Even though there are more than 100 pickleball manufacturers, there are only a handful of paddle brands that professional pickleball players use in competitive events. This could be because (1) there are only a handful of pickleball paddle manufacturers that produce top-notch quality paddles, (2) there are only a handful of pickleball paddle manufacturers that sponsor and pay the pro pickleballers to use their respective paddles, or (3) a bit of both.
What pickleball paddle brands are the pros playing with?
A professional pickleball player is, in some sense, an undefined term. However, it generally means a pickleball player that plays competitively for money and/or for their livelihood. This is “black and white” on the fringes—for instance, Ben Johns and Anna Leigh Waters who play pickleball for thousands of dollars in prize money and even more thousands of dollars in sponsorship. This is also “black and white” for those that only play recreationally at the local park—these folks are clearly not professional pickleball players. However, it becomes grey in between.
With that said, the data on pickleball paddle brands and the pros in this article is based on the pickleball paddles used in October 2022 by:
- The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) contracted touring pros; and
- Any player that played on a Major League Pickleball (MLP) team at its event in Columbus, Ohio in October 2022.
Here is the breakdown of these pros and their paddles:
High level, this data pool includes 70 pro pickleball players and only 15 paddle manufacturers. The paddle brands can be broken down into three clusters:
- There are three paddle brands that seem to currently stick out at the pro level (again, this could be because these brands particularly invest in the pro players, because the pros flock to these specific paddles for performance reasons, or a bit of both). These three paddle manufacturers—Joola, Selkirk, and Paddletek—have sponsored and invested in a lot of pro players to build brand recognition and drive sales for their respective paddles. Thirteen pros are playing with Joola, while 11 are playing with Selkirk and 10 are playing with Paddletek. This is particularly interesting for Joola, who is a brand that just made its way into pickleball this year in early 2022. The pro players have clearly taken to the Joola paddles.
Also, Selkirk, in particular, has had an increasing number of deals signed with pro players recently in order to compete in the other paddle brands at the professional level. For instance, in just the past few months, Selkirk has signed deals with Parris Todd, the Brascia sisters, Travis Rettenmaier, Pablo Tellez, among others. Selkirk has invested a ton into research and development for their line of Selkirk Labs and SLK pickleball paddles, and this seems to be drawing the attention of some pro players.
- Three other brands—Franklin, CRBN, and Electrum—seem to be trying to increase their pro player sponsorship in order to have the same effect, but currently have less pros than the first three brands. Each of Franklin, CRBN, and Electrum have 5-6 pro players swinging their paddles.
- The remaining 9 pickleball paddle manufacturers each sponsor just a handful of players (anywhere between 1 and 4 pro players each). A little visibility for all!
- And, remember, pros are always changing pickleball paddles as sponsorship agreements expire or terminate, and as new and improved technology hits the paddle manufacturing process. So, the breakdown of brands will evolve over time.
Are you using the same pickleball paddle as your favorite pro?
When it comes to sports, we all like to envision that we look like the best of the best professionals out on the field, court, or other playing ground. This is especially true in the sport of pickleball, where everyone is capable of stepping on a court and coming up with an incredible pro-like shot from time to time (although, maybe not every time like the real pro pickleballers). We can even look like our favorite pickleball pros—by wielding the same pickleball paddle—when we are making some amazing and some not-so-amazing shots on the pickleball court.
Does your pickleball paddle look like any of your favorite pro players’ paddles? When you step on the pickleball court—particularly, in open play—and look around the area, do you see this same kind of pickleball paddle breakdown at the recreational level? Have you seen the rise of the Joola pickleball paddle in 2022? Are you seeing more Paddleteks and Selkirks on the pickleball court than other brands? Or, is it a “mixed bag”?
Bonus Pickleball Paddle Tips:
- Regardless of whether you are using the same pickleball paddle as any of the pros out there, remember to clean your paddle from time to time!
- Learn how to hold your pickleball paddle like a pro!