How To Choose a Pickleball Paddle

If you're interested in playing pickleball, you'll need a paddle to get started. Pickleball has become incredibly popular, attracting many manufacturers who offer various paddle options. With over 250 pickleball paddle manufacturers out there, choosing the right one can be overwhelming, whether you're a beginner or an experienced tournament player. In this guide, we'll break down the important factors to consider when selecting a pickleball paddle and provide insights into different paddle materials, weights, and their impact on gameplay.

 How To Choose a Pickleball Paddle

Firstly, it's essential to set some parameters, especially when it comes to pricing. Pickleball paddles can range in price from affordable to quite expensive. You can find wooden paddles at the lower end for around $25 to $35. As the materials change, the pricing increases. Paddles made with composite materials typically range from $40 to $100, while graphite paddles can cost anywhere between $90 and $200. Some high-end models even reach prices as high as $279.

Now let's delve into the key considerations when choosing a pickleball paddle.


The weight of a pickleball paddle plays a significant role in its performance on the court. Paddles come in different weights, typically ranging from 7 to 8.5 ounces. Lightweight paddles, weighing between 7 and 7.6 ounces, are favored by players who prioritize maneuverability. They excel in fast exchanges on the net. On the other hand, heavier paddles provide more power and stability, requiring less swing power due to their weight. They are particularly useful for executing precise shots like dinking. Heavy paddles also tend to be more stable upon impact, resulting in greater consistency. Remember that these weight classifications may vary slightly depending on the brand.

If you have a lighter paddle but prefer a heavier one, a common practice is to add lead tape to the edge guard to increase the weight.


The material used for the paddle face is a crucial factor that affects power, control, and the size of the sweet spot. There are three primary materials used for pickleball paddle faces: fiberglass, carbon fiber, and graphite. Let's explore each one:

Fiberglass (Composite): 

Once the most common material, fiberglass has now become less popular compared to carbon fiber and graphite. It offers the most power among the three materials. Fiberglass is less stiff, acting like a trampoline to transfer the ball's energy back to the paddle. However, its flexibility reduces the size of the sweet spot.

Carbon Fiber: 

Carbon fiber provides a better feel than fiberglass but sacrifices some power. It is an extremely stiff and durable material that spreads the energy of the ball throughout the paddle face and handle, resulting in a larger sweet spot and improved feel. However, less energy is transferred back to the ball, reducing power.


Graphite, a type of carbon fiber, is slightly more cost-effective for manufacturers but delivers similar performance to a carbon fiber face. It offers a better feel than a fiberglass face and generates a similar amount of power. In fact, during play, it can be challenging to distinguish between a graphite and carbon fiber face.


Some paddle brands combine these three materials to create a hybrid face that balances the strengths of each material.

Grip Size:

The grip size of the paddle should be comfortable for your hand size to prevent slips and maximize control. It's important to find a grip that feels natural and allows you to maintain a firm hold on the paddle throughout the game. Consider trying out different grip sizes to determine which one suits you best.

How Different Paddle Materials Affect Spin and Performance

When it comes to playing pickleball, generating spin is crucial, and the type of grit on your paddle plays a significant role in achieving it. There are two main types of paddle grit: spray-on or painted grit, which feels like sandpaper but tends to wear out quickly, and built-in grit, often referred to as raw carbon fiber, which lasts longer and produces more spin.

While the paddle core has the most impact on overall performance, the facing material also contributes to the paddle's characteristics. The choice of facing material depends on your playing style and personal preferences.

If you prefer a powerful paddle, you might consider a thinner poly core paired with a fiberglass face. The fiberglass face enhances power, but the thinner core sacrifices some control.

For greater control, a thicker poly core combined with a carbon fiber or graphite face is recommended. The stiffness of these materials results in less energy being transferred back to the ball, offering improved control.

If you want a balance of power and control, a thicker core with a fiberglass face is a suitable choice. The thicker core provides control, while the fiberglass face adds power for putting away shots effectively.

