Pickleball is one of those exciting yard games that demand not only fitness but also skills and accuracy. While not so popular a few decades ago, it is now one of the most frequently played racket games in the U.S. This exciting sport requires just three simple gear namely, a perforated ball made up of plastic, a net, and a paddle.
Exciting for all ages and skill levels, the game is simple to play although it encompasses a distinct blend of ping pong, tennis, and badminton. It is, thus, both a recreational and a professional choice involving some special tricks and moves that need some good amount of practice.
This study done by researchers from Universities of Florida, Georgia, Texas and Yonsei and published in the Journal of Positive Psychology argues that “playing pickleball may add significant value to older adults’ daily lives and contribute to successful aging”
Of all the skills to learn in this game, it is the spinning skill that is quite critical to master. However, once perfected, it directly raises the probability of winning the game apart from making it more challenging. This gives an immediate benefit over the opponents.
You will then feel confident in participating in fast-paced, competitive sessions. Did you know that it is essential to have the right pickleball paddle for making robust spins? Yes, it is the paddle that determines how nicely you will be able to spin the ball in the court.
Whether you are a beginner who wishes to learn or a pro preparing for a professional tournament, a good paddle is indispensable. It not only improves the quality of spins but also improves the playing style, shots, and precision as well.
Sadly, it is not always easy or straightforward to reach the best pickleball paddle. This is because there are many paddles available on sale, which can end up confusing you.
Thus, this post aims to simplify your selection process by sharing the most important buying factors to consider and going through the reviews of top 5 paddles for pickleball, which players of different skills and preferences can choose accordingly.
2021’s 5 Best Pickleball Paddles Reviews
Niupipo Pickleball Paddle
This is a professional-level paddle set with two paddles and two covers appealing to both beginners and intermediate players after being approved by the USAPA after testing for the surface impact. This graphite paddle solely aims to take your game to the next level by maintaining a perfect balance between power and control.
The carbon graphite surface for hitting takes care of superb pop on the ball. Along with the graphite material, the honeycomb structure renders the required level of stiffness and strength while delivering speedy performance. The mix is also responsible for making the paddles lightweight although not too light.
The interior has the polymer honeycomb between two fiberglass sheets to deliver the required energy for spinning. It can easily withstand a ball’s strike.
It is this combination of graphite and honeycomb that sustains the right amount of control while hitting the ball with great power. This results in more precise shots and governance over the amount of force you provide to the pickleball. The joy of releasing your power is perhaps the biggest selling point of this game.
The 8oz. paddles have a soft edge and are easy to hold. A black edge around the edge gives enough protection and balance. The tested surface has a superior grip for an additional spin with sound consistency. They come with a 4-1/2” cushioned grip to eliminate the risk of slipping while optimizing balance. This grip is also capable of absorbing sweat while you focus on the play.
The ergonomic grip design provides additional comfort on every hit. The perfectly distributed weight tends to minimize the stress on elbows and shoulders. Further, each paddle comes with an edge guard for protection on ground hits.
- Great for all ages and skills
- Solid construction
- Well balanced
- Superb control and power
- Good weight
- Strong core
- Comfortable ergonomic grip
- Smaller paddles
- A bit heavy for some
ONIX Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle
This is perhaps one of the most renowned pickleball paddles to consider for its superior touch and control than many other paddles. Weighing 7.5-8.2 oz., ONIX Z5 is somewhat heavier than many other paddles but it is exactly responsible for infusing more power into your shots while retaining the right speed. After all, the heavier a racket is, the more is the shot power from it.
This paddle from ONIX is highly recommended for beginners or amateurs although even the intermediate players can rely on it. This is perhaps because of its wide hitting surface, which the beginners can easily use and depend upon.
As a thumb rule, a wider paddle means a grander sweet spot. With the hitting surface being 8” wide, this paddle comes with a large sweets spot that also allures the advanced players. This simply minimizes the risk of missed hits.
Coming to its build and construction, it is typically strong and durable. The paddle features a Nomex honeycomb core. Nomex is somewhat like cardboard that is dipped in resin due to which it is tremendously hard and stable.
At the same time, the honeycomb shape and graphite face also make it lightweight. The same blend also delivers more pop, which means the amount of force absorbed while touching the ball. This paddle absorbs much less force.
Balls bounce perfectly to give much power. The Nomex honeycomb core is responsible for giving a lot of power. This, when used with confidence, results in a blast in the court.
The grip size is standard with 4-1/2” and is cushioned enough to ensure comfort and protection. The handle is worth a sight due to its shape like that in a tennis racket. This makes it super simple for players to switch to pickleball.
Go for this one if you need an incredible ball control through a medium-weight design.
