What if I told you there’s a simple pickleball paddle tweak that can instantly add power and control to your game?


Choosing the right pickleball paddle core thickness is one of the most crucial – yet overlooked – factors for optimizing your performance. Get it right, and you’ll be smashing winners past stunned opponents. Mess it up, and you’ll be left playing weak shots into the net all day.

I bet you don’t want that embarrassment. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through the complete guide to pickleball paddle cores. You’ll discover why most players prefer 14-16mm cores for optimal power and control.

If you are holding your 12mm paddle, don’t shout at me yet. Let me explain why many pros use a thicker core and why you may want to consider switching as well.  

By the end, you’ll have the knowledge to find your perfect pickleball paddle core thickness and watch your game rapidly improve. The power is in your hands – let’s get started!

Thicker vs thinner pickleball paddle: quick comparison

Pickleball Paddle Core Thickness Chart

1. Thin Cores (11mm – 14mm)

Thin-core paddles provide more power and faster swing speeds due to their lightweight construction. They offer a crisp feel and responsive hit when hitting the ball. This makes them ideal for aggressive players who love drive shots. 

But, there are some notable flaws. Thin-core paddles have a smaller sweet spot by default which makes them less forgiving on off-center hits.

The thin core makes the paddle stiffer, reducing the dwell time and control. This brings more vibration on the elbows and arms, which is uncomfortable for some players.

Therefore thinner core paddles are unsuitable for those with wrist or elbow injuries. Finally, thinner core paddles are louder, which can be annoying to some, but satisfying to others.

2. Thick Cores (15mm – 20mm)

16mm is the standard core thickness for a thick-core paddle. It’s also the most popular choice. Today you can find 20mm “extreme” thick-core paddles, which are not better but take the strengths and weaknesses of a thick core even further.

Thick-core pickleball paddles are control-oriented. By sacrificing a portion of power, they excel in finesse game. They are softer and hence have a longer dwell time, meaning more time to control the ball’s direction and more quiet.

They also have a larger sweet spot than thin-core paddles, which reduces mishits. And, they are heavier, which offers better stability but at the same time reduces maneuverability. Players looking for fast reactions and power-hitting may find them too muted and unwieldy.

But players who value touch and control over power will appreciate the enhanced control and forgiveness of a thick-core paddle. 

Choosing Your Pickleball Paddle Core Thickness

Core thickness isn’t exclusive to a specific play style, it’s a matter of personal preference. If you’re a finesse player who values control, opt for thicker cores. If you’re a beginner, I also recommend a thicker core because they are more forgiving and easier to use. 

But don’t think that they are only suitable for novices. Most pro players use thicker core paddles too since they value control over sheer power at elite levels. 

On the other hand, players who enjoy fast-paced, attacking games typically favor thinner paddle cores that offer more speed and power. The thinner core provides a more responsive, crisp feel on power shots.

Wrap Up

In summary, thick-core paddles favor control over power by offering a softer feel, larger sweet spot, and more stability, while thinner-core paddles offer a more responsive feel, lightweight, and more agility.

In addition to core thickness, there are many other features you have to consider before getting a new pickleball paddle. Check out my article on Pickleball Paddle Selection.


13mm vs 16mm pickleball paddle

A 16mm core thickness is standard for control, improving blocks, resets, and drop shots. Thicker paddles absorb more pace from the ball. A 13mm paddle provides more power but is less forgiving and better for faster play or singles matches.

Should I get a 14mm or 16mm paddle?

14mm bridges the gap between thin and thick paddles, offering a blend of control and power. 16 mm is regarded as a thicker core, providing excellent control and a larger sweet spot. It’s popular among intermediate players who focus on dinking and strategic play.

What does 16 mm mean in a pickleball paddle?

A 16mm means the pickleball paddle has a core thickness of 16mm. Core thickness ranges from 11mm to 19mm, with 13mm to 16mm being the most common ones.

What is the thickest pickleball paddle?

The thickest pickleball paddles are Selkirk’s Labs Project 003 paddles that have a 20mm core.  They are available in three shapes: Epic, S2, and Invikta. 

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