We all want to be the best at whatever we do. Nobody goes into something with the view of being a runner up. Being a winner takes more than talent; it takes hard work, endurance and determination.
It also means that you have to be the best, and one of the ways that you can be the best is by having the best gear.
Your gear needs to be high quality and durable, but most of all it needs to take care of your unique set of needs. What do you need, and how does your equipment take care of that need?
This is true of any sport, and pickleball is no exception. Your paddle is going to be the piece of equipment that you use the most, since it will be in your hand most of the time. You’re going to need a paddle that feels as though it was made for you.
It can be difficult to find a paddle like this, but not impossible. We have come up with a comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you on your way.
In this guide, you will find out how to pick out a quality paddle, and we also provide detailed reviews on five of the best pickleball paddles on the market. So, let’s begin.
Factors to Consider When Picking the Best Pickleball Paddle:
The type of paddle you buy will be based on a number of factors, based either on the paddle or on you as a player. Before you buy a paddle, you will need to figure out exactly what you want.
Do you want something heavy that delivers more of a punch, or lightweight and offers support?
Does the sound the paddle make when hitting the ball make a difference to you?
These are just a few of the questions you’re going to have to ask before you go out looking for a paddle.
If you’ve asked these questions, we can now move on to the actual paddles.
Most paddles weigh between 6.8 ounces to about 14 ounces. A lighter paddle is easier to maneuver, but you will experience more of a vibration in your arm and elbow because there isn’t much mass between you and the ball.
A heavy paddle enables you to deliver more powerful whacks, but a heavier paddle is much harder to control, and you will have to be very careful on softer shots.
How to decide? If you are a former tennis player, you might be more accustomed to the heavier weight in your hands, but if you are a beginner, try a medium weight paddle until you get the hang of the game.
Some paddles opt to have a shorter handle for a longer width and breadth, but there are some paddles that are thinner and make for a longer paddle.
This gives it a nice whipping motion, but requires you to be more accurate when making a shot.
The advantages of a long paddle are that you have more reach to volley and you get a little extra speed, but on the downside, it can be harder to maneuver and it feels a little heavier.
These factors mean that it might not be worth your time to learn how to manage a longer paddle.
Power vs Control:
Graphite and fiber-glass faced paddles will give you a little more power on your moves, but it will also mean less control over the ball.
If you’re working on a dinking strategy then you should go for control over power, but if you want a more forceful swing, the you should aim for power.
Try and go for a yellow paddle. These paddles haven’t been banned, but they make it harder for your opponent to see the ball as it leaves your paddle, which can work in your advantage in the long run.
If you don’t want to use the color advantage, the just choose the color that brings out your inner pickleball champion.
A grip that is too big for you will feel uncomfortable and might slip while you’re playing; needless to say- you don’t want that to happen.
A smaller handle allows for more wrist action which gives you better control and spin. But a larger handle can give you more stability.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to grip size is:
- Under 5’3” means a 4” grip
- Between 5’3’’ and 5’8’’ means a 4 ¼’’ grip
- 5’9’’+ means a 4 ½” grip
It would be advisable to try out a large variety of paddles before you make a decision since each of us is unique, and what might work for one person will not work for another person.
Test the paddles out with your normal grip, and if it feels comfortable then you have a good paddle.
You can test your grip in any number of ways, and if the height test doesn’t work for you, then you can use one of the many other tests available to you.
You can try the ring finger test. All you have to do is hold up the palm of your dominant hand. Your hand will have three major creases; now take a ruler and measure from the middle crease to the top of your ring finger.
How to Check the Fit of Your Pickleball Paddle:
Wondering why you should choose a smaller paddle when caught between paddles? Or trying to determine whether your paddle fits? Try this.
Hold the paddle normally, not too tightly or loosely, and see if you can slide your index finger of your other hand between your finger tips and the heel of your hand that is gripping the paddle. If your finger fits perfectly without moving the two, then the grip size is perfect.
If you have to move your fingers to accommodate your index finger, then the grip is too small, but if there’s more than enough space, then the grip is too large.
Pickleball paddles are usually made from either wood, graphite or composite. Each of these three materials have their advantages and some disadvantages.
In the end, you’re going to have to choose the one which gives you, as the player, the most benefits.
Wooden paddles are inexpensive, usually not costing more than $36. This is a great paddle to buy for beginners who aren’t sure if they want to invest in more expensive equipment.
On the other hand, wooden paddles are very heavy and may affect the way you play the game, leaving a bad taste in your mouth.
Composite paddles are known for being a happy medium, since they aren’t all that expensive and come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The nice part of having this variety is that you can find amazing paddles without having to pay an exorbitant price.
Graphite paddles are the most expensive types of paddles, but they provide the best of two worlds by being lightweight but packing a powerful punch. This is a good idea for players who participate in tournaments and want the very best paddles on the market.