- Ideal for beginners
- Great grip
- Wide hitting surface or sweet spot
- Superb power and balance
- Tennis handle
- Good feel
- Good feedback
- Available in different colors
- Somewhat pricey
- Power at the cost of some control
Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddle Set
This paddle set is a great choice for both beginners and experts alike who are looking for all gear in one package but with paddles being heavy. It is exclusively a family and friends’ package demanding no specific level of skill or expertise. It is widely in use in schools, clubs, recreational centers, YMCAs, and community centers.
This set comes with two wooden paddles that are heavier than those composite and other paddle types. However, the weight of 10oz is such that it is suitable for the intermediate players too. This is because a heavy paddle facilitates a good shot without any extra effort, especially when playing from the baseline. On the other hand, for beginners, it offers much pop and performance.
The wood used in building these two paddles that come along with four pickleballs and a breathable bag is maple. Seven plies of this wood make up for a rigid, powerful, and durable core. The wooden sides are also nicely polished to give an elegant look. The width of 7.5 inches means good hitting surface for the beginners.
Coming to its 4-1/2’ grip, it is not that premium but features polyurethane of good quality. The grip comes with a bit raised ribbing surrounding the handle to make sure that you feel secure. There is also a wrist strap to keep it in place while swinging.
These set balls are specially made for outdoors, as they are quite enduring in nature. However, you can use them indoors as well.
The long handles contribute to a great feel while maintaining their balance when in use. They are well wrapped and firm. You also enjoy the great sound while hitting the ball using a wooden surface. In addition, you get a mesh bag to store and carry the set conveniently.
- Light despite being heavy
- Superb entry-level paddle
- Good amount of power
- Great handle wrapping
- Plenty of pop and performance
- Great grip
- Free ebook included
- Highly affordable
- Less sanded edges
Gamma Micron 2.0 Pickleball Paddle
Consider this super affordable paddle from Gamma Sports if you truly wish to bring in some good amount of spin to your shots. Thanks to its unique feature of textured surface that is much like very fine grit sandpaper due to which you can apply tremendous spin to the ball.
The textured surface facilitates back and top spins, the 8 oz. weight is ideal for hitting with power and control, and the narrower width than most paddles makes swinging easier than before. The paddle has a balanced weight, is much on the lighter side, and moves around easily.
Being medium in weight measuring 7.6 oz., the paddle features a textured fiberglass face that is responsible for a long-lasting and highly-performing construction. The edge guard is also durable.
At the core is the construction of aramid (solid and fibrous) honeycomb that delivers as well as sustains the right mix of power and control for both the beginners and intermediate players alike. The 4” honeycomb grip is soft and sweat-absorbent so that you can make a confident shot.
The grip has mild padding as well as grooves to ensure non-skid hold. It is extremely comfortable. The paddle also has enough pop and ensures better accuracy while hitting a shot. The handle is small for large hands. So, if you have used a larger or a heavier paddle, it will take some time to get used to this paddle.
- Superb control and power
- Crisp feel
- Superb spin due to a textured surface
- Good grip
- Adherence to USAPA specifications
- Moderate noise while hitting
Upstreet Pickleball Paddle
This is another graphite paddle to consider but with a distinct core and more weight than usual. Generally, a graphite paddle usually has less weight, is quicker than other paddle types, and ensures more swing as well as speed control. The best graphite paddle is soft-edged, receptive, and tested for wide surface impact. This graphite model from Upstreet seems to be one such paddle.
The weight is around 8.6 oz., which is somewhat more than the light graphite models. However, it is this more weight due to which you can exercise better control over your shots being made using the large sweet spot.
The paddle is in black but looks quite elegant due to its meticulous fabrication. The paddle features a resilient surface with perfect consistency. It is also tested thoroughly to find out whether there are any weak spots or not.
Talking about the core, it is distinct in the sense that it is made up of the Polypropylene (PP) honeycomb composite material. This material is known for its finest reflex performance. Apart from that, it makes the paddle durable.
The composite core gains a distinct edge over the competition due to its rare plastic mix. In simple words, this translates to less vibration, better control, and a large sweet spot. It is also responsible for a crisp feel while hitting.
The core consistency results in the most wanted ‘feel’ for gaining the desired hitting impact. This is what is required for making different shots such as volleys, dinks, and cross-court lobs.
The paddle comes with a micro-dry cozy grip that even dispels sweat due to the stitched rib tape having perforations. This grip is popular amongst serious as well as recreational players. There is also a thick foam that contributes to the overall soft feel.
A few players want power, while some need a crafty touch. This paddle strikes an ideal equilibrium. People of all ages, expertise, and levels can use this paddle. The model is moveable as well as portable.
