technologies have no vibration at all and that’s what you look for when buying a tennis elbow-specific pickleball paddle.
In fact, narrowing down their paddles was the hardest task. My friends and I have played with almost all ProKennex paddles and I wanted to list all of them here. However, their price point and brands in competition stopped me. ProKennex pickleball paddles are expensive and as an alternative, you can get fiberglass paddles from Head or Joola.
Which factors to look for in a pickleball paddle when you’re caught up by a tennis elbow?
Pickleball is an easy sport, but similar to tennis, this sport also puts you on the stake of getting a tennis elbow. Although you can play pickleball with a tennis elbow, the selection of gears must be wise to avoid making the injury severe. Whereas lightweight paddles are common in players suffering from this injury, the weight of the paddle isn’t the only factor that will help you ease the pain.
Read the following to know what factors exactly need to be considered.
Shock and Vibration Absorption:
If the paddle description says shock and vibration-resistant, then bring it to your top consideration list. Otherwise, immediately drop it! The shock and vibration coming out of the paddle are what causes tennis elbow. Therefore, you need a paddle with specialized technologies that absorb shock and vibration and keep your hand stays free. One example is the Kinetic EnergyTechnology (KET) by ProKennex which specifically works for shock and vibration minimization by up to 43%.
Mainly, these are the heavier paddles that cause tennis elbow because they put so much strain on your wrist and your tendons are always under stress when you’re holding a heavy gear and lifting it up. Therefore, you need the weight in the mid-range.
Meanwhile, a lightweight paddle is also a power-less paddle and of no use, if the player’s natural game requires aggressiveness, speed, and optimum spin. Also, lightweight paddles don’t absorb shock and vibration effectively, so you need a paddle that’s light enough to keep you at comfort and heavy enough to provide stability. The mid-weight paddles (7.4-8.0 oz) are ideal in this case because they provide power and keep your elbow and wrist at comfort, besides fulfilling your medical needs out of a paddle.
The sweet spot is the center of the surface from where the vibrations and shock are reduced while the accuracy and bounce go on the top. Here the paddle is the softest and thus also provides a better feel. When looking at the paddle to cure tennis elbow, you need the sweet spot large and generous so you don’t have to put much effort into working on the accuracy and playing awkward shots out of the edge
Surface: Carbon fiber or graphite?
Tennis elbow is mostly the problem of senior players or the aggressive ones because they put too much energy into swinging the paddle and putting a spin with an increment of pace. That’s why carbon fiber surface is a top-notch choice. The paddle itself packs so much power that you won’t need to work harder. Even a finesse touch shot carries excellent speed.
If control is your issue, you can opt for a graphite paddle. Graphite paddles are best for dink rallies and calculated shots with finesse being a dominant factor. I’d normally choose carbon fiber for matches and graphite paddles for the practice and drills.
You’ll choose a polypropylene core that’s already an understood fact…the tougher choice is the core selection between 13 mm and 16 mm. All the paddles listed here provide the choice between 13 mm and 16 mm, and you must choose 16 mm paddles. This is because thicker cores absorb shock and vibration better. Thin cores provide a lot of power, no doubt. But they also vibrate a lot and pass a certain amount of tension on your muscles which later causes inflammation.
Grip: (size and type)
Last and the most important factor is the grip and handles because they’re directly affecting your entire hand and shoulder. The number one rule in selecting the grip is choosing the right grip size for your hand. Sometimes, the paddle is perfect but the grip size is either too small or large which brings serious shoulder and arm injuries—even the Rotator Cuff Injury. So, measure your hand size and choose the grip that fits your hand perfectly.
Second, choose larger handles. I know that may sound like I’m suggesting a whole alteration to your game if you’re a small-handle freak. But trust me, you’ll quickly get used to a larger handle. A smaller handle makes your hand closer to the surface, and on every shot, your arm is fully exposed to receive the shock. That’s why you need to switch to a larger handle. Another plus elongated handles provide is you can use both your hands and maximize the power across each shot.
Lastly, pay attention to the grip wrapping. That should be tackier, sweat-resistant, and comfortable so your hands don’t have to suffer from unnecessary strain.
Which Paddles Wins for the Best Pickleball Paddle for Tennis Elbow:
No matter how long the list may go when the debate is about the best pickleball paddle for tennis elbow, the one paddle that’ll always remain on the top is the ProKennex Kinetic Ovation Pro Speed II. It’s just the masterpiece ever made for injured players and with which you can relive your life forgetting everything worst in the world–including the pain. However, the rest are exemplary as well and as much as I’ve played with them, I can guarantee these paddles will always complement a tennis elbow player. Lastly, keep the buying tips in your mind during your purchase, and if anything pops up in your head, feel free to reach out to me.
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