Some pickleball paddle has the best surface, some provide the magic spin, some are the comfiest to hold while others possess the most perfect core and this get’s everyone confused. How to choose a pickleball paddle? What factors to consider, and what to compromise?
The emergence of many new paddle brands giving rise to technological features and characteristics in paddles. Following these upgrades, we can’t deny that it’s hard to choose the paddle most righteous for you unless you are fully aware of what truly matters in a paddle. However, one thing we can assure you is, there’s not a bundle of factors that you need to look out for, even if you want an “all-in-one” paddle, so don’t get fooled by the fuss about it everywhere.
We’ve worked and tested out one of the best pickleball paddles and as a result; we came through the four most important factors, i.e. weight, shape, gripping mechanism, and material. So whether you are upgrading your equipment or buying it for the first time, be focused and make sure you aren’t missing any of these factors.
4 Important Factors To Consider Before Buying A Pickleball Paddle:
The four basic factors that one MUST not compromise and consider attentively are:
- Weight: The weight is a crucial factor that you can select between 6-12 oz.
- Shape: The three shapes to choose from are Standard shape, Elongated, and tennis-like grip.
- Gripping mechanism: The grips available are 4 to 4.5 inches based on your hand measurement.
- Paddle material: Pickleball paddles are built in either of the three materials i.e Graphite, Composite, Wood.
However, it’s not restricted to look ONLY these. You can consider additional features such as the price, control mechanism, spinning ability, surface technologies, edged or edgeless as the add-ons. Generally, these aren’t so compulsory but obviously, can customize your paddle as per your needs. So if you find yourself craving for the advancements, just scroll down to the second last section of the article.
What Is The Best Weight For A Pickleball Paddle?
Pickleball paddles weigh between 6 oz for the lightest graphite paddles to 14 oz for the heaviest wooden ones. And the best weight for the pickleball paddle is between 6.5 to 8.5 oz in which 90% top-leading pickleball paddles fall.
Because the weight is where the overall functionality of the paddles depends. In fact, it’s one of the top factors on which “how good or how bad a paddle is” are rated. Even though many experts agree that weight makes the pickleball either sleek or weak.
We can understand it as the “feel” of the paddle. How do you want the paddle to experience in your hand, how do you want it to behave and how much pace should it generate?
The weight of the paddle also determines the “control” and “power” factors of the paddles. As we go into this debate, the lighter paddles are enriched with control factors whereas the heavier paddles are prone to produce more power. Alternatively, that also affects the skill of the player. For instance, if you are a beginner player, what you’ll have is the control to get stable in the game otherwise the regular player would need the power to hit aggressive shots.
Speaking of the lightweight and heavy paddles, there are three types of weighing mechanisms starting from 6 to 12 oz, on which you can plan your choice. However, these paddles are characterized as follows having different features to each type.
- Lightweight – ( 6 – 7.2 oz)
- Medium-weight – ( 7.2 – 8 oz)
- Heavy – ( 8 – 12 oz)
Features of Lightweight Paddles:
Lightweight pickleball paddles are better to control. Because of the feathery weight, these paddles protect the players to deal with injuries and strain. In addition, these paddles are easier to maneuver and are preferred for playing beginner-level tournaments, due to their sleek action.
Despite the advantages, there are a few drawbacks to these paddles. One of the serious one among these are, they can’t be truly utilized for aggressive games. The reason is, they enable far less power which makes it hard to hit the ball forming tough shots. Resultantly, you can’t hit the ball longer and harder with these paddles.
Although, if you are a beginner and have no such background of any racket sports previously, then we’ll suggest you go with the lightweight paddles.
Surprising fact: you can wrap the tape around the handles of the paddles and make it a bit heavier and more powerful. Interestingly, you can remove the tape anytime and you’ll get your control paddles without spending the penny.
Features of Medium-weighted Paddles:
Medium-weight paddles are simply the mid-way of getting both power and control in a paddle. Because of their dual abilities, they’re also highly preferred by the experts. Not to mention, these are paddles you can mostly find in the courts.
Besides, these paddles, because of their moderate control and power, are good to go for the ex-tennis players, as you can practice with these paddles and figure out exactly at what weight you are most comfortable with. Also, they’re significantly easier to swing than the lightweight paddles, and meanwhile, they’re easier to maneuver than the heavier ones, so win-win right?
