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HOW TO PICK THE BEST PICKLEBALL PADDLE by INTOPICKLEBALL

Think there's more to a pickleball paddle than style? You're right! This guide unveils the essential features for peak performance. Are you ready to find your perfect match?


You’re scrolling through Instagram and come across a post that seems tailor-made for you: a new pickleball player with a design and color scheme wholly aligned with your personal style. 

Don’t click that buy button just yet, though. There are many things to consider (besides aesthetics) to ensure a pickleball paddle is the right fit for you. That’s why we’ve created this guide to picking the best pickleball paddle for your game. Let’s get started!


Determine Your Playing Style

Have you ever borrowed your pickleball partner’s paddle and found yourself struggling? Every player has different needs when selecting their paddle, so your partner’s paddle might not be the best fit for you, no matter how much they talk it up. 

For this reason, it’s essential to consider your personal playing style before selecting a paddle. For example, a banger might want a paddle that generates more power, while someone who loves to drink might want a paddle that offers more control. 

Some players, of course, fall between these two categories and seek out a paddle that provides the best of both worlds: plenty of control and the ability to generate power. 


Consider Five Factors

A pickleball paddle may look like a simple piece of sports equipment, but a lot goes into its creation and production. From the materials to the weight of the paddle, there are several factors that influence whether a paddle suits your particular needs. 


FACTOR #1: CORE COMPOSITION


The core is what’s inside your pickleball paddle. The material and thickness of the core impact how much power and control you have with your paddle. 

Most pickleball paddle cores are polymer. Nomex and aluminum are also available. Which is right for you? 

POLYMER

Polymer is by far the most popular core material for pickleball paddles. They provide a mix of power and control that suits most pickleball players. Many companies are developing different types of polymer cores to enhance paddles further. The Engage Pursuit PRO MX Pickleball Paddle is a high-end paddle designed for experienced players. It is made with Raw Toray T700 carbon fiber, which is a lightweight and stiff material that provides good power and control. The paddle also has a proprietary Control Pro ‘Black’ polymer core that helps to absorb impact and provide a comfortable feel.

You also need to pay attention to core thickness. A thicker core of around 16 mm allows more control and just generally provides more shot stability. A thinner core is typically 10-14mm thick. Thinner core paddles provide more power. A standard core sits right in the middle at 14-15 mm to give you the best of both worlds. 


FACTOR #2 PADDLE MATERIAL


You also want to consider the material on the face of the paddle. Just like the core, the surface material will also impact the power and control you receive from a paddle. There are three main types of surface materials used for pickleball paddles. Occasionally, companies will use a combination of these materials. These are considered hybrids. 

FIBERGLASS

A fiberglass paddle is occasionally called composite. The terms are interchangeable. Fiberglass generates more power. The Recess Barton Springs Pickleball Paddle is a composite paddle with a durable fiberglass surface and a high-quality honeycomb core. It provides plenty of power and comes with a canvas cover. It also boasts a variety of stylish designs.

CARBON FIBER

Carbon fiber is durable but will cost you a little bit of power. It can also help you create more spin with the ball. It’s a good choice for players who need a combination of power and control. The Selkirk Power Air Omni Pickleball Paddle is known for its powerful swings with a large sweet spot. This paddle is ideal for aggressive baseliners who like to dominate from the back of the court.

GRAPHITE

If you want more control, you might gravitate toward a graphite paddle. This material increases the control and accuracy of each shot, making it an excellent choice for people who love soft or varied shots. The Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle is a popular choice for many players due to its excellent balance of power and control. It features a graphite face and Nomex core, offering a lightweight design with a large sweet spot for consistent play.


FACTOR #3 PADDLE WEIGHT


Pickleball paddles also vary by weight. It’s best to think of paddle weight in three categories: lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight. 

LIGHTWEIGHT

A lightweight paddle usually weighs 7.4 oz or less. It’s a good choice for players who are looking for accuracy, maneuverability, and control. Keep in mind that a lighter paddle means less power, so make sure that’s a trade-off you can live with. The HEAD Extreme Tour Lite Pickleball Paddle is a well-liked lightweight option at 7.5 ounces. This paddle features a graphite surface with a large sweet spot for consistent shots and a comfortable grip.

MIDWEIGHT

A midweight paddle falls between 7.4 oz and 8.4 oz. This weight is very popular because it gives you nearly all of the benefits of a lightweight paddle but also provides plenty of power. The Gamma Mirage Pickleball Paddle is a fantastic middleweight paddle with a textured composite face for amplified power. It features a Sensa Poly Core technology for enhanced touch on the ball and a comfortable honeycomb cushion grip.

HEAVYWEIGHT

Heavyweight paddles are 8.4oz or above, and the weight reduces the impact of the ball hitting the paddle without sacrificing power. The JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 Paddle is popular among advanced and professional players due to its features that contribute to powerful shots.


FACTOR #4 PADDLE SHAPE


Yes, pickleball paddles look similar. But there are some subtle differences that can impact your play. You will typically have two options: elongated and widebody.

ELONGATED

These paddles are – you guessed it – long. They measure between 7.5 inches wide and 16.5 inches long. The length gives the paddle a longer reach but a smaller sweet spot. They can also generate more power and spin. The Gearbox Pro Power Elongated Middleweight Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle is known for its exceptional power and impressive reach due to the elongated design. It features a diamond texture surface for enhanced spin and control.

SHORT/WIDEBODY

A short or widebody paddle is typically 8.5 inches wide and between 15.5 inches long. These paddles have a shorter reach and larger sweet spot. The PB PRO Tour Widebody Pickleball Paddle is ideal for beginners and intermediate players. This lightweight paddle boasts a large sweet spot for more forgiving play.


FACTOR #5 HANDLE LENGTH


Not all handles are created equal. A more extended handle is helpful for players with a two-handed backhand. A player with smaller hands might use a shorter handle for more control.


Now, the fun part!

We’ve reviewed the key components to consider when picking a pickleball paddle. But here’s the thing: You need to test before you buy. Check with your coach to see if they have paddles you can demo or swap with friends to test out new models and styles. After a few points, you’ll know whether or not a paddle is the perfect fit!

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