Choosing a pickleball paddle (to note, in the sport of pickleball, the correct terminology is a “pickleball paddle,” not a “pickleball racquet”) can be overwhelming, especially as there are hundreds and hundreds of pickleball paddles out in the marketplace. Whether you are a beginner pickleball player or a pro pickleball player, there are a few things to consider or look for when choosing a pickleball paddle, which include:
- Grip Size
- Grit and Spin
- Other Pickleball Paddle Considerations
Price of Pickleball Paddle
Pickleball paddles range in price points—from under $20 to more than $200. As a result, price may be a deciding factor when choosing a pickleball paddle. A low-price pickleball paddle would likely be under $50, and a high-price pickleball paddle would be $150 and above. This leaves the $50 to $150 range for the mid-price pickleball paddles.
Your price range may depend on how much pickleball you are expecting to play. In other words, if you plan on playing pickleball one or two times (*good luck just playing once or twice, as pickleball is like Pringles – once you start, the fun doesn’t stop!), you may be looking for a pickleball paddle in the $20 to $50 range and do not want to make a significant investment. However, if you plan to play pickleball more frequently (for instance, once or twice a week), then consider making an investment in your pickleball paddle, as the quality of the pickleball paddle may, or most likely will, affect the quality of your play on the pickleball court.
Weight of Pickleball Paddle
The weight of a pickleball paddle may also be a deciding factor in how to choose the right pickleball paddle for you. There is no rule that regulates the weight of a pickleball paddle. As a result, a pickleball paddle may be as heavy or as a light as a player decides and, like varying prices for pickleball paddles, pickleball paddles come in varying weights. Pickleball paddles less than 7.3 ounces would be considered lightweight, while pickleball paddles heavier than 8.3 ounces would be considered heavyweight. This leaves the midweight pickleball paddles ranging from 7.3 to 8.3 ounces.
Lightweight pickleball paddles help generate paddle speed, which can help with fast reflexes at the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen line. However, lightweight paddles generally do not generate as much power. On the flip side, heavyweight pickleball paddles can slow down your hands and reflexes due to the additional weight, but the heavier pickleball paddles generate much more power.
Professional pickleball players generally prefer heavier pickleball paddles because of this reason. These pro pickleball players even “load up” their pickleball paddles with lead tape around the edges to weight their pickleball paddles even more. With that said, heavier pickleball paddles are not for everyone and can even lead to injuries, as heavier pickleball paddles may put unnecessary stress on your elbow. If you have concern about elbow pain—in other words, “pickleball elbow” or tennis elbow—just like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, consider using a pickleball paddle that is “just right” – which would be a midweight pickleball paddle (between 7.3 and 8.3 ounces).
Shape of Pickleball Paddle
Pickleball paddles also comes in all shapes and sizes. The pickleball paddle size – the length and the width – is regulated by the rules of pickleball, as the combined length and width of the pickleball paddle (including the edge guard and cap on the handle) may not exceed 24 inches, while the length of a pickleball paddle may not exceed 17 inches. With that said, three common shapes to consider include:
1. Standard Pickleball Paddle Shape
The standard pickleball paddle shape is 16 inches long by 8 inches wide (which, in each case, meets the total 24 inches permitted by the rules of pickleball). This shape offers a great balance of reach, power, and control for pickleball paddles.
2. Elongated Pickleball Paddle Shape
An elongated shape is a pickleball paddle that is longer than 16 inches (typically 16.5 to 17 inches). As a result, the width of the pickleball paddle is smaller than the standard shape, too. The elongated shape generally provides more reach, power, and spin (but, on the flip side, possibly less control). The elongated shape is popular amongst singles pickleball players due to this extended reach.
3. Pickleball Paddle with a Longer Handle
Some pickleball paddles have longer handles than others (to note, pickleball paddle handles longer than 5 inches are considered long). The longer handle is preferred for pickleball players that have two-handed backhands (which are often current or former tennis players). If you have a two-handed backhand that you tend to favor, consider whether you need a pickleball paddle with a longer handle. If so, the pickleball paddle will be elongated in the paddle shape, but will generally have “less paddle” and “more handle.”
