In todays blog we delve deeper into the world of paddles. Believe it or not, we were once in the same position searching high and low for the perfect pickleball paddle going round in circles and ending with asking the question. "Is there really a difference in pickleball paddles"?
To put it simply. Yes. Yes there is a huge difference, from shape and design to core and technology. The road to finding the perfect pickleball paddle can feel murky but we're here to help you in the journey.
Below are 10 Questions I would ask myself if I started from day one looking for a paddle.
1. What Element of my Game do I Need to Improve?
If like me you find it easy to generate power but struggle to keep the ball in the court well you may be better suited to a control paddle. Control paddles are built exactly for that reason, to help you control your shots giving you more finesse at the net during intense dink battles and for players favouring placement over shear earthquake generating overheads. On the other side of the spectrum you may be a player that struggles to generate enough power to put the ball away. All to often being faced with an "easy" pop up at the net, only to gently prod it back with no real gusto! In this circumstance you would need a power paddle. And of course like orther sports there are middle of the road paddles too. All round powerhouses like the NOVA by Ronbus - a sort of best of both worlds paddle. But how do you know whats a control paddle vs a power paddle. Well I am going to break it down simply below:
Thickness: If the core is 14mm or less this tends to be a power focused paddle. Anything higher than this you get more control. Remember the thicker a paddle gets the more control you will have. The next is around Materials which leads me onto the next question to ask yourself.
2. What Pickleball Paddle Material Should I Choose?
In short, material matters. Its essentially the DNA of a paddle.
Wooden - When I first started in pickleball wooden paddles were all the range. To be honest the top pros like the Johns brother probably could still use a wooden paddle. If you're a pickleball novice, wooden paddles might be your initiation into the game. Sturdy and dependable, they're like the seasoned grandparents of the paddle world, offering a traditional touch to your game. However, they offer you little in the way of improvement
Graphite - Enter the rock stars of the pickleball stage. Graphite paddles are the dependable (often lighter in weight), responsive paddles that deliver power and precision. If you're ready to step into the limelight, a graphite-faced paddle might just be a great option for you if you are looking for all round playability mixed with affordability.
- FibreGlass - With more pop than Graphite and Wood, fibreglass pickleball paddles were all the range until a few years ago, seen through the likes of the Franklin Signature Paddle or the Amped Invikta. Fibreglass is associated with more power due to the way these paddles are constructed, with a fibreglass paddle you'll typically find that sweetspot is smaller.
- Carbon Fibre - The Next generation of Pickleball Paddles. Spearheaded by the likes of CRBN and Electrum, carbon fibre paddles similar in style and power to Graphite (derived from the same material) carbon fibre is selected due to its durability and spin potential. Most brands on the market are opting for Carbon Fibre paddles. These paddles are often the choice for the top professionals too.
3. What Weight Should my Pickleball Paddle be?
I also say, if in doubt go lighter. But there isn't a one size fits all here. But I am going to break down why and the differences.
First up we have heavy pickleball paddles;
Heavy Paddles - These are paddles with a weight of 8.3oz and above. Essentially the heavier a paddle the more power you are able to generate through the ball. These paddles pack a punch, sending the ball flying with authority. One downside, your arm will take some time to get used to a heavy paddle and you may end up with elbow pain. These are not good for players with tennis elbow.
Next up we have midweight pickleball paddles;
Midweight Paddles - Paddles weighing between 7.6 - 8.2 / 8.3 oz's. Many sites will give you differing points of view on this one but based on working with over 600 players to find the right paddle for them I find midweight comes in around this. Most players will opt for a midweight paddle. Middle of the road.
To round off, we have lightweight pickleball paddles
Lightweight Paddles - Precision Prowess: On the other end of the spectrum, a lighter paddle promises more in the way of finesse and control. However with a lighter paddle you will find that power is much more difficult to generate.
If in doubt go for a midweight paddle or a lightweight paddle. Both of these options give you the chance to either add additional lead weight tape or grips to improve stability and paddle feel.
*If you suffer from Tennis Elbow (Tendinitis) choose a lightweight paddle.
