A Comprehensive Guide to Buying the Perfect Pickleball Paddle

Discover the perfect pickleball paddle for you with this comprehensive buying guide! Learn about what materials to consider and other important factors before making your purchase.

Pickleball grip

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Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. Since the game was created in the mid-1960s, it's gained over 500,000 players nationwide and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down. If you're new to the sport, you're probably wondering how you can be a great pickleball player. The answer: choosing the right pickleball paddle.

While pickleball paddles are an essential part of any pickleball set, choosing the right paddle can be difficult. Paddles come in a variety of materials, colors and sizes, so it's important to consider both your style of play and preference before making a purchase. Our Lab tested over 15 pickleball paddles and weighted each paddle's durability, speed, control, feel, sound, grip and overall quality. Here are our favorite pickleball paddles of 2023, according to testing in the lab and online.

Pickleball paddles come in some wild colors!

Photo by Joan Azeka / Unsplash

Understanding pickleball paddle types: An in-depth exploration

Pickleball is a sport that has experienced exponential growth in recent years, attracting players from all walks of life with its laid-back, easygoing atmosphere. While the sport itself is easy to pick up and play, equipment choices can prove to be quite daunting. With so many choices to make, it can be difficult to know where to begin. In this article, we will explore the world of pickleball paddles, and delve into the various design options available. Whether you are a pickleball newbie looking to upgrade their equipment, or a seasoned pro in search of the perfect paddle, you will undoubtedly find this guide to be a valuable resource.

The first factor to consider when choosing a paddle is the paddle material. Typically, there are two options: composite and aluminum. Composite paddles are known for their lightweight and budget-friendly price tag. However, they can sometimes feel lacking in control, and it can be difficult to hit the ball squarely. On the other hand, aluminum paddles offer greater control and responsiveness. However, they can be slightly heavier than their composite counterparts, which can make for unpleasant swings.

Another factor to consider is paddle weight. A heavier paddle often comes with improved control and increased swing speed, while lighter paddles provide a greater sensation of control. However, heavier paddles can be awkward and difficult to control, while lighter paddles can be difficult to control when swinging at slower speeds.

Another important factor in determining paddle choice is grip size. Paddles with larger grips typically offer less wrist movement, which can make for more consistent shots. However, players with smaller hands may find themselves more comfortable with smaller grips.

Another important factor to consider when choosing a pickleball paddle is the paddle face. Paddles with 90-degree faces are best suited to fast swing speeds, while paddle faces with more acute angles excel at slower speeds. However, players with smaller hands may find paddle faces with more acute angles to be more comfortable.

As a final consideration, it is critical to familiarize yourself with pickleball equipment. The key pieces of pickleball equipment include pickleball paddles, pickleballs, and pickleball shoes.

Pickleball paddles come in a variety of designs, including beginner paddles, advanced paddles, and hybrid paddles. Beginner paddles are designed with beginners in mind, providing an excellent balance between control and responsiveness. Advanced paddles are typically heavier and more difficult to control, but offer greater control and swing speed. Hybrid paddles are specifically engineered to offer the best of both aluminum and composite paddles, providing increased control and swing speed.

When choosing equipment, it is important to remember to take your individual needs into consideration. Perhaps the best piece of advice is to choose equipment that you feel the most comfortable with. After all, it is this comfort that will result in the most consistent shots!

Pickleball paddle materials: A brief overview of the various paddle materials

Selecting the right pickleball paddle is a daunting task, given the plethora of options available on the market. The pickleball paddle is arguably one of the most important pieces of equipment in the game, as it's responsible for producing the prized 'pop' sound during your serves, along with adequately transferring your energy into the pickleball and propelling the ball over the net, without causing any damage to the playing surface. Imagine playing a four-hour match with a stiff, inflexible paddle; it definitely wouldn't be a pleasant experience!

Choosing the right pickleball paddle requires a bit of expertise and technical knowledge, as the market offers several paddle materials - including wood, plastic, and graphite - with varying properties. Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of these paddle materials, so you can make an informed decision the next time you go on a pickleball shopping spree.


These wooden paddles are typically crafted from select hardwoods such as maple, birch, and ash, owing to the superior strength, durability, and responsiveness. These paddles absorb a considerable amount of impact, thus resulting in higher ball speed and higher control over your shots. However, the drawback is that these paddles are prone to splintering, thus compromising performance and safety.


These pickleball paddles are crafted from a combination of plastics and wood, thus offering the benefits of both materials. These paddles feature solid construction, as well as ample shock absorption. However, they lack the responsiveness and feel of wooden paddles.


These paddles feature a hollow core, which helps in weight reduction. The core is surrounded by a graphite shell, which is covered by a layer of rubber, thus ensuring superior shock absorption and durability. However, these paddles lack the necessary rigidity to produce the desired 'pop'.