Grip Size of Pickleball Paddle
The grip size of the pickleball paddle is another consideration when choosing a pickleball paddle. Most pickleball paddle grips are between 4 inches and 4.5 inches in circumference. The pickleball grip size that you prefer may come down to your preference (including your preference on the weight, bulk, and comfort of the pickleball grip). With that said, there are a few tests that you can do to determine what is the best pickleball grip size for you. Determining the best pickleball grip size for you can also be helpful in getting rid of pickleball elbow or tennis elbow, as the wrong pickleball grip size may be a factor to pickleball or tennis elbow pain.
Height Test for Pickleball Grip Size
The best pickleball grip size could depend on your height.
Suggested Pickleball Grip Size
Below 5’ 3”
5’ 3” to 5’ 8”
Above 5’ 8”
Finger Length Test for Pickleball Grip Size
The best pickleball grip size could be the length from the tip of your paddle-hand ring finger to the middle crease of your paddle-hand palm. Whatever the resulting measurement is – between the tip of your paddle-hand ring finger to the middle crease of your paddle-hand palm – is the best pickleball grip size for you. To note, if you are in between two sizes, consider choosing the smaller pickleball grip size.
Index Finger Test for Pickleball Grip Size
The last method to test what pickleball grip size is correct for you requires a pickleball paddle. Grab the pickleball paddle using the Eastern pickleball paddle grip. As a reminder, to find this Eastern pickleball grip, hold your pickleball paddle directly out in front of you with your opposite hand, such that the paddle face is looking evenly to the left of your body and to the right of your body. Take your hand that you are holding the pickleball paddle with and place it on the face of the pickleball paddle.
Slide your hand down the paddle face and shake hands with the pickleball paddle grip.
Now, place the index finger of your free hand in the gap between your finger tips and thumb of your hand holding the pickleball paddle. If your index finger fits snug in the gap, then you likely have the best pickleball grip size for you. If your index finger cannot fit in the space, then the pickleball grip size may be too small. If your index finder fits in the space with plenty of room on either side, then the pickleball grip may be too large.
Please note, however, that this index finger test for grip size is more common in tennis, as tennis generally features larger grip sizes for larger racquets. As a result, this test may not produce the most accurate results for pickleball grip size. We suggest using this index finger test in conjunction with the height test and finger length test for pickleball grip size.
When in Doubt as to Pickleball Grip Size…
When you have doubts as to what pickleball grip size is best for you, it is, generally speaking, better to go with the smaller pickleball grip size. This is because a small pickleball grip size will provide for more wrist action on your shots, which may lead to more power on your shots, as well as more spin and control of the pickleball. Further, if your pickleball grip size is too big, your pickleball paddle may slip in your hand.
Lastly, if you decide that you are not happy with your pickleball grip size, you can always change it. You can do this by re-gripping your pickleball paddle or adding additional pickleball grips or overgrips.
For more on pickleball grips, check out Pickler’s pickleball blog “3 Pickleball Grips Explained.”
Grit and Spin on the Pickleball Paddle
A relatively new focus on pickleball paddles is the grit on the paddle surface, which can impart spin when striking the pickleball. Grit is all about the texture of the paddle surface and can be identified when using your fingers to touch the paddle surface. Paddle manufacturers may use material with gritty properties to make the paddle itself (for instance, carbon fiber - which is stronger than steel!), or paddle manufacturers may apply grit after the fact to materials that typically do not have gritty properties.
Material of Pickleball Paddle
The material that a pickleball paddle is made of may also be a deciding factor when choosing a pickleball paddle. The most common pickleball paddle materials include:
- Wood – Wood pickleball paddles are generally the cheapest, and they are also very durable. However, wood pickleball paddles are also very heavy and have the least technology to elevate a pickleball player’s game on the court. If you are going to play pickleball more than a couple times, consider avoiding wood pickleball paddles.
