Gear Up – Paddles!
NOTE: This is a LONG READ because there’s so much information that needs to be considered when picking a paddle.
A pickleball paddle can improve your game measurably particularly when you are playing with a paddle that makes your feel comfortable. You will be more confident and will find yourself winning more games. The key is finding that right paddle. If you do, several aspects of your game will improve: accuracy of your shots, more power (and control), more reliable shot-making and less strain on your body.
Choosing a pickleball paddle can be an intimidating process. With all the options of size, shape, face and core material, grip size, etc., it can be hard to figure out what the differences are and which paddle is right for you. In addition to the info given here, one of the BEST ways to find a paddle you like is to play with different ones. That way, you’ll have first-hand experience and will better know what paddle suits you. You will see as you play many different paddles used by other players and, for the most part, they will be happy to let you try their gear.
The chief considerations about paddle selection are: how the paddle feels in your hand (grip size), how quickly you can make shots (weight) and the kinds of shots you play (paddle surface.)
In general terms, paddles with longer grips can give you a little more stability, while shorter grips can give you more control over your shots. It is also easier to achieve spin on paddles with a shorter grip. It is often worth trying paddles with slightly longer or shorter grips to see how it affects your game.
Here is a simple rule-of-thumb for grip selection:
- Short players (under 5’2”) usually do well with a 4” grip
- Medium sized players (between 5’3” and 5’8”) usually do well with a 4 ¼” grip
- Large players (above 5’9”) usually do well with a 4 ½” grip.
If you are unsure of size, opt for a shorter one. Thickness is a big factor. If you find a paddle that has everything you want but the thickness is maybe a less that what you wish, you can always build up your grip with over grip tape.
The biggest factor in finding the right paddle is undoubtedly weight. The weight of your paddle affects everything from the amount of power and control in your game to your comfort and stamina while playing. There are 3 options for weight in the paddles we sell: light (<7.3 oz), medium (7.3-8.4 oz) and heavy (8.5-9.5 oz). Read the descriptions below to decide which is best for you.
- Best choice for those who play a pure control/touch/feel game, spending most of their time at the net and preferring “dinks” to hard shots or slams
- Provides more control, which comes at the expense of some power and pop
- Requires less arm strength
- Generates more head speed – good for hard hitters
- Requires more energy and momentum to swing, so not a good choice for those with shoulder/elbow/hand injuries or arthritis
- More popular for doubles players
- A good choice if you’re unsure about what weight is right for you
- Best choice for those who play with both power and finesse
- Best choice for most beginners who haven’t figured out all of their preferences and play style
- Best choice for those with shoulder/elbow/hand injuries or arthritis
- Best choice for those who play a pure power game, spending most of their time at the baseline and preferring big shots to “dinks” and finesse shots
- Provides more power and pop, which comes at the expense of some control
- Requires more arm strength
- Generates less head speed – good for light hitters
- Fatigues your arm faster and can aggravate your elbow, so not a good choice for those with shoulder/elbow/hand injuries or arthritis
- More popular for singles players
The elements of paddle construction on: handles, cores and face finish. Most modern paddle handles are now made from plastic and fiberglass. Cores are: nomex, aluminum and polymer. All three materials are tough and each provides a distinct feel and sound. Polymer cores are very responsive and have a lot of “spring.” However, tt’s said that polymer cores are prone to develop “dead spots” over time. But the industry is see more and more advancement of these components as the game continues to grow. On face finish, typical materials are graphite, composite or plastic. Graphic is great but sometimes can be brittle and chip. Composite paddles have been constructed from a combination of materials, generally in an open-celled honeycomb core.
I said it was a LONG READ. But I think the PRACTICAL approach is to try several different paddles and decide which one you like the best. We have quite a few paddles of different sized, weights and construction and encourage you to try several to see which best fits you. Of course, if you need some help, there’s always someone there to help you out.