Arthritis or Injury?
If you suffer from arthritis or an injury, you should go for a medium weight paddle between 7.3 and 8.4 ounces.
This will be heavy enough to absorb the shock produced from the paddle hitting the ball, and won’t tire out your arms too easily.
Don’t go too heavy since this will tire you out more quickly and will inflame your arthritis and injury. This will eliminate wooden paddles.
On the other side of the spectrum, don’t go too light since this will require you to put more effort into your swings to give it some power, which will also tire you out fairly quickly.
Pickleball Paddle Reviews:
When you know what you’re looking for, it is easier to find it- so now that you know what to look for in a paddle, it is time to make a decision. Here are the reviews of the best paddles on the market.
Paddletek Bantam EX-L Pickleball Paddle:
Paddletek was founded after a pickleball hobby became a passion; a husband and father of two began developing his own brand of pickleball paddles.
It was his aim to provide a line of durable and effective paddles to other passionate pickleball players.
The company was founded in 2011, by Cody Smith, who badgered his brother into joining as a business partner six months later.
The pair haven’t looked back since and have watched their hobby turn into something much larger.
As the world of pickleball expands, so does their brand and they are having the time of their lives watching their favorite pastime take off.
The paddle sports an extra-large playing surface with balanced weight distribution to help you give a more powerful shot while controlling the ball with ease. The lightweight paddle weighs only about 7.7 ounces, which is the ‘sweet spot’ for many experienced players.
The core consists of a specialized polymer for more power and greater placement control. The fiber glass face is decorated with a vinyl cover decal and the grip circumference is 4.25 inches. It also has a width of 7.75 inches and a length of 15.5 inches.
This is a great paddle because it doesn’t over reach and is a lightweight paddle that still packs a powerful punch when playing the game.
Core: Specialized polymer
Grip Circumference: 4.25 inches
Handle Length: 15.5 inches
Paddle Weight: 7.7 ounces
Sometimes, the best way to know whether a product is good or not, is by reading customer reviews. These are the people who have already bought and tried the product.
The customers who left reviews on this product are mostly very happy and decided to leave glowing 5 star reviews. This bodes well for those of you who haven’t made a decision yet.
It seems that the paddle does all that is advertised, and the only complaint is that the paddle is a little slick which makes ball control a little harder, and that it is a little expensive, but isn’t quality worth it?
Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle
Founded by competitive pickleball players, Onix takes the game of pickleball very seriously.
The company has been supplying players with high quality products since 2005.
They aim to take pickleball to the next level by supplying players with the very best equipment, because a game is nothing without its players.
You only have to look around at any pickleball tournament to see just how well Onix is doing its job.
This is the most popular paddle in the Onix range, and for good reason. It has outstanding touch and ball control, making it that much easier for players to focus on the game.
The graphite face and Nomex core make for a superior paddle and it shows in every swing.
The paddle is incredibly light at 7.8 ounces and finds an incredible balance between power and speed.
A widebody shape makes the paddle more versatile and ideal for players at any level from beginner to expert.
This is the perfect paddle for someone who wants a powerful paddle with a lightweight design.
Grip Circumference: 4.5 inches
Handle Length: 5 inches
Paddle Weight: 7.8 ounces
Many customers praise the comfortable grip and powerful punch that this paddle brings to the table. It has a nice, large grip for stability and the wide face is great for ball control. This is a favorite among many tournament players since it is so easy to get used to.
Rally Graphite Pickleball Paddle
This paddle comes to us from a family owned pickleball-oriented business called Pickleball Central.
This is a family owned business that was founded by pickleball enthusiasts. The family attended many pickleball games, events and tournaments- participated as well, and saw a need in the market for inexpensive, durable and versatile equipment, and set out to fill that gap.
They specialize in super-fast shipping, making it easy for players around the world to get their pickleball equipment without any hassle at all.
Their golden rule is to always treat others how you want to be treated, even online. This positive attitude is appreciated by many of their customers, and they are even more appreciated when their paddles are used!
State-of-the-art materials are used to deliver this versatile product which meets all USAPA regulations. The Nomex honeycomb core creates the perfect paddle for those who use volleys, dinks and slams in their winning strategies.
A unique grip design prevents frustrating mishits by keeping your palms dry and sweat free!
The innovative design allows you to use the paddle both indoors and outdoors, reducing the need for a second paddle.
The unique design allows for a larger “sweet spot” and a paddle that is strong, lightweight and will stand the test of time. This paddle will be your most reliable pickleball partner!
Core: Nomex Honeycomb
Grip Circumference: 4 ¾ inches
Handle Length: 15 ¾ inches
Paddle Weight: 7.6 ounces
No product is perfect, and so we look for something that is as close to perfect as we can find, and this paddle is as close to perfect as most customers can find.
The excellent customer service draws customers in, but it is the outstanding quality of the product that has customers singing the brand’s praises.
