How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle - Buying Guide
At JustPaddles, we want to help answer the question: what pickleball paddle should I buy so you can purchase the perfect pickleball paddle! Below you will find a complete guide to choosing the best pickleball paddle for you. From grip size to the hitting surface and everything in between, let's dive in.
The three (3) most important factors to consider when determining how to pick a pickleball paddle.
- Grip Size
- Paddle Weight
- Paddle Shape
Once you’ve determined those three, you can move on to determining the hitting surface and core that best fit your game.
- Core Material
- Hitting Surface
Selecting a Grip Size
Pickleball grip sizes are measured in circumference, the distance around the grip. You can find pickleball paddles in three different categories:
- Thin Grip Pickleball Paddles (3 5/8" - 4 1/8")
- Standard Grip Pickleball Paddles (4 1/4" - 4 3/8")
- Thick Grip Pickleball Paddles (4 1/2"+)
The smaller the grip, the more potential range of motion in your wrist, resulting in the ability to potentially generate more spin and power.
Determine the best grip for you by picking up a paddle. If the grip size is correct, you should be able to place the pointer finger on your opposite hand between your fingertips and your palm. If your fingertips are touching, the grip is likely too small. If you can fit more than one finger between your fingertips and palm, the grip is too big. (Keep in mind when choosing a grip size, grips can always be built larger by adding an overgrip.) If you are in between sizes, we recommend going with a smaller grip.
Selecting a Paddle Weight
There are many factors to consider when you are selecting the weight of a pickleball paddle. The most common weight option and best fit for the majority of players will be the middleweight class. However, lightweight and heavyweight paddles have their benefits for certain types of players as well. Paddles from the manufacturer typically weigh between 7oz and 8.5oz.
Here is a quick overview of paddle weights and what to look for:
Lightweight Pickleball Paddles: (7.0-7.4oz)
Light paddles are geared toward players looking for maneuverability and paddle speed.
- Swing speed
Middleweight Pickleball Paddles: (7.5-8.4oz)
The midweight group of paddles is the most popular weight group because of its versatility. Combining power, stability, and maneuverability, the majority of paddles are produced in this weight class due to their demand.
- Balance of power and maneuverability
Heavyweight Pickleball Paddles: (8.5oz+)
Heavy paddles offer both power and stability. With the extra mass, heavy paddles have a higher potential for added power, plow through, and stability.
- Plow through
Most Popular Paddle Weights by Player Style
(7.4oz. and lighter)Shop Now
(7.5 - 8.4oz.)Shop Now
(8.5oz. and heavier)Shop Now
Selecting a Core
You will hear of several different cores when learning about pickleball paddles.
The loudest and hardest of core materials, nomex core paddles are great for a player looking for added power that’s not concerned with the noise level of their paddles.
A lightweight and soft material, aluminum core paddles are a lightweight option that benefits touch players.
- Soft feel
The newest and most popular of the cores, polymer is a soft and quiet plastic blend. The majority of pickleball paddles you find will have a polymer core, and for good reason. Polymer core paddles are light, durable, offer superior touch, and are the quietest paddles on the market.
- Soft feel
Selecting a Hitting Surface
When selecting a core, you will see many different technologies. You’ll see proprietary blends, patented technologies, and maybe even some scientific words that you can barely pronounce! Here’s a breakdown of the basics and what you need to know.
This “new-age” material can be found in race cars, spaceships, tennis racquets, and many other industries. But in pickleball terms, it allows a paddle to remain lightweight while providing stiffness, which translates into power.
Composite hitting surfaces are generally a combination of at least two materials, providing a great balance of power and control. Considered the most popular of the hitting surfaces due to its combination of power, control, and durability, most of the paddles you will find in the market have a composite hitting surface.
- Combination of power and control
Paddles with graphite hitting surfaces are often on the lighter side, due to graphite’s very light nature. Graphite paddles are best known for having the softest touch and most control of any hitting surface.
- Soft feel
A combination of two different materials to enhance power, spin, touch, or control. Hybrid hitting surfaces are often put together to manufacture the best of two sought after aspects of paddles; whether that be power and spin, power and control.
- Combination of power, control, and spin
- Players looking for a more powerful shot, like long hard shots off serves, and who like to play around the baseline tend to prefer heavier paddles.
- Players who prefer control and like to spend time around the net with dinks, and spin, typically are best off with a lightweight paddle
- Players that are unsure on what style of play they prefer, are beginners of the sport, or like a mix of control and power, typically prefer a middleweight paddle.
- The combination of the grip size and weight will be the two main factors in determining the player's overall experience with their paddle.
- Make sure the feel of the paddle is what is desired by the player. Generally speaking, most pickleball players will be attracted to middleweight paddles. However, as players get more experienced they may turn into more of a power-hitting player or more of a finesse/control player.
- Learn the governing body certification that your paddle will need before you begin shopping. The USAPA is the main governing body right now, but not all leagues or tournaments will require this certification.
You've Discovered How to Pick a Pickleball Paddle and Chosen your Paddle! What's Next?
Use your paddle as much as possible. Take it to hit on the court, to your driveway, or take it to your next tournament. Make sure that you are confident from the moment you step onto the court for your first game.
Our Paddle Experts at JustPaddles want to help! They can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can chat with them through the live chat feature. And lastly, they can take your toll-free call at 1-866-382-3465.