Pickleball paddles have come a long way since the first paddle was invented back in the 1960s. From wood to the same material used on rocket ships, the evolution of pickleball paddles from the inside out has been incredible. For about 40 years, pickleball hung back in the shadows, seen in some school gym classes around the country, but very few courts existed and even less progression was being made in paddle technologies. Then something happened. Somebody lit the fuse on the short wick of pickleball, and boom! The explosion began. Fast forward to today, and pickleball paddles feature materials used in spaceships, race cars, military pilot uniforms, high-performance sporting equipment, and so much more. You’ll see a paddle’s hitting surface feature fiberglass composites, high-grade graphites, top-performing carbon fibers, and other high-performance materials that offer maximum deflection, control, and spin. But what’s inside these ball-bashing, gritty, slicing, sharp-looking paddles? Let's dive in.
The most common core in pickleball paddles is what players call “Poly” or “Polymer” or “Polypropylene.” These cores offer everything pickleball players need at any level. A soft, flexible (and maybe most importantly, quiet) plastic blend designed in large honeycomb cells that offers soft-touch, maximum control, and is the quietest of current core options. The vast majority of paddles you’ll see, whether it’s at your local courts or a pro event, will be polymer core paddles. At a high level, benefits of polymer core pickleball paddles include:
- Soft feel
- Provides the most touch
Pro tip: If you’re unsure of what core you might like, we’d recommend you try a poly core paddle.
Another great option for paddle cores is Nomex, a harder material known for providing power and durability. Nomex cores are made of a material similar to cardboard, yet it’s more durable and resistant. Dipped in a resin to create a hard material with a small honeycomb design, Nomex cores were the first material used in high-performance pickleball paddles. Since Nomex is harder than Polymer, they are often louder but can be more powerful. Pickleball paddles with Nomex cores are typically great options for players looking for speed and power if noise is not a concern.
Pro tip: If you’re playing in a neighborhood or within earshot of houses, you might want to steer in the direction of a Polymer core paddle. At a high level, the benefits of nomex core pickleball paddles include:
You may also come across aluminum-core pickleball paddles on JustPaddles. Aluminum cores feature a lightweight feel and a honeycomb design. The lightweight nature of aluminum-core pickleball paddles makes it a good option for a junior player or someone just getting into the game.
Pro tip: Aluminum paddles are a good option for beginners or junior-level players. But, if you’re planning on playing often, it may not be the best fit as your game progresses.
Regardless of your playstyle, Polymer and Nomex are both good options for any level of player. If you need a dink in the right direction, utilize our Paddle Buying Guide to learn more about how to choose the best pickleball paddle for you. Or, spin on over to our Paddle Coach. Simply answer a few questions and we'll curate a list of paddles perfect for you. If you still need help, our Paddle Experts are standing by! Give us a call at 866-382-3465, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to live chat. We're JustPaddles, and we're with you from Click To Court!