How To Choose A Pickleball Paddle?

Pickleball is one of the best sports to play with friends and family. The game is straightforward and suitable to play at any age. It can offer you the most exciting summer activity, especially when you are bored. The game has evolved, and with it, different types of paddles have been created. Whether you are a new player trying to figure out how to choose a pickleball paddle, or if you are a veteran who is looking for a new paddle, we've got you covered! We will help you figure out what qualities you need to pick the right pickleball paddle for you!

How To Choose A Pickleball Paddle?

how to choose a pickleball paddle

Source: YinYang

Why Choosing the Right Pickleball Paddle is Necessary?

The game of pickleball is a combination of three popular sports played worldwide: Ping-pong, badminton, and tennis. The ball seems more like that of ping-pong, the court resembles that of badminton, and some basic rules coincide with tennis.

So, the game itself justifies the fact that a superior paddle is needed to play to it. The standard size of a pickleball paddle is in-between the tennis racket and ping-pong paddle.

Within the standard pickleball size and weight, there is a lot of variations, and you can play with any of the different types of paddles. However, finding the right one for you surely has some advantages, and you will notice the difference yourself while playing with a suitable one.

The right paddle maximizes your comfort, allowing you to play with ease and improve your performance level. An improper paddle weight or grip can cause a lot of strain to your wrist, elbow, and arm, resulting in poor performance and injuries such as tennis elbow.

So, figuring out how to choose a pickleball paddle for yourself is undoubtedly the most crucial part of the game.

Despite the overwhelming number of options, it’s not that hard to choose a paddle. For your convenience, we have broken down some of the key considerations you need to make before buying one. Let’s get into them!

Weight

Yes, yes, and yes, the first thing you look for when choosing a pickleball paddle is the right weight. This single most important factor has the potential to change your whole game and experience. Most experts say that the right weight is less about the measurement in ounces and more about how it feels. So rather than focusing on which weight paddle to get, you should give more attention to how it feels in your hands while holding, moving, or swinging.

Nevertheless, it’s always better to have full knowledge. All pickleball paddles fall within the range of 6 to 14 ounces.

Category

Weight

Light-weight

Less than 7.3oz

Medium-weight

7.3 – 8.4oz

Heavy-weight

Equal to or greater than 8.5oz

Whether you choose a light, medium, or heavyweight paddle, each one has its perks. A light paddle offers you greater comfort, mobility, and control over the ball but sacrifices power. However, it's the optimal paddle for spin. On the other hand, a heavier paddle provides more driving force, while reducing control, making them the best paddles for power.

Type

Name

Image

Buy Now

Light-Weight

Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddle

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle

Medium-Weight

Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle

Heavy-Weight

Onix React Pickleball Paddle

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle

So, what's the best pickleball paddle to get if you are just a beginner who is thinking of starting the game? Well, a mid-range can be an ideal choice; however, we will be repeating the same mantra, get the one that FEELS RIGHT.

Grip Size

The second most important thing to consider when figuring out how to choose a pickleball paddle is the grip size. Since you put your hands around the grip, it must fit in your hand without slipping and giving you wrist aches.

The grip length varies from 4 to 5 inches, and circumference ranges from 4 to 4.5 inches. Bigger grips offer robust stability, making them the best paddle choice for power and control. However, these can cause elbow strain. Conversely, with smaller grips, you have increased control as it provides more wrist action. As a result, smaller grips are the best choice for spin.

If you are unsure about which size to get, we would recommend starting with a smaller grip and then moving up as you become more comfortable. Alternatively, you can add some tape to the grip to make it fit your hand better. Most professional players do the same, customizing the circumference with a tape to match their hand size.

A general tip that a lot of the players follow is using their height to determine their grip size. Though it is not a hundred percent accurate, it can give you a general idea about the size that you are more likely to be comfortable with. The following table will give you a general idea about the height-to-size compatibility:

Your Height

Grip size

Under 5’2”

4” Grip

5’3” – 5’8”

4 1/8" to 4 1/4" Grip

5’9” and Taller

4 1/2" Grip

A more accurate way to measure the length of the grip would be to get a ruler and measure the distance from the tip of your middle finger to the middle of your palm. That will give you a more accurate grip size. If you want to check if the size is right for you, grip the paddle and take a natural stance. Take the index finger from the other hand and see if you can snugly fit it between your thumb and your other fingers.

A general rule for beginners would be to take a slightly smaller grip and increase it to find the perfect grip size.

Material

When pickleball first got its name, all pickleball paddles were of wood. However, as the game became more popular, paddles evolved and are now made of composite and graphite as well.

The material is indeed an important consideration when choosing a paddle, as it determines the paddle’s weight. Wooden paddles are usually the heaviest, while graphite paddles are the lightest. Further, the composite paddles are more of a compromise between graphite and wood, coming in a wide range of weight and price. The graphite paddles are the most expensive and offer a wide range of variations and prices. Most professionals use graphite paddles, as they are durable and offer great versatility.

