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:
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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”
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.
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 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.”
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:
When choosing a pickleball paddle, also consider the following:
If you are new to pickleball and looking for a beginner pickleball paddle, check out the pickleball paddles below!
The EngagePickleball Status pickleball paddle is the #1 low priced pickleball paddle on the market. The Status is also "Made in USA" and is optimized to meet stringent community noise requirements, which is a great additional benefit. The EngagePickleball Status pickleball paddle is midweight (7.4-8.0 ounces), midsize grip (4.25 inches), and is slightly wider than the standard pickleball shape (15.5 inches long by 8.0625 inches wide). The Status is made for spin and control and, while not approved by USA Pickleball for sanctioned pickleball tournaments, EngagePickleball offers a trade-in value of $30 off any EngagePickleball premium paddle priced $94.99 or higher which are all approved by USA Pickleball for sanctioned pickleball tournaments.
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).
The Franklin X1000 pickleball paddle is a great beginner paddle with a relatively low price point. The Franklin X1000 pickleball paddle is a "wide body" pickleball paddle with a large sweet spot. This means this paddle is a bit wider than the standard pickleball paddle shape, as it is 15.75 inches long by 8.25 inches wide. The Franklin X1000 is a midweight (7.7-8.2 ounces) pickleball paddle with an average size grip of 4.25 inches. To top it off, the Franklin X1000 is USA Pickleball approved!
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.
The EngagePickleball 6.0 pickleball paddle are the only "Thick Core" pickleball paddles with a large sweet spot and the right amount of power to put the ball away, while still maintaining all of the benefits of a thick core, which include full control, balance and positioning. The EngagePickleball pickleball paddles are also more customizable for your preferences, as they come in three different shapes:
The EngagePickleball 6.0 pickleball paddles also come in different weights (a light version that is 7.5 to 7.8 ounces, and a standard version that is 7.9 to 8.3 ounces), as well as different grip sizes (a standard size that is 4.375 inches, and a thin size that is 4.125 inches).
The EngagePickleball 6.0 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 6.0 pickleball paddle is best, try the EngagePickleball 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 MX 6.0 pickleball paddle.
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.
The Franklin Ben Johns Signature pickleball paddle is a great pickleball paddle with a relatively low price point for the quality. The Franklin Ben Johns Signature pickleball paddle was crafted by, and is currently used by, the #1 pro pickleball player in the world, Ben Johns. This pickleball paddle has a 13MM polypropylene core, and is 16.5 inches long by 7.5 inches wide, which gives players more reach, power, and spin. The Franklin Ben Johns 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 Ben Johns Signature pickleball paddle is USA Pickleball approved! To note, this pickleball paddle comes with a thicker core (16MM core), which is more forgiving and has a larger sweet spot. The thicker core will have less power, but more control.
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 some of our favorite vendors for the best deals!
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Since returning to professional pickleball this year, after taking a long COVID hiatus, Leigh and Anna Leigh Waters have been traveling the country for pickleball tournaments. But, one thing that that they have not done in a really long time is take a family vacation... until now. Learn about Team Waters' trip to Costa Rica from Leigh herself, which included as much, or more, pickleball than at home in Florida, monkey spectators, family bonding, surfing, and a lot of new friends made on the Costa Rican pickleball courts, which reminded them how much fun the great sport of pickleball really is.