Pickleball Paddles: All You Need to Know

Pickleball paddles come in different sizes and shapes. Standard paddles have a wider face and a shorter handle, while elongated or "blade" paddles hav

The pickleball paddle is one of the most important gear for playing the sport. Knowing what a pickleball paddle is made of and how it works can help you choose the right one for your skill level and how you like to play. Here's what you need to know about a tennis paddle. Let's get started 

Pickleball Paddles: All You Need to Know

Learn the Basics of Pickleball Paddles

The typical pickleball paddle of today has a honeycomb structure in the center (the core) and two faces (the paddle's surface on both sides). This center, sandwiched between the sides, makes up a panel. On both sides, a strong adhesive holds the surfaces to the heart. On each paddle's surface, there are pictures. A guard is put around the paddle's edge to keep it safe. Lastly, the handle is built on the panel's handle end. It is made of two pallets, which give the handle its shape, and an end cap is put on the bottom of the pallets. The grip fits each person's hand by increasing the handle by 1/8". Grip tape is wrapped around the handle (in a different way for left-handed and right-handed players), and a band is placed at the top of the grip to keep it in place and make a smooth end that won't unravel.

Size and Shape

Pickleball paddles come in different sizes and shapes. Standard paddles have a wider face and a shorter handle, while elongated or "blade" paddles have a narrower look and a longer handle. Standard paddles have a larger sweet spot and more power, while elongated paddles have better reach and control.

Weight is an important thing to think about when choosing a pickleball paddle. Lighter paddles (7-8 ounces) are easier to move and allow faster reactions, while heavier paddles (8-12 ounces) provide more power and stability. Players who like to play with finesse may choose lighter paddles, while those who rely on power may choose heavier paddles.

Handle and Grip Size

The grip size of a pickleball paddle affects comfort and control during play. Choosing a grip size that feels good and allows for proper wrist movement is important. Grips are usually available in sizes ranging from 4 inches to 4 3/4 inches in circumference. Generally, people with smaller hands should use smaller grips, and people with larger hands should use larger grips.

Edge Guard

 An edge guard is a protective strip around the edge of the paddle face. It guards the paddle against harm from contact with the ground or other paddles. Some paddles don't have edges, which gives them a bigger hitting area but makes them more likely to get damaged.


The material of a pickleball paddle's core affects how it plays. Common core materials are aluminum, polymer, and Nomex. Aluminum cores offer a good balance of power and control, while polymer cores are known for their quietness and soft play.

Surface Texture

The surface texture of a pickleball paddle, which can be made of carbon fiber, composite, or graphite, affects spin and control. Some paddles have a smooth surface, while others have a textured or rough surface to increase spin. Your preferred surface texture depends on your playing style and skill level.

The core of Pickleball Paddles

Polymer/Polypropylene Core

The most common core in pickleball paddles is called "poly," "polymer," or "polypropylene." These cores are suitable for all level pickleball players because they are made of a flexible and, most importantly, noise-reducing plastic blend arranged in large honeycomb cells. They offer a soft touch, better control, and the quietest performance of the core options.

Key benefits of polymer core pickleball paddles include:

  • Gentle feeling
  • The best touch
  • Low noise

Nomex core

Nomex is a manufactured material that is strong, durable, and resistant to heat and flame. DuPont produced a type of aromatic polyamide, also known as an aramid, in the early 1960s. Its chemical name is poly(m-phenylene isophthalamide).

Nomex is used as a core material in pickleball paddles. A paddle's core greatly affects how well it works, and Nomex is one of the most popular materials used to make paddles.

Nomex cores are made by putting a honeycomb structure made of DuPont's Nomex paper into a phenolic resin and then curing it under heat and pressure. This creates a lightweight, rigid, and strong core with the following qualities:

Reactivity: Nomex cores are known for their reactivity, which gives the ball a crisp, lively feel when it's hit.

Power: Paddles with Nomex cores have more power than those with other core materials. This makes them suitable for players who put a lot of emphasis on power in their game.

Durability: Nomex cores are strong and last long, making a paddle that can be used often and take hits.

Sound: When the ball hits a paddle with a Nomex core, it makes a louder, more unique "pop" sound. Some players like this, but it might not be suitable for places where noise is a problem.

Aluminum core

You might also find pickleball paddles with aluminum cores. These cores are light and have a honeycomb design. Because of their lightweight, aluminum core paddles are suitable for young players or people who are just starting in the sport.

The Thickness of a paddle

The Thickness of a pickleball paddle is another important thing to consider when choosing the right one for you. Paddle thickness can greatly affect how the paddle performs and feels during a game. Generally, paddle thickness ranges from about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) to 0.6 inches (15.24 mm), and they can be divided into three groups: thin, medium, and thick.

Generally, a thicker core makes the ball feel softer and gives you more control, while a thinner core makes the ball feel firmer when it hits and gives you more strength.

Thin Paddles:

Thin paddles are usually between 0.25 and 0.35 inches (6.35 to 8.9 mm) thick. They are best for players who want to put a lot of force behind their shots, making it harder for their opponents to return the ball. However, thin paddles tend to have less control and touch, which may not be suitable for players who rely on finesse and precise shot placement.

Medium Paddles: 

Medium-thickness paddles are between 0.35 and 0.5 inches (8.9 to 12.7 mm) thick. They offer a good mixture of power and control, so many players choose them.

