Best Thermoformed Pickleball Paddles

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Best Thermoformed Pickleball Paddles

I see people ask a lot on Reddit, Discord, and in person about what the best-thermoformed pickleball paddles are or where they can find a list of thermoformed pickleball paddles.

I couldn’t find a good list, and the problem with asking what the best-thermoformed paddle is is that the answer is different for each person depending on what they want out of the paddle.

The answer to each category could be different depending on who you are but I am bringing you my thoughts on the best thermoformed pickleball paddle in different categories, so you can find the category most important to you and try that paddle out.

I would love to get your feedback if my suggestion works out for you and if it doesn’t let me know why.

Overview

What is Thermoforming?

I wanted a definition from a company that performs thermoforming, so here is a definition from Sealwerks of what thermoforming is

“Thermoforming is a process of heating a thermoplastic sheet to its softening point. The sheet is stretched across a single-sided mold and then manipulated. Then, it cools into the desired shape.

The most common methods to get the sheet to conform to its final shape are vacuum-forming, pressure-forming, and mechanical forming.”

Now, how is thermoforming used in pickleball? Thermoforming has been used to wrap the outer edge of paddles in plastic that essentially creates a seal of the paddle’s faces and core which has been traditionally covered by the edge guard.  

What is Delamination?

Originally, the reports were that the new thermoformed paddles were delaminating and this was causing a trampoline effect that gave more power to the paddles.

Most reports say that delamination is the process of the core separating from the paddle face. Whether or not this is the reason the paddles start hitting harder is now under debate because another problem has been discovered with the thermoformed paddles and that is the crushed core problem.

The honeycomb core of the thermoformed paddles is becoming crushed in certain spots, and this is causing the paddle to gain extra power. Either way, these paddles can become defective and dangerous.

If you notice your paddle sounding different or if you press on it and hear some cracking/crinkling there is a good chance your paddle has an issue and you should stop using it.

Which Paddle Should You Get?

I’m going to go over what I believe are the best-thermoformed pickleball paddles and give you my pros and cons to help you decide based off the characteristics of your game and where you need improvement.

Also Check out: Our Favorite Pickleball Paddles This Year

Best Thermoformed Pickleball Paddles

Vatic Pro V7 Pickleball Paddle

Specs:

  • Weight:8.3-8.5oz 
  • Length x Width: 16.5”x7.5
  • Handle Length: 5.3”
  • Grip Circumference: 4.25”
  • Face: Japanese T700 Carbon Fiber
  • Thickness: 16mm
  • Check out the Full Review of the Vatic Pro V7

The Vatic Pro V7 is the pick for the best thermoformed paddle because it is solid all around and doesn’t lack any glaring holes. If I had to pick the place it excels the most it would be control, but the pop and power are great on the Vatic Pro V7 as well.

When it comes to control, power, and pop it just is a great blend of the three. You won’t be saying any of the attributes are best of class, but to get the best paddle I think you need to have a blend of power, control, and pop.

The spin is in the elite tier and can hang with the best spin paddles in the game. The overall design of the paddle is sleek and the performance is top-notch. The price is one of the best on the market making this one of the best sellers of 2023.

Pros

  • The pros of the Vatic Pro V7 is that you can play any type of style. You can be control-oriented, you can be power-oriented, you can drive, hit two-handed backhands, and hit great rolls and dinks.
  • The versatility of the Vatic Pro V7 is top-notch.

 Cons

  • Vatic has had some issues with delamination and core crushing but they have been getting a lot better lately. Their customer service has taken care of me before, so even if it does happen you will be taken care of.

Pickleball Apes Pro Line 

Specs:

  • Weight:8.0-8.2oz 
  • Length x Width: 17”x7” 
  • Handle Length: 6.25”
  • Grip Circumference: 4.25”
  • Face: Kevlar Carbon Fiber Mix
  • Thickness: 16.5mm

I had to make the Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy the Runner Up because for me it is the best paddle, but I don’t think it is the best paddle for the largest percentage of people like the Vatic or SixZero Double Black Diamond.

The Pro-Line Energy offers a unique feel with its Kevlar and Carbon Fiber mix-weaved face. It creates a plush feeling and it pockets the ball slightly longer giving you access to better control. The Pro-Line Energy offers a unique shape with 17” in total length and a 6.25” handle length.

Those are the unique characteristics that make this paddle not for everyone but makes it so lethal in the right hands. So how do you know if this paddle might fit you? If you look at your current paddle and you see most ball marks down the middle of your paddle then you should try this out.

If you see a lot of ball marks on the sides of your paddle then the longer narrower sweet spot of this paddle might not work for you. The extra half inch of this paddle makes a huge difference when you are trying to be as large on the court as possible.

The power you can generate with the longer handle makes up for the average power the paddle provides on its own. The paddle feels incredibly durable and blocks drive with ease.

Pros

  • The longer reach of this paddle lets you get to more balls.
  • The extra long handle lets you hit great serves, drives, overheads, and two-handed backhands.
  • I would give this paddle to a first-time player coming from a tennis background.
  • The control you get with the Kevlar and Carbon Fiber blend is a unique experience that you will have to try to see if you like the feel.