Pickleball Paddle Shapes

In pickleball, the shape of your paddle can significantly impact your game by affecting your ability to hit powerful shots, create spin, and move around the court smoothly. While the rules stipulate certain limits for paddle dimensions (such as length not exceeding 17 inches and total length and width not exceeding 24 inches, including edge guards and butt caps), manufacturers still have some flexibility when it comes to paddle shape.

Let's explore the three main paddle shapes and how they can influence your game:

1. Elongated Shapes: 

These paddles are longer and narrower, typically measuring around 16.5 inches long and 7.5 inches wide. The elongated shape offers players extended reach, more power, and increased spin potential. However, maneuverability is somewhat compromised, and the sweet spot is smaller compared to other shapes.

2. Widebody Shapes: 

As the name suggests, these paddles have a wider face, usually around 8.5 inches, and a shorter length of about 15.5 inches. This design provides players with the largest sweet spot, allowing for more forgiving shots. Widebody paddles offer high maneuverability, but players may sacrifice some reach and power in exchange.

3. Classic Shapes: 

The classic shape is the original paddle design and remains widely used today. It measures approximately 16 inches long and 8 inches wide, striking a balance between power, spin, forgiveness, and maneuverability. The classic shape sits between the elongated and widebody shapes, making it a popular choice for players of all skill levels.

What is the ideal grip size for pickleball?

When choosing a pickleball paddle, one of the most crucial factors to consider is how the handle fits in your hand. Your hand is the only point of contact between your body and the paddle during the game, so getting the right grip size is essential.

Paddles with larger or thicker handles provide stability and help alleviate pressure on your arm compared to paddles with smaller handles. This is because a larger handle distributes the force more evenly, reducing strain on your arm.

On the other hand, smaller handles offer better control over your shots and make it easier to apply spin to the ball. They also allow for quick hand-switching during play.

If you prefer a smaller handled paddle but are concerned about grip size, there are solutions available. You can use over-grips or tape to temporarily increase the size of the handle. However, it is almost impossible to downsize a large handle once you've purchased it.

You can start with the ruler test to determine the appropriate handle size. Open your hand and extend your fingers, then align a ruler parallel to your ring finger. The base or end of the ruler should be in line with the middle crease of your palm. Measure the length between the tip of your ring finger and the middle crease, which usually falls between 4 and 5 inches. This measurement will determine your handle size.

Another method is the index finger test. Hold the paddle with your dominant hand so that the knuckle of your index finger and the heel pad of your playing hand rest on the same bevel that matches the face of the paddle. Then, use the index finger of your free hand to slide it between the gap created by the handle and the tip of your ring finger while gripping the handle. The space you feel there indicates whether the handle size is too large or small for you. A snug fit indicates the correct paddle handle size.

Once you have determined the right grip size for you, keep in mind that it's easier to adjust a smaller grip to accommodate any changes in your hand size or comfort. You can add an overgrip to the handle for a more secure hold. However, reducing the size of a handle is difficult, and using a larger handle can lead to arm fatigue.

Pickleball Paddles for Beginner Players

If you're new to pickleball, using a paddle made of composite material with a wider hitting surface and a thicker handle can be beneficial. This paddle helps reduce strain on your arm, especially if it's not yet accustomed to the specific movements required in pickleball. And don't forget to have fun with the color choices available for your paddle, as pickleball is all about enjoyment!

Pickleball Paddles for Intermediate Players

By now, you've likely moved beyond the casual and social aspect of pickleball and started to embrace the competitive side of the game. As you continue to improve, it's time to consider upgrading your equipment to match your skill level. This means transitioning from a paddle with a wide-hitting surface to one with a longer surface. Additionally, you may need to adjust to a smaller handle size, which can be a significant change from the thicker handle you're used to. To make this transition smoother, you can use tape to provide a better grip and customize the handle size until you feel comfortable.

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