Paddle Shape

Every pickleball paddle features a unique design, which determines the aerodynamics of the paddle and diminishes the ball's energy loss during impact with the ball's surface. Some common paddle shapes include:

Round - These paddles disperse the pickleball's energy evenly, thus minimizing ball speed loss.

Drop - These paddles feature a lower profile, thus producing less drag.

Asymmetric - These paddles feature a wide face, which promotes greater ball spin.

Straight - These paddles are best suited for players with average-sized hands.

Paddle Weight

First, you need to consider the weight of your paddle. The heavier the paddle, the harder it is to play defense. Conversely, a lighter paddle will make it easier for players at the net to spike the ball.

So, before you decide to buy a pickleball paddle, be sure to try it out. Test out a few paddles with different weights and lengths to determine your ideal paddle weight.


Next up, you need to decide on the length of your paddle. Pickleball paddles are typically between 28 and 32 inches in length, with players selecting longer paddles at the net, and shorter paddles for defense.

Again, you can try a few different paddles to determine which length works for you.

Grip size

Next up, you need to pay attention to the grip size on your paddle. Ideally, a pickleball paddle should feel like an extension of your hand, allowing you to maneuver it effortlessly. The grip size also makes it easier to catch the ball at net. So, be sure to try out the grip size of a pickleball paddle before making a purchase.

HEAD Radical

The HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball paddle is a step up from the Radical 7.0 paddle in terms of performance features, but it s also priced substantially higher. The Elite is the top-of-the-line model in the Radical family, so it comes with interesting features like a textured composite hitting surface, an Ergo Grip handle, and a smaller 8.1 ounce weight, all of which should be appealing to advanced players.

The Radical Elite has a slightly smaller sweet spot than its Evolution counterpart, and it s slightly less forgiving, but it offers greater power and spin. It s not the most expensive pickleball paddle out there, but it s priced for a serious player looking to get serious about their game.

Panel Sound

The Panel Sound USAPA Approved Fiberglass Pickleball Paddles are our favorite portable rackets for both competitive and recreational play. The rackets are superb at holding their shape, and they don't squeak or crack under pressure. The grips are comfortable and absorb sweat.

The durable laminate construction ensures that these rackets last. And the long handles give you a great grip so you can volley and block with confidence. The paddles come with four in-shopballs and two cooling towels. We only wish they came with a bigger case, but we're assured that it will be available for purchase soon.


After playing with the VINSGUIR pickleball paddle set, we were thoroughly impressed with its quality. The set includes pickleball paddles, balls, and a carrying bag, all of which are made with exceptional craftsmanship. The paddles are lightweight, making them easy to handle for beginners while also providing great durability for advanced players.

We found the balls to be quite good, although they seem to bounce more than a standard ball. The included carrying case is a nice touch, but unfortunately, the hook on the top that attaches the strap broke after just a few days. Overall, we highly recommend this pickleball set as it offers a great value for its quality and features.


This affordable and sturdy paddle from Cocobela is precisely made for pickleball lovers. The fit and finish are comparable to the competition's premium models. It has a nice shape and weight (just under 8 ounces), and it's comfortable to grip.

The graphite/fiberglass face keeps the ball from sticking, and the honeycomb core offers plenty of power, so you can drive the ball where you want to. The paddle is impressively durable, surviving a rain storm unscathed as mentioned by other reviewers.

The honeycomb core is dense, and it's designed to boost control so you can drive the ball where you want. The handle is relatively short (just over 15 inches), so it's best suited for shorter players, but it is thick, so it's comfortable to hold.

The paddle has a 9-degree bounce, which lies in the sweet spot of almost all pickleball shots. The paddle comes with a convenient carrying bag.


The Asbocer Pickleball Paddles is an excellent entry-level pickleball set that's a good choice for both beginning and experienced players. For beginners, the paddles are USAPA-approved, so they're perfect for use at tournaments.

This pickleball set comes with two pickleball paddles, four pickleballs, two cooling towels, and a carry bag. It's a fantastic value for anyone looking for a pickleball set, especially for beginners. The lightweight fiberglass paddles are reversible, so you don't have to use the same paddle every time. The paddles themselves are made with a fiberglass surface, so they don't execute much spin on the ball, but they fly faster than other paddles of a similar weight. The paddles have edge guards, and pearlized grips that are perforated for airflow and sweat absorption. The grommets on the paddles also keep the paddles light.

The Pickleballs themselves don't offer a lot of spin, so they're not ideal for advanced players. The set also comes with two cooling towels, which are great because everyone knows how important staying hydrated is while playing the game.


The ONIX graphite Z5 is a great balance of weight, handling, and grip. It is the most balanced pickleball paddle that we tested, and it feels quite comfortable. The Graphite Z5 is a bit more rigid than the other paddles we tested, and it doesn't necessarily have as much "feel" as the other paddles, but it definitely has better control.