- Graphite – Graphite pickleball paddles are generally the most expensive, and they also generate a lot of power because graphite pickleball paddles are very stiff and very light.
- Composite – Composite pickleball paddles are the “middle ground” between wood and graphite pickleball paddles. Composite pickleball paddles come in all shapes, sizes, weights, and prices, and are often favored because of the ability to add a texture to the surface of the pickleball paddle.
Other Considerations for Pickleball Paddles
When choosing a pickleball paddle, also consider the following:
- USA Pickleball Approved – Pickleball paddles that are approved by USA Pickleball are created or manufactured in accordance with the rules of pickleball. This means that you will be in compliance with the rules of pickleball and that you will be able to use the pickleball paddle when playing in a pickleball tournament. If you are considering playing competitive pickleball and playing in a pickleball tournament, whether a pickleball paddle is approved by USA Pickleball will be an important deciding factor for you. Plus, it is important to further and abide by the rules of pickleball, so avoid illegal pickleball paddles. For more on the rules of pickleball that pertain to pickleball paddles, check out Pickler’s pickleball blog “Pickleball Rules - Learn How to Start - 5 Things You Need to Play.”
- Thickness – There is no pickleball rule regulating a pickleball paddles thickness. As a result, a pickleball paddle may be as thick or as thin as a player desires. With that said, pickleball paddles that are thicker may offer more control and a bigger sweet spot, which may be important (and more forgiving) for beginner pickleball players.
- Edge Guard – Most pickleball paddles have edge guards. However, some pickleball paddles do not have edge guards. An edge guard is important in protecting your pickleball paddle from damage (oftentimes, when striking the ground). An edge guard will be especially important for beginner pickleball players.
Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners
If you are new to pickleball and looking for a beginner pickleball paddle, check out the pickleball paddles below!
EngagePickleball Trident Pickleball Paddle
The EngagePickleball Trident pickleball paddle is a great pickleball paddle that is "Made in USA" and that focuses on control, feel and spin, while still having a load of power. The Trident is also optimized to meet stringent community noise requirements, which is a great additional benefit, and is approved by USA Pickleball. The EngagePickleball Trident pickleball paddle is midweight (7.6-8.1 ounces), midsize grip (4.25 inches), and is slightly wider than the standard pickleball shape (15.5 inches long by 8.125 inches wide).
Franklin Signature Pickleball Paddle
The Franklin Signature pickleball paddle is a great pickleball paddle with a relatively low price point for the quality. This pickleball paddle has a 16MM polypropylene core, and is 16.5 inches long by 7.5 inches wide, which gives players more reach, power, and spin. The Franklin Signature pickleball paddle is a midweight (7.5-8.0 ounces) pickleball paddle with an average size grip of 4.25 inches. To top it off, the Franklin Signature pickleball paddle is USA Pickleball approved! To note, this pickleball paddle comes in a variety of colors, as well as a model with a thinner core (13MM core), which will have more power, but may result in less control.
Best Pickleball Paddles for the Next Level
If you plan on playing pickleball more often - and, to note, you probably will, as pickleball is too much fun not to - then consider investing in a pickleball paddle that has better technology for better durability and, more importantly, improve your pickleball game.