Cons

  • The cons are the narrower and longer sweet spot will not fit everyone.
  • The pop is slightly lower than average and the power you get is amplified by the unique shape, so if you aren’t supplying a lot of your power then this might not be the fit for you.

SixZero Double Black Diamond 14mm

Specs:

  • Weight:8.1oz 
  • Length x Width: 16.3”x7.5-7.7” (Gets wider towards the top of the paddle) 
  • Handle Length: 5.5”
  • Grip Circumference: 4.25”
  • Face:Japanese T700 Carbon Fiber
  • Thickness: 14mm

The SixZero Double Black Diamond 14mm is my editor’s pick for the best thermoformed paddle because it just does everything well. If I had to pick the place where it excelled the most it would be spin because it is in the elite tier.

When it comes to control, power, and pop it just is a great blend of the three. None of them are elite tier, but they are all slightly above average. The hybrid shape feels great in your hands and allows you to be fast in firefights.

The paddle is very durable and stable when blocking drives, going for resets, and finishing overheads. The handle length is perfect for two-handed backhands. I think the price point and overall quality performance of the paddle make it a good choice for one of the best paddles of 2023.

Pros

  • The pros of the SixZero Double Black Diamond 14mm are it can do everything well and get you elite-tier spin.
  • It offers a high-quality build with a 5.5” handle that gives you plenty of room to use your two-handed backhand.
  • You can be confident in all aspects of your game using this paddle.

Cons

  • You lose a little bit of reach with the hybrid shape.
  • It doesn’t excel at power or control, so if you like to maximize one attribute of a paddle then this won’t be for you. That is all I can fault the Double Black Diamond.

Volair Mach 1 Forza

  • Weight:8oz
  • Length x Width: 16.5” X 6.5”
  • Handle Length: 5.5”
  • Grip Circumference:4.125”
  • Face:T700 Carbon Fiber
  • Thickness: 14mm

Get 10% On Voilar.com With Promo Code: ADND10

The Volair Mach 1 Forza is the best thermoformed paddle for a spin. A gritty surface with a decently low swing weight combines to create the most spin I have played with in pickleball.

The power is average for a thermoformed paddle as well as the control. The durability is high and the build quality is excellent. The Mach 1 Forza has very strong blocking drives. This is a great all-court paddle that excels at maximizing the spin in your game at an affordable price.

Pros

  • The Mach 1 Forza has a lot of pros. Volair puts some thought into their packaging which is a nice bonus. 
  • You get the Mach 1 Forza in a nice box with a paddle cover, paddle eraser, extra grip and an extra grip band. 
  • The Mach 1 Forza has the best spin and comes at a good price. 
  • The build is quality and it is a very stable paddle. 
  • The power and control are more towards the average side.  

Cons

  • There are a few cons to highlight. The paddle actually measures in at 16.3” so this is more of a hybrid shape than elongated if that is a factor for you.
  • It doesn’t excel at either power or control so if you are looking to maximize one or the other then this isn’t what you are looking for. 

Ronbus R1 Nova

Specs:

  • Weight:7.8oz
  • Length x Width: 16.5” x 7.5”
  • Handle Length: 5.5”
  • Grip Circumference:4.125”
  • Face:T700 Carbon Fiber
  • Thickness:16mm

Get 10% off Ronbus.com with Code: PickleballDad

The main difference between a traditional thermoformed paddle and the Ronbus R1 Nova is instead of encasing the entire core in carbon fiber, there is a carbon fiber weave that encases the core so it isn’t entirely wrapped in carbon fiber. For me, this creates the best control of any thermoformed paddle I have played with.

It reminds me of playing with the Joola Hyperion CFS as it lets you just absorb any hard shot and place it where you want. The power is on the lower end but that makes sense with being the best control paddle on this list.

The durability should be improved with the new carbon fiber weave which is done to reduce the chance of core crushing and delamination. The design is sleek but not going to win any awards. The spin is in the high tier but not elite. I had no trouble hitting all my normal drives, serves, rolls, and drinks with the Nova.

Pros

  • Amazing control and feel are the biggest pros to the R1 Nova. 
  • This is a control players paddle. If you want to have access to thermoformed power while maintaining great control then this is a paddle for you. 
  • The carbon fiber cross weave encased is also a pro so far as I have not heard of any of the Novas having issues with core crushing or delamination. 

Cons

  • The power and pop are the biggest cons of this paddle. 
  • If you lack putway power and need an extra power boost from the paddle then this one will not be helping you in that category.  

Neonic force Pickleball Paddle

Neonic pickleball paddle 16mm in green and black

Specs

  • Weight:8.0-8.3oz
  • Length x Width: 16.5” x 7.5”
  • Handle Length: 5.3”
  • Grip Circumference:4.25”
  • Face:T700 Carbon Fiber
  • Thickness: 16mm
  • See Full Review of the Neonic Force

The spin on the Neonic Force is in the high-end tier, but not elite. Control is the strong point of the Neonic Force. It is a very stable paddle that gives you enough handle length for a two-handed backhand. The power and pop are average for thermoformed paddles.

