Pickleball has become one of the most popular sports in the past few years, the player base is getting bigger steeply and in some countries, it is even considered to be the major sport. It has every right for that, it took one of the most entertaining parts of sports like badminton, table tennis, and regular tennis and combined it into one.
Even with its high popularity and growth rate, newcomers still don’t get hooked on this sport right away, this happens due to multiple factors and the most important one is bad equipment. Beginners tend to buy the cheapest sports gear when starting a new activity and this can lead to a major decreasing of motivation and injuries.
The most important piece of gear in this sport are the paddles. Having the best pickleball paddles will lead to fewer injuries, greater mobility, and a smaller learning curve. Because of this, you will eventually have more fun while playing pickleball, but choosing high-quality paddles can be a bit tricky.
Which brand is the best one? Are there any features that you should look into? Does the material matter? Don’t worry about that, we will introduce you these aspects in the following sections with each part of the paddle being explained in-depth.
There are a lot of features that you should watch out for when buying a paddle because every part of it matters, ranging from the grip of the material to the paddle’s surface. Here are some of the most important characteristics that you should look out for:
The best pickleball paddle material
Pickleball paddles are usually made in a range of different materials, so you have a variety of different options to pick from. Here are the major paddle materials that you will find, ranging from the lowest to the highest priced ones:
Wood -The cheapest material for paddles but they are usually quite heavy. People who can handle the additional weight but don’t have a big budget usually buy this type.
Composite – The material used mostly by advanced players, it is really durable but light as well. Composite is usually a very comfortable and high-quality material.
Graphite -The most expensive material used by professionals. It is both really lightweight and durable as well. Graphite is the strongest material in this list and it is for players who want the best gear.
Besides these three paddle types, we also have plastic. This material is usually even cheaper than wood and it is commonly used by children, if you’re looking for something that will last, we don’t really recommend it.
The most important part when it comes to paddle grips is the material rolled around it and the size of it. You will find that most models either have the grip made out of wood or with another material but with rubber rolled around it. The best pickleball paddles tend to have rubber around them because it will decrease the chance of the paddle slipping out of your hand.
A more important aspect would be the size of the grip, this will play an important role while you play because it will decide how comfortable l it will be for long sessions. In order to get the best bang for the buck, you will have to figure out which grip circumference fits your hand.
One of the best ways to figure this out is checking out how the paddle feels in your local store, this way you can easily pick among different models and see which one provides the most mobility. But if you’re ordering your paddle online, we recommend that you always go for the smaller size because it will allow you to move your wrist slightly more.
If you’re buying a paddle with a larger grip, you will enjoy the benefits of far greater stability as well as less stress being placed on your arm. These are some of the common grip circumferences:
Small – 4-4 1/8 inches
Medium – 4 1/4 inches
Large – 4 1/2 inches
Now we have saved the most important part for last, the weight will be heavily influenced by past aspects and it will be the most important factor that influences skill. Pickleball players commonly choose lightweight paddles because of greater mobility, but people who have a larger body build will buy heavier ones because of better stability and less strain on their arms. Here are the common paddle materials along with their average weight:
Plastic – 7.5 ounces
Wood -11 ounces
Composite – 8 ounces
Graphite – 8 ounces
The weight of the paddle will be important because it will decide how much you can swing it and how long you can carry it in your hand. People who have injuries or health conditions should always buy paddles that don’t weigh much. Players who know that they can handle the additional weight should certainly buy heavier models.
What you should do if you have a medical condition?
You should definitely watch out for the weight of the paddle if you have a medical condition like arthritis or if you have an injury from playing pickleball. This goes especially if parts of your body like hands, shoulders, and elbows are hurt.
Wrists are usually the first area that gets hurt, this happens either due to excessive amounts of time spent on pickleball sessions, but mostly because players can’t handle their paddle weight. Because of that, we recommend that you choose a paddle that ranges from 7.5 to 8.5 ounces.
With a middle-weight paddle like that one, it will be heavy enough to provide the stability you need, but light enough to not put your arm or wrists under stress. If you were to pick a paddle that is heavier than 8.4 ounces, you would inflame your wrists or other injured body parts.
