Pickleball Paddle Guide
There are hundreds of paddles to choose from. Your playing style will guide you to the type of paddle that makes the most sense for you. If you can generate enough power on your own, you may want to choose a soft-playing paddle that gives you control. Or you may want to emphasize your own strength and choose a paddle that increases your own power. Conversely, if you are a control player, you want a paddle that hits hard and helps you hit the ball away. Or, you may be looking for a paddle with high control to place the ball exactly where you intend. In the end, all paddles have some elements of power and control, and our pickleball paddle guide is designed to help you find the right blend for your style of play.
Power vs. control
Pickleball paddles are an important part of the game and can be affected by a variety of factors. Manufacturers use different materials and technologies to give the paddles certain characteristics in terms of power and control. The combination of all these factors determines the paddle's playability on the court. The most important factors that affect power and control include paddle shape, paddle core, paddle surface, paddle grip and paddle weight. By selecting the right paddle and the right combination of these factors, players can take their game to the next level
- Paddle shape (The length plus the width must not exceed 60.96 centimeters).
- Paddle core (Including material type, density and thickness)
- Paddle Surface (Including material type, number of layers and finish/texture)
- Paddle Grip (Including length and circumference)
- Paddle weight (Many paddles are offered in different weight ranges)
-> Shop here for Power Paddles
-> Shop Control Paddles here
Pickleball Paddle Shape
The shape of the paddle has a big impact on playability and ultimately influences the size, placement and shape of the so-called sweet spot. Manufacturers all work within the paddle shape specifications set by the USA Pickleball Association.
- Size: The combined length and width, including any edge reinforcement and end cap, shall not exceed 60.96 cm. Paddle length shall not exceed 43.18 cm. There is no restriction on paddle thickness.
- In general, the longer and narrower a paddle is, the higher the sweet spot will be on the paddle face. A higher sweet spot means it's farther from your hand (greater leverage) and therefore contact on the paddle face is quicker when it hits the ball. All of this leads to more power!
Other factors that influence the size of the sweet spot are:
- Rounding of the paddle corners leads to a larger and more consistent sweet spot.
- Increase in paddle area - a shorter handle and longer paddle area will increase the size of the sweet spot.
Pickleball paddle core
The most important factors affecting the performance of a racket from a core perspective are material and thickness.
Most rackets are made with a polymer honeycomb core. The harder the polymer used, the more energy is absorbed by the core. More absorption results in a larger sweet spot and a more consistent feel across the club face (better control). The softer or more flexible the core, the more energy is returned to the ball, creating more pop (increased power). A Nomex racket core is a different material that, although quite hard, has different properties and adds some power. However, Nomex is somewhat rarely found in pickleball racquets these days because it is not as durable as polymer honeycomb cores.There is no regulation that governs racquet thickness. The bat thickness works much like the material. The thicker a core is, the more energy is absorbed (better control). The thinner the core, the more energy is returned to the ball (increased power).
There are some less common ways cores are constructed to affect racquet performance. Solid Span Technology (SST), for example, uses graphite for the core. Some racquets use a hybrid of materials to dampen performance. And some manufacturers use dampening materials in the core to change the placement, size and shape of the sweet spot, resulting in slight differences in racket feel.
Pickleball Paddle Material
The material of the paddle is important in determining the power and control characteristics of your pickleball paddle. It again determines the amount of energy absorbed or returned by the ball. Since the paddle's striking surface is the largest part of the paddle and makes direct contact with the ball, it contributes significantly to the paddle's performance. Graphite and carbon fiber are harder materials and absorb energy, allowing the ball to linger a bit longer on the hitting surface and giving you a sense of greater control over the placement of the stroke. Fiberglass, on the other hand, is a softer material that flexes and creates a trampoline effect that returns more energy to the ball. This results in more power behind your shots.The face material is also important in improving spin. Most of the spin on a ball is generated by the player and the path of his stroke. A paddle enhances spin in two ways: friction or grip. The coarser a club surface is, the more friction it generates (think coarse-grained off-road tires). Adhesion occurs when the clubface is smooth but sticky. This causes the paddle to "grip" the ball and add spin (think smooth race car tires). USA Pickleball tests paddle hitting surfaces to ensure they are within regulatory limits for roughness and grip.
Pickleball paddle handle
The length of the handle is important in determining how far up the paddle surface and how far away from your hand the sweet spot is. The longer the handle, the higher the sweet spot. As mentioned earlier, a high sweet spot means the paddle head will move faster on contact with the ball, which means more power. A shorter handle not only moves the sweet spot further down the paddle face (closer to your hand), but it can also create a large surface area that increases the sweet spot and makes the paddle's power more consistent across the face (better control).
Pickleball paddle weight
The weight of a paddle has a great influence on power and control. The heavier a paddle is, the more power it can deliver. The lighter a paddle is, the faster you can position it for your next stroke, resulting in an increase in stroke control. The secret is to find the weight that suits you best. If a paddle is too heavy, it can cause injury to your arm. If a paddle is too light and you have to swing harder to put power behind your strokes, it can also lead to injury.
Therefore, the optimal swing weight is different for each player. It is the weight at which you swing a paddle that does not interfere with hand speed or cause you to overexert yourself to generate power. For most players, this is somewhere between 210 and 235 grams. Therefore, the best way to determine the right swing weight for you is to test many paddle weights or experiment with weight (like lead tape) on your paddle.