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Pickleball Paddle Or Racket? Experts Explain

pickleball paddle vs. pickleball rackets

What is one phrase in pickleball that makes you cringe? For us, it’s ‘pickleball racket!’ The phrase has always made our skin crawl but then, we took a moment to consider the question - are pickleball paddles really rackets? 

Do you call it a “pickleball paddle” or a “pickleball racket?” 

This is somewhat up for debate in the pickleball world as many players are coming from similar, but very different sports. Many players transition to America’s fastest growing sport from either tennis or table tennis, which seems to be the source of this naming confusion. Often heard by players coming from tennis, the phrase “pickleball racket” is heard across pickleball courts but, is it wrong?

In our opinion, yes - in pickleball, you use a paddle. For more context, let’s look back to 1965, on Bainbridge Island when pickleball was first being played (check out our blog on The History of Pickleball for more information on the sport’s start). Pickleball was first played as a combination of table tennis and badminton.

Table tennis, as you know, uses a paddle while badminton uses a racket. Although this is a combination of the two sports, it was determined that the badminton racket would not be conducive to the dinking side of pickleball so the  creators of pickleball used their ping pong paddles. The hard, wood surface created the force needed to slam the ball or to dink it just over the net. These hard, wooden ping pong paddles didn’t have the reach needed for a full court game, so what did they do? Improvised and made their own wood pickleball paddles that were very similar to ping pong paddles, but with a larger surface area for reach and playability. This pushed the game even further and as room for innovation grew,  more and more companies wanted to try their hand at pickleball. Big-name tennis racket brands from HEAD to Babolat have expanded beyond the racket and are trying to make their mark on the new sport. 

So back to the original question, are pickleball paddles rackets? 

Ultimately, this will come down to who you ask out on the court. For some, a “pickleball racket” may be the term that is used to describe their paddle of choice and that’s okay as long as they are out on the court having fun and growing the sport we love! 


Looking for the perfect pickleball paddle? There are hundreds of paddles on the market, which is why we have an entire page dedicated to Pickleball Paddle Reviews! If you need more information, give us a call at 1-866-382-3465, email us (, or utilize our LIVE CHAT to speak with a Paddle Expert today. We’re JustPaddles, and we’re with you from Click to Court!

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