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pickleball paddles
Finding the best pickleball paddles can be hard. There are so many questions. Did you just start playing? Have you been playing for awhile and you’re ready to upgrade? Are you a pro and need the latest and greatest? What is your pickleball playing style? There are a lot of things to consider, but hopefully this article can help all pickleball players from beginner to professional with finding the best pickleball paddles.

Choosing the best pickleball paddle is essential. Remember, the paddle is an extension of your arm, so you need a paddle that is reliable and easy to master.

Let’s start with the basics:

What are pickleball paddles made from?

Pickleball paddles are made from three main materials: graphite, wood, plastic, or composite. Graphite pickleball paddles can be the most expensive, however they can also be light and powerful. Wood paddles are heavy, yet they are also the least expensive. New players or players might want to purchase a wood paddle but should keep the weight in mind. Composite paddles are a happy mix of the two, size and weight. They are in the middle price range, yet come in a variety of weights, colours, shapes and sizes.

pickleball paddle core
Composite Honeycomb

Pickleball Paddles Sizes

Pickleball is regulated by the USAPA. They’ve laid out specific paddle sizes that should be followed for pickleball play. Here are their regulations on size: “The combined length and width including any edge guard and butt cap shall not exceed 24 inches (60.96 cm). The most common paddle measurement is approximately 8 inches (20.32 cm) wide by 15¾ inches (40 cm) long. There is no restriction on paddle thickness.”

You can also categorize them by Wide paddle size – These type of pickleball paddles are best used for beginners because of its large hitting surface. Small paddle size – These type of paddles are used more by advanced players because it lighter and more accurate than the other pickleball paddles. Medium paddle size – These type of paddles are the most common and gives you a good balance of weight and handle length.

Product Name

Weight (Oz)

Material

Price

Our Rating

Rally Graphite Pickleball Paddle

7.6 – 8.4

Graphite

$$

 5/5

Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle

7.8 – 8.2

Graphite

$$$

 4/5

Pro-Lite Sports Aero-D Graphite Pickleball Paddle

6.0 – 7.0

Graphite

$

 3.5/5

Gamma Premium Pickleball Paddle

8.2 – 8.8

Fiberglass Composite

$$

 4.5/5

PickleBall Paddle, Balls & Bag from “COSMIC”

8.3

Graphite

$$

 4/5

What are the things that you might want to

Pickleball Paddle Shapes

“The combined length and width including any edge guard and butt cap shall not exceed 24 inches (60.96 cm). The most common paddle measurement is approximately 8 inches (20.32 cm) wide by 15¾ inches (40 cm) long. There is no restriction on paddle thickness.” Again from the USAPA regulations. There has been a lot of experimentation with different pickleball paddle shapes like “the blade” or the “teardrop” all in the search for the perfect “sweet-spot” that gives a player great control and the much desired spin on the ball.

There are three main things to look at when choosing a pickleball paddle; They are weight, grip size and materials.

Why Pickleball Paddle Weight Matters

Weight influences how a paddle feels when you pick it up and swing it on the pickleball court. Your choice of paddle weight is entirely up to your personal fitness level and comfort. Pickleball paddles range from six ounces to 14 ounces.

A heavier paddle will help you to drive the ball, but offers less control of the ball. However, be aware that the heaviness of the paddle also accelerates fatigue in your arm, which can hurt your game if you’re playing for awhile. Heavier paddles can also strain your elbow. (Pickleball Elbow?)

However, a paddle that is too light will not provide enough umph, may be difficult to support in your hand, but will increase ball control. The advantage of a lighter paddle is that it is easier to maneuver, especially up at the net during volleys. That’s why weight is probably the most important factor when choosing a paddle.

That being said, there are a few other things to consider when selecting the proper Pickleball paddle weight. They are: Age, Strength, Paddle Head Speed.

Age Consideration:
Older players tend to prefer a heavier paddle. This takes into consideration paddle head speed. A heavier paddle will allow you to use the paddles weight when returning the ball.

A heavier paddle doesn’t require a harder swing… a lighter paddle will require a faster and harder swing to return the ball. Take this into consideration with placement. It’s harder to “place the ball” if your concentrating on hitting the ball harder to get it over the net or keep it in play.

A Players Strength:
A heavier paddle may require more arm strength. In turn, a lighter paddle will require less arm strength.

Paddle Head Speed:
The speed in which the paddle is moving when hitting the ball. Hard Hitters/Bangers prefer a lighter paddle. Light hitters prefer a heavier paddle.

A question that is asked a lot is: What is the difference between composite and graphite paddles? Composite paddles are slightly heavier than graphite paddles. It’s recommended to look at composite paddles for harder shots and graphite for the finesse shots. Looking for more power? Select a heavy-weight or super-heavy-weight paddle. Power is all about weight. The heavier the paddle, the more power you have.

A nice mid-weight paddle is the 9.6 ounce Wilson Energy Pickleball Paddle. You can get it here on Amazon (it’s on sale) and has some nice features. The description mentions the following: “New for the 2016-2017 Season this new line of Wilson Pickle ball Paddles includes several new features. The Graphite Composite Hitting Zone was engineered for durability and reliability on the court. The Power Comb Technology is intended for high speed performance and dominating play. The Shock Stop Dampening Bumper will better protect the life of you paddle. Finally, the Cushion-aired Perforated Grip is a moisture wicking design for longer grip ability. Wilson has created a heavier paddle and also improved the paddle’s playability and durability.” So based on that, you’re getting a heavier paddle with more power but not too heavy and the finesse of a graphite paddle. If this is your first paddle, you can see how you like the weight, and go up or down on your next paddle.

