Pickleball Paddle Buying Guide

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle

With so many paddles on the market, and new pickleball paddles being introduced constantly, determining the best pickleball paddle for you can be confusing. Many manufacturers use their own marketing terms that may add to the confusion. To help make things a little easier, our Pickleball Paddle Buying Guide focuses on the main objective properties of all paddles: weight, material composition, and grip size. 

Pickleball Paddle Weight

Pickleball paddles range in weight from 6 oz. – 14 oz. Paddles are typically divided into three weight categories: lightweight pickleball paddles (>7.3 oz.), midweight pickleball paddles (7.3 oz – 8.3 oz.) and heavyweight pickleball paddles (8.5+ oz.).

Pros vs. Cons: Lighter

  • Better control and maneuverability
  • Less stress on elbow and arm
  • Recommended for injury prevention
  • Less power – harder to hit deep shots
  • Need a stronger swing

Pros vs. Cons: Heavier

  • More power
  • Less effort to hit hard
  • Better for depth
  • Stress on injuries and increased arm fatigue
  • Less control

HEAD Extreme Lite Pickleball Paddle
“Great control. Larger sweet spot.”

HEAD Extreme Tour Max
“Additional power for advanced players.”

Composition

Pickleball paddles are comprised of two areas with distinct material properties: the paddle face and the paddle core.  There are several different types of face and core materials.

 

Face Materials:

  • Fiberglass – heavy and powerful but not as strong as other face materials
  • Graphite – thin and light for quick action and good control
  • Carbon Fiber – Similar to graphite but more durable

Core Materials:

  • Polymer – soft with large honeycomb cells; great power but sacrifices control
  • Nomex – harder and denser for long-lasting performance; louder with less power but great control
  • Aluminum – Similar to Nomex; greatest feature is superior control

Vulcan V530 Pickleball Paddle
“Carbon fiber hitting surface for maximum depth”

Selkirk SLK Atlas Widebody
“Ultimate control without sacrificing power.”

The shape of pickleball paddles varies based on manufacturer. Some have distinct features, like the diamond-shaped paddles by HEAD. Length and width of the paddles varies, as well. The USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) approves paddles that do not exceed 17 inches in length. There are no restrictions on paddle thickness.

 

Edgeless vs. Edge-Guarded – Edgeless pickleball paddles have more surface space, but edge-guarded paddles have a guard that protects the integrity of the paddle. The question is, do you sacrifice durability for greater surface area?

 

Pickleball Paddle Grip Size

Pickleball paddle grip sizes range from 4 – 4.5. Small (4 – 4.125), medium (4.25) and large (4.5). Too big a grip size may cause slippage or turning in your hand and can lead to elbow problems. It’s always better to start small and build up to a larger grip size. Smaller grip sizes also allow for more wrist action and added spin.