The 9 Best Pickleball Paddles 2018 : Beginner, Intermediate, & Advanced Options

 

Pickleball is gaining in popularity but is still a relatively little-known sport. It might even be fair to say it’s the best sport you never heard of.

Those who love pickleball know why it’s such a great sport. It’s fun. It’s easy to play and has simple rules. It’s a great sport for people of all ages to play. It’s essentially a combination of ping pong, tennis, and badminton. People are playing in backyards, at parks, in retirement communities, and in high school gym classes. Competitive players are attending tournaments and competition all around the US.

One of the reasons for its popularity is that you don’t need much gear to start playing. If you have access to a court, all you’ll need is a ball and a paddle. When looking for the right pickleball paddle, you might not know exactly what to look for and how the many paddles are different from one another. Never fear – we’re here to help!

Before you can decide which of our nine best pickleball paddles of 2017 is right for you, let’s take a look at some of the features of pickleball paddles so get a better idea of what to look for.

Top Pickleball Paddle Comparison Chart

 

Buyer’s Guide

When looking for the perfect pickleball paddle, there are a few things you need to consider.

Materials

There are two parts to a pickleball paddle: the core material and the facing material. Core material is the inside part of the paddle that gives it its shape, stability, and contributes to a bulk of its weight. It’s usually in a honeycomb pattern to keep it the paddle as light as possible. The facing material is the outside covering that actually comes into contact with the ball.

Core Materials

  • Nomex

A hard, dense material that is made of small honeycombs. They don’t have a lot of power but they do give a lot of control and make a loud, satisfying noise.

  • Polymer

This durable material is softer with larger honeycomb cells. It’s a little quieter and has a lot of power but you sacrifice control with this one.

  • Aluminum

Aluminum paddles have similar traits as Nomex paddles. They’re fairly dense with small honeycombs and have superior control with minimal power. They’re loud and can dent if dropped or hit too hard.

Facing Materials

 

 

  • Fiberglass/composite

This is the most common facing and has a lot more power than other options though it’s not as strong.

  • Graphite

Graphite doesn’t have the power of fiberglass, but it’s strong and provides good ball control.

  • Carbon Fiber

Carbon Fiber is a little tougher than graphite which makes the paddle really durable. This is the best facing for control but you do lose some power.

 

The price of pickleball paddles will typically depend on the materials it’s made with. Wood is sometimes used to make lower end paddles and is the least expensive option.

You’ll also want to think about whether you’ll be playing primarily inside or outside. If you’re going to play outside a lot, you should get a paddle that is more durable with a protected edge so it doesn’t get damaged by the asphalt.

Weight

The weight of the paddle has two purposes. First, depending on how long you’ve been playing and how strong you are, heavy paddles can be a little uncomfortable to play with for long periods of time. The weight of the paddle will affect gameplay, swing speed, and how fast you can respond to the ball. It might not seem like it, but even an ounce or two can make a big difference in your gameplay.

Another thing to remember about paddle weight? The heavier the paddle, the more power and less control you’ll have. And vice versa for lighter paddles.

Hitting surface

There is an easy rule for how large the hitting surface of a pickleball can be: the width and length combined cannot be larger than 24”. For example, a wide paddle will have to be a little shorter to make up the difference. The most common size is 8” by 15”. Don’t forget to account for the fact that the length of the paddle effects the length of the handles, also.

There are also pickleball rules and regulations about how much deflection a paddle can have. Paddles are not allowed to have the same kind of spring that a tennis or badminton racquet would. All paddles are tested and have to fall within a specific range.

Grip

There are two things to consider with grip: circumference and material/thickness.

The larger your hand, the larger circumference you’ll need. This makes sense when you think about how you want to hold the paddle to use it most effectively. If the grip is too small, it will be hard to get a good grip. Too large and it’ll be hard to control.

As far as the material or thickness, some have a cushion or gel padding, rubbery grip for better control, and some are just minimal and thin. The grip can be easily changed if you want to by adding an extra cushion or taping a different kind of grip over the existing one. If you want to play your best, choose a grip that feels comfortable in your hand and that you can easily control.

Pickleball Paddle Reviews

 

  1. Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddle Bundle

The Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddle Bundle is a great way for beginners to get started in the game. You’ll get two paddles and four pickleballs plus a guide containing information about pickleball along with tips about how to up your game. Just find a net or a court and you’ll have everything you need to get started with this kit. The balls are outdoor quality but can certainly be used indoors, too.

The paddles are made from seven layers of maple wood fashioned together. They’re strong and durable with a pickle of an orange pickleball and the Amazin’ Aces logo under the shiny varnish. Ribbed grip gives you a great feel while playing and there’s a wrist strap if you want to make sure you don’t send your racket flying during the excitement of the game.

The handle is a little longer than other pickleball paddles which is great for any player but especially those with larger hands. While this paddle is also a little heavier than some of the others available, it’s not so heavy that it would negatively affect play.

One other great thing about this set? It’s extremely affordable and almost half the cost of some top of the line single paddles.

