Pickleball Paddles: Graphite vs. Composite vs. Fiberglass | Which Material is Best?

Material of the paddle of pickleball is very crucial to consider. Before you make your way to the court for a game of pickleball, you deserve to know in detail about some of the Pickleball Paddles. If you're looking for a comparison between graphite vs. composite or graphite vs. fiberglass, you've come to the right place!

Graphite vs. Composite Paddles

Graphite is the most expensive but lightweight and durable material of a pickleball paddle. It’s great in terms of performance in the court. One good option for this one is the Onix Z5.

In terms of graphite vs. composite, graphite paddles generally use the same paddle core as composite paddles (Polymer, Nomex, or Aluminium) but are popular due to the extra airy lightweight feel you experience in the paddles.

When people hear about graphite paddles, they think the core is also made directly with graphite. This is, however, a misconception. In a pickleball paddle that is made of graphite, the layer of graphite is applied over the top of the core.

Since it is a carbon fiber material, such paddles are also called ‘carbon fiber paddles’. Given the fact that graphite is ultra-stiff and super light, it helps to make paddles extremely light which you will prefer if you are looking for control and touch.

The stiffness will let you spread the energy of strikes over a greater area of the paddle. Many professional players around the world prefer to use graphite paddles with a composite core.

Such paddles are the best in transferring the feel of the ball strike over a large area. Hence, it helps to transfer the energy of the player’s hand in a manner that the player gets a superior feel of the ball on the face of the paddle.

This really is the middle ground between a wood and a graphite paddle and comes in several ranges of prices and weights. Composite paddles are also quite popular since it provides a good spin on shots. There are composites of different ranges of prices.

The composite pickleball paddles are constructed with a combination of materials, which are usually the honeycomb core covered with more than one face material. These materials are built into the surface that gets in contact with the ball.

The number of materials that are combined to make a paddle in the game of pickleball is quite diverse. This allows a wide variety of paddles to be made from a wide combination of core materials and external treatments.

Graphite vs. Fiberglass Paddles

Fiberglass paddles have been increasing in popularity over the last few years in the industry of pickleball paddle construction. The fiberglass paddles tend to have several unique characteristics as well.

In terms of graphite vs. fiberglass, the fiberglass paddles are more flexible than graphite and will be able to centralize the energy of the ball on the core of the paddle. This is why a lot of people have described fiberglass paddles as having greater ‘pop’ than graphite paddles.

Secondly, the fiberglass finish layer meets the USAPA guidelines too, and hence helps to produce paddles with a texture feel that feels lighter.

After this careful review, we can successfully deem graphite as the ideal material for the best pickleball paddles.

How to Find Your Paddle Grip Size?

Graphite vs. Composite vs. Fiberglass Pickleball Paddles: Which Material is Best?

Photo by: Pickleball pulse

The next important factor to consider when choosing a pickleball paddle is the grip size. You must pick a pickleball paddle that has the perfect grip circumference to match the size of the hand.

It needs to fit your hand in the best manner. The weight and grip of the paddle go hand-in-hand. Having a solid grip is of the utmost importance for a competitive player.

A smaller grip will allow you to have better wrist action, allowing you to easily put the spin on the ball and improve the control you have. The more the wrist movement, the higher will be the power to serve.

A larger grip increases the stroke stability while easing the strain on the wrist and shoulder joints, besides the elbow. For example, the Pro Kinetic Pro Speed Paddle is known for its excellent grip.

A quick and easy way to decide the right grip size is really based on your height.

Your Height

Grip Size

Under 5’ 2”

4”

5’ 3” to 5’ 8”

4 1/8” to 4 ¼”

5’ 9” and taller

4 1/2”

Furthermore, you should consider some additional factors like the handle shape, type of grip, and whether or not you are able to use an overgrip.

What is an overgrip you ask? It is what adds either half or one whole size (1/ 16 to 1/8 inch) to the racquet. For using an overgrip, you will want to find a paddle that is half to one size lower.

If you are confused between the two sizes, you should go for the smaller one as you can always use overgrips to increase the size, which is not going to be possible if you select the bigger one.

Avoid using paddles that have too small grips, as that will require too much squeezing from you. This will affect your hand, forearm, and elbow, causing further fatigue and stress on tendons.

