As pickleball explodes in popularity, paddle makers have more incentive than ever before to design new and improved equipment for beginners and longtime enthusiasts alike. While this is no doubt exciting, it also means you have more options to sort through when looking for your first high-quality pickleball paddle or your next upgrade.
To make your life easier, I’ve gone ahead and explored many of the most popular paddles on the market.
Here are my insights into 15 of the best paddles to check out now:
- 1 Best Pickleball Paddles in 2023 – Comparision
- 2 Best Pickleball Paddles in 2023 Reviews
- 2.1 Best Overall-JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 Graphite Paddle
- 2.2 Editor’s Choice-CRBN-2 Carbon Fiber Paddle
- 2.3 Best Value-Engage Omega Evolution Max Paddle
- 2.4 Best For Power-ProKennex Black Ace Pro Paddle
- 2.5 Runner Up: Power-VANGUARD Power Air Invikta Paddle
- 2.6 Best For Control-Gearbox CX14H Pickleball Paddle
- 2.7 Runner Up: Control-Electrum Pro II Graphite Pickleball Paddle
- 2.8 Best Spin-Diadem Warrior Edge Carbon Fiber Paddle
- 2.9 Runner Up: Spin-VANGUARD Power Air S2 Paddle
- 2.10 Most Versatile-JOOLA Solaire CFS Paddle
- 2.11 Runner Up: Most Versatile-PROLITE Supernova Pro Hyperweave LX Carbon Fiber Paddle
- 2.12 Best Lightweight Paddle-Selkirk SLK Halo XL Paddle
- 2.13 Best Budget Option-ONIX Z5 Graphite Paddle
- 2.14 Best Elongated-Engage Pursuit MX 6.0 Paddle
- 2.15 Best Graphite Face-Head Radical Tour Graphite Paddle
- 3 Is There Really a Difference in Pickleball Paddles?
- 4 Which Pickleball Paddle Has the Biggest Sweet Spot?
- 5 Finding the Ideal Paddle
Best Pickleball Paddles in 2023 – Comparision
|Best Overall||Joola Hyperion Ben Johns CFS 16||Weight Range: 8.1oz-8.6ozGrip Circumference: 4 1/4″ Handle Length: 5.5″Paddle Length: 16.5”Paddle Width: 7.5″ Paddle Face: Carbon Friction Surface (CFS)Core Material: Polypropylene honeycombThickness: 16mmPrice: $219.95||AmazonPickleball Central|
|Editor’s Choice||CRBN 2||Weight Range: 7.8 – 8.2 ozGrip Circumference: 4.25″ (13mm) 4.375″ (16mm)Handle Length: 4.75″Paddle Length: 15.75″ Paddle Width: 8″Paddle Face: T700 Raw Carbon FiberCore Material: Polypropylene HoneycombCore Thickness: 13mm (0.51″), 14mm (0.55″), 16mm (0.63″)Price: $179.99||Pickleball Central|
|Best Value||Engage Evolution Max||Weight Range: 7.8oz – 8.2ozGrip Circumference: 4.25″ Handle Length: 5″Paddle Length: 16”Paddle Width: 8″ Paddle Face: Textured Carbon FiberCore Material: PolymerThickness: 13mmPrice: $109.99||Pickleball Central|
|Best For Power||ProKennex Black Ace Pro||Weight Range: 7.9oz – 8.0ozGrip Circumference: 4″ Handle Length: 5.3″Paddle Length: 15.8”Paddle Width: 7.6″ Paddle Face: Toray Carbon FiberCore Material: PolymerThickness: 11mmPrice: $250.00||AmazonPickleball Central|
|Runner Up: Power||Selkirk Vangurard Power Air Invikta||Weight Range: 7.7oz – 8.1ozGrip Circumference: 4 1/4″Handle Length: 5 1/4″ Paddle Length: 16 1/2″ Paddle Width: 7 3/8″ Paddle Face: Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber BlendCore Material: Polymer Thickness: 13mmPrice: $249.99||Pickleball Central|