The same thing goes for paddles that are too light as well. Anything under 7.5 ounces will force you to put more energy than needed in order to swing the paddle, the lack of weight will also not help you drive the ball.
The Graphite Zen pickleball paddle is the best option for intermediate players who want a high-quality product. If you’re just starting out we’d recommend you to get something far cheaper, but if you want the best gear right away then this model is perfect for you.
Zen’s weight ranges around 7.9 ounces which are the average weight for graphite paddles, it certainly isn’t heavy but it isn’t lightweight either. This paddle has just the right weight to provide you power with ever shot without straining your arm too much.
The weight of it will also make it really stable which in returns reduces the chances of it slipping out of your hands, the grip enforces that as well. As long as your pickleball sessions don’t last too much, you won’t have to deal with injuries.
As for the size, it is 15-1/2 inches long and 5/8 inches wide. The hitting surface of this paddle isn’t that big and if you’re just a beginner that may be a problem for you. But for intermediate players who know what they’re doing, this won’t be a problem at all. Zen’s grip is also quite large, it has a circumference of 4-1/2 inches which makes it the largest one in this list.
When it comes to the construction of this paddle, you will enjoy the aluminum core of it but graphite surface. A paddle like this will be really durable, paddles that have aluminum cores tend to provide you a balanced design that offers you more control. For aesthetics, you will have a lot of different color options, something to note is that the Chinese symbol in the middle means power.
Aluminum core and graphite surface
Average weight ranges from 7.8 to 8.2 ounces
4-1/4 inches grip size
Oversized paddle shape
5-1/4 inches handle length
Made for intermediate players who want high-quality
Has the average weight for graphite which makes it not too heavy
Aluminum core allows you more control
If you plan on holding long session the weight will be too heavy
Grip is too large for players with small hands
Surface of the paddle is small, making it difficult for beginners
Here we have the Enforcer from Pro Lite Sports, a high-quality paddle that offers a great price to performance ratio. This paddle is the cheapest one on this list, but don’t let the price fool you, this model is still great for all skill levels. It certainly isn’t the best pickleball paddle on the market, but for newcomers, it will be more than enough
Enforcer’s weight is really light compared to most graphite paddles, the average weight of it is only 7.2 ounces. Since it is lightweight you won’t experience fatigue during long sessions and you will be able to swing it easily as well. It will be difficult to control the paddle though since you will need to put more energy in it.
As for size, the Enforcer is 15-1/2 inches long and 8 inches wide. This is the common size for pickleball paddles, which is recommended mainly for beginners who are just starting out. The grip size is 4 inches making it great for people with smaller hands, we certainly don’t recommend it the other way around.
The construction of the Enforcer features a Nomex honeycomb type core with a surface made out of graphite. If you’re looking for a paddle that is too loud then you won’t enjoy the Nomex core, it is the loudest type. Another important thing to note is that this model has tapered sides going around the handle, with this you will have a smaller paddle surface close to the handle.
With this paddle, you can enjoy powerful shots that don’t take too much strength and don’t fatigue you if you play for too long. People who have larger hands won’t enjoy the small size of the paddle’s grip. We also don’t recommend it for advanced players since this is aimed more at beginners.
Average weight around 7.2 ounces
15 1/2 inches long by 8 inches wide
Grip circumference of 4 inches
Comes in multiple color settings
Core is made out of Nomex
Surface is made out of graphite
Great option for beginners
Optimal choice for people with budget constraints
Construction is very lightweight
Surface gets smaller around the handle
It is really loud for some players because of a Nomex core
This paddle comes from the same brand that made the Zen paddle reviewed first in the list. Onix’s Z5 paddle is another model made out of graphite that comes at a budget-friendly price. It is great for players of every skill level and it certainly looks like a higher priced model.
Z5 has an average weight of around 8.1 ounces, this makes it one of the heavier models. It still doesn’t fall in the heavy category, it is considered to be a middleweight class model. You will enjoy higher power on your hits without losing control. You also won’t have to experience any fatigue.
