Are you looking for the best pickleball paddle? 

There are so many options out there that are overwhelming.

Then, you start to question if there’s any difference between pickleball paddles.

I’ve been there. So I’ve written this guide to help you choose your ideal paddle.

I’ll explain them one by one and how they affect your gameplay, and give you some tips on how to find the best paddle for your style and level of play.

Let’s get started.

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle – Paddle Power VS Control 

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle

One trade-off you must consider when choosing a pickleball paddle is power vs control. It feels good to hit the ball hard and fast, but when you get more advanced, you need to control it and hit it accurately and precisely. 

Generally speaking, paddles with more power tend to offer less control, and vice versa. 

The reason is they have opposite attributes. Power paddles are usually heavier, have thicker cores, and stiffer face materials. Control paddles are generally lighter, made of thinner cores, and softer face materials.

 Therefore, you have to decide which aspect of your game you want to prioritize and which one you are willing to compromise.

 If you want a less extreme option, you can also find a balance between power and control by choosing a mid-weight paddle, a medium-thick core, and a composite face material. 

Core Material and Thickness of the Paddle

The core material is the inner layer of the paddle that determines its stiffness, durability, and sound. The most common core materials are polymer, aluminum, and nomex.

Aluminum is a lightweight metal with a honeycomb design. Thanks to its lightweight, aluminum core paddles are the easiest to use and control. You can hold the paddle for a long time without feeling tired and swing it effortlessly. 

So, aluminum core paddles are the best for beginners and people with hand injuries. But it also comes with downsides. Because of the lightweight, it is hard to generate tremendous power when hitting the ball, compared to the other core materials. Therefore it is not ideal for advanced players. 

Polymer is a type of plastic that is lightweight, soft, and quiet. It offers reasonable control and touch but less power and pop. Polymer cores are also more durable than other materials and less prone to cracking or denting. It is the most all-rounded material and is suitable for all levels of players.

Nomex is a solid, stiff, and noisy material similar to a paper board. It delivers the most power and pop but the least control and touch. If you are looking for powerful shots, do not care much about control, and want the satisfying feeling when the banging balls, nomex paddles are for you.

The core thickness affects the paddle’s overall thickness, which ranges from 11 to 20 mm. The thicker the core, the more power, and stability it provides, but also, the more weight it adds. The thinner the core, the more control, and maneuverability it offers, but also, the more vibration it transfers to your arm.

Paddle Weight

The weight of the paddle is another crucial factor to consider when choosing a pickleball paddle. The weight of the paddle affects how much effort you need to hit the ball, how much stress you put on your elbow and shoulder, and how fast you can swing the paddle.

Paddle weights are usually classified into three categories: lightweight (under 7.2 oz), mid-weight (7.3 to 8.4 oz), and heavy (over 8.4 oz).

Lightweight paddles are easier to swing and control but require more force to generate power. They are also more forgiving on your arm and joints, reducing the risk of injury or fatigue. Lightweight paddles are ideal for players with a fast swing speed who prefer finesse over force or suffer from elbow or shoulder problems.

In contrast, heavyweight paddles are harder to control but easier to hit powerful shots. They are also more stable and solid on impact, giving you more confidence and consistency. Heavyweight paddles are for you if you have a slow swing speed, prefer force over finesse, or want to improve your strength and endurance.

But don’t just go for a heavier paddle if you are at least an intermediate player and have decent muscle strength, because using a paddle that is too heavy can result in tennis elbow.

Mid-weight paddles are a balance between lightweight and heavyweight paddles. They offer a good combination of power, control, comfort, and stability. Mid-weight paddles are best for players with a moderate swing speed, mixing up their shots, or wanting to adapt to different situations.

Grip Size

The grip size is the circumference of the handle of the paddle. It affects how comfortable and secure you feel when holding the paddle and how much wrist action you can use.

Grip sizes range from 4 to 4 1/2 inches in increments of 1/8 inch. The smaller the grip size, the more wrist action you can use to generate spin and angle. The larger the grip size, the more stability you have to prevent twisting or slipping.

There are two methods you can use to find your ideal grip size: ring finger measurement or natural grip.

Ring finger measurement: For this method you will need a ruler or a measuring tape. Open up your palms as shown in the image above and measure the distance from the bottom crease of you palm to the tip of ring finger.

Natural grip: Hold the paddle in your dominant hand as if you were shaking hands with someone. Your index finger should be able to fit between your thumb and fingers without touching them. The grip size is too small if there is no space for your index finger. If there is too much space for your index finger, the grip size is too large.

If you are unsure about your grip size, choosing a smaller than a larger one is better. You can always add an overgrip to increase the size and cushioning of the handle, but you cannot reduce the size of the handle.

