Pickleball Paddles

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Any player out there knows exactly how much your pickleball equipment can change your game. Well, the paddle is the most critical part of your equipment because your paddle selection depends on so many factors, including weight, size, and grip.

So, here’s everything you need to know to find the best paddle that’ll provide you with perfect power, control, and stability.

Pickleball Paddles Material

Surface Materials

The surface material is the material on the paddle face. It’s the material that makes direct contact with the ball itself; it’s the hitting surface. There are three different kinds of surface materials of a paddle: wood, composite, and graphite.

Pickleball paddle and three balls

First and foremost, wooden paddles are where it all started. While the two other kinds are more advanced and developed, there’s just something about wooden paddles that makes them popular to this day.

Wooden paddles can be found at affordable price points, making them the perfect choice for casual pickleball players who only enjoy a game every few weeks or months. Also, they can be on the heavier side, so keep that in mind when we talk about the best paddle weight for you later on.

Composite paddles, otherwise known as fiberglass, are quite versatile. They’re perfect for any player because they’re not too expensive, and you can find different composite paddles with different weights, so you can choose whichever best fits your playing style.

Lastly, graphite pickleball paddles are the most expensive out of all three options, and they’re also known as carbon fiber rackets. If you know a thing or two about graphite, you’d know that it’s an incredibly lightweight material that’s also durable. It’s the perfect combination for a paddle hitting surface.

Having a paddle with a graphite face is definitely an investment. However, a graphite pickleball paddle is worth the money if you play pickleball often and you want the best of the best in terms of paddles out there. Some would argue that a graphite paddle is the best pickleball paddle.

Core Materials

The core material is what determines the performance and durability of your paddle. The four most popular materials are wood, Nomex, polymer, and aluminum.

As you can guess, wooden cores are what was used to make the first pickleball paddles. Wooden cores add a lot of weight to the rackets, much like wooden surfaces. Wood, in general, isn’t a very lightweight material, especially when compared to polymer or aluminum.

Wooden cores provide the players with decent power (thanks to their heaviness) and high durability. Also, their price tags are budget-friendly, which makes wood a great go-to material for casual players or for someone who’s new to pickleball.

On the other hand, aluminum cores are quite lightweight, if that’s what you’re looking for, and therefore, they don’t provide as much power as wooden ones do. Further, aluminum is an excellent honeycomb core material to opt for if you’re seeking ball control.

Nomex cores are quite durable, which makes them a good option for intermediate players who are seeking a racket that can last them a while. Also, if you often watch people play pickleball, and you hear that loud popping sound, that’s thanks to the Nomex honeycomb core.

While that popping sound is quite satisfying for pickleball players, it can be a deal-breaker if you like playing indoors or in public places because it can get a little loud.

Lastly, polymer honeycomb cores are perfect for public courts because they’re the quietest core out of all the previous ones. Additionally, polymer honeycomb cores provide the players with a lot of control over the ball. In other words, going for a polymer core is the way to go if you want as little noise as possible.

Person holding a pickleball paddle

Pickleball Paddle Dimensions

As you can guess, the paddle dimensions are standardized by the USAPA (USA Pickleball Association); here’s everything you need to know to have the best pickleball paddle.

Let’s talk numbers, a pickleball paddle’s maximum length shouldn’t exceed 17 inches, and the maximum width shouldn’t exceed 8.25 inches. Most importantly, their sum shouldn’t exceed 24 inches. That’s especially critical if you’ll be using an edge guard, so try to leave some wiggle room for it.

As for the grip, its circumference should be between 4 and 4.5 inches and a handle length ranging from 4 to 5.5 inches.

Paddle Grip Size

The grip is the most important part of the paddle because it determines how comfortable your wrists, hands, and arms are throughout your pickleball game. Therefore, it’ll determine your performance.

Smaller grips tend to provide you with more control over the pickleball paddle because your wrist action will be running the show. Contrarily, larger grips can provide you with more stability if that’s what you’re seeking.

Some people use your height as a general guide as follows: If you’re between 5’3” and 5’8”, you should opt for a grip circumference around 4.25”, and the taller you are, the larger grip you should opt for. Keep in mind that this is a general guide, and it might not be too accurate.

Finding the Perfect Grip Size for your Hand

If you’re unsure how to find the perfect grip for your hands, it’s simply trial and error. A good guide to follow is to hold the paddle in a relaxed grasp and check how much distance is between your fingers and your palm.

Of course, if your fingers are touching your palm or if they’re too close, that grip is too small for you. On the flip side, if the distance is too large, you won’t have a solid grip on your paddle, and it can slip out. This is especially true during an intense match when your hands start to sweat.

If your index finger of your non-dominant hand can fit perfectly between your fingers and palm, then you’ve likely found the perfect grip size for you.

What Weight Pickleball Paddle Should I Use?

It’s time to discuss the weight of the paddle. It can be from 6 up to 14 ounces, so it’s quite a large range to choose from, especially for a beginner. As mentioned before, a lightweight paddle provides you with ball control, while a heavier one provides you with power.

If you don’t want to add too much pressure on your joints, you may not want to opt for a lightweight paddle. Lightweight pickleball rackets don’t offer much power, so you’ll find yourself adding more and more strength to your swing to get to the power you want, which can stress your joints.

Also, heavier rackets are a constant weight that you need to carry, so that might not be the best option, either.

Opting for a paddle around 7 to 8.5 ounces is the way to go for most players. It’s the sweet spot for the best pickleball paddle weight. I recommend you start there and then test heavier and lighter paddles, depending on whether you’re seeking more power or more control.

Pickleball Paddle for Beginners

For beginners who are just getting introduced to pickleball, finding the best pickleball paddle can be pretty difficult. A good way to approach things is to try to find that sweet spot between comfort, power, balance, and control, which are controlled by the paddle materials, grip, and weight.

If you’re looking to buy a new paddle, going for the first pickleball racket your eyes land on isn’t the way to go. Players need to pick paddles based on their skill level. Here’s a quick pickleball paddle guide for beginners.

I strongly recommend starting with a paddle with graphite or composite surface because that’ll provide you with control and precision.

Pickleball Paddle Sets

Pickleball paddle sets are an excellent choice if you’re looking to save some money or if you’ll be playing with family or friends. You can find some very good deals for high-quality paddles at a budget-friendly price range.

Pickleball Paddle Brands

If you’re looking for the best pickleball paddle manufacturers, there are some brands that you must be familiar with.

Onix is one of the largest names in the pickleball world, and their Onix Composite Z5 paddle is one you can’t go wrong with. Engage, Selkirk, Paddletek, and Gamma are excellent brands, as well.

Pickleball Paddles for Spin

For players who are looking for control over the ball’s spin, here are some paddle recommendations that you might enjoy. Also, here’s why having the right paddle for spin makes a difference.

Some brands released paddles with Spin Control Technology that have the perfect materials and textures that can really help the ball spin. If you want a more general guide, I recommend staying away from graphite paddles and going for composite ones instead. Keep in mind that the face of the paddle is what causes the ball to spin.

Also, try going for a grip that offers the best control, which should be smaller grips. You really need a paddle that’ll allow your wrist to run the show; power isn’t the priority here.

Final Words on Pickleball Paddles

It’s no secret that any pickleball player seeks the best paddle that has that sweet spot of balancing power and control over the ball. I hope this article has helped you to determine exactly what you need to be looking for when picking your next paddle! Regardless of what paddle you end up going with, be sure to have fun!

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.