Pros:

  • Long handles
  • High-quality wood
  • Pickleballs included

 Cons:  

  • Heavier than other paddles

 

  1. Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle

These graphite pickleball paddles are durable and lightweight. The honeycomb surface is thoroughly examined to make sure there aren’t any weak spots and the edges are soft. Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddles are midrange for weight to strike the balance between control and power. The smooth grip has a thick foam core for softness and comfort and a micro-dry cover so you’ll always have a firm grip, even if the competition makes you start to sweat.

One really cool thing about these paddles is the graphics. The playing surface of each paddle has a bold watercolor graphics. There are several to choose from, including the New York City Skyline complete with Statue of Liberty, a paint splotch, palm leaves, and a night cityscape. They’re unique and stylish and a great way to learn the game.

One negative about these paddles is that they’ll not an approved brand to used during an official competition. Obviously, this is only important if you’re planning to compete but is something worth noting.

Pros:

  • Great artwork
  • Lightweight
  • Mid-range weight

Cons:

  • Not approved for official tournament competition

 

  1. Pickleball Champion Paddle

Pickleball Champion Paddles have been around for a long time and have been one of the most popular paddles around for nearly twenty years. This is truly a paddle that’s ideal for anyone. The graphite paddles have a honeycomb core and were one of the first paddles to use one. You get good control, feel, and power with this design.

These come with two different grips: cushion and thin. The thin version might not be large enough to hold on to for people with large hands. There are other ways to make it a little more personal, too, as you can also choose from one of four colors: red, blue, black, and green. The weight is right in the middle of the standard weight range so you’ll get the right amount of control and power. The edges are protected with rubberized guards to protect against any damage from play if you accidentally drop it.

This paddle is made by the company that was founded by the co-creators of pickleball and have been leading the way in innovating the game since it was developed in the early 70s.

Pros:

  • Comes in two different grips
  • Trusted brand

Cons:

  • Thin handle version is really thin and uncomfortable for large hands.

 

  1. Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle

This graphite paddle from Onix is the brand’s most popular and with good reason. It provides a lot of control and the widebody really performs. The hitting surface is bigger and designed to be used outside because of how hard it can hit the ball, but indoor players will love it as well. It’s a really good buy for players at any level. It has a Nomex core and a graphite surface.

It comes in eight bright colors: blue, green, orange, pink, purple, red, white, and yellow. The ultra cushion grip lets you play on and on without discomfort or fatigue. The Nomex core and graphite face help you get a good feel for the ball, allowing you to respond accurately with speed and power.

If you’re looking for good ball control with a medium weight paddle, this is one to try. The only downside? It’s pretty expensive. And could be a little loud.

Pros:

  • Good control
  • Wide body for larger hitting surface

Cons:

  • Expensive

 

  1. Rally Tyro Advanced Composite Pickleball Paddle Bundle

This high quality set from PickleBallCentral includes two paddles and four pickleballs. It’s a great kit to get started with. These paddles are built with aerospace materials that are durable and perform well, giving you both power and control. This is a lightweight paddle that allows players to react more quickly and is especially good for children to use when they’re just starting.

These paddles were designed with input from some of the world’s top pickleball players. The thick polymer core that this paddle has is found in a lot of higher end models for good control and feel. The perforated cushioned grip has a medium tack to help you keep hold of the paddle during rough play and won’t slip out of your hand, even when sweating.

The paddles also have an edge guard around the perimeter to help protect them from damage and to add balance. Whether you’re a new player or an experienced one wanted to work on control, these paddles are a great choice.

Pros:

  • Set of two paddles and four balls
  • Inexpensive
  • Designed with player input

Cons: 

  • Not particularly durable

 

  1. Selkirk Sport Aluminum Honeycomb Core Composite Pickleball Paddle

This paddle from Selkirk has a composite outer layer and an aluminum honeycomb core. What’s interesting about this paddle is it’s made in three different sized – L, XL, and XL extended. These sizes vary in both the length of the handle and width of the face. The increased handle length is great for anyone and provides a little more control over your wrist and moving the paddle. In fact, it’s because of this that the XL extended length is the most popular.

These are a little heavier than some of the other paddles and gives the player a lot of control while providing enough power to handle any shot. These paddles meet the specifications of the USAPA so you can use them in competition if you’re thinking about trying.

You get a great sound when you’re hitting the ball and you can make it your own by choosing one of the eight bright colors available.

Pros:

  • Comes in three different sizes
  • Long handles
  • USAPA approved 

Cons:

  • Does not come with a bag

 

  1. Engage Encore Pro Pickleball Paddle

The Engage Encore Pro Pickleball Paddle provides all the features that the professionals want. The paddle is made for control and power with a large optimized sweet spot. You’ll get a great feel of the ball when it connects with the paddle, which helps you respond an aim with much more control. You get power and spin to give you an advantage when you’re up against a fierce competitor.

You feel of the ball is influenced by the special skin on this paddle. It has the ideal amount of surface roughness that provides extra hold on the ball to help you get a feel for where it’s going. It actually has the most deflection and roughness that are allowed by the USAPA. This paddle has such good performance that It’s even used by some of pickleball’s national champion players and is, of course, tournament approved.