|Best For Control||Gearbox CX14H||Weight Range: 7.8 – 8.2 ozGrip Circumference: 3.625″Handle Length: 5.625″Paddle Length: 15.8″ Paddle Width: 8″Paddle Face: T700 Raw Carbon FiberCore Material: Polypropylene HoneycombCore Thickness: 14mm Price: $199.99||Pickleball Central|
|Runner Up: Control||Electrum Pro 2||Weight Range: 7.9oz – 8.2ozGrip Circumference: 4 1/4″ Handle Length: 5.25″Paddle Length: 16”Paddle Width: 8″ Paddle Face: Raw Carbon FiberCore Material: Polypropylene honeycombThickness: 11mmPrice: $199.99||AmazonPickleball Central|
|Best Spin||Diadem Warrior Edge||Weight Range: 7.8 – 8.2 ozGrip Circumference: 4 1/8″Handle Length: 5″Paddle Length: 16.4″Paddle Width: 7.5″ Paddle Face: Etched Carbon Fiber Core Material: Polymer CoreThickness: 16mmPrice: $174.98||AmazonPickleball Central|
|Runner up: Best Spin||Selkirk Vanguard Power Air S2||Weight: 7.7 – 8.1 ounces Grip Circumference: 4 1/4″Handle Length: 4 3/8″Paddle Length: 15 3/4″ Paddle Width: 8”Paddle Face: Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber BlendCore Material: Polymer Thickness: 13mmPrice:$249.99||AmazonPIckleball Central|
|Most Versatile||JOOLA Solaire CFS||Weight Range: 8.2oz – 8.6ozGrip Circumference: 4 1/8″Handle Length: 5.5″Paddle Length: 16”Paddle Width: 8″ Paddle Face: Carbon Friction Surface (CFS)Core Material: Polypropylene honeycombThickness: 14mmPrice: $189.95||AmazonPickleball Central|
|Runner up: Most Versitile||Prolite Supernova Hyperweave||Weight Range: 7.8 – 8.0 ozGrip Circumference: 4 1/8″Handle Length: 5″Paddle Length: 15 7/16″Paddle Width: 8″Paddle Face: Hyperweave Carbon FiberCore Material: Polypropylene HoneycombCore Thickness: 14mm Price: $209.99||AmazonPickleball Central|
|Best Lightweight Paddle||SLK Halo XL||Weight Range: 7.5-8.2Grip Circumference: 4 Handle Length: 5.75″Paddle Length: 16.4″ Paddle Width: 7.4″ Paddle Face: T700 Raw Carbon FiberCore Material: Rev-Soft PolymerThickness: 13mm or 16mmPrice: $139.99||Pickleball Central|
|Best Budget Option||Onix Z5 Pickleball Paddle||Weight Range: 7.9oz Grip Circumference: 4 ¼” Handle Length: 5″Paddle Length: 15 ½”Paddle Width: 8 ⅛”Face: GraphiteCore Material: Nomex honeycombThickness: 16mmPrice:$89.99||AmazonPickleball Central|
|Best Elongated||Engage Pursuit MX 6.0||Weight Range: 8.0oz-8.4ozGrip Circumference: 4 3/8″ Handle Length: 5 3/4″Paddle Length: 16.5”Paddle Width: 7.5″ Paddle Face: GraphiteCore Material: PolymerThickness: 16mmPrice: $219.99||AmazonPickleball Central|
|Best Graphite Face||Head Radical pro||Weight Range: 7.7 – 8.1 ozGrip Circumference: 3.875″Handle Length: 5″Paddle Length: 16″ Paddle Width: 7.875″Paddle Face: Graphite/CarbonCore Material: PolymerCore Thickness: 16mm Price: $149.95||AmazonPickleball Central|
Best Pickleball Paddles in 2023 Reviews
Best Overall-JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 Graphite Paddle
The Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 from JOOLA is built for offense-minded players who want the flexibility of a paddle that offers both a high degree of control and the potential for hard-hit winners. Slices and cuts benefit from the namesake Carbon Friction Surface, while additional power is drawn from the brand’s “Edge Wall” technology (foam that’s injected along the paddle’s perimeter) and its slightly flexible construction.