However, they lack a bit of power, (as mentioned they’re mid-power) so you won’t be able to hit super aggressive shots while being an expert player and that’s where the heavy power paddles come in.
Features of heavy:
Heavier paddles are a priority for those who don’t want to invest so much effort while hitting a shot. Another benefit of these paddles is their incredible pop effect and handling abilities. You can just go along with this paddle, touch the ball smoothly upwards in the air and see how brilliantly it goes to the other side. These paddles are absolute heaven to play and win against any leading rivalries.
Regardless of the perks of a well-weighted paddle, you can’t go for it unless you are an expert and don’t have a tennis elbow or arthritis (that’s what we’ve covered next). Also, these paddles aren’t suggested for continuous play, like that in friendly matches, because the weight causes strain in the hand and causes muscle injury. Besides, heavy paddles often come in wood other than those high-end materials (aluminum, graphite, composite) so you gotta calculate these odds, before you fall for a heavy paddle.
How to choose perfect if you have tennis elbow?
Before we get to decide on how to choose the right paddle for tennis elbow, make sure you’ve a clear idea of what exactly is a tennis elbow. As per the definition, a tennis elbow is an arm or shoulder injury or joint pain, more commonly known as arthritis).
In such a situation, if you go for the heavier paddle, it’ll contribute more to those injuries and strain whereas, it may get your arthritis worse. As a result, there’s only fatigue and strain with these paddles so unfortunately, you can’t technically go for them. Well, not choosing a heavier paddle doesn’t mean you can simply go for the lighter ones. Here the issues are stress and unwanted vibrations, and thus they’re also ineffective in these case scenarios.
So what to choose for a tennis-elbow player? The only option left is the mid-weight paddles and believe us, you can’t make a more wise decision than this. Mid-weight paddles, by far, allow for the least vibrations and cause as low stress as possible. Besides, their playability, as mentioned, is also comparatively better than the other types with the minimum drawbacks.
The Shape of the Paddle
Unlike tennis rackets, pickleball paddles don’t have an identical shape. Thus, deciding the shape is the next crucial thing to look into. The most common pickleball shapes are;
- Standard; large sweet spot, long handles and surface.
- Elongated; extended surface area, contracted grips and body.
- Wide-body; broad surface area and narrow length.
- Blade; most powerful and well-weighted.
- Oversized; largest sweet spot.
Other than these types, there’s also tennis-like shape, dedicated for tennis players transitioning to pickleball.
Additionally, the shape has the direct concern with the length and width of the paddle along with their utilizing capabilities. That being said, the length and width decide the overall shape of the paddle so you must have a rough idea of the measurements as well. And don’t worry, you don’t have to search all over the internet for it, these measurements are as follows:
|Standard shape||8 inches||15 inches|
|Elongated paddles||7 inches||16-17 inches|
|Paddle with tennis-like grip||8 inches||5” grip; 10-12” surface|
|Blade paddle||6-7 inches||17 inches|
Note: as per the USAPA pickleball rule, the length and width of the paddle combined altogether can’t exceed 24”. However, an oversized paddle doesn’t come under these laws and thus isn’t used for tournaments as well. Anyhow, let’s explore what pros and cons of each shape type has to give.
Having the traditional size, standard paddles are the most common among the pickleball players. Though, they’re also referred to as wide-body paddles since they come at 8” width.
With them, you’ll have a wider surface to hit the ball adding more spin to the shots. The typical dimension is 15” x 8”, however they usually fluctuate between 14-15.5 for the length and 7.7-8.5 for the width.
As a result, these paddles have the most generous sweet spot. Besides, standard paddles are also easy to maneuver and have a balanced weight overall the entire paddle. Hence, these paddles must be your top choice for getting started at pickleball.
Most of the wide-body paddles fall in the standard shape category, though. But wide-body paddles are usually 15” long, very few are there with more than that inch. Onix Z5 is the widest pickleball paddle with 8.3” width and is 15.5” long. It has the largest sweet spot with 5” elongated handles. In the market 8.3 is the greatest width offered in a paddle, however, you can customize paddles with 8.5 width, but they’ll not be USAPA approved unless the length is shrunk to 15.5”.
Elongated paddles are a more advanced form of a standard paddle depicting a rectangular-shaped surface in a way that it has a maximum 17” length to the surface and decreased grip size. Per the quality, Head Radical XL is the longest pickleball paddle with 17” length and 7” width. In addition, it’s USAPA approved as well.