Material

Product Name

Image

Buy Now

Wood

Amazin' Aces Pickleball Wood 2-Paddle Set

Wood Pickleball Paddle

Graphite

HUDEF Lightweight Graphite Pickleball Paddle

Graphite Pickleball Paddle

Composite

niupipo Composite Pickleball Paddle

Composite Pickleball Paddle

Choosing the material mostly depends on your level of playing. Beginners tend to get a wood paddle as they are the cheapest. However, considering the weight issue, the better option would be to get a composite paddle with a mid-range weight.

Core Construction

Another important thing to consider while choosing a pickleball paddle is the core construction, as it will change the weight and durability of a paddle. The three types of cores in a pickleball paddle are Aluminum, Nomex Honeycomb, and Poly Cores. They all offer different weights and cost to your paddle, so you need to figure out the right core for your playstyle.

Aluminum cores are the most popular of the three. They are very lightweight, making them the best paddles for spin and control. However, the issue with lightweight paddles applies here as well. These paddles don’t provide much power so you have to be a heavy hitter if you want to generate power with them.

Nomex Honeycomb cores are slowly gaining popularity. These were the first cores used to make composite paddles. They provide a balance between power and precision, making them the best paddle core choice for beginners. However, the downside of the Nomex Honeycomb core is that they are the loudest. If you play in a close-gated community, you might not be allowed to use them for their noise.

Poly Cores are the exact opposite. They have a soft paddle face that results in a quieter sound. Again, the downside is that the soft faces dampen the shots, so power is a sacrifice you have to make for Poly Cores.

Edge Guard vs Edge-Less

Another thing that you need to consider while buying your pickleball paddle is if you want a paddle with an edge guard or an edge-less paddle. Edge guards are paddings surrounding the paddle face that protect the paddle from chipping from impact.

As a beginner, going for a paddle with an edge guard is the best choice. It provides a sense of protection so that you can play with ease without the fear of breaking your paddle if you accidentally drop it. On the other hand, many professional players prefer edge-less paddles as they provide maximum play area or sweet spot.

Size

The most common size for pickleball paddles are wide-body paddles. These are the common paddles that you see everywhere and almost always the preferred size. This is also the better choice for beginners.

One of the unconventional sizes is the oversized paddles. They have a slightly bigger length and width on the paddle face. They offer some benefits but they are usually above the regulated limits. As a result, you might not be able to use them in different clubs and tournaments. People usually buy them to have fun at home or in private games. However, some oversized paddles are allowed in official games. They are made by shortening the handles so that the paddle technically is the right size. However, having a shorter handle has its downsides as well, like a looser grip, for example.

The other shape that you will see is the elongated paddles. These paddles are reduced in width and increased in length. These are specialization paddles that are used by some professionals with specific playstyles. Again, these might not be allowed to be used everywhere, so check with your community manager before deciding to buy one. 

Color

Though colors are not going to be a factor in your playability, they do offer the flair that you might want for your style and kit. There is a wide range of variations in colors and patterns for paddles. You can choose the best one that fits your aesthetic.

The composite and graphite paddles offer a wide range of colors and designs. Compared to them, the wooden paddles might be bland. They provide distinct designs and are somewhat expensive. It comes down to personal preference mostly and should be the least of your worries when trying to figure out how to choose a pickleball paddle.

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle for Beginners

So, what will be the best option to go for if you are an absolute beginner? The best weight option for you would be to grab a medium-weight paddle and determine your playstyle. Once you figure that out, you can pick the specific weight that suits you. Here are our recommendations for beginners:

  • Weight: Medium
  • Grip: Tight
  • Material: Wooden
  • Core: Nomex Honeycomb
  • Size: Wide Body with an Edge Guard

As for the grip, try to find a snug grip using the height chart and ruler method. Then, slowly increase or decrease to find the perfect grip for you.

For the material, if you want to try the game out, the best option for you is to go for a wooden paddle as they will be the cheapest. However, keep in mind that the wooden paddles would be heavier. If the weight is turning out to be an issue, you can opt for a mid-range composite paddle as well.

The core depends mostly on noise susceptibility. If you don’t have a problem with a loud paddle, then the best choice for you is a Nomex Honeycomb core. If the noise is an issue, you can experiment with either an Aluminum or Poly core to see which fits you the best.

Finally, the best choice of size would be a well-rounded wide body paddle with an edge guard as it will protect your paddle and you will have a bigger sweet spot to hit the ball.

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle for Spin

When it comes to spin, the most important thing is the paddle has to be lightweight. Anything that adds weight will be a disadvantage if you prefer a paddle with more spin. So, opt for a lightweight paddle, with a small grip size. Avoid wood paddles as they tend to be on the heavy side.