Wilson Energy pickleball paddle
Wilson makes great paddles with all their experience making some of the best tennis rackets for decades.

If you think there are other pickleball paddles that are better for a first timer, leave it in the comments below.

Pickleball Paddle Grip

Grip Size. The most common grip sizes are 4 , 4 1/8, 4 1/4 and 4 1/2 inch circumference. It is important to find a paddle that has the correct grip circumference for your hand. Playing with a paddle grip that is too big or small may cause the paddle to slip in your hand and can lead to elbow problems. Smaller grips allow for more wrist action, which aids in putting spin on the ball and enhances control. This wrist action also produces powerful serves, and facilitates quick hand changes for those players that switch hands during play. A larger grip will provide more stability, and be easier on your arm, so you can see that it is important to find the “just right” size for your hand. Competitive pickleball players often customize their paddle grips using an over-grip to re-wrap their paddle exactly to fit their personal preference.

How do I know which grip is best for my hand?

You want to look at two things when trying to figure out the right grip for your pickleball paddle: Handle Length and Grip size/style.

Handle Length:
A longer handle, means a shorter paddle face. Some pickleball players say the longer handle gives them more paddle balance.

Handle Grip:
There are two types of grip styles – thick and thin. A thin grip handle paddle is best for smaller hands. However, you should take into consideration control and comfort. A thick grip handle offers more comfort and may offer more control.

A thicker grip handle is normally cushioned… this helps to absorb some of the shock from hitting the ball. And stop from unnecessary joint pain from frequent playing. A thick grip may be best for those who are susceptible to tennis elbow or arthritis.

How to decide which grip size is best for your hand size?

Let’s walk through it:

1. Find a paddle and hold the paddle like you normally hold it while playing.
2. With your opposite hands index finger, place it between the meaty part of your hand just below the thumb and the longest finger of the hand that’s holding the paddle. It should fit comfortably in this gap. If your finger doesn’t fit then your grip may be to small. If there is a very large gap, your grip may be to large. So only you can be the judge.

Almost all paddle grip sizes are between 4 to 4 1/2 inches in circumference. Like tennis, pickleball grips are broken down into 1/8 inch increments.

 

fat grip

It is easier to increase handle size on most paddles. The majority of today’s paddle handles cannot be reduced in size. If you’re between grip sizes, go with the smaller size and add an overgrip to arrive at the ideal fit. A typical overgrip will increase a grip by 1/16 inch.

You should replace your pickleball paddle grip regularly. A fresh, properly wrapped grip provides you with better paddle control and increased confidence.

Select the best grip that gives you the best control when hitting the ball. The paddle should not slip/twist in your hand when hitting the ball. If you do select a thick grip handle that is cushioned, you may also want to “overwrap” the handle. This may help in keeping sweat from absorbing into the grip and causing it to slip.

If you’re looking for a nice grip to start with, at 4-1/4″, check out this paddle: The Onix Graphite Z5. It’s their most popular paddle in the Onix line because of its outstanding touch and ball control. The graphite face and nomex core give players superior feel of the ball, and with a total paddle weight of 7.8 – 8.2 ounces, the Z5 strikes a perfect balance between power and speed. The Widebody shape on the Z5 is great for beginner through advanced level players with its large sweet spot. If you’re looking for good control, this is the paddle for you. 

Onix Graphite Z5

Pickleball Paddle Material

The age old question: Graphite or Composite? Which is which and how to select?

Hitting Surface – Graphite or Composite:
Depending on the manufacturer, graphite paddles tend to weigh slightly less. The weight difference is so small it isn’t even noticeable in most of the paddles. Some players state that a graphite paddle offers them more control. Some players state the ball pops off the paddle faster with a graphite paddle. Some players prefer the composite paddle because of the popping sound that comes from the paddle when hitting the ball.

When comparing graphite and composite paddles… it’s best to compare the same brand paddle side by side, ex. stryker composite with stryker graphite. It’s hard to compare a graphite and composite paddle from two different manufacturers.

Aluminum Core Paddle:
Most paddle cores are made of a composite material. A composite core paddle material is made of varying material… which may include: carbon fibers, fiberglass and resins.
Aluminum core paddles are made of aluminum. Depending on the manufacturer, aluminum core paddles can vary in weight and size and are within the USAPA paddle standards.

Whichever number of pickleball paddles you chose, the important thing, is that it’s right for you. What a lot of people don’t realize is that pickleball is quite a new sport and everything is still being figured out. You may be able to set a new trend by finding a paddle that works for you and performs well. Everyone is different. So if you have any thoughts on paddle types or paddle shapes, feel free to share and let us know if you’d like some personal paddle recommendations.

2 COMMENTS

    • That’s awesome Joann! Have you tried any other paddles to try and compare how this paddle works for you? Felt any difference in weight or size that suits you better? We’d love to hear about it!

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