Tips on Choosing a Pickleball Paddle
Updated: Jan 9
Here are some tips on choosing a pickleball paddle. Have you wondered about how to choose a pickleball paddle?
Many of start playing pickleball without giving the paddle much thought. Our first paddles are often borrowed, then purchased at a reasonable price from Sport Chek or Canadian Tire. Mostly, they do the job. For about a year. Then we all get serious.
Without getting too technical, here are some things we've learned about choosing a pickleball paddle.
If you’re a beginner pickleball player
First, while it’s still possible to purchase a wooden paddle, don’t do it. Although wooden paddles are cheap, they have more in common with the invention of pickleball and not the evolution that’s taken place since. They are quite difficult to play with.
Second, if you’re new to racquet sports and/or lack strength and power (perhaps due to an injury), then you want to get a paddle that has more power – the ability to hit a ball that goes further and faster.
Modern paddles are made of a variety of materials. Although none of them lack power, Nomex core paddles provide the most power. So do thinner paddles. Paddle thickness can vary from 11 to 19 millimeters. We recommend something around 16 millimeters for most players.
Third, the paddle surface also makes a difference. Graphite and fibreglass surfaces are both pretty powerful. Carbon fibre surfaces provide the least power.
If you’re a comfortable, more competitive player
As a comfortable, improving player you likely have a growing sense of your game – and perhaps a desire for more finesse and control. Control comes from softer, thicker cores and more forgiving surfaces. Polymer cores are better for control. So are Carbon Fibre and Fibreglass surfaces as well as thicker paddles.
Paddle Size and Weight
Once you've decided on the type of paddle you want, the next step is to consider the size and shape of the paddle. Note that all paddles have the same surface area. However, some are shorter and rounder while others are longer and thinner. Also, total paddle length including the handle is limited to 24”. So some paddles are wider with longer handles or longer with shorter handles. Wider paddles are great for players who prefer more control and maneuverability, while narrower, longer paddles are better for players who want more power. The shape of the paddle definitely impacts your playing style.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a pickleball paddle is the grip. The grip is the part of the paddle that you hold, and it can have a big impact on your comfort and control. Pickleball paddles come with a variety of grip sizes and styles, so it's important to find one that feels comfortable in your hand. The grip is the right size when your hand almost wraps around it; your fingers almost touch the palm of your hand. If the grip is too small, you may find it difficult to hold the paddle securely, which can affect your accuracy and control. If the grip is too large, you may find it uncomfortable to hold the paddle for extended periods of time.
Right Hand vs. Left Hand
Something most people don’t realize is that grips are wrapped for right-handed or left-handed players. Look at your paddle. If the handle wrap is going in the same direction as your fingers when you are holding it, then the paddle is wrapped correctly. It if going opposite to the direction of your fingers (feels like against the grain), then it is backwards. This isn’t a huge factor, but getting the correct wrap will make holding your paddle more comfortable.
In addition to the size, shape, and grip of the paddle, you'll also want to consider the weight of the paddle. Pickleball paddles range in weight from under 7 ounces to over 15 ounces. There is no limit to how much a paddle can weigh. The weight you choose will depend on your strength and playing style. Generally, lighter paddles are better for players who want more control and maneuverability, while heavier paddles are better for players who want more power.
Try before you buy
Finally, make sure to try out several different paddles before making a decision. Different paddles will feel different in your hand and will impact your playing style in different ways. So, it's important to try out several different options before choosing the right paddle for you. A quick observation on paddles we are using in Deep River. It seems that many of us are using high-power paddles when we don’t need them. Especially those coming from tennis who seem to have lots of power. For my next paddle I know now that I will looking for something softer that more control.