Like your choice of car or the books on your shelf, a person's pickleball paddle tells you a lot about them – or rather their style of play. How your pickleball paddle is constructed can make a huge difference to your game, from the grip size to the face material.
While there are some rooky errors when choosing the best pickleball paddle, ultimately, it's down to you. Do you favor a heavy paddle to wallop the ball full force or a lightweight pickleball paddle with which you can deftly aim a shot with pinpoint accuracy?
Of course, every decision comes with its own drawbacks. Light paddles offer less power, while heavy pickleball paddles can be cumbersome to swing around. Only you can know what kind of game you want to play.
For beginners, it's all a little overwhelming. Don't sweat it! We're exploring everything you need to know about choosing the best pickleball paddle below. We'll cover the type, weight, face and core material, and grip size – so you'll be armed with all the facts when you decide on the pickleball paddle that's right for you.
Let's get started.
How to choose the best pickleball paddle
Pickleball paddle type
Here at The Picklr Shop, our pickleball paddle come in three different types: balanced, power, and touch. What's the difference? Well, it's all about your style of play. Power paddles, as the name suggests, deliver oomph to your shots.
From the weight to the shape to the grip, power paddles are designed to connect with the ball, transferring your full force into a shot.
In contrast, touch paddles – sometimes called control paddles – are about precision. You'll dominate the game with strategic control. You won't have the same level of power, but you can deliver shots your opponent will struggle to reach.
Last, balanced pickleball paddles lie somewhere in the middle. Considering most players aren't dedicated to either a power or touch approach, selecting a balanced paddle is a compromise suitable to the vast majority of styles.
Pickleball paddle weight
There are three weight categories: lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight. We're not talking about boxing!
As discussed, weight is all about the power behind the ball. Like the story of Goldilocks, the heavyweight paddles deliver power at the expense of control. Lightweight paddles do the reverse, and, for some, middleweight paddles are "just right".
It's not that simple, of course.
Stronger players wanting to lean into their power will likely perform better with a heavier paddle. But, select a paddle that's too heavy, and you risk a wrist injury. On the other hand, go too light, and you'll swing too fast to hit the ball.
We recommend using a light paddle for doubles players – as precision is key when you're dealing with the greater coverage of a pair of players.
Pickleball Paddle Face material
Pickleball paddles were once solely made of wood or plastic. Now we're seeing more advanced pickleball paddles coming on the market made from newer materials.
Composite paddles are made using either carbon fiber or fiberglass. A key benefit of this style of paddle is the textured surface. Skilled players can use the texture to generate more spin on their shots – a useful technique to bamboozle the opposing players. Composite paddles are also typically lighter than traditional wood paddles that have largely fallen out of favor.
Graphite paddles are often the most expensive. But they're ultra-lightweight, lending themselves to precision shots. Most graphite paddles weigh between six to nine ounces – depending on the core material. These paddles are also incredibly strong and thin compared to all other paddles: there's nothing quite like it.
Carbon fiber paddles provide a softer feel than graphite paddles. The distinctive smooth surface isn't great for spin; however, it's still a superb surface for touch and control.
Pickleball Paddle Core Material
In addition to the face material, you'll need to consider the core material inside the paddle. The different materials change the weight, resonance, and overall feel of the paddle as it moves through the air.
Aluminum cores are lightweight while strong. They're among the most common core types, being beneficial for control and maneuverability. The downside is a lack of power compared to heavier core types. If you're a control-style player, consider an aluminum core paddle.
Nomex honeycomb cores create an extremely durable pickleball paddle. Made from a cardboard-like material, it's dipped in resin and arranged in a honeycomb pattern to add strength. You'll often find Nomex cores used alongside a composite face, with these paddles providing the hardest hit on the market. Indeed, the honeycomb structure will amplify the sound around the court. It's best for a combination of speed and power – balancing the best of both worlds.
Polymer cores are a type of plastic. Perhaps the quietest of all the paddles, it lacks the power of a Nomex core. However, what it loses in power it more than makes up for in control. The soft core dampens the shots, offering savvy players optimum precision.
Here are a few other factors you should consider:
Paddle thickness. Thicker paddles feel softer as they absorb more energy. It's useful to dampen the vibration and channel greater precision. Conversely, thinner paddles pack more power – though they've got a smaller sweet spot.
Grip size. Choose a grip size suitable to your hand. You want a secure grip without any discomfort.
Handle length. The longer handles extend your reach but sacrifices hitting surface area; short handles are good for one-handed backhands. Most players opt for a handle around 5 inches in length.
Choose the best pickleball paddle for you
When choosing a pickleball paddle, there's no right or wrong answer. Decide what kind of game you want to play, and balance the different materials around your style. Just remember, what you gain in one metric, you'll lose somewhere else.