The ONIX graphite Z5 provides the perfect balance of control and spin, with the handle being slightly thicker and longer than the other paddles, which made it easier for us to wrap our fingers around the longer handle. The graphite Z5 paddle is a little more expensive than the other paddles we tested, but it's one of the lightest and well-balanced, and the combination of the two makes it a good choice for serious pickleball players who demand the best.


The AMORON S1 paddle set really lives up to its name. It's simple, straightforward, and gets the job done. If you were looking for a quality set of pickleball paddles, these could be what you’re after. The graphite face combined with a fiberglass core provides a large sweet spot.

The graphite face is 25% thicker than other paddles that are made with graphite, which gives you a noticeably larger sweet spot when hitting the ball. That larger sweet spot could result in fewer mishits. The 12.8mm core absorbs the shock of the impact, giving you a softer feel when hitting, especially during long rallies. The honeycomb design in the middle helps reduce the weight of the racket while also making it more durable. The light-medium weight (7.93 oz) makes it suitable for both beginners and experienced players. The SHOCK ABSORBER HANDLE absorbs shock as the ball hits the back of the handle. It makes the racket much more suitable for beginners or players with less experience.

The paddle measures 15.95” x 7.85” x 1.5”, making it compact and lightweight. The handle is 4.25” in diameter and 4.72” (length). The rackets are USAPA approved, so they are suitable for tournament play.


The Kronos pickleball paddle is one of the most satisfying and versatile performance paddles we've ever used for pickleball. The Kronos features the carbon flex fiber twill friction surface, which enhances ball control, spin, and accuracy. In other words, this pickleball paddle satisfies the needs of both power players and those more into finesse play, while still providing excellent power. This paddle is an all-around performer.

The paddle has a sturdy, firm feel, and its weight and balance of power, touch, and control make this paddle perfect for advanced players. This paddle has a firm feel, and the carbon surface texture gives it an extra-nice feel of the ball as it sticks. The Kronos has a wide sweet spot, so it's more responsive and forgiving. The Kronos also has great control and spin. The pickleball paddle's 16mm polypropylene core makes it durable, so you don't have to worry about your paddle snapping in the middle of a game. This pickleball paddle's carbon surface texture increases friction between paddle and ball, ensuring you'll feel every shot and have more accuracy.

The Kronos is a good match for the best pickleball paddles for power players. The paddle's weight distribution and heft are ideal for aggressive, offensive players, as it delivers more power to the balls with every shot. The paddle is well-matched for aggressive players. The paddle's carbon surface texture helps dampen vibration, making it more responsive to shots. PA016 is ideal for advanced players. The paddle is a high-performance racket that has plenty of power, control, and touch.


The Beives Pickleball Paddles Set is designed for pickleball players of all skill levels. The paddles have a honeycomb structure that contains fiberglass faces that provide excellent strength, stiffness, and durability. These paddles weigh only 7.9 oz and have a balanced power-to-control ratio. This set comes with 4 pickleball racquets, 2 soft outdoor pickle ball raquettes, 4 pickle ball rackets, 2 indoor pickle ball rackets, and 1 pickle ball carry bag.

This set is perfect for beginners because of the premium construction, lightweight design, and affordable price. The paddles are made of honeycomb structure with premium fiberglass face, which has excellent strength and stiffness. These rackets are perfect for all skill levels, especially friendly to beginners and intermediates. The pickle ball size strictly corresponds to the game standard. The paddle rackets feature perforated cushioned grip, which is anti-slip and sweat-wicking.

The ergonomic grip not only provides you with great comfort, but also achieves precise grip and maneuverability, let you control the paddle and balls easily without feeling tired. It is suitable for indoor or outdoor play, which is easy to carry and storage.


The Uteeqe pickleball paddles are ideal gifts for beginner players or those who want to improve their game. This set of paddles is perfect for new players and beginners because it's well-constructed, versatile, and affordable.

The graphite face on the paddles is tacky for quick rotation and greater spin, while the perforations on the surface of the paddles wick away sweat and allow for excellent grip when your hands are moist. The paddles are also comfortable, light, and have a slim edge guard and a specialized bottom design.

The Uteeqe paddles are also durable and low-impact. At 8.4 ounces, the paddles are light enough for a beginner and beginner-intermediate players to use, and the thin edge guard and specialized bottom design help to prevent wear and tear. The paddles are also durable and provide good control. The paddles are also great for beginners because the graphite face is great for spin and for quick rotation. They feature 3 suction cups on the handle, but these suckers are tiny and barely adhere to the paddle, so they don't provide much grip. Overall, these paddles are excellent for beginners who want to improve their game.

Wrapping It Up

And there you have it! An in-depth insight into pickleball paddle selection, including paddle face, grip size, paddle weight, length, and shape, and how you can find the perfect paddle to suit your needs.

So, before you hit the pickleball court, make sure you consider the above factors when selecting a paddle. By doing so, you will not only be a better player, but you will also enjoy the game more. Happy playing!