Well, these paddles have more reach to the nets and thus more edge to deal with the opponents in the best way possible. In addition, it has, by far, the best spinning abilities comparatively to all other shapes.
However, these paddles have less control due to their shorter grip size and smaller width and aren’t recommended for biggy-hand people and those who are new to the game as you’ll face handling issues with this.
Paddle With Tennis-Like Grip
Good news for the tennis players! Paddles are now manufactured with the same handles as tennis ones so you don’t have to get disappointed at those small Lil handles. Meaning that the handles of the paddles are increased without sacrificing the width (as in elongated paddles) which gives the exact feel of a racket. These paddles excellently met the criteria of being the best control paddles. Besides, their longer handle also helps in getting stability in the game.
Oversized paddles are normally used for “fun” and for friendly matches. They’re legally not approved by the USAPA and can’t be used for the tournaments. However, these can be usually used for local gameplays as these paddles are super fun to play with.
Blade Or Teardrop
Here comes our favorite one, the blade or teardrop paddles! The best thing about these paddles is their weighting mechanism. All the weight of the paddle goes at the top making it powerful while the handles and lower surface remain lightweight. Hence, pace and control both can be achieved in one paddle.
On the flip side, due to their blade shape, they’ve a reduced width, which might be a problem if you are used to wider body paddles.
Truth be told, the effectiveness of the paddles depends upon how easily and comfortably you can hold a paddle. Here too, we can’t entitle one size fit for all because apparently, we all aren’t having identical hands, right? In other words, you may think of it as a nicely made glove, having top-quality manufacturing and certain other benefits, but what if it doesn’t fit in your hand? that’s exactly the same case with the paddle’s grip. The paddle is of no use unless its grip tightly fits in your hand.
So, for this purpose, the paddle must have a perfect gripping size in accord with your hands. Now you may wonder, how will you get to know which grip size will suit your hand perfectly? Easy. There are two methods through which you can determine the right grip size for you.
Measurement by height:
The first method includes the measurement of grip on the basis of height. In detail, it states that the smaller the height you’ve, the smaller the circumference you should opt for and vice opts. Nonetheless, this method is unrelated to the hand measuring method that we’ve just explained afterward.
|Height||Circumference of grips|
|Under 5’2||4 inches|
|5’3 – 5’8||4 ⅛ – 4 ¼ inches|
|Above 5’8||4 ½ inches|
This is the easiest method to calculate the right grip size for you. However, these are the rough estimates that we’ve mentioned. Although there’s one more method, that tells us the exact figures as to which paddle is right for you.
Measurement by the Hand:
With the hand, you can measure either by your ring finger or the index finger.
By Ring Finger:
Along with size, grip type and style also matter in order to have complete comfortability. Here are the following factors that you need to keep in mind before considering the right grips for you.
The first step is to measure the ring finger with the help of a ruler. Put the ruler at the tip of the finger and then measure it till the middle of your palm. Then get the paddle with the same measurements.
By the Index Finger:
This is another method of measuring the grip size of pickleball paddle. Here you just have to hold the paddle, and then put the index finger of the other hand in the empty space between your fingers and the heel of your palm.
Now figure out the adjustments of the index finger there. If the space is still left in between, then the grip size is bigger for your hand. Conversely, if you forcefully have to adjust your finger in the middle of it, then the grip size is too small. The perfect size, however, can be attained if the index finger fits perfectly in between. If you had to choose between the smaller and the larger grips, according to these measurements, then always go for the smaller one.
Nonetheless, you can taper the grips to get the grips thick, in case you’ve a shorter grip. Last but not least, look out for the sweat-absorbent grips, contour-shaped, cushion grips, abrasion-resistant grips, because these add comfort and robustness to the paddles. Not to worry about it, many of the Gamma, Onix, and Selkirk paddles come with these characteristics.
The material of the Paddle
In the above sections, we’ve covered “how can a paddle be most effective and comfortable to you”. Now is the time to move forward to “how long can you play with the paddle”. However, the lifespan of the paddle depends upon the material and the build of the paddle.
The material varies for both the core and surface of the paddles.
For the surface:
For the surface, the three kinds of materials you may find in the paddles are either;
Graphite is an ideal material for a pickleball paddle for its lightweight, ball-control, and added power. It’s expensive though, which limits it to the professional-player’s community. The runner-up is graphite + fiberglass composite paddle, you may opt for, at the best bargain.