Some players find that the grip sizes for them are never exact. In such cases, it is always wise to go for the smaller size. You can always work towards making the grip perfect.

USAPA Pickleball Paddles Specifications/Rules

If you are considering playing a Pickleball tournament, you need to think very well about the legality of your game and your pickleball gears. You must first ask yourself, is your paddle legal?

The governing body of the USA Pickleball, USAPA, has decided that your pickleball paddles need to meet certain requirements. Otherwise, you cannot get on the court. You need to delve deeper into these rules.

Material of Your Pickleball Paddle

Pickleball paddles have to be made of strong, non-compressible material which has to meet all safety standards. The material needs to pass a deflection test so that it does not result in a trampoline effect.

Foam core paddles are thus illegal because even if they may pass the primary deflection test, they degrade over time and cannot be eternally put into the Pickleball paddle list that has been approved by the USAPA.

It does not necessarily say what material is legal, the USAPA approved paddles are mostly made from two materials. The more expensive ones are made from an aerospace fiber, the honeycomb aramid. The other one is a honeycomb polymer. All of them are known to be light and strong.

Size

If the surface area of a pickleball paddle crosses 24 inches, then it’s not legal anymore. This includes the length and width of the paddle beside the edge guard and the butt cap. The length must be within 17 inches. However, there is no limitation for paddle weight or thickness. Most paddles weigh between 8.5 and 7.5 ounces.

Surface

Pickleball paddles’ surfaces have to be smooth enough and must not have a rough topping. This helps to prevent excessive spin when a ball is hit. For the USAPA approval, the paddle must undergo a roughness test.

It should also pass the reflection test, meaning that it must not be too reflective so as to obscure the vision of players. The paddles can however be painted on have decals on them.

Alterations

You cannot really alter pickleball paddles in accordance with the USAPA standards. You can have edge guards installed in the pickleball paddle to protect the paddle, or use a lead tape to make the paddle a little heavier if that is what you prefer.

You are also allowed to change the grip or get a grip overwrap on the paddle. You may add pen markings, but only as long as those do not affect the spin of the ball when hit with your paddle.

If you decide to play in a USAPA sanctioned tournament of pickleball, it is your duty to make sure your paddle belongs to the approved list.

If you suddenly realize that your pickleball paddle is illegal right before the tournament, you are allowed to switch your paddle with a legal one. And you will not be penalized for that. All you need to do is match the standards when you are in court.

Paddle Tennis vs. Pickleball: What is the Difference?

Photo by: Pickleball pulse

You must have sometimes been confused between racket games and paddle games, which means pickleball vs paddle tennis might have also resulted in confusion.

If you have never played one of these games before, this is very likely the case. In both of the games, you need to use a paddle. They are surely somewhat similar, but each of them is unique in its own ways.

Once you are aware of the differences between the two sports, it will become simpler for you to make your preference of which game to go for.

First, let us briefly take a look at paddle tennis.

Paddle Tennis

This is also known as pop tennis and is mostly an outdoor sport that takes place in an enclosed region to ensure safety. It may also be played indoors. Just like tennis, this can be played in either doubles or singles. There is enough room for 2 or 4 players simultaneously. Scoring is also similar and so is winning.

Similarities with Pickleball

Some of the key aspects of the game of paddle tennis are very similar to pickleball. These aspects include the gameplay, the court, and the gears that are used.

Style of the Game

The style of play in paddle tennis is quite similar to that of pickleball. They both use paddles, not rackets. Furthermore, you have to do essentially the same thing in both of the games: Hit the ball back and forth until someone misses. If you know both the games a little bit, you can recognize the difference even in the style.

Court Size

If you are not very experienced in either of the games, taking a glance at the differences in the size of the court will be almost non-existent. A paddle tennis court is 44’x20’, divided into boxes and zones of service, and is located on a raised ground.

However, pickleball is played on a badminton court, which measures 30’ x 60’. The net is 34” lower in the center. There are also volley and non-volley zones which affect scorings.

Basic Design of Paddle

Both paddle tennis and pickleball games are played using similar kinds of paddles, made up of quite similar materials and following almost the same styles.

Differences with Pickleball

While there are few similarities between pickleball vs paddle tennis between the two sports, both of them can differ largely. If you attentively watch the two games for a while, you will be able to see these differences.

