While many consider pickleball to be primarily a recreational activity, there are many who make a great living playing pickleball professionally. In fact, the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) hosts annual tournaments where the biggest names in the sport dink it out for hefty purses. Not to mention the sponsorship opportunities available. As both amateur and professional pickleball continues to explode in popularity, pro-designed pickleball paddles are also continuing to explode in popularity. One of the best things about pickleball and its gear is that professional pickleball players are oftentimes very involved with the development of their own paddles. Built to their preferred specs, these paddles are designed for optimal spin, power, touch, and feel. And as the sport continues to grow, so will the professionals and the paddles they use.
But who are these professional players, and what kind of pickleball paddles are they using? How are they different from pickleball paddles for beginners? Why should you get a top-tier paddle when there are great pickleball paddles under $50? Our Paddle Experts answer all these questions and more. Let’s start with a breakdown of the top pickleball players in the nation and which pickleball paddle brands they use.
TOP PICKLEBALL PROFESSIONALS & THEIR PADDLES
First things first, you can’t talk about professional pickleball players without mentioning Ben Johns. He was a young prodigy and currently the most dominant pickleball player in the nation. One of the biggest pickleball stories in 2022 was when Ben Johns signed a contract with a new (to pickleball) brand, JOOLA Pickleball. In April, JOOLA announced the signing of one of the biggest names in the game and released his brand new paddle, the JOOLA Hyperion CFS 16mm Ben Johns Signature. Ben Johns’s involvement with the construction of this heavyweight paddle ensures this paddle is built for pickleball from its face to its core.
Other notable features include:
- Elongated paddle shape
- Standard grip thickness of 4 1/4”
- Paddle length of 16 1/2”
- A core thickness of 16 mm
- Paddle width of 7 1/2”
Next up on our list of professionals is Tyson McGuffin. Perhaps the most electrifying player in pickleball plays with perhaps the most electrifying paddle in pickleball. The Selkirk VANGUARD Power Air Invikta is Tyson McGuffin’s go-to paddle and features an incredibly unique design that allows maximum swing speed and power, but holds strong in its control and offers the soft touch you expect from Selkirk. Want to put on a show whether you win or lose? Shop Tyson’s VANGUARD Power Air Invikta paddle.
A longtime pro, father to three, and Major champion, Tyson is an unparalleled talent in the pickleball world. His paddle, manufactured by Selkirk Sports, is created for the pro by the pro. Notable features include:
- Paddle weight of 7.8 - 8.2 ounces
- Paddle length of 16 1/2”
- Paddle width of 7 3/8”
- QuadFlex 4 Layer Hybrid Face
- SuperCore Polymer Honeycomb Core
Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters
This famous mother-daughter duo has been absolutely crushing doubles pickleball over the years. Their journey into the sport is one for the storybooks. For starters, they are the only mother-daughter team on the professional circuit and Anna Leigh is only fourteen years old! They recently shocked the pickleball community when the two of them upset Simone Jardim and Corrine Carr at the Florida Grand Slam. And which pickleball paddles did they use to do so, you ask? None other than the top brand of Paddletek. To be more precise, you can play like Anna Leigh by using her custom Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pro Middleweight at your next match.
ALW is perhaps the star with the brightest future in the sport of pickleball. Her partnership with Paddletek and the development of her own signature paddle ensure that this 15-year-old is a lock to be a relevant part of our sport for years to come! Anna’s signature paddle is a lightweight option that’s great for both singles and doubles. At 7.0-7.5 ounces and sporting a fiberglass-hitting surface and a high-grade polymer core, this lightning-fast paddle is one of the best values on the market. Other notable features include:
- Available in thin and standard grips
- Expanded playing surface with an extra-large sweet spot
- Standard paddle shape
- Paddle length of 16”
- Paddle width of 7 ⅞”
Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright
Top pros Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright don’t only play with the same paddle, they play on the same court with the same paddle! These absolute legends of the mixed pro draw share a lot of gold medals together, but also share a love for the Onix Evoke Premier Heavyweight paddle.This big hitter features a composite hitting surface, a poly core, and plenty of beef averaging in around 8.4 oz. (Just about half the weight of a gold medal!)
Jessie Irvine battles her way to the podium with the Engage Pursuit MX Middleweight paddle - one of the most popular paddles of the year that was built by one of the most well-known brands in the game. The MX model features a longer 5 3/4" handle length compared to the 5" handle on the EX model. This model also features the 1/2" thick core and middleweight design, which provides similar control and feel to the 5/8" core, but you get increased power.
A steady top performer you’ll find atop the PPA Tour rankings for the last several years. Her paddle of choice, only one of the most popular paddles in the history of Selkirk! The Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta optimizes from the first generation Project 002 providing additional control from the SuperCore, enhancing control 360 degrees and out-of-this-world aerodynamic and edge durability with Aero-DuraEdge Edgeless technology. A powerful paddle with a surprising amount of touch and a unique design, you’ll find the Vanguard Power Air Invikta in several pro players’ hands this season.
The full-time dubs partner and full-time brother of Ben Johns, Colin Johns performs on the biggest stages with his new JOOLA Collin Johns Scorpeus 16mm Middleweight Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle! The once Electrum Pro has joined the family tradtion of JOOLA Pickleball!
From tennis prodigy to pickleball pro, Parris Todd has made her way through the ranks as one of the most dominant forces on the pro pickleball circuit. Now featuring her own signature pickleball paddle from Selkirk, the Selkirk SLK Parris Todd Halo Control X! Add Style and performance to your game with Selkirk SLK Parris Todd Halo Control XL!
A passionate and fiery player from California, Julian has had a racquet in his hand almost his whole life. A lifelong tennis dream taking him to UCLA to play. A quick rise to the top of pickleball for only being in pickleball since 2021, Julian has made his fiery on-court nature a staple on the top pickleball courts. Julian uses his signature Volair MACH 1 14mm Middleweight Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle lined with the highest quality carbon fiber and a 14 mm core for a balance of power and control. Volair is built for the bold. Stand out, be different, be loud, be the wild card. Let your game do the talking, and let Volair put a (!) at the end of it. Andiamo!
Zane regularly teaches pickleball clinics across the country and is known for a teaching style that is both efficient and methodical, as well as engaging and fun. He has helped thousands of players improve their game through his clinics and private lessons. Zane is a part of the ProXR family and uses his signature ProXR Zane Navratil Middleweight Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle. An extended handle at 6'' and a superior T700 Raw Carbon Fiber packed with a 14 mm core will have players on their heels the whole match.
As mentioned earlier, the number of professional pickleball players will continue to increase over the years. And with that, more pro models will be coming out in the near future. Within the next couple of years, we expect to see more and more professional players with their own pickleball paddle and can’t wait to carry them all. If you’re on the hunt for a new paddle and aren't sure where to start, contact our Paddle Experts at any time. They’re available via phone at 866-382-3465, email at email@example.com, or live chat. Don’t forget, we’re here for you from Click To Court!