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How to choose a pickleball paddle


What's the secret to playing your best pickleball and having as much fun as possible on court? It might just be choosing the paddle that's right for you and your game. That's true whether you're new to pickleball or more advanced. While there's plenty to think about, there's no need to feel overwhelmed by all the choice. Our guide will hopefully answer any questions you might have and help you to choose wisely. 


What should I be thinking about when selecting a pickleball paddle? 

The weight, as well as the shape, the materials used and the grip size, as well as whether you want an edge guard or not to protect against bumps and scrapes.


What's the best weight for a paddle? 

When shopping for a new paddle, the first thing to consider is whether you want it to be light, medium or heavy. The weight will have a large effect on your game and could help you to avoid any pain or injuries, such as tennis elbow. Everyone's different, and you might have a personal preference for a particular weight, but here are some reasons why you might go for light, medium or heavy. 



If you're new to pickleball, you might wish to use a lighter paddle as you'll probably find it easier to play with. But a light paddle isn't just for beginners. It will enhance your control, which might suit your game if you're more into touch, accuracy and clever shots than playing with lots of power. A lighter paddle also tends to be popular in doubles, where you tend to need touch more than power.


But there are downsides, the main one being that it doesn't offer as much power, which could be a problem if you feel as though you don't have enough pop on your shots. If you're using a paddle that's too light for you, you could up swinging too quickly and mistime your shot, even missing the ball entirely, which won't get you anywhere. 



If you play with a combination of power and control, you should consider a mid-weight paddle, which could be ideal for your varied game.



For more power, choose a heavier paddle, though that comes with reduced control and touch. Singles players, who often prioritize power over touch, tend to go for a heavy paddle. But if you choose a paddle that's too heavy, that could potentially have a negative impact on your game as you might not always be able to control the direction of your shots. Remember it’s tiring playing with a paddle that's too heavy, and it also adds to the risk of getting pain in your wrist and arm. 


Which shape of pickleball paddle has the biggest sweetspot? 

The shape of a paddle has a significant effect on how it performs, including the size of the sweetspot.



A standard paddle can be ideal for beginners as it offers a large hitting surface and a blend of control and touch. Also known as a wide body paddle. 



Longer and narrower than a standard paddle, and popular with singles players, an elongated paddle offers more power, spin and reach, but reduced control. 


With longer handles 

If you have a two-handed backhand, you might be more comfortable using a paddle with a longer handle, which can easily accommodate both hands. But it will tend to have a smaller paddle face. 



With a longer hitting surface, an oversized paddle offers  the largest sweetspot, which makes it more forgiving. To keep a paddle within the regulations - the length plus the width cannot exceed 24 inches - it will tend to have a shorter handle.


What's better, a graphite or fiberglass pickleball paddle? And which type of paddle helps to generate more spin? 

Paddles come in different materials: wood, graphite and composite - fiberglass or carbon fiber.



While cheaper and more durable, paddles made from wood tend to be heavy, so if you're looking for a midweight or even lightweight paddle, you'll need to choose a different material. 



If you like playing with a lot of spin, you might favor a paddle with a carbon fiber surface, as the texture allows you to put more spin on the ball. If you are looking for additional power, a paddle with a fiberglass surface would be the best choice. Both are usually lighter than wooden paddles, making them easier to swing and play with.


You also have a decision to make about the material in the core of your paddle. Aluminum is a popular choice as it is strong and light, and offers control and allows you to swing easily, but you might not have the same power as a heavier core. One popular alternative is a Nomex honeycomb core, which provides a blend of power and control, as well as durability. Or you might prefer a polymer core, which is soft, enhances control, and is also quieter when you hit the ball. 



As well as being lightweight and easy to play with, a graphite paddle will offer superior touch, for a solid performance. Like composite paddles, graphite paddles come with a choice of core constructions. 


How do you make sure you have the right sized grip when choosing a pickleball paddle?

It's important to play with the right grip size as if it's too big or much too small for your hand that could lead to pain and injuries, and you also won’t have optimal control of the paddle. As with all the decisions you have to make when choosing a pickleball paddle, it comes down to what feels right for you, and you should try out some different sizes. If you feel as though you're between sizes, you should probably go for the smaller of the two. A smaller grip will tend to offer more control and spin, and you always have the option of increasing the size using extra grips. 


There are a couple of methods that could help you choose the correct size, the first of which is the index finger test. Pick up and grip the paddle in your usual way. If there isn't room to put the index finger of your non-hitting hand between the palm and fingertips of your hitting hand, your grip is too small. But if there is lots of space, your grip could be too large. Another method is to measure the distance between the top of the ring finger and the middle crease in your palm; that gives you an indication of the size you need.


Do you need an edge guard on a paddle?

While an edge guard will protect against damage to your paddle, some players prefer not to have one as it creates a lip on the edge. If you make contact with the ball on that lip, you might not have full control of your shot.


What's a good beginner's pickleball paddle?

When you're new to the game, it's best to have a light or medium weight paddle, rather than one that’s too heavy. As for shape, a standard or wide body paddle is a good choice as it has a large sweetspot. If you feel as though you're going to be playing a fair amount, you might wish to play with a composite or graphite paddle rather than a wooden one, and an edge guard will help to extend its lifetime.

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