How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle: Your 2024 Guide

Choosing the right pickleball paddle can make or break your game. Choosing a pickleball paddle that’s too heavy can result in injury while choosing the wrong grip can be uncomfortable and awkward.

When it comes to how to choose a pickleball paddle, you want to keep several factors in mind so that you pick the one that will give you the best success on the court. If you’re ready to go shopping, we have some important tips to help you pick the right paddle for your game.

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle: Your 2023 Guide
How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle: Your 2023 Guide

Understanding the Types of Pickleball Paddles

One glance at the variety of pickleball paddles out there and you know they are not created equal. Face material as well as the paddle core really make a difference in how you’ll play the game. Those are just two factors you want to keep in mind.

The face material is important in determining how much power and control your paddle will have. It determines the amount of energy absorbed or returned to the ball. It’s extremely important to choose the right one for your game because it has direct contact with the ball and will determine how well the paddle performs.

Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddles

Carbon fiber pickleball paddles are lighter and stronger than graphite. It is a popular material when it comes to pickleball paddles. It gives a good amount of control, while still giving players the power they need. It absorbs energy which allows the ball to sit on the paddle face slightly longer, giving you a feeling of greater control on the court.

Composite Pickleball Paddles

A composite paddle is made with a composite core and a fiberglass or carbon fiber hitting surface. The core can be made of rigid nylon, polymer, or aluminum. These types of pickleball paddles are becoming more popular because they have a textured surface that makes it easier to put a spin on the ball.

The Importance of Paddle Core

The core material of a pickleball paddle will affect how well it performs. Common core materials include:

  • Aluminum
  • Polymer
  • Nomex

Aluminum cores

Aluminum provides a good balance of power and control. The aluminum core makes for a strong enough paddle while still being light enough to give great action and control.

Nomex core material

Nomex was the first material used to make composite paddles and is still widely used today. Paddles with a Nomex core are the loudest and hardest ones on the market. These are best for players who want speed and power in their shots. These types of paddles can also be good for players who want a faster tempo of play with a boost of power.

Polymer core material

When it comes to pickleball paddle cores, polymer cores are known to be the quietest paddles. The polymer core is made of a plastic blend that is one of the most popular on the market.

A polymer paddle allows you to put power behind your shot, the core does not dampen the shot, making these a solid choice for a controlled player.

Power vs. Control

Besides core material, there are other factors to consider when looking at the power and control a paddle offers. The main elements that affect power and control include:

  • Paddle Shape
  • Paddle Core
  • Paddle Face
  • Paddle Handle
  • Paddle Weight

When you’re talking about power elements a paddle can bring to the game, you want to specifically look for:

  • Thinner core
  • Fiberglass face
  • Elongated pickleball paddle handle
  • Heavier paddles

Paddles that give more power tend to have tighter sweet spots. When it comes to a paddle’s control elements, you’re specifically looking for:

  • Wider or Rounded Shape
  • Thicker Core
  • Graphite or Carbon Fiber Face
  • Traditional Paddle Length or Shorter Handle
  • Lighter Pickleball Paddle Weight

Benefits of Graphite Paddles

If you’re deciding if a graphite pickleball paddle is the right paddle for you, consider the fact that graphite is lightweight but extremely strong. The face of the graphite paddle helps to spread the force evenly. This creates a larger sweet spot and a great deal of power.

Graphite paddles are known to be more aligned and can provide an improved touch in every shot.

Finding the Right Size and Weight

While the paddle surface and core material are important, finding the right size and weight pickleball paddle should take priority.

The weight of a pickleball paddle can range from 6-14 ounces. The heavyweight pickleball paddles that hover around the 14-ounce size will start to wear on you, especially if you’re prone to tennis elbow.

When you’re looking at the size and weight of a pickleball paddle, keep this in mind:

  • Lightweight paddles are considered to be 7.3 ounces and lighter
  • Midweight paddles are between 7.3 and 8.5 ounces
  • Heavy paddles are considered to be 8.5 ounces and up

Mid-weight pickleball paddles

Due to their size, mid-weight pickleball paddles are often recommended for beginners. Lighter paddles can help with control, and heavier paddles can boost power.