4. What Length grip should I Choose for my Pickleball Paddle?
Next up is grip length:
- Shorter Grips: 4.0 to 4.5 inches, ideal for players who prefer a compact grip, possibly placing a finger on the back of the paddle face or those coming from a paddle sport like table tennis.
- Medium/Standard Grip: 4.5 to 5.2 inches, this grip is best for players without racket sport experience or those new to Pickleball.
- Long Handles: 5.2 to 6 inches, paddles with longer handles suit players transitioning from other racket sports like tennis, padel, badminton, or squash, or those who rely on two-handed backhands.
5. What Pickleball Paddle Core would Suit me? Polypropylene vs Nomex
- Polypropylene: Polypropylene cores. These are by far the most popular paddles on the market. Most paddle brands are opting to go with polypropylene cores. With a large cell structure these paddles are are more forgiving due to their flexibility, making them ideal all round performers. (Recommended)
Nomex: Pickleball paddles with Nomex core's are created from a material like cardboard, the material is dipped in resin to form a rigid substance with a small honeycomb pattern. Originally, Nomex cores pioneered the development of composite pickleball paddles on the market. Due to their firm build, these paddles are by far the loudest paddles on the market. Nomex paddles are for those looking for speed and power.
6. What Game Type do I Play? Singles vs Doubles
Something to take into account is what type game you play.
Singles: If you typically prefer playing singles you'll want a paddle which can easily generate power and decisively put away shots with ease.
Doubles: If you are a doubles specialist we tend to find paddles that provide more control are often the better option. Particularly at the lower levels where resets, dinks and control are incredibly important, would be the better option.
7. What Level do I play at?
Before purchasing a paddle, it's crucial to consider your skill level and experience. Your choice should align with your skill set; for instance, less experienced players might find midweight paddles with larger heads beneficial for balancing power and control. Recommending a heavy paddle to a new player is something we would tend to avoid.
On the other hand, if you're seasoned in the game, you likely know where your game could use enhancement. Whether you're aiming to refine finesse shots or increase the power in your hits, each need demands a distinct paddle choice.
8. How does it look? The Visual Appeal
This may be a given but picking a paddle to suit your on court style is often just as important as suiting your play style. Ask yourself, beyond its playing prowess, does your paddle have the visual flair to make heads turn? Some paddles come in vibrant colours, flashy designs, or with unique patterns – it's the extra spice that adds flavour to your on-court presence.
9. How Much Do I want to Spend? The Price
Okay, Okay I get this should have been high up on the list however its a given. You're going to find a paddle within your price range. To break down the ranges below and what you may find in each:
£0 - 30 - Wooden Paddles/Amazon non USA Pickleball Approved Paddles
£30 - £50 - Beginner Paddles tend to be a graphite or fibreglass build. If I was looking for my first paddle again I would start here. Within this range you have a good few options including the Diadem Hero V2 or the SLK Nexus both great beginner paddles.
£50 - £100 - Beginner to Intermediate Paddles. Once you start playing consistently and competitively the search for more spin, power on control begins. Within this price range you have one of the best improver paddles in the Paddletek Phoenix G6 and one of the most affordable Carbon Fibre paddles on the market in the Prism Flash
£100 - £150 - Intermediate to Advance Paddles, now we begin looking to paddles to really make an impact on specific areas of our game. Whether thats a thermoformed paddle to increase our power like the Ronbus Pulsar or a SLK Halo Control to improve our control.
£150+ Advance Paddles, these paddles are considered game changers. Obviously you can still get paddles under £150 that will great impact and improve your game but to keep things simple we have added this as a category. These paddles include top of the line pickleball tech like the Selkirk Luxx or the worlds first 3rd generation carbon fibre paddle the Nova by Ronbus
10. Is it USA Pickleball Approved?
Most of all we would recommend looking for a paddle with the reliable USA Pickleball Approved stamp/logo. This means the paddle you've selected meets the minimum criteria set about by the governing body of pickleball along with their strict quality and fair play standards. Making sure your paddle is USAPA means that you can also use it in competitions.
Happy Pickling and as always, if you have any questions please drop us a message.