Thick Paddles: 

Thick paddles are usually between 0.5 and 0.6 inches (12.7 to 15.24 mm) thick. They are suitable for players with a soft touch and a finesse style because they give more feel and make it easier to place shots precisely. However, they usually have little power, which can be bad for players who want to hit powerful shots.

Paddle Surface

Carbon Fiber Weave, Graphite, and Fiberglass Composite are the three most common surfaces for pickleball paddles. When paired with a core material, each surface gives a performance profile unique to each player's style and skills.

Carbon fiber

Carbon fiber surfaces are the most expensive, most durable, and lightest. When properly bonded to a honeycomb core, Carbon Fiber weave (a fabric before attachment to a honeycomb core) is strong, long-lasting, advanced, and visually distinctive. It gives great ball control but may lose some power compared to other surfaces.

Fiberglass Composite

Composite paddle faces use cutting-edge aerospace composite material technology. The number of composite surfaces is growing in the industry, which makes them easier to play with. These paddles have a great mix of touch, feel, and strength. The Composite surface has more power than the other two surfaces.


Graphite paddle surfaces are very thin, about the Thickness of a fingernail. They are light and responsive while being hard and sturdy. Players like the quick action off the Graphite face.

Paddle shape

There are many forms for paddles, like long, slightly long, rectangle, and teardrop.

  1. The Elongated shape is usually about 16.5 inches long and 7.5 inches wide. This style gives you more reach, power, and spin, but the sweet spot is smaller and harder to move around than with other shapes.
  2. Broad-Faced Designs: These paddles have a face about 8.5 inches wide and a length of about 15.5 inches. This gives them a larger sweet spot and makes them easier to handle, but they need more reach and power.
  3. This Traditional paddle type is usually about 16 inches long and 8 inches wide. This style is a good compromise between long and wide paddles because it gives you a good mix of power, spin, forgiveness, and maneuverability.

How does the shape affect my choice of paddle?

You'll be fine if the shape works with the core and facing. For example, if you want an elongated paddle for more reach and power, look for one with a carbon fiber facing to help make the sweet spot bigger. If you have an elongated paddle with a fiberglass face, both parts of the paddle will make the sweet spot smaller, which may not be the best combination.

Paddle weight

Most paddles weigh between 7 and 8.5 ounces. Anything between 7 and 7.6 ounces is called lightweight, 7.6 to 8.2 ounces is called midweight, and anything over 8.2 ounces is called heavyweight. Different brands may have slightly different weight ranges for each category, but this gives you a general idea.

How does the weight of the paddle change my choice?

Lighter paddles are easier to move around, which can help when going back and forth quickly with opponents at the net. However, it would be best if you hit harder to get more power from a lighter paddle.

Because there is more mass behind the ball, heavier paddles don't need as much force to generate power. This is especially helpful when dinking since shorter swings reduce mistakes and let you get back to a ready position more quickly.

Heavier paddles are more stable when hit and less likely to wobble if the ball hits near the paddle's edge. This makes the game more consistent and reduces mistakes.

Players often add lead tape to the edge guard of a paddle to make it heavier. You can always add some lead tape if you have a smaller paddle and want it to be heavier.


The length of the handle can be between 4.5 and 6 inches. Since the total length and width of the paddle cannot be more than 24 inches, adding length to the handle decreases the surface area of the paddle face.

  • More power and spin can be made with longer handles.
  • Less experienced players usually have more power with shorter, wider paddles because it's hard to hit the middle of the paddle regularly.

How does the length of the handle change my choice of paddle?

Some players like to hold the paddle with both hands, while others only use one. Some players use both hands for backhand drives but only one hand when they are close to the net.

If you always use both hands, the handle should be at least 5.25 inches long and longer. A normal handle length of 5 inches should be fine if you never use both hands.

What size grip is best for playing pickleball?

How the paddle's handle fits in your hand is the most important thing to consider when choosing a paddle. After all, your hand is the only part of your body that connects you to the game. 

A paddle with a bigger or wider handle gives you more stability and puts less pressure on your arm than a smaller handle.

Smaller handles give you more control over your shots and make it easier to spin the paddle than a big handle. Smaller handles also make it easier to switch hands while you play.

To help you choose, remember that if you buy a paddle with a smaller handle, you can briefly build it up with overgrips or tape, but it's almost impossible to make a large handle smaller.

The ruler test is a good way to start figuring out what size handle you need. Just open your hand, spread your fingers, and line up a ruler horizontally to your ring finger, with the end of the ruler in line with the middle crease of your palm.

Most people's hands are between 4 and 5 inches long from the tip of the ring finger to the middle crease. Your handle size is based on how long your hand is. 

The index finger test is another way to determine which handle size will work best for you. Hold the handle with your dominant hand so that the knuckle of your index finger and the heel pad of your playing hand sit on the same bevel that matches the paddle's face. 

Now, slide your free hand's middle finger between the handle and the tip of your ring finger holding the handle. The space there tells you which one you want. 

If there is too much or too little room, the paddle handle is too big or too small for you. If it fits snugly, it is the right size.

After fitting yourself, remember that it is easier to adjust a smaller grip to your changing handle problems by adding an overgrip to the handle. Again, it is hard to make the handle smaller, and a larger handle can cause arm fatigue. 


When choosing the right pickleball paddle, it's important to consider core materials, surface materials, paddle shapes, handle lengths, and weights. Each of these things greatly impacts how you play and how well you do on the court. Remember that every player has different needs and preferences, so finding a paddle that fits your skills and playstyle is important.

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