The only complaints have to do with personal preference and the fact that sometimes the paddles come with slight defects.
This is understandable since the company mostly deals with online orders. The problems are quickly fixed, however, so a little patience might be required.
Champion Pickleball Paddle
Champion Pickleball Paddle has been around for almost as long as the game itself, and has had some of the best paddles on the market for almost two decades now.
Back when pickleball was still a backyard sport, it began gaining popularity at an amazing rate.
This is where Champion Pickleball came in. The company was founded to provide players with optimum equipment to enjoy the game to the fullest.
Today, we can see the stunning growth of pickleball for ourselves, and what an amazing sport it has become.
People can now buy quality equipment and take part in large scale tournaments, but many still choose to buy their products from the original provider, which is a testament to the brand’s excellent products.
This paddle has been on the market for nearly two decades, and has managed to stand the test of time- it is a classic.
A paddle designed for champions, it is suitable for players at all levels in their pickleball journey, from beginners to experts; this is the paddle for everyone.
One of the original Nomex honeycomb core designs, the paddle provides excellent ball control along with a superb feel. With an extra-large face to prevent mishits and two detachable grips for personal preference, this paddle has earned its spot as a classic paddle.
Core: Nomex Honeycomb
Grip Size:Thin – 4 inches Cushioned- 4 ¼ inches
Handle Length: 5 inches
Paddle Length: 15 ¾ inches
As predicted, a paddle that has been on the market for this long has gained a loyal following of customers. But that isn’t all that this paddle has going for it; it has such a timeless design that it has managed to translate to the modern market.
It is hard to find a valid complaint about the paddles, which means that you can’t go too wrong when buying this paddle.
Selkirk 20P XL Epic Polymer Composite Pickleball Paddle
Despite being the new kid on the block in the pickleball market, this family owned company has time-tested designs that have been around for a long time.
The company produces quality products that help you to play the best game of pickleball thanks to an invaluable paddle.
With a blend of high quality materials, classic designs and amazing customer service built on top of traditional family values, everything about Selkirk Sports pays homage to the timeless game of pickleball.
Selkirk Sports took a traditional player’s paddle and turned it into something amazing. This paddle has some powerful characteristics and a lightweight design that makes ball control easier and better than ever before.
It is constructed from the finest polymer honeycomb that is available, along with a durable adorned with bright graphics that conform to the USAPA’s regulations without being boring or uniformist.
Core: Polymer honeycomb
Grip Size: 4.125 inches
Handle Length: 5.25 inches
Paddle Weight: 7.1-7.2 ounces
Durable. Versatile. Functional. This paddle reads off like a USAPA ambassador’s check list, and provides actual value for money. It will improve your game in ways you never even imagined, and believe us when we say that it is popular among most players.
It is hard to find a complaint that impacts the popular view of this paddle. Even though Selkirk Sports is relatively new on the pickleball scene, we expect great things from the company.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a “Sweet Spot?
All paddles have a “sweet spot” located in the center of the paddle, this has nothing to do with manufacturing and everything to do with physics. Hitting the sweet spot requires a lot of practice and coordination.
How do I Pick out a Paddle?
The simplest answer is to just try out a lot of different paddles until you find the one that feels right to you.
What is the difference between Fiberglass and Graphite paddles?
Fiberglass tends to be slightly heavier that graphite paddles, and will therefore have a little more power than graphite paddles. Graphite paddles have more finesse and control over the ball. It is widely accepted that graphite is better, but noone has done any actual testing yet.
I’m buying my first paddle, what should I get?
You need to look for a classic pickleball paddle shape. This will help you get into the swing of things and start you off quite nicely. A classic paddle is about 7 ¾ inches to 8 inches wide and about 15 ½ inches long. You can add specialty paddles later, but it is always good to have a classic shape in your bag.
How long should a paddle last?
This will depend on how often you play with it. A graphite or composite paddle will last for about a year in the hands of a player who uses it every day.
It should last about three years in the hands of someone who plays a few times a week. It should be noted that wooden paddles will not last long, no matter whose hands it is in.
Why do so many composite paddles have an overlapping edge guard?
You will probably find an edge guard on most composite paddles; this is due to the fact that the edge guard maintains the integrity of the covering and keeps the honeycomb core from being exposed.
Without the edge, the core will be exposed, the laminate will peel off and the paddle will be destroyed, so it is a good idea to keep the edge on the paddle to keep this from happening to an otherwise high-quality paddle.
Pickleball without a paddle is not pickleball. The paddle is the most important part of the game, especially from the player’s point of view.
A paddle amplifies your skill and natural talent and can often mean the difference between a win and a loss.
The wrong paddle can lead to mishits and endless frustration. But the right paddle will heighten your experience to new levels.
So, with the help of this buyer’s guide we hope you find your perfect match and enjoy your next pickleball game the way it should be enjoyed.