This paddle is quite wider compared to other models, as it is 8-1/8 inches wide, on the other hand, it is 15-1/2 inches long. As for the grip, it has a circumference of around 4-1/4 inches which makes it a great option for people between 5’4’’ and 5’9’’ tall. The handle length is smaller compared to other models on this list, being only 5 inches long.
This paddle has a Nomex core and graphite surface as well. The Nomex core will make it loud but it is still durable. Z5’s design is a bit strange, it does come in multiple colors but each paddle has the model number as well as the company’s contact information written on it.
Nomex core and graphite surface
Wide paddle size with a 4-1/4 inches grip size
Average weight ranges at about 8.1 ounces
Honeycomb surface design
Good for players at all skill levels
For the quality, the price is really low
It isn’t heavy enough to strain your hands
Nomex core makes it a bit loud
Weight makes it harder to control
Small handle length
Players who don’t care about the price and want the best of the best should seriously consider buying this paddle. It comes from a reputable brand called Gamma Sports and this voltage model features a high-quality design at every aspect.
It is a middleweight class model with an average weight of 7.8 ounces. You can control it easier compared to other models but you will need to spend more energy as well. But still, you won’t experience any fatigue except if your sessions last too long. If you have arthritis it still falls in your category, but we would still recommend you something with a bit less weight.
As for size, this model is both the widest and the longest one on the market. It has a length of 15.6 inches and a width of 8.25 inches. Because of this you also have a bigger surface which makes it great for beginners.
The bad characteristic of this paddle is the repeating Nomex core, but the graphite surface makes up for it. Since the Nomex core has a harder surface, it will be loud for some players. But the harder surface will in return increase the speed of the ball.
Voltage’s design is quite minimalistic since it just features the name of the company and the model, but it does have a good-looking honeycomb mesh on the surface. As long as you have the money, you won’t regret buying this pickleball paddle.
Surface made out of graphite and Nomex core
Average weight of 7.8 ounces
15.6 inches long and 8.25 inches wide
Honeycomb surface pattern
30% larger surface area
Adequate at all skill levels
Great choice for beginners who need a large hitting surface
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The last paddle on this list comes from Selkirk sport, it offers an aesthetically good-looking design that is suitable for both novice and intermediate players. 20P XL has a weight ranging around 7.4 ounces which make it lightweight. It is a middleweight class that gives you enough ball control with good power behind your swings as well. But don’t expect any massive speed out of this paddle.
It is one of the longer paddles with a length of 15-3/4 inches, the width of it is 8 inches. With that combination, you will enjoy a far larger surface area compared to usual paddles, which makes it great for beginners. The grip size is 4-1/4 inches and it ideal for most height.
The core of this model is made out of polymer honeycomb and the surface is made out of composite. If you’re someone who doesn’t want a paddle that is loud, then this choice is perfect for you as it is really quiet. The composite will make the surface strong, but it still won’t emit a loud noise when it gets in contact with the ball.
It comes in multiple colors and the design of the surface shows you the symbol of the company as well as the name of the model. The paddle is made in Idaho, USA. This paddle is a great choice if you want a well-priced model with a big surface area that has quieter hits.
Surface made out of composite
Honeycomb polymer core
Lightweight design around 7.4 ounces
Made in the USA
5.25 inches handle length
The polymer core emits less noise
Large surface area which is great for newcomers
One of the longest paddles
Harder to control if you don’t hit with the paddle’s sweet spot
Most of the listed pickleball paddles were great choices for almost every player, each one has its positive and negative side as well, but they were balanced out. Some of these paddles can be really loud due to the Nomex core, but we have also seen polymer core models which aren’t that loud. We have also explained the real impact of the paddle’s weight and how much fatigue it can cause as well as how much people with medical conditions are affected.
We recommend all of these models, but the best pickleball paddle is certainly the Gamma Premium voltage paddle. Its features are balanced out and if you have the budget for it, then be sure that you’re getting the most out of your money as this paddle is really high-quality. The only thing that we didn’t like about this paddle is the repeating Nomex core that emits more noise compared to other core types.
Learn more about strategy in pickleball here.