However, here’s an in-depth analysis of all the three surface types to make it clear to you.
If you want the highly efficient paddle with the maximum of the benefits, then you may blindly choose the graphite paddle. The perks in these paddles are in abundance! Whether it’s lightweight, has the best bounce and spin, or the sturdiness of the paddle, graphite paddle has it all.
As for the specifications, these paddles have a weight range of about 6 – 8 ounces (the most lightweight yet sturdy paddle range). They’ve a thin layer on both sides of the surface that makes it easy to hit more sleek shots. Although, many players preferred “textured” graphite over the smooth one, because it has more “ball holding” ability.
On the top, these paddles don’t easily break apart no matter how harsh you’re on them. However, these are expensive in contrast with the other paddle types.
Composite paddles are manufactured to encounter the drawbacks of graphite paddles. Number one is, their surface is textured, unlike graphite paddles which have the least ability to spin the ball. Then, it has multiple matters, such as fiber and carbon which contribute to the quality of the paddle as well as help stabilize the weight of the paddle. Above everything else, they’re highly budget-friendly, because let’s be clear, no one would like to spend fortunes on just a paddle. So, without sacrificing the quality, get the best long-lasting paddle at affordable rates.
Traditionally, pickleball was played with wood and yet still, they’re in the majority’s practice of the picklers. However, there are certain pros and cons of wood paddles before you decide to get one.
Starting from the perks and the biggest one is; they’re highly inexpensive e.g. you can get one pair for just a few dollars. Other than the price, they’re way strong and have the most sturdy build (wood rarely gets broken) so you can trust them to accompany you for years.
However, these paddles are a bit heavy and besides that, they don’t possess the spinning ability and many other features that graphite and composite do. that’s why they’re not recommended for the mid-level and expert players who require flawless gameplays. Nevertheless, these paddles can be a good choice for the starters, a backup paddle pair, or someone who just wants to practice to get good at the game.
For the Core:
Because technology is just like the virus and pickleball is unvaccinated, therefore, the core too, couldn’t stand against the advancements. As per the typical construction, the core comprises the honeycomb structure covered in the matters as aluminum, fiber, resin etc. However, these cores are only built-in graphite or composite paddles i.e. wood paddles don’t comprise a core.
Back to technology, these advancements have brought the core of pickleball rackets through the following types.
Nomex is a nylon-based polymer that’s dipped in resin and hardens into a cardboard-like material. These cores are a bit tough. That being said, the resin ensures the quality of the paddles by making them extremely durable. They don’t have any weight. However, on the downside, they’re noisy, which makes them less attractive for the tournaments.
Although they make great paddles if you are choosing them for the casual aggressive plays where there are no issues of noise.
Aluminum, on the other hand, is synonymous with hard-hitting, long-lasting, and ultralight paddles. It uses an aluminum coating over the honeycomb structure that makes it as sturdy and lightweight as the Nomex core, but with a more pop effect. The only disadvantage is that they’ve less control, requiring greater accuracy from the players in order to play efficiently.
On the other hand, if you choose a fiberglass surface with an aluminum core, the hitch can be reduced because it restores control, efficiency, and power-hitting shots. There’s no sound effect with these paddles, so you also take them to take part in the tournaments.
The industry-leading “polypropylene” core is the best core for pickleball paddle as it comprises the best blend of control, power, cushion, and finesse. It’s lightweight and quiet which makes it a mandatory in tournament-level paddles and green-zone communities. It’s for intermediate players and experts, having the utmost cushion effect and noise-proof ability. Above all, they’re lightweight and most suited for people living in the closed-communities. They can be expensive, however, the gameplay it provides is worth it all.
|So, these are the basic factors of pickleball that you must never compromise on. Other than that, there are a few more factors that you may look into to customize the paddle most suitable to your playing style and needs.|
13mm vs 16mm pickleball paddles:
The 13mm and 16mm signifies the core thickness of a pickleball paddle. Both these paddles perform differently when in contact with the ball, let aside how they feel in the hand. 13mm paddles are power-oriented and produce more force on the ball, while the 16mm, for its thickness, holds the ball a little longer and the soft material also enhances the feel of the paddle. If your game is all about finesse, dink rallies, and soft game, 16mm seems to escort you perfectly, while for the aggressive lads, someone who’s a power hitter, spinner, and loves to pace up the game, 13mm is where you should stick.
