Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been playing for years and are ready to upgrade your pickleball paddle, we know picking out the right one may be overwhelming. There are hundreds of options on the market and a range of different sizes, weights, materials, and prices to choose from. If you’re not sure how to choose a pickleball paddle, don’t worry — our in-depth guide is providing you with a better look at what factors are most important as well as a list of our favorite options for different players.
The Four Most Important Things to Consider When Choosing a Pickleball Paddle
First, let’s look at the four factors you need to consider to choose the right pickleball paddle to elevate your game while minimizing your risk of injury and allowing you to play in comfort.
Pickleball Paddle Weight
Pickleball paddles come in three weight classes:
- Lightweight: Less than 7.2 ounces
- Midweight: 7.3 – 8.4 ounces
- Heavyweight: More than 8.5 ounces
Lightweight pickleball paddles are easy to swing and offer more control so you can hit with greater finesse. Also, a lighter paddle weight is more gentle on your wrist and reduces fatigue, so this may be a good option for petite or new players as well as those with a lighter touch. However, if you use a paddle that is too light, you run the risk of swinging too hard and missing or not having enough power behind your shots. Also, the vibrations from hitting a ball too hard with a lightweight paddle can exacerbate tennis elbow.
Mid-weighted paddles are typically a good option for nearly all players. They offer a good middle point for both power and control and aren’t so heavy that they strain a player’s wrist or cause the tennis elbow to flare up.
Players who prefer power, don’t mind having less control, and have the strength to handle the heft will want to shop for heavyweight pickleball paddles. These swing faster and strike the ball with more force, making them ideal in singles matches. However, you want to avoid choosing a pickleball paddle that is too weighty as heavy paddles can lead to pain in your wrists, flaring up your tennis elbow, or injuring your shoulder.
We recommend testing a few different weights out to see what feels right while getting the best results.
Pickleball Paddle Grip Size
The next factor to consider is the grip size and finding the right circumference so that you can hold the paddle comfortably and firmly. It might not seem like a serious issue, but holding the wrong size pickleball paddle grip is similar to wearing the wrong size shoes for jogging. It will be uncomfortable, you’ll risk injury, and your performance will suffer.
You can use your height to determine the right grip size:
- Under 62 inches: 4-inch grip size or less
- 62 inches to 68 inches: 4.25-inch grip
- 69 inches or taller: 4.5-inch grip
You can also do a finger test to determine the right pickleball paddle grip size, as this may be more accurate. Take a ruler and measure from the middle crease across your palm to the end of your ring finger. The measurement should equal the right grip size, but if you measure in between sizes, choose the smaller option as it will be more comfortable and give you better control and mobility.
Composite Or Graphite Pickleball Paddle
The next factor to consider when choosing a pickleball paddle is the material the paddle is made from. While wood paddles are durable and tend to be less expensive, but they are also heavy. Instead, more players are looking at composite or graphite paddle options, but which one is better?
Composite pickleball paddles have a hitting surface made of at least two materials. These tend to be heavier than graphite paddles and their textured surface feels like it can “grab” the ball. Composite paddles offer more power and better spin, and they are typically less expensive. However, they aren’t ideal for softer “dinks” and lighter shots.
Graphite pickleball paddles are very lightweight and rigid, so they offer an excellent response, greater control, and better accuracy at the net. Unlike composite paddles, you may struggle with power because it’s so lightweight. Plus, this material tends to cost a bit more.
When choosing a paddle weight or grip, it’s a good idea to consider your strengths and choose graphite or composite paddle that will support them, whether you prefer a lighter, more controlled swing or a heavier, more powerful one.
One factor that is often overlooked by people recommending how to choose a pickleball paddle is your budget. There is a wide range of pricing with wood paddles starting at around $20 and high-end graphite paddles priced at well over $200.
When choosing a budget, consider how often you play pickleball. If it’s once a year, you may want to choose a good quality affordable option, but if you’re playing once or twice a week, you will want to invest more to get better performance. However, you don’t need to spend a fortune, there are excellent pickleball paddles ranging from $50 to $150.
Best Paddles for Beginners
If you’re new to playing pickleball, we chose paddles that are easy to use, priced at less than $100, and have a shape that maximizes the sweet spot.
With a long handle, large face, and small grip size, the Wilson Echo Team is a composite paddle that blends power and control for excellent all-around performance. While heavyweight pickleball paddles may be more challenging for smaller beginners, this option has a polypropylene core that offers an excellent response.
Weighing 8.1 ounces, this mid-weight paddle has a comfortable 4.125-inch grip and a large sweet spot. Like other composite pickleball paddles, the Head Radical Pro offers solid power and excellent spin while still giving you the control you need as a beginner.
Another composite paddle, the Gamma Fusion 2.0 has a textured fiberglass surface with a wide body for a large sweet spot and a durable edge guard to prevent damage. The paddle weight is 8 ounces, and it has a small, 4-inch grip size, making this a great option for all skill levels, especially beginners.
Best Paddle For Control
If you prefer to play at the net or are more likely to play doubles pickleball, you’re probably shopping for a paddle that offers more control. We’ve chosen mid and lightweight pickleball paddles that give you the best feel and greater touch.
Weighing only 7.2 ounces, this diamond-shaped graphite paddle gives you superior control on every shot while giving a faster swing speed to maximize your reaction time.
While most composite paddles are heavier, the Babolat MNSTR Touch only weighs 7.2 ounces. Its small grip size, foam layer core, and light weight not only give you greater ball control, but even on lighter swings, you’ll also be able to play with comfort for longer.
Best Paddle For Intermediate Players
For players with more experience seeking an excellent blend of control and power, we’ve selected our best pickleball paddles for intermediate players.
Follow the needle on the GAMMA Compass NeuCore Pickleball Paddle to victory. The Compass is a 7.75-ounce, elongated paddle with a similar shape to the top-selling GAMMA Needle, providing an extra inch of length with a balanced feel and enhanced sweet spot. The graphite face featured on the Compass provides touch and control, while the NeuCore Technology provides soft and rich play to make sure you find your way to the medal stand.
The Wilson Juice Carbon is an 8.6-ounce, heavyweight pickleball paddle that has a wide sweet spot and carbon-fiber face for optimal power while its honeycomb core and shock-dampening bumper guard reduce noise and vibrations for comfortable play.
Best Paddle For Women
Women tend to prefer a lighter paddle weight with a smaller grip size, and we chose pickleball paddles that reflected these preferences.
Weighing 7.6 ounces and featuring a 4-inch grip size, this graphite paddle is responsive and precise, while having just enough weight to provide the power you want.
This graphite paddle has a thick cell core to absorb sound and give you a softer, more responsive feel to give you greater control. The Gamma Shard weighs 7.75 ounces, has an 8-inch surface width, and 4.125-inch grip size, making this a comfortable paddle with a large sweet spot.
Shop Our Wide Selection of Pickleball Paddles
Whether you’re looking for your first pickleball paddle or your next one, we have everything you need to play your best game ever. Shop our selection of paddles from the brands you know and trust, including Wilson, HEAD, Gamma, and Babolat or, to learn more about our products and get custom advice and guidance, reach out to us today at (919) 365-7500 or fill out the form below.