Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America. As more people discover this fun sport, one of the first gear purchases is a quality paddle.
The two common materials for pickleball paddles are fiberglass and graphite. Both offer great playability and performance, but there are some key differences between the two.
In this article, I’ll overview the characteristics of graphite and fiberglass pickleball paddles. I’ll discuss the pros and cons of each material and provide examples of some top paddles. My goal is to help you select the right pickleball paddle material for your game, playing style, and budget. Let’s dive in!
Graphite pickleball paddles have a layer of graphite fibers over a core material like polymer or aluminum. This thin graphite face is very rigid and strong, allowing it to provide power without adding a lot of weight.
Characteristics of Graphite Paddles
- Lightweight and rigid paddle face material
- Provides power and control
- Thin graphite layer over core materials like polymer or aluminum
- Preferred by experienced and pro players
The best graphite paddles weigh around 7.5oz, making them very maneuverable yet still powerful. The rigid graphite face also gives an excellent consistent feel on each shot. Graphite paddles are a popular choice among competitive and tournament players who value control and responsiveness.
Benefits of graphite paddles
- Very lightweight, usually around 7.5oz
- Thin graphite face provides power without adding weight
- Gives excellent control and feel for shots
- Rigid surface provides great touch and finesse
- Durable and long-lasting if cared for
The lightweight responsiveness of graphite paddles makes them ideal for players looking for control and touch on their shots. The thin rigid face also provides a very accurate feel when you hit the ball cleanly.
Drawbacks of graphite paddles
- More expensive than fiberglass
- Not as forgiving on off-center hits
- Can feel harsh on poorly hit shots
- Less power
While graphite performs exceptionally when hits are clean, the rigid face does not absorb off-center hits as well. You may notice some harsh vibrations on miss-hits. Graphite also lacks the power of fiberglass.
Examples of quality graphite paddles
- Pursuit MX 6.0 Graphite – Popular control-oriented graphite paddle
- JOOLA Hyperion CAS 16 Graphite Paddle – Provides excellent touch and feel
- Onix Z5 – Graphite face with Nomex honeycomb core
Check out my top recommended graphite paddles.
Fiberglass pickleball paddles go by many names – you may see them called fiberglass, composite, or hybrid. The key trait is that they utilize a range of composite materials in their construction.
Characteristics of fiberglass paddles
- Slightly heavier than graphite at around 8oz
- More flexible paddle face with more texture
- Provide power, and a solid pop/rebound
The most common materials are fiberglass. This flexible fiberglass face gives the paddle some nice “pop” on shots. Fiberglass paddles tend to weigh slightly more than graphite, around 8oz on average.
Benefits of fiberglass paddles
- The textured surface generates more spin and bite on the ball
- The flexible face provides a solid pop and rebound
- Slightly heavier weight offers more power
- Often less expensive than pure graphite paddles
For players looking for extra pop on shots, the fiberglass construction is hard to beat. The textured and flexible face bites into the ball nicely. Fiberglass paddles are also typically more affordable than high-end graphite.
Drawbacks of fiberglass paddles
- Not as precise and consistent feeling as graphite
- More prone to wearing out over time
- Can be harder to control touch shots
- Weight requires more swing effort
- Less maneuverable
While fiberglass offers nice pop and spin, the flexible materials reduce the precise control of rigid graphite. The textured surface also wears faster with aggressive play. Fiberglass may require more swing effort compared to super lightweight graphite.
Examples of quality fiberglass paddles
- SLK VANGUARD Power Invikta Paddle – A hybrid of fiberglass and carbon fiber
- Yonex VCORE Pickleball Paddle- Fiberglass layers with honeycomb core
Graphite vs Fiberglass Pickleball Paddles
Now that we’ve looked closely at graphite and fiberglass paddles, let’s summarize some key differences and factors to consider when choosing between the two materials.
- Graphite paddles are lighter and offer more control and finesse
- Fiberglass paddles provide more power and spin on shots
- Graphite has a more precise and consistent feel
- Fiberglass is typically more affordable than graphite
Factors to consider when choosing the paddle
Your playing style – Do you focus on control and touch shots or power and spin?
Paddle weight – Lighter graphite or slightly heavier fiberglass?
Your budget – High-end graphite or more affordable fiberglass?
Durability needs – Does your paddle need to last seasons or years?
To wrap up, both graphite and fiberglass can make excellent pickleball paddle materials. Graphite offers unmatched control and feel through its lightweight and rigid construction. Fiberglass provides some nice pop and spin while being easier on the wallet. Assess your game and budget to decide which material fits you best. Thanks for reading!