Picking The Right Paddle
Tips on how to select a pickleball paddle:
Price – Wooden paddles start around $12.00 and increase from there. Starter / entry-level paddles are perfect for kids and schools where equipment will be shared and abused. Stepping up from the wood paddles, you can choose from composite or graphite with Polymer, Nomex or Aluminum cores. These performance paddles range from $50 to $150. A high priced paddle does not necessarily mean its any better than a lower priced paddle for performance, any paddle is only as good as the hand holding it.
Weight – Weight is a very important factor when choosing a paddle. Paddle weights range from 6 oz. to 12 oz., most common would be a range between 7 oz. to 8.5 oz. range. Lighter does not always mean better, but this ultimately comes down to your age, strength, skill level and whether you have any pre-existing injuries.
A few ounces in paddle weight may not sound like much, but you’d be surprised at the difference it can make in your game. Most importantly, paddle weight affects reaction time and swing speed. A lightweight paddle can get you to the ball quicker, if you can’t get to the ball, you have no chance of making a return shot. Keep in mind a small weight difference of .10 of an ounce will not affect the weight of the paddle. For example a 7.5oz paddle is only .10 of an ounce lighter than a 7.6oz paddle which is about the weight of a penny.
A heavier paddle will help you drive the ball, but will provide less control of the ball, conversely, a paddle that is too light may not provide enough drive but will increase ball control. Also be aware that a heavier paddle can accelerate arm fatigue and joint strain.
A weaker player can sometimes benefit with a heavier paddle that has a higher deflection, making the ball travel faster and further with less effort. Power and tennis players will feel more comfortable with a heavier paddle, balanced or top heavy. Some players use a heavier paddle in singles matches to get power shots to the baseline, and also use a lighter control/touch paddle in doubles matches.
Edgeless vs Edging-We occasionally get asked about edgeless paddles, some players have "heard" that when you hit a ball on the edge of an edgeless paddle it will respond better than hitting a ball on the edge of a paddle with edging. Firstly, if you are hitting a ball at the edge of any paddle (edge or no edge) your shot will not likely go in the intended direction. The reason that over 95% of all the pickleball paddles on the market have edging is very simple. Edging protects the edge of the paddle from damage (chips), and gives the paddle some perimeter weighting. The only advantage that we can see is an edgeless paddle is generally lighter in weight than one with an edge.
Warranty- You will find that there is a wide range of warranties on paddles, anywhere from no warranty to lifetime warranties. Beware of companies selling high priced paddles and providing only 30 day warranties (or no warranty). Most reputable companies will offer at least a 90 day to one year warranties on their paddles. Anything less than that will likely be an entry level paddle with a short lifespan.
Grip Size-Each paddle is manufactured in a single grip size that varies from a 4” to 4-1/2” circumference.
- Small - 4” circumference for small hands
- Medium - 4-1/8” to 4-3/8” circumference fits most players
- Large - 4-1/2” circumference would be for large hands
*You can always make a handle circumference larger by adding an over-grip, it is very difficult to make the handle size smaller.
- A heavier paddle has more mass so it can provide more power to a player with a slower swing.
- A lighter paddle is easier to get where you want it quickly, is easier for a faster swing and creates less stress on your arm and shoulder joints.
- Please remember, a paddle is only as good as the hand holding it for the most part, my famous line is "give a 5.0 player a wooden paddle and they will still play like a 5.0 player".