How to pick pickleball paddle (pickleball racket guide 2019)
Pickleball paddle is one single most important piece of equipment that you will need to enjoy the game.
With Pickleball growing fast in popularity, many new paddles are introduced to the market making it quite difficult to choose the right one. While it’s easy to get dazzled by different design and shapes of the paddles, we recommend you stay focused on the main specifications while choosing the right paddle: material of the paddle, weight, size of the head and grip.
The best way to find a right paddle for you is to try them out. Ask anyone at the club about what paddle they prefer and play with and ask to try it out. Trying few different paddles in subsequently will give you better understanding of your preferences.
If you are a beginner or just want to try pickleball - a “social” visit to the nearest pickleball courts is where you want to start. Ask other players if they have any older used paddles you can buy or borrow. Most experienced players have gone through several and will gladly help you out. If you get “hooked” (most people do) than it’s worth to spend a little bit of money as a good quality paddle should last for about 2-4 years for a casual player.
Pickleball paddle material options
Pickleball paddles typically are made out of wood or composite. Composite paddles can have a different combinations of materials for the core and face of the paddle. Each has its own characteristics and feel.
Wooden Pickleball paddles
Pickleball racquets made out of wood is where it all started, while new technology provides with more attractive options, the durability of wooden paddles still makes popular, especially among schools and other institutions.
Wooden pickleball paddles are generally heavier than paddles made out of other materials, they are also the least expensive ($10-$30). Because of their price range, wooden paddles are a usual choice for the first paddle. Wooden paddles are extremely durable and will last longer than any other material.
Since wooden paddles are heavy they provide with more power for your shots, but you lose some maneuverability and control. Heavier weight can also cause some arm fatigue and elbow problems. Wooden paddles are considered quiet, but they don’t provide with that satisfying “pop” also.
Also wooden paddles are “afraid” of getting wet as it can warp or peel, and being dropped.
Composite paddles are constructed from a combination of different materials, where the core of the paddle is built out of composite panel with honeycomb structure and the face of the paddles typically made out of graphite or fiberglass.
Paddles with the graphite face are light and stiff and provide players with better “feel” - they are also the most expensive. Where fiberglass face gives the paddle more “pop” and comes textured top layer which some players prefer.
Fiberglass composite paddles are the most popular choice as they are priced in medium range ($50-$150) and come in variety of weight and design options. Many pickleball players prefer composite paddles over the wooden ones and if you are looking to buy a first paddle we recommend you “invest” into a cheaper composite paddle rather than wooden one.
Pickleball paddle weight
Pickleball paddles weight varies from 6 to 14 ounces, it’s a big difference and it highly affects your game and comfort. This why weight is the most important factor when choosing a pickleball paddles. Heavier paddles more drive but provide with less control and vice versa.
Paddle weight is entirely a personal choice depending on your style and physique. For beginners it’s recommended to start with middleweight paddle weighting around 8 Oz.
Also you must consider that heavier paddle will add to the fatigue and can cause “tennis elbow”, shoulder or hand injuries. A very light paddle (under 7 ounces) will require much more effort swinging to generate the power that will also cause the fatigue and harder on the joints
Pickleball paddle grip size
Grip size plays an important role to the comfort of the paddle. The key is to find a grip size that feels comfortable, prevents stress on your body and allows for the full range of motion.
Pickleball paddles comes in 4 different sizes: 4, 4 1/8, 4 1/4 and 4 1/2 inch in circumference.
There are 3 methods to go about choosing the right grip, and this applies to both women and men:
- By height:
- Under 5'2".......4 - 4 1/8 inch grip
- 5'3" to 5'8".....4 1/4 inch grip
- 5'9" & taller...4 1/2 inch grip
- Index finger test
While holding the paddle with your dominant hand, use the index finger of your other hand to slide it in-between your ring finger and palm. The best pickleball paddle grip size for you will be the one where your index finger fits snugly within this gap. Not enough room indicates that grip is too small, and too much room - grip is too large.
- Ruler Test
Take a ruler and measure your playing hand from bottom lateral crease of your palm to your ring finger to to the tip of your ring finger.
If you are stuck between two sizes, choose the smaller one as you can use overgrips to increase the size of the handle.An overgrip adds between half or one whole size (1/16 to 1/8 inch) to the paddles handle.