New to pickleball or looking to get in the game? We are so glad you’re joining the fastest growing sport in the US right now. Pickleball is both a fun and challenging sport that can keep you active for years to come. There are many paddles on the market and choosing the right one can be confusing, so we’ve put together this guide to give you the basics and help you understand what to look for as a beginner.
There are a few important factors to consider when choosing a pickleball paddle:
- Grip Size
- Core Material
- Shape & Thickness
- Surface Material
Weight of the Paddle
Choosing a pickleball paddle’s weight can be tricky, yet this is one of the most important factors to consider when buying your first pickleball paddle. Heavy paddles produce more power but can also make the game less comfortable. Ultimately, the ideal weight is a matter of personal preference.
When it comes to paddle weight, there are 3 types of paddles:
- Lightweight Paddles - 7.4 ounces and under. Offer the most control but less power. These are generally used by experienced players with very fast arm speeds that need precision. Also good for those with medical issues with their hands, wrists, or elbows.
- Midweight Paddles - 7.5 – 8.4 ounces. Offers a balance between power and control and are the most common paddles.
- Heavyweights - 8.4 ounces and over. Offer the most power and depth, but sacrifice control and can be difficult to use for dinks and touch shots.
We recommend starting around 7.8 ounces if you’re unsure which paddle weight to pick. When selecting a pickleball paddle you want to make sure you can easily swing it back and forth without feeling like it’s too heavy. Playing with a paddle that is too heavy will put unnecessary strain on your arm.
Paddle Grip Size
The next factor to consider when looking at how to choose a pickleball paddle is the size of the grip.
To find out the size of your grip, it is helpful to have a measuring tape handy. If you don’t have a measuring tape handy, you can use a ruler. Place the ruler on the bottom horizontal crease of your palm. Now measure the distance between your ring finger and the middle crease of your palm. This measurement should be close to your optimum grip size.
A good paddle must fit your hands well. Most paddles only come with one grip size. Most paddle manufacturers don’t offer a full range of sizes, but you can always measure your hands to get an idea of the correct size.
If you are unsure of what to choose, here are the standard recommendations:
- Smaller Hand: grips size 4 1/8 inches or smaller
- Average Hand: grip size 4 1/8 – 4 3/8 inches
- Large Hand: grip size 4 3/8 inches or larger
Paddle Shape & Thickness
For beginner pickleball players, using a paddle with a larger surface (8″ wide body) is a plus. Larger paddles provide a larger sweet spot, which makes it easier to hit the ball in the center of the paddle.This results in more consistent shots. Thicker paddles offer softer feel and more control while still providing sufficient power. Thicker cores absorb more energy, which in turn provides vibration dampening, touch and stability. If unsure, start with a thicker core around 14-16 millimeters until you are more experienced.
Thinner paddles (less than 14 millimeters), on the other hand, offer more power and response. These paddles typically have a smaller sweet spot, firmer feel and are more common among experienced players who want extra pop.
Paddle Surface & Core Material
Here is where the technology of pickleball paddles comes into play. Understanding the different types of materials used in pickleball paddles can be confusing, but if you’re not sure which core is best for you know that polymer honeycomb core is by far the most popular.
Three Common Core Materials
- Polymer (also called polypropylene or honeycomb) pickleball paddles are typically industry standard and they are lightweight, powerful, and provide a softer feel when making contact with the ball.
- Nomex is also a honeycomb-structured material that is used in different industries. It is known for being lightweight, strong, and ability to resist heat. In the pickleball world, Nomex is often used in paddle cores because it provides a good balance of power and control. It also offers a smooth feel and is quieter than polypropylene cores.
- Aluminum cores are typically lighter and are great for beginners or juniors and players who prefer a lighter paddle, but they have very low levels of power.
Three Common Surface Materials
- Graphite is considered the lightest surface material and allows for the most control and softest touch. This surface is typically used by competitive players who need extra power.
- Carbon Fiber is the strongest and most durable and usually least amount of texture so great for maximum touch and control.
- Composite / Fiberglass is a combination of 2 or more materials allowing for a good balance of control and power. Typically less durable but are the most common surfaces.
There are of course additional factors like handle length and the price, but ultimately how you play, your physical condition, and comfort determines what works better for you. As you progress in skill the fit could also change.
We have put together an all around pickleball paddle and ball set that introduces you to the sport without breaking the bank. It is made with higher quality construction of polymer honeycomb core with graphite surface in medium weight, plus a large sweet spot so it is easier for you to develop a love for the game. The set also comes with both indoor and outdoor pickleballs and a carrying bag to store everything in.