How to Pick a Pickleball Paddle
Say that three times fast! When it comes to choosing a pickleball paddle, there are various factors that need to be considered such as the weight, length, material, grip and edge guard. Whether you’re new to the sport or just need a refresher, this article will help you decide on the best pickleball paddle for you!
Weight is a huge determining factor when it comes to how much power vs. how much control you’ll have over the ball. Paddles typically range from nearly 7 ounces to about 14 ounces with those on the lighter end being better for maneuverability and greater control, and those on the heavier end are better for power and drive.
While players just starting out in the game may prefer a lighter or heavier paddle for one reason or another, we typically recommend that experts find that optimal balance between power and control by choosing a paddle that’s around 8 ounces.
Regulations for pickleball paddles are decided based upon the total length of the paddle and the widest point, which combined cannot exceed 24 inches. For this reason, most oversized or wide-body paddles will add length to the face of the paddle by shortening the handle. However, there are some paddles out there that are narrower and therefore longer.
Unless you’re a pro who can hit the ball just right, a longer paddle will just make it a bit harder to maneuver and can decrease your accuracy.
Pickleball paddles are made of either graphite, composite or wood. Graphite is typically the highest quality and is lightweight while offering a lot of power. Composite is of mid-range quality while wood is both the most durable and the least expensive.
Another aspect to consider is the core. A paddle’s core can help make it both lighter and stronger at the same time. An excellent example of one is the polymer honeycomb core, which is considered one of the strongest (but also softest) cores available on the market.
In general, larger grips can provide more stability, while smaller grips offer better control. Before we get into the sizing, it’s important to note that you should choose an ergonomic no-slip grip. After all, you’ll be holding on to your paddle for long periods of time – through lots of sweat!
So when it comes to sizing, typically a 4.25 inch circumference grip is substantial for those of average height. Shorter people (under 5 foot 2) might consider a 4 inch grip and taller people (over 5 foot 9) might consider a 4.5 inch grip. However, when it comes down to it, the best way to test the sizing is to hold the paddle yourself.
The purpose of an edge guard is to protect your paddle, so at the end of the day you probably want to make sure yours has one (as long as it’s not too heavy!)
Once you’ve scoped out the perfect paddle, that’s it, right? Wrong. You will definitely have to buy a new paddle at some point if you play often enough.
When Should I Replace My Paddle?
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules for knowing when to replace your paddle – unless it somehow got bent or dented. Then definitely replace it. Wear and tear from normal usage, however, makes it a bit more difficult to know where to draw the line.
There are typically two things to look for when trying to spot a “dead” paddle: the sound and the feel. This can be tricky, but if you’ve been playing enough to wear out your paddle, you’re probably pretty in tune with it. If you notice a change in sound when the ball connects with your paddle, you could have a dead spot. Likewise, if it just feels different than it used to, buy a new one. Finally, if you notice the face wearing off, it might be time to get a new paddle!
During the game your paddle is like an extension of you, so making sure you have the best option for your needs is crucial! Don’t be afraid to ask others for questions or to experiment with different paddles on your quest to becoming a pickleball champ.