A huge virtue of this paddle is that you can buy it in either standard or lightweight models. This matters because some people may find that the Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16, with its 8.2oz standard weight and thicker handle, can feel heavier than other paddles with similar specs. I know I was initially surprised by how it felt in my palm, but after a few games, I found I no longer thought about it.
The paddle features rounded edges meant to reduce drag on swings and a 14mm-thick core that offers a balanced feel. As long as the slight top-heaviness of the paddle isn’t an issue, you can expect this exceptionally well-made paddle to boost your attacking play while remaining forgiving to slightly off-center hits. As an attack-forward player, I really got a kick out of how well I was able to hit smashes and hard groundstrokes.
Also Check Out: Our Full Review of The Hyperion CFS 16
- Heavier weight makes it easy to create power
- Very comfortable ribbed grip
- Gritty face texture makes it easy to control spin
- Forgiving and soft face
- Face texture wears down after a while
- The white grip gets very dirty.
Editor’s Choice-CRBN-2 Carbon Fiber Paddle
CRBN is a relatively new player in the high-quality paddle market, but it’s already generated substantial buzz for its products, most notably the CRBN-2, which comes in 13mm and 16mm thicknesses.
Fans of the CRBN-2 praise its ability to impart an exceptional amount of spin, created by its raw carbon fiber face, but players unfamiliar with the brand should find a lot to love here too. I particularly enjoyed the CRBN-2’s excellent ball control (likely thanks to the same polypropylene honeycomb core found in more expensive paddles) and its solidly ergonomic grip.
Even with the awesome spin the CRBN-2 generates, it maintains the great balanced feel favored by control-oriented picklers, but it may not be the ideal choice for players who want the most powerful option. As you’ll see, some of the best pickleball paddles out there feature lengthier dimensions that benefit particular swing styles or defensive strategies, but the CRBN-2 remains classic in its 15 3/4″ x 8″ construction.
- Amazing feel from soft, yet rigid face.
- Explosive sweet spot
- Easy to generate spin
- Very well-balanced and stable.
- Very comfy grip.
- May need to check USAPA eligibility
- Shorter Handle
Best Value-Engage Omega Evolution Max Paddle
The Omega Evolution Max from Engage is one of the best choices for players looking to spend on their first higher-quality paddle without going all out. This is a middle-market paddle that over-delivers for its reasonable price point, emphasizing consistency and forgiveness over more advanced considerations, such as spin and power.
The paddle’s core is made from HoldTEK Polymer. It weighs a middleweight average of 8.0oz and has standard length and width dimensions (16″ x 8″). The conventional design choices are another big pro for intermediate players who will easily take to how this paddle feels and responds to contact. They made it easy for me to play solidly with it after just a bit of warming up.
The paddle face has a good amount of grit from its textured carbon fiber composition, but some users report the durability on this front is lacking. I haven’t used it long enough to say for certain, but you might see some drop-off on spin potential as time goes on. Nonetheless, if your focus is becoming a balanced, consistent pickler, definitely give this paddle a look.
- Great Price
- Very maneuverable for hands battles
- Thin core provides a lot of pop
- Long handle gives you good reach
- Great control and feel
- Hard to generate a lot of power
- May be too light for those who are used. to heavy paddles
Best For Power-ProKennex Black Ace Pro Paddle
If you value a powerful shot over and above all other considerations, the ProKennex Black Ace Pro may well be the pickleball paddle for you. Constructed from a single piece of molded Toray carbon fiber that offers top-notch vibration mitigation and durability, this paddle felt really aerodynamic even as it helped me drive winners with incredible speed.
Among ProKennex’s other premier offerings, the Black Ace Pro has the most classic dimensions—15.8″ by 7.6″ and a thickness of 11mm.
For sure, with practice and adjustment, you’ll be able to play a great all-around game with this paddle, but the emphasis on power does come at the expense of ease of control and spin. The reactive face means your touch on the ball has to be super quick; I did find myself initially overpowering serves and third-shot drops.
One more distinct consideration for the Black Ace Pro is that it produces a significantly louder sound on contact than almost all other paddles. That aside, this is a high-grade paddle that can rival any other in terms of power and build quality.
- Amazing Power
- Power does not take away from the ability to generate spin.