Paddle Face Material

The face material is the outer layer of the paddle that comes in contact with the ball. It affects the durability, texture, and appearance of the paddle.

Wood, graphite, composite, carbon fiber, and fiberglass are the most common face materials.

I have written a detailed guide on the best material for pickleball paddles.

Below is a quick summary of the pros and cons of each material:

Wood

Wooden paddles are quite durable and resistant to scratches or dents.

It is the cheapest option, which is best for beginners who want to learn the basics of the game without spending too much money. They are also suitable for schools or sports centers that need a large number of paddles for their students or customers.

Graphite

Graphite paddles are lightweight and stiff.

Power is not its strength. But it offers a smooth and consistent surface that enhances control and touch.

Graphite paddles are best for intermediate or advanced players who want to improve the accuracy and placement of their shots.

Check out the best graphite pickleball paddles right now.

Carbon fiber

Carbon fiber is a strong and lightweight face material. You can think of it as an upgrade of graphite. It offers a gritty surface that enhances spins and pop while being lightweight and strong.

Carbon fiber paddles are best for advanced players who want to maximize their performance and style on the court.

You will see its only downside when you see the price tag.

Check out the best carbon fiber pickleball paddles right now.

Composite

Composite is a blend of different materials, such as fiberglass, and carbon fiber. Composite paddles are an all-rounded choice.

Paddle Shape

The shape of the paddle affects the size and location of the sweet spot, which is the area of the paddle that produces the best results when hitting the ball.

There are three main types of paddle shapes: elongated, widebody, and classic.

Elongated paddles have a longer and narrower shape that extends the sweet spot towards the tip of the paddle. They offer more reach and power but less control and balance. They are best for players who like to play aggressively from the baseline or who have trouble covering the court.

Widebody paddles have a broader and shorter shape that extends the sweet spot towards the sides of the paddle. They offer more control and balance but less reach and power. They are best for players who like to play defensively from the net or have good footwork and positioning.

Classic paddles have a balanced shape that distributes the sweet spot evenly across the paddle. They offer a good combination of reach, power, control, and balance. They are best for players who like to play all around or who want to adapt to different situations.

Quietness

Some players enjoy the loud “pop” sound when hitting the ball, while others hate it.

The two things that determine how noisy a paddle is are material and core thickness.

If you are looking for quieter pickleball paddles, choose a polymer honeycomb core and surface material made of carbon fiber or graphite. If you want to know more about what makes a paddle quiet, check out my best quiet pickleball paddles article.

If for some reason you want everyone to hear your paddle hitting the ball, go with nomex plus fiberglass.

Style

Players often care too much about the aesthetic of the paddle.

I get it, some paddles just make you fall in love at first sight.

But, as you have realized the most beautiful woman is not necessarily the best wife, the best-looking paddle may not be the best paddle.

From my experience, when I get a new good-looking paddle I’ll get excited for maybe a month or two.

But after that, I don’t really care that much anymore, and dust and scratches appear on the paddle.

The most important thing is whether the paddle’s playing style fits you.

How Do I Know What Pickleball Paddle to Use

The best way to find your perfect paddle is to try different paddles before buying one. You can borrow paddles from friends, club members, or local retailers. You can also rent or demo paddles from online stores or manufacturers.

When trying out different paddles, please pay attention to how they feel in your hand, how they perform on the court, and how they match your style and level of play. You can also compare different paddles based on their specifications, such as core material, thickness, weight, grip size, face material, and shape.

Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all paddle for everyone. The right paddle depends on your preference, comfort, and enjoyment. The more you experiment with different paddles, the more you discover what works best for you.

Wrap Up

I hope this blog post has helped you understand how to choose a pickleball paddle that suits your needs. Happy pickleball!

FAQ – How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle

What is the best pickleball paddle core material?

If you are a beginner, go for aluminum. If you are looking for power over everything else, go for nomex. Otherwise, choose polymer because it is the most all-rounded option.

How to find a suitable grip size?

The simplest way is using the natural grip method. Hold the paddle with one hand and see if the other hand’s index finger can fit between your thumb and fingers without touching them.

Is there really a difference in pickleball paddles?

Yes, there is. They may all look the same, but if you use them for a long time they’re very different. For example, heavier paddles would put a lot of strain on your shoulder and elbow if you play for over an hour.

How do you pick the weight of a pickleball paddle?

A heavier paddle allows you to hit more powerful shots, but it also puts more burden on your arms and is harder to control. So, in general, beginners should pick a lighter paddle to practice their strength and technique, and a more advanced player would need a heavier paddle.

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