This polymer and composite paddle comes in four different colors: black, green, purple, and red.

Pros:

  • Extra hold on the ball
  • Highest deflection allowed by USAPA

 Cons:

  • Expensive

 

 

  1. Paddletek Phoenix Pro Pickleball Paddle

The series is Paddletek’s most popular and it’s easy to see why. The core is made of a commercial grade outdoor vinyl. For extra protection, a durable laminate is added over the vinyl. How durable is this racket? The overlaminate is made from the same stuff use to make bulletproof glass. This paddle won’t get scratches or dings from hard play.

Paddletek was one of the first in the industry to make a paddle with a polymer plastic honeycomb core. This is a consistent, high performing paddles that will last for a very long time. You get a nice size sweet spot on this paddle with the perfect amount of noise when you lob it back to your opponent.

You get a lot of color choices with this one: black, blue, green, orange, pink, purple, red, blue, and yellow. It also has the Paddletek name and logo present.

Pros:

  • Extra durable
  • Won’t scratch
  • Nice size

 Cons:

  • Expensive

 

  1. Pro Lite Sports Enforcer Graphite Pickleball Paddle

For a good quality paddle at a fair price, try the Pro Lite Sports Enforcer Graphite Pickleball Paddle. This lightweight graphite paddle gives you a lot of control and won’t tire out your arm, wrist, and hand after long periods of play. Bear in mind, the more control a paddle has, the more power you lose. But if you’re looking for a paddle you can use for a long match that will help you land your shots right where you want them, this is the one.

This is a classic size for a pickleball paddle but it has a long handle with a small grip. If you have large hands, this is not the paddle for you. The sides are tapered toward the bottom of the playing surface by the handle, so you do lose a bit of surface area there. This also puts the bulk of the weight of this paddle toward the head instead of the handle. It feels a little different and might take some getting used to, but some players swear by this. It gives a little extra push to your swings and slightly makes up for the loss of control inherent in graphite paddles.

Pro:

  • Good quality at a fair price
  • Lightweight
  • Good control

Con: 

  • Small grip circumference
  • Weight of paddle is at the head instead of the handle

 

Final Thoughts & Recommendations

For beginners, the Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddle Bundle is a great choice. You get enough equipment for yourself and an opponent, all you need to do is find a net and start playing. These are made of seven layers of maple and are very affordable compared to some higher end paddles made of more advanced materials. This is a great place to start your pickleball career.

The Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddles are made of graphite. They’re durable and lightweight and are right in the middle of the weight range for optimum power and control. While these are not an approved paddle for competition, the graphic designs on the faces make them a unique paddle for anyone to have.

Pickleball Champion Paddles are made by the company that was founded by the co-creators of pickleball. They’ve been some of the most popular paddles for nearly two decades and are a great choice for any level of players. The come with your choice of grip, either thin or cushioned. The edges have rubberized guards to keep them from being damaged. These paddles will last a long time with either indoor or outdoor play.

Another popular paddle is the Onix Graphite Z5. It has a big hitting surface and is great for players at any level. There’s a lot of colors to choose from and the Nomex core and graphite face help you get a good feel for the ball. Its ultra cushion grip keeps your arm from tirings so you can play long matches and stay at your best.

The Rally Tyro Advanced Composite Pickleball Paddle Bundle comes with two paddles and four pickleballs and is a great starter kit. The paddles are built from advanced aerospace materials that provide power and control plus durability. The edge guard makes them suitable for indoor and outdoor play while the perforated cushioned grip helps keep it in your hand even when you’re sweating.

For a larger, heavier paddle, try the Selkirk Sport Aluminum Honeycomb Core Composite Pickleball Paddle and choose which of the eight bright colors suits you best. It comes in L, XL, and XL Extended, all of which have an extended handle to give you more wrist control. These are competition ready and provide both power and control.

For a professional level paddle, try the Engage Encore Pro. With a large sweet spot, it was made for power and control. You’ll get a good feel for the ball when it makes contact which will help you in your aim. This paddle has been the choice of some national champions and is a good way to go if you’re hoping to compete.

The Phoenix Pro is Paddletek’s most popular paddle. It’s solid and durable thanks to its commercial grade outdoor vinyl core and a double overlaminate coating made of the same stuff as bulletproof glass. This is a consistent, high performing paddle with a nice sweet spot and a wide range of colors to choose from.

If you’re looking for a good paddle at a fair price, check out the Pro Lite Sports Enforcer Graphite Pickleball Paddle. Its lightweight and gives you a lot of control without tiring out your arm and hand so you can play longer, better. Its interesting teardrop shape gives a little of a different feel as the weight of the paddle is concentrated around the head instead of the handle. This will give you a little extra something with your swings and help you land your shots right where you want them.

As you can see, there’s a pickleball paddle for every player. If you use the information in our buyer’s guide to understanding what features you need in a pickleball paddle, you should be able to find one that suits your needs and helps you hone your skills, whether you want more power or more control. We found the nine best pickleball paddles of 2017 so you don’t have to look far. You really will find something for everyone among our picks.

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