- Resilient surface
- Good power and swing
- Better widespread control
- Easy to hold
- Optimal performance
- Less power
- Vibrating a bit but can be minimized
How to Choose the Best Pickleball Paddle
Hundreds of paddle manufacturers come up with several paddles every year. However, each of these paddles has a distinct mix of weight, grip, materials, and durability level. Thus, no paddles can be completely identical. There will be at least one point of distinction between the two apart from the price.
Similarly, the buyers of these paddles will have a unique mix of requirements and budget. In other words, no two buyers are identical. This indicates that there cannot be a single pickleball paddle that can be the best for all buyers or players.
Each player needs a paddle as per the prevalent skill set and the determined goal. For this, the players are required to compare the most promising paddles based on their features, specifications, pros, and cons. These are nothing but the buying factors to consider, which they need to define after assessing their own requirements and prior to comparison.
Keeping this in mind, here are the buying factors to consider, which are in the form of answers to the frequently asked questions.
How knowing the skill level helps in choosing the right pickleball paddle?
It is important to know your skill level for buying the right paddle. This is because a paddle made for professionals is certainly not for amateurs. It is obvious that an amateur will not choose a professional-grade paddle even if it is going to make you a better player. Amateurs feel better with wooden paddles. Thus, it is worth examining your own skill and accordingly choose the most wanted features.
It is also worth finding out whether you love to play indoors or outdoors. For outdoor lovers, it is important to choose a paddle with an UV-resistant layer on the face. Such a layer is critical for least sun damage as well as discoloration. On the other hand, for indoor lovers, a paddle that comes with a durable edge guard is perfect.
What is more important power or control?
Many players prefer power who consequently are inclined towards heavier paddles with shorter handles. For those who want more control, a lighter paddle with a longer handle is the way to go. Such a handle usually has a sweat-resistant grip for superb precision.
What kind of core should I choose while buying a pickleball paddle?
The core is perhaps the spine of a pickleball paddle. It is the most critical part that helps you determine whether the model will feel heavy or light when gripped. To choose the best core, you need to know the types of core available for pickleball paddles.
- Aluminum: Is structured using a honeycomb design just as Nomex cores and is all about heavy-hitting, power, and weight. However, it is present in the hexagonal walls instead of polymer resin. This core is bulky and does not give you much control. However, if mixed with fiberglass face, it can balance control and power with improved precision.
- Nomex: Is a nylon-based polymer that is admired for its engineering flexibility and lighter weight. In this core, a honeycomb framework is soaked in polymer resin after which it is left for cooling and hardening. This core is exceptionally light and durable but is noisier and harder than other cores due to no cushioning.
- Polypropylene: Is a recently introduced core that contributes to durability and lighter weight than usual. This plastic is soft due to which the core’s inner structure is more flexible than expected with precise bounce. This softness also triggers a cushioning effect due to which the paddle becomes less reflective and touches the ball such that a great amount of control is granted to the player.
Now, you can decide which one is ideal for you as per your requirements.
Which material is ideal for my pickleball paddle?
Choosing the right material is as critical as selecting the right core. The material in use informs you about the paddle’s deflective attributes. To know which material is right for you, it is essential to know the materials that are used for making pickleball paddles. Let’s check them out!
- Wood: Is the material with which the initial pickleball paddles were made. The paddles were simple but were fully functional. Over the course of time, the wooden designs got refined to come up with more sophisticated paddles. The modern wooden models are known for superb grip for control and wrist straps. Hardwood is now replacing plywood to give more hitting power as well as durability.
- Polymer: Is a unique blend of resin and plastic. This material is famous for being durable and lightweight. It is also what has given us the most economical variants of paddles today. Paddles made from this material are popular among casual players and amateurs. They are just not for professionals as their performance tend to reduce as compared to composite and graphite models.
- Graphite: Is a choice of several professional players. The material makes a paddle quite lightweight and highly responsive to make significantly controlled shots. Graphite paddles are best for who love dinking. It’s superb hitting accuracy when combined with a small edge guard for a larger hitting surface is matchless in terms of performance.
- Composite: Is simply a high-tech material made from a mix of different materials to ensure the highest durability level. It results in professional-grade paddles that are quite pricey. However, they are ideal for performing in a professional court. A few popular materials used in these paddles are UV-resistant vinyl, polymer, fiberglass, and aluminum.
What is the ideal pickleball paddle size?
The preferable paddle size is not usually beyond 24 inches. Thus, it is fine to look for a short paddle that is 8 by 16 inches or a long one that is 5 by 19 inches. These dimensions take care of optimal balance and give a wider hitting area, which any beginner would like to have. For professionals, longer sizes provide the benefit of better grip.
What should be the weight of my pickleball paddle?
Choosing the right weight is the most critical decision to make while selecting a pickleball paddle. Within a range of 6 to 14 ounces, the weight of paddles tends to influence the power and control you can expect. It also influences the type of feeling you get and the type of action you can take.
