After having mainly played with thermoformed paddles over the past six months, I gave the Vatic Prism Flash 16mm a try. It took very little time to get used to this paddle because the tradeoff of losing a little power to have a soft paddle that is incredibly fast in the hands with the ability to put balls away when desired, is a welcome one.
I did not think that I would like this paddle as much as I would, but it became my go-to paddle for doubles for a couple months. Then, the 14mm version is released and of course, I needed to get my hands on it.
As far as Gen 1 Raw Carbon Fiber paddles go, I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of these two paddles. Let’s look at the specs and break down the individual characteristics.
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Vatic Pro Prism Flash Paddle Review
I feel that I get just a little less spin with the Prism Paddles opposed to their thermoformed counterparts, but it is still enough to get the job done. Slices on service returns causing third-shots to go into the net, or topspin on drives causing the ball to pop upwards off the opponent’s paddle for a successful shake-and-bake, it will still get the job done.
Researching to find some exact numbers as a reference, the Prism paddles come in around 1800 RPMs whereas the Vatic Pro Flash paddles are roughly 2000 RPMs. A difference, but still in the high spin category.
As stated above, The Prism Flash is not a power paddle. It is definitely on the softer side of the spectrum, but it certainly does not lack power on drives and serves. Baseline drives come off with decent speed, but the aerodynamic shape grants the user the ability to whip the paddle on overhead smashes to put the ball away when you need to. Once I adjusted my technique to use more wrist on overheads, it felt just as powerful on overheads as some thermoformed paddles.
As for Pop, blocks noticeably take pace off the ball, but with just a little practice and a slight slice on blocks, you can easily chop a drive adding backspin to keep the ball close to the net while both opponents are at the baseline.
The 14mm version has noticeably more pop and power than the 16mm version, making drives more fierce and heavy. It did not take much to get used to the differences, but I did have to be more mindful while dinking and dropping. Like most other paddles, it may take a little adjustment period, but I found the adjustment process to be easier than other paddles.
Resets and dinks, aka the soft game, get more and more important as you “level up” in pickleball. These skills are overlooked at low skill levels, but in order to gain consistency, you need to have control, and these paddles felt very forgiving and consistent during resets and dinks.
Any instructor or trainer will tell you that placement is more important than power, especially during long, drawn-out rallies. What the Prism Flash paddles lack in power, they more than make up in control, plus some.
I can easily say that dink rallies felt much more consistent and reliable, even allowing me to add back and top spin to help me maneuver my opponents around to create openings or force pop ups.
During a tournament I recently played in, I went in with the mentality to not leave a third-shot drop or reset too short, but rather to error on the far side, and it was commented many times by competitors and friends watching that my game while working through the transition zone was incredibly consistent.
As I said earlier, the 14mm is not quite as soft as the 16mm, but still very controllable and consistent.
These paddles are not thermoformed, so delamination will not be a prevalent issue. However, it does have the other feature of the new generation of paddles, unibody construction (one single piece, from the bottom of the handle to the top of the paddle face).
Because of this, the paddle is incredibly durable. Not saying that it won’t break if you mistreat it, but it will hold up much better than non-unibody paddles. The only durability issue is that the face will, like every other carbon fiber paddle, slowly wear down over time.
This may sound like a cliché, but other than the fact that it is not a powerful paddle, there are no real downsides, and that includes the fact that they are only $100 ($90 after discount code). The only people that may have an issue with this are those near, or at the professional level where placement AND power are necessary.
If I had to say anything as a drawback, it is the fact that when transitioning back to a thermoformed paddle after using the Prism for so long, it took me some time to get used to the power again. That being said, if you are not like me and constantly switching paddles, you should not have that problem.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Prism Flashes. The first time I picked up and felt how light it was to swing, then felt how soft it contacted the ball, I knew I was going to like playing with it.
The entire time I used them, the only modifications I did were added an over grip and electrical tape to the edges to protect it. After this, the 16mm paddle came in at 8.2 oz and I did all my testing at this weight with no further lead tape added so that I could test it in its factory form.
The easiest way to describe the Prism Flash paddles, especially the 16mm, is Placement > Power. At most levels in the game, being able to drop the ball at the net, split the opponents, or even just sustain a dinking rally until you get an opening, will result in your victory.
As many have said before me, the Prism Flash is the best paddle for the price of $90. I cannot recommend it enough for anyone from beginner to advanced. You will not be let down by the performance and reliability of these paddles.