Pickleball seems to have taken over campgrounds. Kids, teenagers, parents, and grandparents are all taking the court by storm. If you’re not familiar with the game, you might not realize that there aren’t one-size-fits-all pickleball paddles. There are paddles designed for power and finesse players, and others who want to reduce tennis elbow and wrist injuries.
Let’s look at the best pickleball paddles and how to choose what’s right for you!
What Is Pickleball?
Pickleball is similar to tennis or badminton but with a plastic ball and paddles. All ages and skill levels can play pickleball, which is one reason it has become so popular. It was created in 1965 by three men who wanted to create a game their whole families could enjoy together.
The United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) published the first rule book in 1984. By 1990, all 50 states were playing it. In 2001, pickleball got into the Arizona Senior Olympics, and two years later, the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was formed.
By 2021, “USA Pickleball Membership reached the 50,000 milestones and ended the year with just over 53,000 members, a 43% increase from the previous year and the largest single growth year to date for the organization.”
A pickleball court is the same size as a badminton court at 20 ft by 44 ft. The net height is 36 inches on the ends and 34 inches in the center. Like tennis, the court has right and left service areas and a separate zone at the net.
Players serve and hit the ball back and forth across the net like a game of tennis or badminton. The biggest difference between pickleball and these other sports is the equipment. The plastic ball travels much slower because of its holes, so almost everyone can play the game.
The Importance of Weight When Buying a Pickleball Paddle
There are three weight guidelines for pickleball paddles: light paddles ( less than 7.2 oz), mid-weight paddles (7.3 oz to 8.4 oz), and heavy paddles (more than 8.5 oz). New and younger players should use lighter paddles that are easier to swing. A 6-year-old with a heavy paddle will get tired quickly. Lightweight paddles are also known for their control, which is ideal for players who use finesse rather than hard shots when playing.
Mid-weight paddles provide a good happy medium between power and control. The average pickleball player usually chooses a mid-weight paddle. Finally, heavy pickleball paddles are for players who seek power. They generate lots of pop on the ball. A player’s control isn’t as good with heavier paddles, and wrist injuries often occur when a player uses a pickleball paddle that’s too heavy.
Pro Tip: Want to know more about how to play pickleball? We took a closer look at What Every RVer Should Know About Pickleball.
The Different Materials Used to Make Pickleball Paddles
Not only is weight important when considering which pickleball paddle to purchase, but the material also affects power and control. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages. So let’s look at why players might choose one material over another.
Wood paddles are the heaviest option and provide the most power. Usually, they’re the cheapest options because they’re easy to mass-produce. A wood paddle might be the best option if you just started playing the game. Note that a heavier paddle carries a higher risk of injury to your wrist or elbow and difficulty swinging quickly than a lighter pickleball paddle.
For more advanced players who want to put some spin on the ball, composite paddles are good options because of the textured surface. These paddles consist of fiberglass or carbon fiber materials and an aluminum or polymer composite core. They come in a variety of prices and offer great performance.
The most expensive options contain graphite. These paddles are lightweight, which increases control. As mentioned before, players who use finesse and precise shots will benefit from a lightweight graphite paddle. Competitive players usually play with them.
Other Things to Consider When Buying a Pickleball Paddle
The core construction of a paddle also makes a difference during play. An aluminum core is lightweight but lacks power. A Nomex honeycomb core is made from cardboard-like material and provides solid power. However, pickleball paddles with this core will also be the loudest and hardest on the market. Finally, polymer cores are soft, which makes them quieter paddles. However, they lack the power generated from Nomex core pickleball paddles.
Another consideration is the paddle’s shape. Standard paddles, also known as wide-body paddles, are 16 inches long by 8 inches wide. They offer a large area to contact the ball, which is good for beginning pickleball players. Elongated paddles have a narrower shape. Thus, they provide more reach, power, and spin. That makes them ideal for singles players. Finally, pickleball paddles with longer handles have a smaller face to hit the ball. These are ideal for players who use two hands when playing.
One last thing to consider when buying a pickleball paddle is whether or not you want an edge. Most players play with paddles with an edge guard wrapped around them. This protects the paddle, which prevents chips and dents. However, some players prefer the edgeless paddles, so they have the widest surface possible to hit the ball. There is no interference should the ball hit the edge of the paddle.
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8 Best Pickleball Paddles
All of these pickleball paddles have their pros and cons. They’re designed with a certain type of player in mind. Consider your style of playing and the features you want in a paddle when making your purchase.
1. PROKENNEX Ovation Flight Pickleball Paddle
About: Made with a polymer core and a replaceable Air-O-Guard edge guard, the PROKENNEX Ovation Flight pickleball paddle has a length of 15.43 in and a width of 7.6 in. The paddle face is carbon, as well as the paddle frame.
Best Feature: This pickleball paddle’ design provides speed. With a weight of 7.2 oz to 7.75 oz, players have quick reflex speed and easy maneuverability.
- Weight: 7.2 - 7.75 OZ
- Grip Style: Comfort Cushion; Grip Circumference: 4"; Handle...
- Paddle Length: 15.43"; Paddle Width: 7.6"
2. Niupipo Fiberglass Pickleball Paddle
About: This Niupipo paddle is made with fiberglass and features a polypropylene honeycomb core and edge guard. It weighs 8.1 oz, with the face measuring 10.63 in long and 7.87 in wide.