The overall design is sleek with neon green (also comes in pink) and the performance for the price is the best value for thermoformed paddles.

Pros

  • The Neonic Force 16mm is the best thermofromed paddle you can buy for $100, so it makes it an easy suggestion for me when the popular question pops up “Can someone please tell me the best thermoformed pickleball paddle under $100?”  Yes, I can! 
  • The spin is in the upper tier of thermoformed paddles, it feels fast in your hands and it is a high quality build.
  • The control is great and resetting is a breeze.

Cons

  • The power is lacking in the Neonic Force and if you needed added pop and power from your paddle then the Neonic Force won’t be for you. It still hits hard compared to Gen 1 Carbon fiber paddles but falls behind in the race against other thermoformed paddles. 

Gearbox Pro Power Elongated Paddle

Gearbox pro power elongated pickleball paddle

Specs

  • Weight:8oz
  • Length x Width: 16.5”x7 ⅜ “     
  • Handle Length: 5.5”
  • Grip Circumference:4”
  • Face:T700 Carbon Fiber
  • Thickness: 14mm

The Gearbox Pro Power Elongated is a power player’s dream. This paddle is without a doubt the most powerful legal pickleball paddle. It offers an elite spin to go with that power to help you control it.

The sweet spot is on the smaller side, but can be improved with lead tape on the lower corners/sides. Gearbox is known for durability so I would assume this will be the same case.

There has been some talk about core crushing/delamination with these paddles but Gearbox has good customer service that usually resolves these issues. Overall this is a great paddle for an aggressive player.

Pros

  • The biggest pro is obviously the power that the Pro Power Elongated gives you access to.
  • This is by far the most powerful paddle on the market and when I am saying power you need to be swinging this paddle to access all of the power.

Cons

  • With great power usually comes great sacrifice.
  • The Gearbox Pro Power Elongated’s biggest con is the control can be difficult.
  • Without lead tape, the dead spots towards the edges of the paddle are very noticeable.
  • The paddle is also a little quieter than others with a hollow feel that some will not like.

Electrum Model E Stealth Paddle

Specs

  • Weight:7.6-7.9oz
  • Length x Width: 16.5” x 7.5”
  • Handle Length: 5.5”
  • Grip Circumference:4.25”
  • Face:T700 Raw Carbon Fiber
  • Thickness: 16 mm

The spin of the Electrum Model E Stealth is in the elite tier. You will have no problem generating the spin you want with this paddle. The biggest highlight of this paddle is the low swing weight and how fast it feels at the net. I’ve never used a paddle that brings the combination of this swing weight combined with decent pop and power.

I felt unstoppable at the net. I was looking to start hands battles every time I dinked the ball. The control was the biggest surprise for me because usually, these edgeless paddles with low swing weights are horrible at control.

While it doesn’t have amazing control, I was able to get adjusted to the Model E Stealth and have decent resets and blocks.

Pros

  • The biggest pro is the low swing weight and how fast you feel at the net with the Model E Stealth.
  • The elite spin is a great bonus to go with that low swing speed.

Cons

  • One of the bigger cons is you do get some feedback on your arm from the vibration of the paddle.
  • This is one thing to take notice of if you have any elbow or wrist pain from playing.

Benefits of Thermoformed Paddles

Thermoformed paddles are stable and generate a lot of power. They usually generate a lot of spin as well. They can range from elite power to average power but most are better than non-thermoformed paddles. The paddles don’t break as easily as non-thermoformed paddles where the face meets the handle.

Drawbacks of Thermoformed Paddles

There are a few drawbacks to thermoformed paddles. The first problem you will see is the price is on average higher for thermoformed paddles because they have a more intensive manufacturing process. Another problem is they are more prone to defects such as delamination and core crushing. Those problems seem to be less as the manufacturers gain experience. Control can also be harder with thermoformed paddles as the balls tend to hop off the paddles faster.  

Conclusion

There is not a best thermoformed pickleball paddle that will magically fit every person. If you are unsure after reading this article of what to get you can always check out your local reps and demo them. I would think about your game and go with the paddle that fits your strong suit the best. We want to enable our best weapons when playing and amplify those. You can always go the other way too and go with the paddle that helps your weakest area if you choose so.

Thermoformed paddles have changed how we play pickleball and it will be interesting to see how thermoformed pickleball paddles evolve in 2024. There are so many options already with different shapes, materials and price points.

I think the biggest area that hasn’t been experimented with is the core. Most paddles still use the polypropylene core and we might see some different core technology in 2024 that could change the game even more.

People are always searching for the paddle with amazing control, power, and pop. Let’s see what happens in 2024 I’m sure we will all be surprised.

Written by:

Jacob Hoisington

Jacob discovered pickleball when he one day was biking past local courts and started a conversation with some players. He asked what they were playing and got invited to a beginner’s night where he got hooked on the game. As a long-time doubles’ tennis player, pickleball was a natural fit for Jacob. His first love of the game was trying different paddles as there were so many and ever since he has become obsessed with trying every paddle, he can get his hands on. Jacob appreciates that pickleball is accessible to anyone while still offering competition.

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