How to choose a pickleball paddle?
Choosing the right paddle is an important decision. You can spend from as low as $30 for a basic paddle up to well over $300 for high end paddles. It all comes down to what you want out of your paddle and how much you’re willing to pay for it.
There are a number of things that will factor into your decision making process including: weight, grip size, handle shape/thickness, blade size and thickness, core material type and surface texture.
We’ll go through each one below with some pros and cons so you can make a better decision before choosing a pickleball paddle. If you’ve already chosen a brand name or style popup menu then jump directly to a specific article about that product by clicking on the link below.
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The weight of a pickleball paddle will affect how fast or slow that paddle feels during gameplay. The lighter the paddle, generally the faster it will be and vice versa. A speed 12-13 ounce paddle can move at speeds over 10 mph while a 16+ ounce paddle may only have speeds around 8 mph or less.
If you’re a beginner or play doubles often then a lighter paddle would probably work out better for you since your swing will likely not be as powerful until you develop more upper body strength. You can always make later purchases of heavier paddles if you ultimately feel like they are something you need to improve your game.
Paddle Grip Size
The size of the grip will determine how comfortable it feels in your hands and how easily you can swing and maneuver the racket. The smaller and thinner/longer the handle is, generally the faster and more agile it will feel during gameplay. If you’ve got big hands or plan on doing a lot of net play then choosing a model with a larger handle may be better for you. It’s either that or try out multiple paddle grips to see which one works best for your hand size. Mental Toughness and Sharpness, an Essential Factor of Poker
Handle Material Type & Surface Texture
Your choice of pickleball handle material can come down to personal preference since most are pretty similar in their performance characteristics. There are some key differences though between all pickleball handles.
The most popular handle types are made of rubber, composite and perforated/vented composite.
These are the best choice for people with sweaty hands or who play in humid climates since they don’t get slippery when wet. They are also more durable than other pickleball paddle handles though they may have a tendency to crack after extended use.
The overall best all around performance will be found with this type of handle. Composite is a solid piece of material that doesn’t absorb moisture which means it won’t get slippery when your palms sweat during gameplay. It’s also very strong against cracking which makes them last longer. Most companies offer their own proprietary composites though many players still prefer one style over all the rest.
This is a new style of handle that offers the best of both rubber and composite handles. It allows for better ventilation throughout the handle which reduces moisture buildup on your hands during gameplay. Since it’s not made from rubber though it won’t absorb any moisture either so you don’t have to worry about it becoming slippery if your palms sweat.
Handle Thickness & Shape
Another thing to consider when choosing a pickleball paddle grip is its thickness and shape. A thinner or longer handle will feel more agile than one with a shorter, thicker design. If you’ve got larger hands than choosing a wide short styled grip may be better for you since it will be more accommodating towards your hand shape and size.
The design of a pickleball blade can affect its feel and performance. A wider paddle tends to be slower while a thinner one is faster. Also, since the rules state that the middle 1/3rd of the blade must remain unpainted your choices will be limited to either matte or glossy finishes with most models having some sort of painted design near the edges.
Most players would benefit from choosing a paddle with an arched shape since it evenly distributes ball impact on more surface area (versus flat) which increases control and maintains power longer. A flatter profile may work better for some though especially if you like to play more defensively without smashing too hard into each shot.
Paddle Surface Texture
The texture of a pickleball paddle face can have an effect on how it performs in various weather conditions. The most popular types are matte, pebble and glossy finishes with each offering unique advantages for specific playing situations.
This is the standard option that offers good all around performance characteristics. Matte surfaces provide great grip during gameplay but tend to get slick when it’s wet or if your palms are sweaty.
These offer less surface contact than the matte finish which makes them faster at returning shots while still providing good overall control. However, some players may find them difficult to grip if their hands are sweaty or wet since there is less friction between the paddle face and your hand.
This is the fastest of all the different paddle surfaces. It’s also very slick when wet or sweaty which can make it harder to control shots unless you have a strong grip.
The Paddle Core
A pickleball paddle core consists of multiple layers of wood that are compressed together to provide stability and power while playing the game. The standard rule specifies that only natural materials can be used in their composition though many companies are now using alternative methods to create theirs including fiberglass, boron and carbon fiber shafts. Most players prefer at least some natural material for their cores but there are benefits to each type so let’s take a closer look at what they offer.
We hope this guide has given you a better idea of what to look for in your next pickleball paddle. If you have any questions or would like more information on any of the different types/models mentioned here don’t hesitate to leave us a comment below. We’re always happy to help!