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle for Control

As for control, some key factors change. You still want to opt for a lightweight paddle if you want to have more control. However, the difference comes in grip size. While smaller grips give you more spin, they take away control. So, opt for a larger grip if you want to counteract that problem. As for the material, again avoid wood.

Arthritis and Elbow Injuries: Do They Affect My Choice?

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle

Photo By: Oliver Sjöström

Physical conditions such as arthritis or an elbow injury will have an effect on your playstyle. So, you have to choose wisely if you don’t want to cause permanent damage to your body. Another condition that might arise is called Tennis Elbow. This happens when the ligament in your elbow starts tearing up in small fractions and can lead to pain in the elbow joint. If you have such condition, you must go to a physician and ask for advice.

People with any sort of physical condition should always opt for a lightweight paddle. The highest they should consider is mid-weight. A general rule of thumb would be, if it is uncomfortable, go for a lighter paddle.

Cheap Paddles vs Expensive Paddles: What More Do They Offer?

A paddle can range from anywhere around $10 to $150. So, what are the key differences? What do the more expensive paddles have to offer?

The cheaper pickleball paddles are mostly made of wood. They will be made of 7 ply Maple or Baltic birch wood. These paddles would come around $10 to $25. These paddles would be a perfect starter for beginners but they won’t last long.

Another option on the cheaper end are composite paddles. You can get a poly core composite paddle for around $35. Prices may slightly vary depending on where you live. These paddles will be durable and will give you a better playability than wooden paddles as they tend to be much lighter.

The opposite end of the spectrum are the graphite paddles. They usually range around $100 and beyond.

There are some high-end composite paddles that you can buy in this range, as well. These are known as the “pro paddles” as they are mostly used by professionals. If you are not a beginner and want to take the game a little more seriously, these are the paddles that you should consider. However, there are some mid-range composite paddles that fit the bill just fine. So, if you don’t necessarily need an expensive paddle, you could opt for a mid-range composite one.

FAQ

Do you have any tips for buying my first paddle?

If you are buying your first paddle, you should follow everything in the beginners guide mentioned above. In short, go for a composite or a wood paddle, based on your budget; find the right grip size and pick one that is medium-weight. The most important thing to keep in mind is to see if the paddle feels “right” for you.

How long should a pickleball paddle last?

Pickleball paddles don’t come with an expiration date, so it depends on multiple factors. For example, a graphite or composite paddle will last much longer than a wooden paddle. Again, a paddle with an edge guard will have a longer lifespan than an edge-less one. At the end of the day, it depends on how you take care of your paddle. If you maintain them properly, a paddle should last you years.

Should I get a lightweight or midweight pickleball paddle?

If you are a complete beginner, go for a midweight paddle as it has the best of both worlds. If your playstyle is precise and finesse based, go for a lightweight paddle as it will give you more control and more spin.

What gives a paddle more control?

The factors that determine the spin of a paddle are the weight and the grip. Lightweight paddle with a thick grip will give you more control.

What gives a paddle more power?

For power, the factor that changes is the weight. If you want to have more power behind your shot, opt for a heavy paddle with a thick grip.

Do pickleball paddles have a sweet spot?

Yes, there is. However, the sweet spot is not a variable, meaning there isn't a bigger or smaller sweet spot on a pickleball paddle, as it is made of solid material. On a solid pickleball paddle the sweet spot references the spot on your paddle that delivers shots with more power and better accuracy. It's going to be different on every paddle. But when you find it, you'll know it.

Are there different paddles for indoor vs outdoor play?

No, there aren’t. This question comes up due to the fact that pickleball balls have indoor and outdoor variants. That doesn't effect you when you're trying to decide how to choose a pickleball paddle. However, the thing to consider is the surface you play on and buy shoes accordingly.

Are there different paddles for men and women?

No. A pickleball paddle is a pickleball paddle. It’s gender-neutral so there is no specific paddle for men and women. Usually, women would opt for a smaller grip size as their hands are smaller. However, it always comes down to personal preference and there is no specific classification for paddles based on gender.

What is paddle deflection?

Paddle deflection is a test that is conducted to determine the rigidity of a paddle. If a paddle is more flexible than the permitted limit, it will produce something called the “trampoline effect.” The test is conducted by putting weights on the paddle and measuring the deflection in angle. If a paddle is deflected for that five thousandth of an inch with 3KG of weight, that paddle fails the regulation test.

Where can I buy a pickleball paddle?

There are many online stores and physical stores where you can buy your pickleball paddle. You can find a variety of paddles on Amazon. There are other online stores as well. Most physical sporting goods stores will also sell pickleball paddles.

Final Words

Well, it’s a wrap on how to choose a pickleball paddle. While there are some things to look for, it’s best to choose a paddle that fits your individual needs. Experiment with different types of paddles and grips, and eventually, you’ll find the perfect paddle for you!