- Amazing build quality
- The Octagon handle feels great
- Replaceable edge guard
- Absorbs shock and vibration.
- Very expensive
- Harder to control
- Small-ish sweet spot.
Runner Up: Power-VANGUARD Power Air Invikta Paddle
The key design choices of the Invikta are practically the same as with Selkirk’s VANGUARD S2, but what sets it apart is the elongated paddle design that increases its reach and makes it easier to execute shots with greater cut or spin.
As with the other Power Air paddles, you can expect enhanced swing speed and more power than most of its top-of-the-line competitors. However, to match the longer face, the Invikta has a longer handle, measuring in at 5 1/4″, sufficient for a two-handed backhand.
Defense-minded players also should consider that they might prefer the aforementioned, wider S2 model which has a slight leg up for shielding fast returns at the kitchen. I know I prefer a more conventional build, but I absolutely could see how other play styles would profit from use of this paddle.
- Excellent Power
- Great for spin shots
- High-quality paddle
- Good touch and feel
- Unique face material blend
- Long enough handle for two hands
- Little less than standard sized handle
- White paint can chip easily if you don’t add electrical tape.
Best For Control-Gearbox CX14H Pickleball Paddle
The Gearbox CX14H is an excellent option for players who value a paddle that will make consistent contact and minimize variation across the paddle face.
This carbon fiber face not only gets a crazy amount of spin that gets better with age, but it also incorporates Gearbox’s proprietary Solid Span Technology that drastically reduces dead spots and changes in ball response. Over several sessions, I felt confident I knew where each of my shots was headed with this paddle in-hand, which allowed me to feel comfortable swinging with greater force.
Gearbox sells the CX14H with two grip circumferences (3 15/16″ and 3 5/8″); its average weight is 8.0oz. This paddle is great for developing an agile and balanced game, but some users might notice that the uniformity of ball response comes at the expense of extra power.
- Very good at absorbing shock
- Great balance and stability for greater control
- Great sound off the face
- Slightly longer handle gives you more reach
- Needs a little more power.
Runner Up: Control-Electrum Pro II Graphite Pickleball Paddle
Electrum’s Pro II Graphite is one of the sleeker options on the list, both in aesthetic and performance. On looks alone, I was drawn to this paddle, with its black and gold-edge, sleek 11mm core, and uniquely elongated handle long enough for two-handed swings.
I’m also a fan of the Electrum Pro II’s high-quality leather grip that remained comfortable during long sessions of play. This paddle is a middleweight option that leans toward balance and maneuverability over power.
While maybe not the choice for power-first players, it can be ideal for tennis converts who are used to the dimensions of a tennis racket and want to transition toward developing the finesse pickleball requires.
- Unparalleled spin (SUPER gritty face)
- Admirable power
- Genuine leather grip with extended handle
- Stunning appearance
- The sweet spot is simply too small
- Price ($180)
- Playability – 75 out of 100
Maybe as our skills improve, we will revisit this paddle and see if we can keep more play on the sweet spot
Best Spin-Diadem Warrior Edge Carbon Fiber Paddle
Diadem has updated its high-performance paddle to have a slightly slimmer profile than its predecessor, going from 19mm to 16mm in thickness. This enhances maneuverability while maintaining the paddle’s reputation as a premier middleweight option, weighing between 7.8 and 8.2oz.
Perhaps most notably, the Warrior Edge features an etched carbon fiber face. I found this enabled more robust contact with the pickleball, amplifying the effect of any spin I applied to it. Many of the top paddles incorporate similar face-texturing, but Diadem’s approach stands out as exceptionally durable and effective.
While definitely a paddle built for experienced players, I’d say the Warrior Edge deserves high marks for its ample sweet spot and tendency toward consistent, controlled returns.
- Amazing spin from a very gritty face
- Easy to control without sacrificing power
- Very forgiving and soft feel
- Easy to control placement and accuracy
- The size slightly affects maneuverability.
Runner Up: Spin-VANGUARD Power Air S2 Paddle
The VANGUARD Power Air S2 is one of several Power Air models Selkirk has introduced. At first glance, they all stand out for their ambitious design choices. They have an open throat (a small cut out just above where the handle meets the face), no edge guard, and a relatively short handle.
