How to Pick Pickleball Paddles for Tennis Players

Moving from tennis to pickleball is arguably one of the smoothest transitions you can make in the realm of racquet and paddle sports, especially when you consider the initial learning curve. After a childhood of tennis, all I need was one pickleball lesson and I was good to go.

Like any sport, adapting to new rules, strategies, and, of course, equipment like the pickleball paddle can be a challenge. In this guide, we shed light on the top pickleball paddles most suitable for tennis enthusiasts transitioning to pickleball.Β And in case you’re wondering, this (former) tennis player opts for the Engage Pursuit MX. πŸ™‚

How to Pick a Pickleball Paddle for a Tennis Player

Here are some key factors to bear in mind when choosing your pickleball paddle:

Pickleball Paddle Length: One of the main challenges tennis players face when switching to pickleball is adjusting to the reduced bounce of the ball and the shorter length of the pickleball paddle. Whereas tennis racquets average around 27”, pickleball paddles typically measure about 15 to 17 inches. This loss of nearly a foot in reach can be quite a shift for tennis players accustomed to longer racquets. Elongated pickleball paddles, which range from 17 to 19 inches long, can help bridge the gap for those coming from tennis.

The extra length provides some of the reach tennis players rely on for volleys and overheads, while still conforming to pickleball regulations. Models like the Gamma Atomic, Engage Encore 6.0 XL, and Selkirk Amped Epic XL offer enlarged sweet spots and extended surfaces that mimic the feel of larger tennis racquet heads.

The extra paddle length allows tennis players more room for error as they learn proper contact points for pickleball strokes. It also generates additional power on serves and groundstrokes, matching the pop tennis players expect. However, elongated paddles may reduce control and quickness for pickleball-specific techniques like dinking.

The right balance of length and maneuverability varies by player. Those with two-handed tennis backhands may favor shorter, wider paddles for close shots. Testing out different paddle lengths is recommended to optimize for power or finesse based on your tennis background. With the right elongated pickleball paddle, the transition from tennis can be smooth sailing.

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Pickleball Paddle Shape: Alongside adjusting to the paddle’s length, you might also find the sweet spot of a pickleball paddle a bit different from the expansive tennis racquet. While an elongated paddle is ideal for length, it’s important to ensure it has a width of at least 7 1⁄2″ to maintain good coverage across the paddle’s surface.

The classic pickleball paddle shape is generally rectangular or teardrop-shaped. However, tennis racquets have oval or elliptical head shapes that offer a larger sweet spot zone. To help tennis players adapt, some pickleball paddle models incorporate wider blade widths up to 8 inches, slightly oval faces, or enlarged edge guarding to effectively expand the paddle’s optimal contact area. This gives a more forgiving impact response similar to a tennis racquet. Wider pickleball paddles also provide additional surface area for generating power on swings.

Options like the Onix Summit or Pickleball Central Blaster allow tennis-style forehand grips and two-handed backhands. Testing different paddle shapes can optimize ball control and feel in your hands based on your unique tennis stroke mechanics. The key is finding the right balance of length and width for hitting comfort without sacrificing quick maneuverability for touch shots. The ideal pickleball paddle mimics the sweet spot advantages of a tennis racquet while conforming to sanctioned size regulations. With an adapted yet familiar paddle shape, tennis players can successfully transition their skills to excel at pickleball.

Pickleball Paddle Grip Length: Most pickleball paddles cater to a one-handed backhand style. However, with the influx of tennis players to pickleball, two-handed backhands are gaining popularity.

Consequently, paddle makers are introducing longer-handled paddles to accommodate both grips. For those who prefer a single-handed grip, a handle around 4.75 to 5 inches should suffice. But if you’re inclined towards a two-handed backhand like in tennis, look for pickleball paddles with handles that are 5.5 inches or longer to provide enough room for both hands. Models like the ProLite Crush PowerSpin or Gamma Micron have extended handles in the 5.6 to 6 inch range designed for double-handed grips. The extra length allows both hands to fit without overlapping or feeling cramped, mimicking the comfortable two-hand spacing of a tennis racquet. It also provides stability and power generation on backhand strokes.

However, excess handle size can increase wrist torque and fatigue over long play sessions. Testing different grip lengths and paddle weights can help find the right fit for power or finesse while staying gentle on the joints. For hardcore two-handed tennis players converting to pickleball, the longer grips prevent having to adapt your stroke mechanics from what you’re used to. With the handle size just right, you can confidently swing away with your signature backhand style.

Pickleball Paddle Weight: Tennis racquets are designed to be sturdy, allowing for powerful strikes against tennis balls. They usually weigh around 10-11 ounces strung. In contrast, pickleball paddles generally range from 7.2 to 8.4 ounces. Selecting a too-light paddle below 7.5 ounces can hinder your performance in pickleball as a tennis player. The minimal heft makes it harder to generate power or put spin on shots compared to a heavier tennis racquet swing.

We suggest opting for a mid-weight to heavyweight pickleball paddle weighing between 7.8-8.5 ounces. This added mass helps recreate the rhythm and stability tennis players are used to, ensuring you maintain sufficient power to handle any unexpected shots, especially in your initial pickleball playing days. Heavier paddles also provide more torque for spin on serves and groundstrokes.

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Options like the Selkirk Amped Epic, Franklin X-40, or Gamma Atomic offer weightiness resembling a tennis racquet feel. Mixing up paddle weights can help find the right balance of maneuverability vs power based on your strength and stroke style from tennis. The goal is getting a paddle with some substance to avoid pushing or mishitting balls, while not tiring your arm muscles. With the proper heft tailored to your game, you can generate the pop and control expected from your tennis strokes when driving pickleballs.

The Best Pickleball Paddles for People Transitioning From Tennis

  1. Gamma Atomic – Elongated paddle provides extra length and reach for former tennis players.
  2. Engage Encore 6.0 – Oversize surface area mirrors tennis racquet heads for expanded sweet spot.
  3. Selkirk Amped Epic – Lengthy 17.25” paddle allows tennis-like leverage on swings.
  4. Onix Summit – Wide 8” surface fits two-handed backhand grips from tennis.
  5. ProLite Crush PowerSpin – Extended 5.6” grip leaves room for both hands on backhand shots.
  6. Gamma Micron – Long 5.75” grip suitable for two-handed tennis backhand styles.
  7. Selkirk Vanguard Hybrid – Weighs 7.8-8.2 oz for tennis-like heft and power generation.
  8. Pickleball Central Rally Tyro 2 – Oversized surface area provides forgiveness like a tennis racquet.
  9. Head Extreme – Midplus 97.5 sq. in. shape expands pickleball paddle sweet spot.

For tennis lifers looking to dip their toes into pickleball, some equipment adjustments may be needed before diving all the way in. But there’s no need to totally rework your skills and mechanics. Bring your tennis talents to the pickleball courts by playing to your strengths. Leverage what you know by finding the right paddle tailored to your game. As a fellow tennis player converting to a pickleball devotee, I’ve tested the paddles that effortlessly adapt to a tennis-style swing. Keep reading for my recommendations on the top pickleball paddles for smoothing your transition from the tennis hard courts to pickleball without missing a beat! By capitalizing on your existing skills with the proper paddle, you can quickly become a formidable pickleball player.

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