Choosing the Perfect Paddle for You

There are many manufacturers of pickleball paddles with more entering the market all the time as the popularity of the game continues to grow. These include such names as: Paddletek, Prolite, Head, Selkirk, Engage, Gamma, Franklin and Onix. A leading pickleball publication did a survey of its readers and came to the conclusion that the number one consideration was playability. Here is some information to help you with your choice.

Surface Material (Skin or Face)

The surface of the paddle is most commonly made of a fiberglass (reinforced plastic polymer) or graphite material, although there are many great paddles using new multilayer manufacturing methods of fiberglass, each will offer a different feel. Fiberglass surfaces are highly durable and tend to offer good pop/power. Graphite surfaces are known for their lightweight and touch. Graphite surface paddles are generally a little more expensive and difficult to source. Polypropylene is a common facing material used with polypropylene cores. It is highly durable and heavier in weight. Paddle surfaces are often finished with screen print or vinyl, which can add a small amount of texture. (Limited by USAPA rules).

Core Materials

Whilst some paddle cores are solid, this is very rare. Even the wood paddles have all but disappeared. The overwhelming majority of paddles are made with some sort of honeycomb style material; First there was Nomax, followed by aluminum and then to today where most seem to be made from honeycombed polymer cores e.g. Polypropylene. The weight difference between paddles can often be attributed to different thicknesses and size of holes in the polymer. These cores are combined with a number of different facing materials with fiberglass and graphite seeming to be the most popular.

Paddle Weight

We feel that this is the most important element in choosing a new paddle! Your choice is typically going to be between 7.2 ozs and 8.2 ozs. It is remarkable the difference this one ounce can make to your game. It seems that we get quicker movement with a lighter paddle which serves us well at the net but the heavier weight helps with a more powerful shot, useful at the baseline or for that smash. The dinking game benefits from gaining more control with a light paddle. Professional players tend to like extra weight as they have such good control of the ball but for most players, a light to mid weight will likely serve you best. Some new paddles now promote themselves as having “Vibration diminishing” technology including Selkirk and Manta. If you are getting any problems with pain in the wrist, elbow or shoulder, we would recommend one of these paddles as this actually works to deaden the vibration.

Style of Paddle

The most common shape of pickleball paddles is roughly a rectangular with a typical width of close to 8 inches by about 17.75 inches long. There are a lot of variations of this with the corners cut off, more rounded shapes etc. The key here is to know the “Sweet Spot” rating. For most players, look for a paddle with an 8, 9 or 10 rated sweet spot as it is forgiving. Even for those shots not hit from the middle of the paddle you will benefit from a bigger sweet spot. Long paddles, which are normally about .5 to .75 inches longer, give you the ability to reach that shot that you might otherwise have missed. Due to the USAPA rules governing paddle sizes, the extra length equals a lesser width for a combined total of less than 24 inches.

Grip Sizes

With a few exceptions, most grips come in either 4 or 4.25 inch circumference. The vast majority are 4.25 inches. Hold the paddle like you are shaking hands with it. With your normal relaxed grip, you should have a little space between your fingertips and your thumb pad (about ¼" to ½"). If your fingertips almost touch or touch your thumb pad, your grip is too small. If there is a space larger than ½", then it’s too big. You can always make a grip bigger by simply adding an over-grip.

To Do the Evaluation

Let’s figure out what type of player you are, physical considerations, budget and what you hope to achieve. To do this, we recommend that you take the survey. Since weight is so important, decide on the type of game you want to play. Call us at Racketeer Sports and we will be happy to help. 250.207.6959 or click the link below!

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