How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle
Choosing the right paddle is one of the most critical aspects of playing pickleball, as it can significantly influence how well a player performs. Most people may have difficulty choosing a paddle that may be favourable for their style of play because they may not be familiar with the capabilities and attributes attached to different paddles. For every characteristic of a paddle, some benefits come with it.
Also, due to the rise in popularity of pickleball, there has been an increase in the production of paddles by different brand (80+ brands and counting). Each one implements new technology and materials. All of these make it even more complicated for players to pick the right paddle for them, especially the ones new to the game.
How do I find the right one?
There are many factors that you should consider before deciding on which paddle may be the right one for you. These include:
The most vital factor is finding a paddle that is within your budget. Paddle pricing can vary dramatically, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. However, as much as the price will impact how effective the paddle may be, it may not optimize the player’s performance if the qualities of the paddle are not compatible with their skills and style of play.
One of the top considerations when choosing a pickleball paddle is the overall weight. The weight determines the type of performance that the player will get when playing as well as the paddles’ feel when hitting the ball. Lighter paddles are good for players who are concerned about ball control and also want an option that will cause minimal elbow and shoulder pain. The typical light weight range is from 7 - 8 ounces.
Nevertheless, lightweight paddles have their disadvantages, as players will have to swing the paddle harder to hit deeper and more powerful shots. On the other hand, heavier paddles require minimal swing to hit a more powerful shot, but due to the extra weight the paddles players may strain their elbows or get tired after playing for a long time. Heavier paddles range from 8-9 ounces typically.
Typically, lighter weight paddles are better for players starting out or who are looking for more control. Whereas heavier paddles are more suited to advanced players or players looking for more easy power.
Materials are another factor to consider when choosing a paddle, as each material also has its advantages and disadvantages.
Wood: Wooden pickleball paddles are as old as the game itself, as they were the original paddles used during the game’s invention. They are typically quite heavy at 9+ ounces but wood is a good option for someone testing the waters to see if they like the game with minimal cost invested.
Composite: Players tend to choose this pickleball paddle construction because of its core and surface materials.
Cores: Most paddle cores are a basic honeycomb design made of polypropylene and with different densities and thicknesses depending on manufacturer. Thinner cores (13mm and less) provide more power whereas thicker cores offer more control and comfort.
Aluminum used to be used in the core but it has been phased out as it pits and dents more easily. Nomex is another material that is used in the core and provides a good power/feel ratio but is more difficult and costly to manufacture.
Surface materials: Generally the two options are fiberglass or graphite. Fiberglass is a little heavier and softer and found generally in the lower price point paddles. Graphite is lighter and stiffer providing more rebound as well as a bigger and broader sweet spot. Face materials can also have a texture applied to them or roughened to provide extra spin on your shots.
Playing pickleball with an incorrect grip size makes the game less enjoyable. When a grip is too large for the hand, it may cause discomfort in the forearm. Too small of a grip and the paddle may twist more easily on off- center hit shots.
A general rule for grip size takes into consideration your height, if the player falls under 5’5”, a 4” grip will be suitable for them. Players who fall between 5’5” – 5’9” should use a 4¼“grip, while players above 6” should look at a 4½“ grip.
You can verify this measurement by gripping the handle in a continental style (v of thumb and forefinger pointing on the left side bevel of the grip for a right handed person) and checking the space between the fingers and the heel of your palm. If an index finger from your left hand fits in that space, then the paddle grip is perfect for you.
Need a Paddle?
Check out our selection of top quality pickleball paddles here. [link to pickleball paddle collection]
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