The midweight paddles are also better at blocking. The ball comes off of the face with just the right touch rather than dropping just short of the net. This is another reason why it’s a good paddle choice for beginners.

Pickleball Paddle Grip Size

Once you have the paddle weight decided, it’s time to look at the grip size. You need to choose a paddle that fits your hand properly. If you choose a pickleball paddle that has the wrong grip size, it will not only be uncomfortable but will also hinder your game.

A smaller grip will give you more wrist action. This makes it easier to put spin on the ball and improve control. It can also give more power to your serve.

A larger grip can help to increase your stroke stability and put less strain on the wrist and elbow. But, if you use a handle that is too big for your hand, it can lead to tennis elbow after a prolonged period.

Adding an extra layer of overgrip to your existing grip can help to match it to your size better and make it more comfortable. You can always increase the size by adding an overgrip, but you can’t decrease the grip size. This is why it is often recommended to go smaller if you are in between sizes.

Choosing the Right Pickleball Paddle for Your Style

When it comes to choosing a pickleball paddle, you need to keep your style in mind. First, are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player? Do you like more power or control in your shots? What type of core material best fits your game? These are all questions you need to ask before you settle on a new pickleball paddle.

As you think about these questions, we’re going to share some of our top picks for both beginners and intermediate players, as well as look at some inexpensive pickleball paddles that still serve up a great game.

Our Top Picks for Best Beginner Pickleball Paddles

A composite material paddle is often recommended for beginners because it has a wider hitting surface and a thicker handle. This will help to prevent injuries as you’re just starting out.

Gamma Fusion 2.0 Widebody Pickleball Paddle
Gamma Fusion 2.0 Widebody Pickleball Paddle

Keeping that in mind, we like the Gamma Fusion 2.0 Widebody Pickleball Paddle for beginners. It’s a midweight paddle with a textured fiberglass face and a honeycomb core to provide the perfect blend of power and control. It also has a soft, sweat-absorbing grip to help beginners hit with confidence.

Gamma Needle Elongated Poly Core Pickleball Paddle (Pink)
Gamma Needle Elongated Poly Core Pickleball Paddle (Pink)

The Gamma Needle is another great choice for beginners. It is also a lightweight paddle. It has an elongated face, making it easier for beginners to reach shots. It also has a wide sweet spot, which helps with the accuracy of shots. This is a solid paddle for beginners looking to work on their balance and control.

Top Intermediate Pickleball Paddles

Head Gravity Tour Lite Pickleball Paddle
Head Gravity Tour Lite Pickleball Paddle

Intermediate players often look for a thicker handle and a longer hitting surface. One pickleball paddle to try is the Head Gravity Tour Lite Pickleball Paddle. This paddle comes with a massive sweet spot shot but is a lighter paddle with more maneuverability. It provides a blend of power, comfort, and stability that an intermediate player looks for.

Wilson Juice Energy Pickleball Paddle 2 (Red)
Wilson Juice Energy Pickleball Paddle 2 (Red)

The Wilson Juice Energy Pickleball Paddle is another pickleball paddle to look for if you’re an intermediate player. It has a wide body shape and a generous sweet spot. It has a fiberglass composite construction that is also lightweight and delivers excellent responsiveness and shot depth. It also features a honeycomb core that dampens vibrations to provide a superior feel.

Best Value Paddles

When you’re looking for an inexpensive pickleball paddle, the Babolat XPLR Pickleball Paddle is a good choice. It offers good maneuverability and power. The honeycomb core helps to create durability and consistency with your shots.

Gamma Micron 2.0 Pickleball Paddle
Gamma Micron 2.0 Pickleball Paddle

The GAMMA Micron 2.0 Pickleball paddle is also one of the cheapest pickleball paddles that still provide a good game. It’s a mid-weight paddle with an ample-sized face and a smaller grip. The paddle is designed with a textured fiberglass face and composite core. This is a great value paddle for players at any level.

Shop North State For All Your Pickleball Equipment Needs

When you’re looking for the best pickleball paddles and gear, North State Resurfacing has you covered. We have paddles for every type of player, offering a variety of styles and features. Call us today at  (919) 365-7500 or reach out to us online to learn more about our products.