The S2 has standard dimensions (an 8″ wide face and 15 3/4″ length), while also incorporating the shortest of the handle lengths offered across the Power Air line. This is meant to appeal to players who tend to choke up more on their grip or play with a “finger up” grip style (as I do).
I had my reservations about the S2’s price tag, but after a few hours of play, I think it’s a fair reflection of its reputation as one of the best pickleball paddles out there. I was super impressed with how well it delivered on both finesse and power. At an average weight of 7.9oz, this is a middleweight option that maximizes maneuverability for players who have really developed their mechanics and want a paddle that will accentuate the spin and touch they already possess.
Some might find the feel of the carbon fiber and fiberglass hybrid paddle face to be hard to get used to, and you definitely will want to take extra care not to ding the more delicate edges of this particular model.
- Great power for a standard paddle
- Large sweet spot creates a ton of spin
- Good touch and feel
- Very forgiving
- Unique face material blend
- Long enough handle for two hands
- White paint can chip easily if you don’t add electrical tape.
Most Versatile-JOOLA Solaire CFS Paddle
JOOLA’s Solaire CFS shares several pros with the brand’s Hyperion: versatility, balance, and pro-grade build quality. The Solaire CFS, however, is a touch weightier (if you purchase the standard model), with an average weight of 8.4oz.
The greater weight skews the paddle’s performance toward power, enabling hard-hit groundstrokes and overhead slams to travel with even greater zip. Nonetheless, you can still expect its Carbon Friction Service and incredibly generous sweet spot to help you execute shots with spin and finesse.
In my testing, I certainly used some pickleball paddles a bit better suited for getting the utmost control over dinks and close shots in the kitchen, but if that’s not your style, you can expect to be satisfied with the amount of control on offer here.
- Light weight, thin core, and wide face make it very maneuverable
- Thin core provides power without sacrificing forgiveness. or control.
- CFS face texture makes it very easy to spin.
- Face texture wears off over time.
- Not a lot of reach
Runner Up: Most Versatile-PROLITE Supernova Pro Hyperweave LX Carbon Fiber Paddle
PROLITE had greater market prominence about a decade ago, when their cutting-edge innovation enabled them to sell some of the best pickleball paddles of the time. With their LX line, they’re staking their claim as a serious competitor in today’s top-of-the-line sphere.
The Supernova Pro integrates widely used engineering choices, such as a polypropylene honeycomb core and standard dimensions, but also boasts some distinctive features that set this paddle apart, like its drag-reducing Aero Channel Edge Guard and cross-woven fiber face that comes in gold or silver.
The face design here is more than just aesthetic: Unlike many other paddle faces whose lacquer or texture wears away with use, the woven fibers here actually become more textured with time. This means rather than lose spin capability, you can expect the Supernova Pro to maintain its surface friction or even increase it. I really admire this thoughtful design and think PROLITE deserves a ton of credit for engineering a product that rewards serious use.
The sweet spot here is moderately sized, but the paddle on the whole is weighted toward a control-centric game. Power players might be a bit underwhelmed, but the Supernova Pro should strike a great balance for many styles of play.
- HUGE face provides amazing forgiveness and control
- Decent spin for a wide body and it gets better over time.
- The shorter shape makes it very maneuverable.
- With great control comes a slight sacrifice in power.
Best Lightweight Paddle-Selkirk SLK Halo XL Paddle
Selkirk has come up with an excellent affordable T-700 raw carbon offering for players who are control-oriented. The SLK Halo XL has an elongated shape that extends your reach and makes placing spin on a shot that much easier since you can accentuate the slicing motion of your shots.
The SLK Halo XL’s T700 raw carbon fiber face also enhances spin potential, increasing the likelihood that your shots will have dramatic changes in trajectory after the bounce. I don’t consider myself to be great at generating spin, but often found myself pleasantly surprised with how my slices would bounce at sharp angles and give my opponents a run for their money.
The elongated design features a correspondingly long handle, measuring 5.75″. Although longer than some might prefer, the design choice is in line with the paddle’s overall emphasis on agile, defensive play. What you trade-off in terms of power here is made up for in terms of control and a generous sweet spot (a byproduct of its vibration-limiting Rev-Core technology).
