Pickleball paddles are an important component of your pickleball game. The quality of your paddle can affect the quality of your shots on the pickleball court. The quality in your paddle can come in the form of the latest and greatest technology. It can also come in the form of keeping your pickleball paddle in pristine condition over time.
Pickleball paddles are not indestructible. Rather, they wear out over time. So, how do you know when your pickleball paddle is “dead”? In other words, when should you replace your pickleball paddle?
What Is a “Dead” Pickleball Paddle?
A “dead” pickleball paddle is one that is not playing to its manufactured capabilities. A dead pickleball paddle can be caused by a break, crack, dent, worn down surface, or use (or overuse) for the lifespan of the paddle.
It is important to identify a dead pickleball paddle because a dead pickleball paddle can affect your on-court play. Dead pickleball paddles can limit the quality of your shots, as they can lead to less power or “pop,” less touch, feel or control, and less spin.
How Can You Tell When Your Pickleball Paddle Is Dead?
For most recreational pickleball players, the lifespan of a pickleball paddle will be about 1 to 3 years. However, this time period can range drastically based on how often you play (e.g., do you play once a year, once a month, or once per day?), how you play (e.g., are you more aggressive with your shots and play style, as you drive or attack most shots?), and how you otherwise treat your pickleball paddle (e.g., do you drop or throw your paddle around, or do you treat it with care?). For instance, professional pickleball players will usually replace their pickleball paddles every few months, as they oftentimes play at least once per day (for many hours) and play at a very fast-paced, aggressive level, which can wear down their paddles more quickly. Plus, given that their livelihood is on the line, pro players need their paddle to perform at their highest potential at all times.
Due to this range of a pickleball paddle’s lifespan, how can you tell when your paddle is dead? Look for the following clues to determine whether your pickleball paddle is dead:
- Feel Off – Does your pickleball paddle feel “off”? Does your paddle hit the pickleball with less power than when you originally purchased it? Does the pickleball travel a shorter distance when you hit it? Do you feel like you have less control or less feel of your shots? Do you hit the pickleball in the same spot on your paddle and get different results? If the answer is yes to any of the foregoing questions, then your pickleball paddle may be dead.
- Feel Broken – Brush your hand over the surface of your pickleball paddle. Do you feel any cracks, dents, or breaks across the surface of your paddle? Does your paddle feel smooth, as if the surface texture has been worn down or worn away? Can you see any cracks, dents, or breaks (particularly, around the edges of your paddle)? Also, pay attention to the handle of your paddle. Does the handle feel as if it is flexing or on the brink of snapping (as opposed to being sturdy)? If the answer is yes to any of the foregoing questions, then your pickleball paddle may be dead.
- The Sound – Test the sound of your pickleball paddle both in the center and around the edges. To do this, grab a pickleball and hit the pickleball up and down at different points of contact with your paddle. Or, take your knuckle and gently tap or knock your knuckle around different points of contact with your pickleball paddle. Does the surface area near the edge of your paddle sound the same all the way around your paddle? Does the surface area near the center of your paddle sound different than the sound near the edges of your paddle? Does the center of your paddle have a more-hollow sound, as opposed to the edges (which may sound duller)? If the answer is no to any of the foregoing questions, then your pickleball paddle may be dead.
If your pickleball paddle is dead, then it may be time to replace your paddle in order to maximize the quality of your shots (and win more games!) on the pickleball court.
How to Prolong the Life of Your Pickleball Paddle
There certain things that you can do (or not do) in order to maximize the life of your pickleball paddle (which can be important, particularly if you are investing money into getting the highest quality of paddles with the best technology):
- First, treat your pickleball paddle with care. Use a paddle cover or a pickleball bag to protect your paddle while in transit.
- Do not leave your pickleball paddle in your car (which can be subject to extreme heat or extreme cold at times) or in another environment where your paddle can be subject to the elements. Rather, bring your paddle into a temperature-controlled environment (such as your home).
- Be wary of clanking paddles with your partner or with your opponents after a game. Gently paddle tap, or possibly even tap handles instead.
- Do not throw, toss, or smash your paddle (even if things are not going your way on the pickleball court).
- Clean your paddle, which can help ensure that your surface texture of the pickleball paddle works the best for you on the court.
How much you play or your play style are two things that will affect the life of your pickleball paddle, but you should not play less or alter your style of play (e.g., more drives than dinks) in order to save your paddle. Just part of the tradeoff—if you play more pickleball, or you play more aggressive pickleball, you may need to replace your paddle more often than those that are not playing as frequently. Playing more pickleball is not a bad problem to have, though…
If You Are Ready to Replace Your Pickleball Paddle
If you are ready to replace your pickleball paddle and need help to choose the best pickleball paddle for you, then check out Pickler's blog, “How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle by Price, Weight, Shape & Size.”
If you already know what pickleball paddle you are looking for, then visit Fromuth Pickleball and grab 10% off with the code 10PICKLER (to note, some exclusions apply; court equipment, Babolat, and Selkirk-branded merchandise and paddles are excluded).