Best Feature: A great starter pickleball paddle, this is one of Amazon’s Choice paddles for beginners. Its composite material and heavier weight give players more power and pop on the ball.
- Polypropylene Honeycomb Core for More Durable Hit: Our pickleball...
- Reliable Fiberglass Face for Decent Shot Power: Composite...
- Discover Supreme Comfort with Ultra Cushion Grip: Our pickleball...
3. ONIX Graphite Z5 Graphite Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle
About: Another Amazon’s Choice paddle, this graphite carbon fiber pickleball paddle comes in 11 different colors. It features a Nomex honeycomb core and graphite face. The paddle measures 15.5 in long by 8.3 in wide and weighs 7.5 oz to 8.2 oz.
Best Feature: The tennis handle makes it easier for players transitioning from tennis to pickleball. The Nomex core generates power while the graphite material keeps the paddle lightweight.
- Graphite Z5 – Most popular pickleball paddle in the Onix line
- Superior control – Excellent touch paddle for superior ball...
- Paddle specs – Nomex, paper honeycomb core and graphite face
4. HEAD Graphite Pickleball Paddle
About: This pickleball paddle is designed with the advanced player in mind. It consists of lightweight carbon material but still weighs about 8.1 oz. It measures 15.75 in long by 8.1 in wide.
Best Feature: The textured face provides added spin and better shot placement on the ball. The Sweetspot Power Core by HEAD creates a soft impact but powerful charge for players who like to slam the ball.
- HEAD PERFORMANCE: Born out of revolutionizing how we ski and play...
- THE GRAPHITE ADVANTAGE: The lightweight carbon pickleball paddles...
- TEXTURED: Extreme Spin Texture on the face of the paddle offers...
5. SLK Evo Hybrid & Soft 2022 Pickleball Paddle
About: This fiberglass face paddle comes in four different colors. It weighs 7.6 oz to 8 oz, and the handle is 5.25 in long with a 4.25 in grip circumference.
Best Feature: This pickleball paddle balances power and control with its polymer core, which is ideal for most players. The large carbon fiber layer provides five times the stiffness of traditional fiberglass pickleball paddles.
- 【 G8-FLEX CONTROL CARBON FIBER FACE 】 Engineered to deliver...
- 【 POLYMER REV-SOFT CORE 】 Game-changing performance at your...
- 【 LIGHTWEIGHT PICKLEBALL PADDLES 】 Only 7.6oz, this...
6. Champion Eclipse Graphite Pickleball Paddle
About: This Champion Eclipse pickleball paddle features a polymer honeycomb core and a graphite composite hybrid face. It weighs 7.3 oz to 7.8 oz with a length of 15.4 in and a width of 7.75 in.
Best Feature: The polymer core helps absorb the ball’s energy, providing a smooth feel on the court. The smaller 4-in grip fits perfectly in smaller players’ hands, and the lightweight is perfect for younger players.
- SOLID, RELIABLE AND FUN IN EVERY ASPECT: Conquer the court or...
- LIGHTWEIGHT & BALANCED PERFORMANCE: At 7.5 ounces (average...
- EXCELLENT FEEL FOR CONFIDENT PERFORMANCE: A universal size...
7. Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddle
About: Available in six colors, this Selkirk Amped pickleball paddle also comes in three different paddle shapes: standard, elongated, and oversized. The FiberFlex face and thick polypropylene core create a paddle built for power and control. It measures 15.75 in by 8 in with a grip length of 5.25 in.
Best Feature: The Nomex core generally is the loudest of all pickleball paddles. However, Selkirk’s new technology reduces the loud pop of the ball. The large 9-in sweet spot also provides added power and control for players.
- 【 HANDCRAFTED IN THE USA 】 More than the premier Pickleball...
- 【 FIBERGLASS PICKLEBALL PADDLE 】 Pioneering an entirely new...
- 【 X5 HONEYCOMB CORE 】 Built for consistent speed using...
8. Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle
About: This pickleball paddle weighs 7.6 oz to 8 oz and features an edge guard. It measures almost 16 in by 8 in. The Smart Response Technology creates a more forgiving paddle face.
Best Feature: Players who rely on strategy and finesse will like this pickleball paddle from Paddletek. Precision and speed are top priorities rather than power. The textured graphite surface also provides added control.
- CONTROL AND TOUCH - The Tempest Wave Pro delivers unmatched...
- UNMATCHED CONTROL - Place the ball exactly where you want it with...
- BIG WINS INCOMING - This professional pickleball paddle delivers...
Pro Tip: Enjoy a game of pickleball at one of these 10 Best RV Resorts With Pickleball Courts On-Site.
Choose the One That’s Right For You
Pickleball has been a growing sport for the last few decades. Campgrounds, YMCAs, and other recreational facilities are creating pickleball courts so players of all ages and skill levels can enjoy physical activity. Families can play a match together, and senior adults can enjoy the game. It really is a sport for almost everyone.
So when you’re out looking for the best pickleball paddle for your next game, consider the weight, material, and core construction. Are you playing with power or strategy? There are options for all types of players.
Which type of pickleball paddle is best for you? Tell us what you use in the comments!
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