- Amazing value (under $150)
- Face absorbs shock and creates controlled resets.
- Very soft, plush face
- Great spin with a combination of control.
- Very maneuverable and quick due to lightweight
- The handle is a little thicker than average
- More of a control paddle than a power paddle.
- slightly cheaper feeling than premium paddles.
Best Budget Option-ONIX Z5 Graphite Paddle
I rarely pay a visit to the courts without seeing an ONIX Z5 Graphite paddle. With a pricetag under $100, it offers an excellent value for the degree of reliability and durability you can expect.
This is a slightly wider than average (8 1/8″), USA Pickleball-approved, middleweight paddle with a smooth graphite face and edge guard. It has a Nomex honeycomb core meant to minimize force absorption and generate greater power.
ONIX intends for this paddle to have broad appeal. Its sturdy design and wide body shape make it a good paddle for players who appreciate a generous sweet spot but still want to hit powerful returns. The Z5 achieves all this, certainly, but it also comes at the expense of some degree of control.
Unlike paddles with textured faces or lengthier profiles, the Z5 isn’t meant to favor players who aim for maximal spin and touch. This is a standard paddle, done exceptionally well, at a friendly price point, and that’s why you’re sure to see one at your local court, too.
- Wide face and large sweet spot
- Great power for a lightweight paddle
- A gritty texture is great for spin
- Good feel and consistency
- Handle can be uncomfortable.
- Loud paddle
- Handle wrap is known to unravel
Best Elongated-Engage Pursuit MX 6.0 Paddle
The Engage Pursuit MX 6.0 is a lighter paddle (though you can purchase weightier versions) that I found doesn’t compromise on control or power. Featuring an elongated shape and thicker than the average core of .6″, the Pursuit MX 6.0 can mitigate shock while empowering you to place ground shots with incredible speed and accuracy.
It’s no coincidence that many tennis players gravitate toward this option, whose longer, ultra-perforated cushioned grip only heightens its racquet-like feel.
While definitely not your budget pickleball paddle, part of the quality you’re paying for here is in the naturally textured graphite face. Since its gritty texture derives from the material itself instead of a secondarily applied layer, the Pursuit MX 6.0 should maintain its high-performance for years.
For a product geared towards advanced players, I think it has a fairly impressive sweet spot. As a heads up, be prepared to notice the slightly top-heavy feel of the paddle and the slight learning curve in regard to maximizing control. This paddle took a bit longer than the others to feel comfortable with, but once I did, I could see why this paddle has come to be such a well-regarded option.
- Elongated shape gives you plenty of reach for singles play
- Long handle is easy for two handed shots.
- Textured graphite generates amazing spin and power combo
- Head weighted
- The sweet spot is decent but has dead zones.
Best Graphite Face-Head Radical Tour Graphite Paddle
Head has really upped its game with its most recent releases of pickleball paddles—the Radical Tour Graphite being a prime example. This paddle was both aerodynamic and maneuverable; it has standard length and width proportions but a thoughtfully tapered shape and a smaller grip circumference to give it a sleek feel.
The Radical Tour Graphite shines when it comes to careful play at the net. I could feel the ball linger on the paddle face for the fraction of a second necessary to impart maximum touch. Its composite face features a lacquered gritty texture that holds up well, so you’ll get solid spin even after using your paddle over time.
These pros result in a slight sacrifice of power but given the upper-middle price range that should appeal to enthusiasts who aren’t aspiring pros, this feels like a smart trade-off. If you like what you see here but prefer a power-based style of play, consider looking into the Radical Tour CO model Head also offers.
- Very soft and plush feel to the face
- Durable face texture
- Comfortable grip
- Maneuverable and well balanced
- Great for hands battles at the net
- Edge guard can become loose over time
Is There Really a Difference in Pickleball Paddles?
If you’re unsure about whether you’ll have a different experience if you change paddles, the best thing you can do is borrow a friend’s for a game or two. If you’ve spent significant time using one paddle, you’ll no doubt notice that even a paddle with similar dimensions and weight will feel a bit different in your hand, respond to the ball differently, and provide a different amount of power.
