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How do I choose the right pickleball paddle?
Pickleball Paddle Weight
As a brand new pickleball player, I’ve been given a lot of free advice when it comes to equipment, and one of the main things I can tell you is this: Paddle weight is crucial to playing your best game. I was also warned that it takes time to determine your ideal weight category. First, you need to engage a bit and get a feel for the type of player you are- Meaning learn your strengths and weaknesses.
Generally, pickleball paddles are broken down into three weight groups:
Lightweight: 6-7.5 oz.
It’s said that a lighter paddle offers more maneuverability. Without excess weight, you can finesse the ball into more strategic shots. If you’re ready to try a lightweight option, these are rated toward the top of the group: Selkirk Epic.
Medium: 7.5-8.4 oz
This is where I started, and it’s my suggestion that you do the same. Once you get used to playing with a medium range paddle, you’ll begin to understand your needs.
Many people scale down in weight due to injuries, if you find that you’re sore after playing try a lighter paddle. If you’re having trouble getting force behind your swing, a heavier paddle could be in order. I play with
Heavy: 8.4-9.2 oz.
A heavier paddle is an easy way to increase the power behind your shots. The added weight can also help you land shots deeper into the court than you would with a light paddle. If you’ve played a bit and are leaning toward a heavier paddle consider the Onix React.
Pickleball Paddle Grip Size
If you’ve regularly played any racket sport then you probably know about grip size. It simply refers to the circumference of your handle vs. your hand size. A smaller hand needs a narrower circumference and vice versa. Grip size matters when it comes to
As a rule, when gripping your paddle your index finger should fit comfortably in the space between your thumb and the heel of your hand.
The average grip sizes run between 4-4.5″. If you’re in doubt, always size down. If necessary you can easily make a grip bigger by using overgrips on your paddle. I recommend players with very small hands try the Gamma Neutron 2.0. It’s also one of the lightest paddles on the market.
*Tip: If you’ll be playing with kids, give them a chance to feel an appropriate grip and weight with the Paddletek Ranger sized and shaped for younger players.
Pickleball Paddle Cores
When pickleball was invented in the 1960s paddles were
The heaviest of available paddles, Nomex is shaped from a cardboard-like material then coated with resin for strength. If you’re looking for a heavy paddle, consider a Nomex core. These are also the loudest paddles, so if you like that loud “pop’ when you hit Nomex may be for you. If you want a mid-weight Nomex paddle, try
This is a plastic-like blend known to be the softest and quietest material, also rumored to be the best for control.
The most recent core to hit the market, many swear by this lightweight material. It’s a bit louder than polymer, however, so consider your surroundings. The Franklin Sports X-Fini is among the best-rated, mid-priced aluminum core paddles.
These are still floating around the internet, mostly used for bulk purchases catering to youth sports teams with small budgets. Wood is still one of the heaviest of paddle core materials but they won’t meet USAPA regulation. If you’re shopping on a budget and don’t mind the restriction try buying in bulk like this set from Verus Sports Deluxe.
Choosing Face Material for Pickleball Paddles
As crucial as
The approved face materials for pickleball paddles are as follows
Sometimes called carbon fiber, these paddles are ultra lightweight and are coveted by players that rely on that extra touch sensation when playing. Graphite is also very stiff, meaning it transfers that striking energy up into a player’s hand giving an unrivaled feel to each shot. This set by Niupipo is one of the best deals on the market
These paddles are a bit more flexible than graphite and players report that they tend to concentrate the ball energy on the paddle core. This is said to give them more “pop” than their graphite alternatives. Manufacturers have also discovered a way to texturize fiberglass faces that meet with USAPA guidelines. I’m planning to try the new Selkirk Latitude Widebody. Some players say that this helps them better control the spin that they put into a hit.
Poly-faced paddles are a fairly recent addition to pickleball paddle options. The benefit is said to be in the manufacturer’s ability to create lighter paddles that boast greater durability. The Selkirk Sport 20P XL is worth looking into, it’s a great overall paddle. Ploy-faced paddles are also unique in their ability to hold new and colorful designs, making them more appealing as a whole.
*Take a look at our guide to choosing Pickleball Balls!
If you’ve spent any time researching paddles you probably know that there’s an entire area that we have yet to cover. Paddle shape has begun to creep up on expert player’s priority list, there’s currently some interesting research that makes the choice easier for beginner players. Like so many things in pickleball, finding a community is key in this experiment. Check back soon as I try some different shapes and sizes!