EngagePickleball Pursuit Pickleball Paddles
The EngagePickleball Pursuit pickleball paddles are Engage Pickleball's flagship paddles and were the result of a long development process. The Pursuit has a modern look and feel - with the all black "stealth-like" look. The Pursuit also has a proprietary graphite skin and "black core," which results in a strong, unique balance of power to put the ball away, while still maintaining full control, balance and positioning. The surface texture of the Pursuit paddle line also enhances spin and feel. The Engage Pickleball Pursuit paddles are also more customizable for your preferences, as they come in three different shapes:
- EX - 16 inches long by 8 inches wide (and a 5-inch handle), which is the industry standard shape for great balance between reach, power, and control
- MX - 16.5 inches long x 7.5 inches wide, which is for those pickleball players looking for more reach, power, and spin, as well as a longer handle at 5.75 inches
- RX - 15.75 inches long by 8.25 inches wide (and a 5-inch handle), which provides more control and wider sweet spot
- LX - 17 inches long x 7 inches wide (and a standard 5-inch handle), which is for those pickleball players looking for the maximum reach
- RX - 16.25 inches long by 7.75 inches wide, but has a short handle of only 4 inches
The Engage Pursuit pickleball paddles also come in different weights (a light version that is 7.6 to 7.9 ounces, and a standard version that is 8.0 to 8.4 ounces), as well as different core widths. The 6.0 edition of the Pursuit line of pickleball paddles has a core that is 0.625 inches wide for maximum control and feel. The traditional core is only 0.5 inches wide, which comes with increased power.
The Engage Pursuit pickleball paddles are also optimized to meet stringent community noise requirements, which is a great additional benefit, and are approved by USA Pickleball.
If you are uncertain of which EngagePickleball Pursuit pickleball paddle is best, try the EngagePickleball Pursuit EX 6.0 (standard weight, standard grip). Also, if you are a current or former tennis player that loves the two-handed backhand and wants extended reach, then consider the EngagePickleball Pursuit MX 6.0 pickleball paddle.
Joola Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16mm Pickleball Paddle
Joola manufactures the official pickleball paddle of Ben Johns in the Joola Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16mm pickleball paddle, which has been spotted in the hands of many pickleball pros as of late. This pickleball paddle has a lot of power, control, and spin, which comes from the carbon friction surface, polymer core, aerodynamic shape, and extended handle.
CRBN Pickleball Paddles
The CRBN pickleball paddles have followed the latest trend in the sport with the black carbon fiber face, which gives the CRBN a ton of spin and control. The CRBN pickleball paddles - like the Engage Pursuit line - come in a variety of shapes and widths to fit each player's particular style of play. This includes a more traditional shape, as well as paddle with extended reach, and two widths - a more traditional width for more power (13mm) and a wider paddle (16mm) for more control.
Selkirk Power Vanguard Air Pickleball Paddles
The Selkirk Vanguard Power Air pickleball paddle line is another example of extended research and development in the sport of pickleball. Selkirk worked with a variety of pickleball pros and players to develop a pickleball paddle with maximum power and spin. The Selkirk Power Air pickleball paddle is an edgeless paddle with aerodynamic characteristics (as there is a small cutout in the face of the paddle to help with drag resistance). The Selkirk Power Air comes in a variety of shapes and colors to match the personality and play style of different players.
Paddletek Tempest Pro Pickleball Paddles
The Paddletek Tempest Pro pickleball paddles help increase control on the pickleball court, as the Tempest Pro pickleball paddles boast accuracy, power, and forgiveness with their large sweet spots and balanced weight. Like the EngagePickleball 6.0 Pickleball Paddles, the Paddletek Tempest Pro Pickleball Paddles also come in a couple of different shapes and styles.
The Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro pickleball paddles are midweight (7.6 to 8.0 ounces), come in two grip sizes (a standard grip of 4.375 inches, and a thin grip of 4.125 inches), and feature an industry standard shape of 15.875 inches long by 8 inches wide.
The Paddletek Tempest Reign Pro pickleball paddles are midweight (7.6 to 8.0 ounces), come in two grip sizes (a standard grip of 4.375 inches, and a thin grip of 4.125 inches), and feature an elongated shape of 16.5 inches long by 7.5 inches wide.
How to Buy a Pickleball Paddle
If you have compared the various pickleball paddles and you are ready to select a pickleball paddle that is a good pickleball paddle for you, then be sure to visit Fromuth Pickleball - Use the code "10PICKLER" for 10% off (to note, some exclusions apply; court equipment, Babolat, and Selkirk-branded merchandise and paddles are excluded)!
And, if you have selected an Engage Pickleball paddle, get even more of a discount with 15% off using the code "PICKLER15"! Exclusively for Pickler readers and subscribers!