It’s likely true that once you get used to any given paddle, you’ll find yourself playing at a similar level. In other words: No paddle can transform your game on its own.
Rather, investing in a new paddle is about finding a piece of equipment that complements how you play so that you can make the marginal improvements that, over time, will solidify your strengths, limit your weaknesses, and make you feel more confident and comfortable on the court.
Here’s how the individual specs of various paddles typically affect performance:
Dimensions and Size
Paddle manufacturers will provide the length and width of their paddles, as well as the length of just the handle itself. A typical paddle is 16″x8″. If you start playing with a paddle this long and wide, you’ll develop an intuition for where the sweet spot is, how to time volleys, and how to produce spin on the ball.
All these variables change as soon as you start using a paddle with different dimensions. Longer paddles offer you greater reach, while wider paddles may offer an edge when creating a shield to defend shots close to the net.
Longer paddles help amplify the force of your swings. This means a well-struck shot can travel with greater spin and speed. I don’t have a tennis background, so I don’t have a tendency toward using two hands when playing pickleball, but many players who do prefer longer handles that allow them to use both hands for some swings.
Paddles can weigh anywhere between 7 and 8.5oz. Those that weight between 7 and 7.6oz are considered lightweight, those between 7.7 and 8.2oz are midweight, and anything heavier than that is heavyweight.
The weight of a paddle has three distinct effects on your game: maneuverability, stability, and power. You can change the angle and position of a lighter paddle more easily. This is key for agile defense, especially when playing at the net.
Heavier paddles feel more stable. Whereas hitting the ball along the edge of a lighter paddle might result in some wobbliness, a heavier paddle will typically better maintain its angle and position in your hand.
Finally, because heavyweight paddles of course have greater mass, they impart more force to the ball, resulting in faster shots.
The core of the paddle refers to its internal structure and the material used to build it. The majority of paddles being released today employ a “honeycomb” structure that creates an evenly responsive paddle that resists wear and tear and enables a lighter construction.
As a buyer, your primary concern should be core thickness. Most popular paddles range between 10 and 16mm. Thicker cores are more forgiving since they’re more stable and can therefore better respond to fast shots.
Thicker cores also impart force more evenly to balls, allowing you to develop greater control over your shot placement and pacing.
Thinner paddles are harder, which causes the ball to bounce off the face more aggressively. I generally recommend looking for a paddle on the thicker side: Pros and newcomers alike benefit from having greater control and can usually generate enough force to hit a winner, even without a thin core.
Pickleball paddles have faces comprised of either fiberglass (aka composite), carbon fiber, or graphite. Some may use more than one of these materials and be marketed as “hybrids.”
- Fiberglass: Compared to the other options, fiberglass has the most give, so it readily transfers energy back to the ball on contact. The primary downside of fiberglass is this elasticity results in a smaller sweet spot.
- Carbon fiber: The most popular face material, carbon fiber is both stiff and robust. The energy of a hit ball is transferred across the face rather than into it as with fiberglass, so the sweet spot is more generous.
- Graphite: Graphite is a cheaper variant of carbon fiber that nonetheless tends to perform similarly. You can think of carbon fiber and graphite options as similarly weighted towards forgiveness.
Which Pickleball Paddle Has the Biggest Sweet Spot?
Based on what we’ve learned, we’d expect a carbon fiber-faced, solidly weighted paddle to have an optimal sweet spot, and that turns out to be the case. The Gearbox CX14H, with its 14mm core and woven carbon fiber face, proves to be equally responsive seemingly no matter where you strike the ball.
The edgeless design also helps. Without an edge guard, you eliminate the chance of an edge shot being disrupted by the raised plastic some paddles have along their perimeters.
Finding the Ideal Paddle
The best pickleball paddles are those that complement your style and respect your budget. Before making an investment in one, consider your experience level, style of play, and tendencies on the court. If your friends use a variety of paddles, don’t hesitate to ask for their insights or to try a few points using theirs to see how they feel.
Now that your search has been narrowed, I hope you can find the right pickleball paddle for you quickly and easily so you can get onto the court and enjoy the game with a great pickleball paddle in hand.