It is vital to know that lighter paddles give you less power and more control, while the heavier ones give more power and less control.
Additionally, weight influences the overall game due to which it should be such that you feel comfortable while holding the paddle. Well, three options of weight are there for you to decide which one is right for you. These are below 7.3 oz (light), 7.3-8.4 oz (medium), and 8.5-9.5 oz (heavy).
Extremely light paddles need a swifter reaction time as well as swing speed. Therefore, beginners get inclined towards versions that are a bit heavier. These variants need lower reaction speed due to being less strong and supporting higher deflection.
Light paddles also trigger more head speed and need less arm strength. They are ideal for those who hit hard. Light models are also more popular amongst doubles players.
Medium-weight paddles are ideal for beginners who are yet to find their game preferences. They are also reliable for those who want both discretion and power. Finally, the heavy paddles are just for power players, as they give maximum pop as well as power as compared to other weights.
However, this power comes at the cost of control loss. Further, they demand more arm as well as elbow strength. Heavy models are popular amongst single players who tend to hit lightly.
How should be the grip of my pickleball paddle?
The right amount of grip is responsible for shot accuracy and control. Thus, choosing a paddle with the right grip size is as critical as choosing the right weight for great performance. Before you look for the grip details, it is vital to comprehend that grips that are too short or long are just futile.
Rather, the grip should be such that it always endorses your hold and is supposed to be in alignment with your palm in terms of size. A longer grip may give more stability, while a shorter one may contribute to increased control over spins and more wrist action.
However, it is wise to choose a paddle whose grip fits just right in your palm. This is because a longer one skid to only welcome an injury, while a smaller one may not give you the desired feel.
Here is a simple thumb rule: Choose the grip size as per your height. Those whose height is below 5’2” can simply rely on the 4-inch grip size. Similarly, those whose height is between 5’3” and 5’8” should go with the 4-1/4-inch grip size. Anybody beyond 5’8” can go with the 4-1/2-inch grip size.
If you have played badminton, then a narrow handle is what you will prefer. Similarly, if you are a tennis player, a thicker handle is your choice. Thus, an ideal way to know which handle is right for you is to try some paddles until you get the right grip.
What should be the hitting surface size of a paddle?
Well, the answer to this question depends on your skill level or expertise. If you are buying a pickleball paddle for the first time or will be playing the game for the first time, it is worth investing in a wider hitting area. This is because such an area not only restricts the number of missed shots but also make dinking more effortless.
On the other hand, if you are an intermediate or an advanced player, a narrower hitting area is ideal. This is because such an area is lighter.
What about pickleball paddle’s deflection?
Pickleball paddles that render more deflection typically have a core with more spring as well as triggers more power with much less effort. However, this is responsible for compromising much control as well as accuracy.
Thus, USAPA has set standard rules for paddle deflection so that there is no trampolining impact. According to one of these standards, for a paddle having a weight of 3 kgs, the ball deflecting off should not jump over 5000th of an inch.
Why should I choose a pickleball paddle with an edge guard?
As the name indicates, an edge guard protects the paddle’s edge and makes it resistant to chipping. It is ideal to go with a medium-sized guard although a larger one is likely to give a wider hitting surface than normal. However, a wider guard can increase the overall paddle’s weight and influence its performance.
Is it important to check the pickleball paddle’s sound?
Okay, the pickleball paddle’s sound is not that important aspect to consider. However, it becomes important to assess the noise or sound level at the time of hitting if you reside in a noise-prohibited or a noise-sensitive zone. In that case, you need a paddle that does not generate much sound or else it is likely to cause inconvenience. To invest in one such paddle, it is ideal to look for a polypropylene core having some foam for additional cushioning as well as for less noise and ignore the Nomex core.
How do I assess the durability of a pickleball paddle?
Durability is certainly an important factor. A durable paddle provides value for money. One way to check it is to know how durable the build material is. This has been already discussed above. Another way to check the same is to assess face finishes.
While checking the hitting surface, do examine the face finish as its importance is no less than the core. It is wise to choose a finish that has come UV inhibitors to protect the paddle from all possible damage due to the sun.
Right from the core to the grip, selecting the best pickleball paddle as per your distinct needs requires good research and comprehension of buying factors. The aforementioned factors will surely help you in deciding which paddle is right for you once you have identified your needs. There is no single paddle that we can recommend to all buyers.
We advise choosing a paddle as per your skill level, which can be beginner, intermediate, and advanced. To get started as a beginner, we recommend ONIX Z5 as it is made up of graphite, has a wider hitting area, and great grip size along with control and balance power. For advanced players, we recommend a professional-grade version such as Niupipo and the affordable GAMMA .