These distinguishing features can be noticed in the type of ball used in the game, the way the scoring is done, and the texture of the paddles used in the game.

Paddle Texture

Though the paddles used for the game of pickleball and paddle tennis are very similar, the textures of the paddle have worthwhile differences. While paddle tennis paddles can have textured paddles or contain holes, pickleball paddles have to be entirely smooth.

The Ball

The kind of balls used in the game is also another big difference between the two games. In pickleball, a small plastic ball is used, similar to a whiffle ball, that contains holes and is very light. However, in paddle tennis, the balls are made of rubber and are depressurized.

Scoring of the Game

This is another domain where the two games are heavily different from one another. Paddle tennis scoring occurs in the same way as in tennis. Each game is made up of opportunities of six points. The scores are 15, 30, 40, and game. A set consists of six of these games.

However, pickleball is scored differently. Generally, you need to reach at least 11 points to win. Furthermore, you will need to have two points higher than your opponent to win. Before the game is over, hence, the score can cross 11 points.

Serving Style

In pickleball, there are strict rules related to serving. There is only one opportunity to serve and you can only serve underhanded. The ball cannot touch the non-volley zone while you are serving.

In paddle tennis, you only get one opportunity to serve. However, you may serve in any way that you wish. There is no penalty for serving overhanded.

Now that you have a clearer idea about the two games and the differences between them, you can decide which want is more fitting for you.

You may want to try both games to decide how you feel about each of the them. There can be a different level of intensities involved in each game. There is no better way of realizing this than trying both for yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where to buy pickleball paddles?

Amazon is one of the most convenient and straightforward go-to place to purchase pickleball paddles and other gear. Additionally, retail stores like Dicks Sporting Goods and Academy Sports can also be good options. Further, all major sporting shops are likely to contain pickleball paddles.

What is the best weight for a pickleball paddle?

According to the USAPA guidelines, there is no limitation for paddle thickness or weight. Most of the best pickleball paddles weigh between 7.5 and 8.5 ounces.

How to choose a pickleball paddle?

Taking a good look at the weight, material of the paddle, construction of the core, and the grip size will help you make the right choice of a pickleball paddle. You can add price to the list, if that is also one of your preferences.

What paddles do Pickleball pros use?

Professionals tend to use mostly graphite pickleball paddles with composite core due to the higher control and lighter weight, though this can also vary depending on personal preference.

How to hold a pickleball paddle?

There are three kinds of holding techniques or gripping styles you should try. First, the continental grip is about grabbing a pickleball paddle like you are grabbing a hammer and going to hammer a nail. Such a grip is preferred by players who have an equal number of backhands and forehands.

Second, the western grip where you have to shift the hand to the back of the paddle. It is preferred by beginners.

The last is the eastern grip, where it appears like shaking hands with the paddle. If you are the player who hit more forehands than backhands, this grip will soon be your go-to grip.

What are the different types of Pickleball Paddles?

There are different pickleball paddles, which differ in terms of material, size, core construction, and grip sizes. There are also paddles that contain an edge guard and ones that are edgeless. The brands of the best pickleball paddles, differ in size, shape, handle size, and colors.

How long should a pickleball paddle last?

It depends on how you take care of it and how often you play. The best players who play regularly usually expect to retire a composite or graphite paddle after about a year.

The paddles can last even up to three years for players who don’t play more than a couple of times per week. Paddles that are made of wood are extremely long-lasting and will be durable for many years.

Where can I buy used pickleball paddles?

It is best if you do not buy used pickleball paddles because a used paddle will be subject to higher wear and tear, and will not be worth the money. If you do purchase an used pickleball paddle, your best bet is to buy a lightly used one.

Is pickleball easier than Tennis?

They have both similarities and differences, but whether pickleball is easier than tennis depends on what you consider easy. For instance, a game of pickleball will need placement and strategy and less athleticism. You should try both games to find out which one is best for you.

Will playing pickleball affect my tennis game?

In short, playing pickleball will definitely not affect your tennis game! Rather, you might expect to improve certain aspects of your tennis game.

A lot of basic movements and shots are similar in both games, but the power change or strategy will differ. Some people have reported getting hurt in the areas of stamina and power while their precision and balance or even shot selection for tennis games have improved with playing pickleball next to tennis.