While both 13mm and 16mm have unique advantages which depend on you, the 16mm paddle has an upper hand for the durability and longer lifespan of the core. The 13mm wears off quickly. However, 16mm paddles for its thickness are also heavy.
Best brands of Pickleball paddles:
The top 5 pickleball paddle brands are;
- Paddletek – professional’s choice
- Onix – oldest pickleball brand
- Engage – best US-based brand
- Selkirk – most famous
- Gamma – well-budgeted paddle’s lineup
Types of Pickleball paddle:
There are two types of pickleball paddles–edged and edgeless. By materials, Pickleball paddles are mainly divided into 3 types; graphite, composite, and wood. And for the core, the division goes in 5—Aluminum, Nomex, and Polypropylene core.
Edge guard or edgeless?
Edge guard comes with both benefits and drawbacks which makes it really hard to decide whether you should get your paddle with or without it. Although, we’ve listed both of them below so you’ve to overthink it. Just align these pros and cons with your needs and decide!
Basically, the edge guard is the protective shield that’s covered around the paddle to keep the core and the surface of the paddle protected from wearing out. If you are the one that plays pickleball a bit aggressively and isn’t so careful to upkeep the paddle, then you should get an edge guard prior otherwise you’ll likely damage it.
Contrariwise, edgeless paddles have more surface area to give and above all, the edges don’t mess with the ball that most of the time an edged paddle slows down the pace of the game just because the ball returns at the edge instead of the surface. According to our survey, most professional players play with edgeless paddles because of their smooth delivery. However, you need to make sure the paddle has a solid and high-quality build, before opting for an edgeless paddle.
The sound of the paddles is yet another critical concern, most particularly, if you are living in a closed community. Not to mention, most of the communities have restricted those paddle that produces noise. These communities have a list of paddles as.
- Green zone paddles (noise-proof)
- Red zone paddle (noisy)
However, in these circumstances, polymer core is the best option to go for and avoid Nomex paddles as much as you can.
Color of the Paddle:
Color of the paddle? Does it really matter to consider it closely? Simple answer, “yes”. Color might be a personal preference yet you can also have an advantage over here. The yellow color paddles are a smart option to go for because of its matching color with the ball. Resultantly, you can confuse the opponents because differentiating the paddle and the ball from far away is clearly impossible and thus, you can play the tricks without them knowing.
Unfortunately, yellow-colored paddles are banned by the USAPA so make sure you aren’t taking them to the tournaments. However, you can choose from a variety of designs and graphics that many new paddles come with.
Pickleball paddles fall between $10 to $250, featuring low-quality wooden to the market-leading graphite. In the $50 to $150 mid-range, however, many good quality composite and graphite paddles are available, but overall, you get what you paid for.
Because no money, no paddle! So before you decide on what kind of paddle you want, set aside your budget first. Here is what you can get in a certain sort of budget.
If you are just getting started and have the least amount to spend, go for the wood paddles. They can hardly cost $15 to $20 plus they’re rigid and well-built, you’ll definitely have a good time practicing and getting better at the game before you go for any hundred dollars paddle. You might also like to visit cheap pickleball paddles because it’s the most famous list of paddles at incredibly affordable rates!
However, if you’re easy on the budget and previously have some good experience, then we might suggest that you go for some Onix or Gamma paddles for around 100-200 dollars. they’re well built and have the most premium features.
Otherwise, for high-level playing, $200+ dollars is worth buying, but before that, make sure it has all the features and characteristics that you might want in a paddle so that your investment won’t go wasted.
Now that you’ve known nearly all the bits and pieces of a pickleball paddle, we’re pretty sure that you can decide which pickleball paddle is best for you and how to choose one based on all the top-quality features and specs.
In the end, let us remind you of the key points of the article.
- For the weight, go for the medium paddle for having both power and control factors along with complementing best with the tennis elbow.
- Decide the shape based on playing style; whether you want oversized, wide-body, or tennis-handle paddles.
- Determine the grippings as the measurements of your height or your hand. And don’t forget to look out if it’s sweat-absorbent or not.
- Composite or graphite is a good choice for the material with the polymer honeycomb comb unless you want a budget paddle which will ultimately direct you to opt for wood.
- Finalize the price by deciding on which paddles match your gaming techniques the best. Remember, the most expensive isn’t always better.
So this is it, and let us appreciate you going all the way till here. Though, we really hope you find it useful for buying your next pickleball paddle. Good luck and have a nice day!
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