Playing pickleball is kind of like driving a car – over time, all the wear and tear takes a toll, and the performance starts to decline.

You might not notice it at first, but soon enough, things just don’t run as smoothly as they used to. 

We’ve been through countless games together.

But lately, something just feels off.

My slam dunks don’t have the same zing, my spins seem lackluster. It takes me a few extra shots to find a rhythm. The surface is scratched up and the edge is chipped.

Could it be time to upgrade my paddle after all these great games together?

I don’t want to think about it, but I know the signs are there. My paddle’s just not performing how it used to.

And deep down I know what I have to do…it’s time to upgrade! As much as we’ve bonded, I gotta put performance first.

A new paddle could give me that boost I’m looking for.

But how do I know exactly when the time is right? What should I even look for in my next pickleball paddle purchase?

Let’s dig into the signs of when and how to upgrade your essential pickleball gear to reinvigorate your game!

When Should I Upgrade My Pickleball Paddle

The 8 signs you should upgrade your pickleball paddle are:

  • Wear and Tear
  • Dead Spots
  • Performance Limitations
  • Changes in Playing Style
  • The Features Don’t Fit
  • Competitive Goals
  • Technological Advancements
  • Stunning Designs

Wear and Tear 

I don’t know about you, but I use my paddle a ton. I’m out there at the pickleball courts 4-5 times a week.

So it’s no surprise that after a year or so of heavy use, my paddle starts looking a little worse for wear. The surface gets scuffed up and develops some nicks and scratches over time.

And occasionally, if I’m not careful, maybe the edge gets a small chip when I set it down on the rough ground next to the court.

The grip tape starts peeling off too, and pretty soon the paddle just looks kinda sad and ragged. More importantly, all that damage starts to affect how well my paddle performs.

I swear those scratches throw off my shots and make my slam dunks into the kitchen less consistent. And the grip tape peeling off makes the handle funky to hold.

When your paddle also starts to look beat up like this, it’s time to retire it and upgrade to a shiny new one.

Dead Spots  

Along with visual wear and tear, “dead spots” on your paddle where the ball doesn’t bounce as expected are a sign it’s time for an upgrade.

As paddles age, especially with improper storage in extreme temperatures, the surface and interior can become damaged, resulting in dead spots. This makes it much harder to control your shots.

If you have no clue how to check if there are dead spots on your paddle, check out my How to Tell If Pickleball Paddle is Dead article.

Performance Limitations

As your skills improve, you may find your current paddle no longer meets your playing requirements in terms of control, power, spin, or maneuverability.

Upgrading to a higher-quality paddle can provide these advanced features to take your game to the next level.

Changes in Playing Style

Your playing style may change as you gain experience, transitioning from defensive to offensive or vice versa.

Different styles require paddles with specific characteristics, so upgrading to align with your new approach maximizes performance.

The Features Don’t Fit: Grip, Weight, Shape, Noise

As you progress in pickleball, you become more in tune with subtle aspects like responsiveness, balance, spin, and control.

While beginners may focus on just connecting with the ball, more experience highlights the differences in paddle handling and performance.

Upgrading when the grip size, weight, or shape doesn’t fit anymore is key.

A grip that’s too large strains the arm and risks injury. If it’s too small, you may grip it too tightly. Paddle length and width also affect reach, power, and control of shot placement.

Even excessive noise may prompt the need for a quieter paddle if community noise regulations require it.

Don’t let improper size or discomfort hold you back – pay attention to these details and upgrade when the current features are no longer optimal.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on choosing the right pickleball paddle.

Competitive Goals

If you plan to play competitively, upgrading becomes even more important to gain an edge over opponents and elevate your chances of success.

Also, when the paddle deteriorates, it may not fit the USAPA’s requirement anymore.

Technological Advancements

The paddle makers out there are always cooking up new technologies to improve their pickleball paddles.

It seems like every time I go to buy a new one, there are new materials, designs, and features to consider. Companies are experimenting with different polymer materials and honeycomb patterns in the paddle core to optimize the balance of power, control, and feel.

They’re using advanced composites on the faces to increase durability and enhance the paddle surface for more spin and pop.

The shapes and sizes have advanced too – I’m seeing more elongated and wider paddle heads combined with ergonomic handles for improved reach and comfort in my grip.

There are even cool vibration-dampening technologies now to reduce strain on my elbows.

And quiet pickleball paddles that use a new core material EVA foam.

With all these innovations, the new paddle performs way better than the one from just a couple of years ago.

The technology bar keeps rising, so upgrading your gear helps me take advantage of all the latest improvements and play my best!

Stunning Designs

I gotta say, part of the fun of upgrading my pickleball paddle is getting to pick out a bold, unique design that shows off my personality on the court.

When I shop for new paddles, there are so many awesome graphics and color schemes to choose from.

Stepping onto the courts with a fancy new paddle with a stunning color combo or graphic feels like a million bucks! Having that eye-catching paddle in hand gives me a dose of confidence and swagger to really up my game.

It’s a conversation starter too – other players always ask me where I got such a slick paddle.

So don’t underestimate the power of a stellar design when upgrading your gear! It makes the game so much more fun and satisfying.

Is There a Difference Between Cheap and Expensive Pickleball Paddles?

Absolutely! While very inexpensive paddles may be fine for casual play, once your skills progress, the limitations become clear.

More expensive paddles offer advanced features like better control, increased power, enhanced spin, lighter weight, and improved feel.

The quality of materials and engineering make a significant difference in high-end paddles’ performance and longevity.

Would My Game Benefit by Upgrading to a Better Paddle?

For most players beyond the beginner level, upgrading to a mid-range or pro paddle that fits their style and needs will make noticeable improvements.

Better paddles enhance control, power, consistency, feel, and maneuverability. Your shots will land with better precision and spin. Joints feel less strain with lighter paddles.

Overall, an upgraded paddle can take your game to the next level.

Is a Thicker Pickleball Paddle Better?

Thicker paddle cores became popular thanks to innovations like polymer honeycomb that maintain thickness while reducing weight.

The pros of a thicker paddle are increased stability on off-center hits and more consistent shots across a larger sweet spot. They can also provide a bit more power.

The main downside is that thicker paddles make it slightly harder to scoop balls near the ground. Overall, many players now prefer the benefits of a thicker core.

Is a Lighter or Heavier Pickleball Paddle Better?

Finding the ideal weight is largely individual and depends on your needs:

Lighter Paddles

  • Less joint strain 
  • Increased maneuverability
  • Easier to control and place shots precisely

Heavier Paddles

  • Provide more power on drives
  • Benefit aggressive playing styles
  • Increased stability on block shots

Beginners tend to do better with lighter paddles to develop control and reduce fatigue. As you advance, you may look for more power with a slightly heavier paddle. Testing different weights is the best way to find your ideal match.

What Should I Do With My Old Pickleball Paddle?

Once upgraded, you have a few options for your old paddle:

  • Keep as a backup or loaner for friends
  • Give to someone wanting to try pickleball
  • Donate to a local school or community center 
  • Responsibly recycle if too worn out to use

This allows your old paddle to continue serving a purpose in some capacity.

What’s Next

Knowing when your skills surpass your current paddle’s performance is key. Watch for signs like wear, dead spots, discomfort, limitations, and changing needs.

Take advantage of new technologies and designs. With the right paddle matched to your evolving style and skills, you can maximize your enjoyment and results on the pickleball court.

Don’t let your equipment hold you back – upgrade your paddle and elevate your game!

Enjoy the review? Sign up below for more cool pickleball gear recommendations.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.