Navigating the world of pickleball paddles, especially as a newcomer, can seem overwhelming. With the market flooded with countless brands and models, knowing what makes a good beginner’s paddle is crucial. As someone relatively new to pickleball, I feel your pain and want to try to make your life a bit easier.
How to Choose the Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners
When selecting a pickleball paddle, keep these crucial aspects in mind:
Weight: If you’re just starting out, lean towards a paddle on the lighter side or one that’s mid-weight. This can prevent undue strain on your arm.
Balance: Opt for a paddle that has even weight distribution. For novices, this ensures better maneuverability and control.
Sweet Spot: As a beginner, a paddle that boasts a generous sweet spot is beneficial. It offers more leeway for shots that aren’t perfectly centered.
Material: The composition of paddles varies, with primary materials being graphite, fiberglass, and composite. While graphite paddles may come with a steeper price tag, their performance is often unparalleled. Fiberglass offers a cost-effective alternative, while composite paddles strike a balance between the two in terms of cost and performance. Avoid wood, as the degree of difficulty rises, potentially turning you off to a great sport.
Grip Size: It’s essential that the paddle feels comfortable in your hand. Ensure the grip size matches your preference. And do not hold the handle too tightly–shoot for a 4 out of 10.
Still feeling uncertain? Before making a purchase, experiment with various paddles. Many pickleball stores allow you to rent different models, giving you a hands-on feel of what suits you best. And many have generous return policies. If all else fails, there is also a huge second-hand market for used pickleball paddles.
The Top Pickleball Paddles for Beginners
From our research, here’s a curated list of nine stellar pickleball paddle choices for beginners:
Onix Graphite Z5
Description: This is a standout beginner’s choice, primarily because of its graphite face. The wide-body structure of the Onix Graphite Z5 makes it a favored choice among Onix’s paddle line. It possesses a nomex honeycomb core, ensuring medium weight and is endorsed by USAPA. Its design is tailored to enhance touch and control. Plus, it comes in various striking color options.
Selkirk Amped Epic
Particularly recommended for those transitioning from tennis to pickleball. This American-made paddle showcases a polypropylene X5 core aimed at minimizing vibrations, ensuring a smoother game experience. Its elongated handle coupled with an expansive surface makes it a top contender for novices.
Head Radical Elite
Hailing from the reputed brand ‘Head’, known for their supreme tennis rackets, the Radical Elite doesn’t disappoint. This paddle promises quality without burning a hole in your pocket. Designed to cater to a diverse range of players, its enhanced sweet spot and fortified core amplify the power behind each shot.
Joola Ben Johns Hyperion Pro
For those not shy to invest in a premium paddle, the Hyperion Pro is a top-tier choice. Designed in collaboration with professional pickleball champ, Ben Johns, this paddle promises a widened sweet spot. It meets USAPA standards and boasts a Carbon-Flex5 textured surface, combining durability with enhanced spin capabilities.
Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro
The Tempest Wave Pro shines with its ‘smart response technology’, amplifying its sweet spot. The graphite surface texture enhances ball spin, while its core, crafted from high-grade carbon fiber polymer composite honeycomb, ensures durability. It’s also aesthetically pleasing, with multiple color and design choices.
HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle
The HEAD Radical Elite offers unbeatable value with intermediate performance at a beginner price tag.
Niupipo Graphite Pickleball Paddles
Niupipo Graphite Pickleball Paddles are an Amazon bestseller. They’re a solid choice for pickleball beginners who don’t want to break the bank on their first paddle.
GAMMA Dart Lightweight Composite Pickleball Paddle
The GAMMA Dart is a lightweight and maneuverable paddle that’s perfect for beginners. It also has a large sweet spot, making it easier to hit accurate shots.
PROLITE Bolt Middleweight Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle
The PROLITE Bolt is a versatile paddle that’s well-suited for beginners of all skill levels. It has a good balance of power and control, and it’s also very durable.
Honorable mention for pickleball paddles for beginners: My son has loved playing with the OneShot Pickleball X paddle. It’s lightweight yet stable.
Venturing into the exciting world of pickleball requires the right gear, especially when starting. A paddle, being the primary tool of the game, can significantly influence your early experiences. By prioritizing factors such as weight, balance, and material, you can narrow down choices tailored to your needs. Remember, while this list offers a starting point, the best paddle is one that feels right in your hands and matches your playing style. As you grow in the sport, your preferences might evolve. But for now, any of these recommended paddles will set you on the path to mastering the art of pickleball.
Is There Really a Difference Between Pickleball Paddles?
Yes, there are indeed differences between pickleball paddles, and these variations can significantly impact a player’s performance and style of play. Here are some key aspects in which pickleball paddles can differ:
Pickleball paddles can be made from various materials, including:
Graphite: Known for being lightweight and offering excellent touch.
Composite: These can vary in weight and are known for their power and durability.
Wood: Typically heavier and are often chosen by beginners due to their affordability.
Lightweight Paddles: Generally weigh between 6 to 7.5 ounces and are preferred for their maneuverability and quick response at the net.
Mid-weight Paddles: Weigh between 7.6 to 8.5 ounces, providing a balance between power and control.
Heavyweight Paddles: Weigh over 8.5 ounces and are favored for their power, especially in driving shots.
Shape and Size
Standard: The traditional and most common shape, offering a balance of reach and a wide hitting surface.
Elongated: These paddles are longer, providing extra reach but have a narrower face.
Oversized: These have a larger face, providing a larger sweet spot, but may compromise on maneuverability.
Small Grip: Typically 4 inches in circumference, suitable for players with smaller hands or those who prefer wrist action.
Medium Grip: Around 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 inches, suitable for most players.
Large Grip: Over 4 1/2 inches, suitable for players with larger hands or those who prefer using arm strength.
Polymer Core: Known for its soft play and control.
Nomex Core: Offers a harder hit and is known for its power.
Aluminum Core: Provides a mix of power and control with a metallic sound on impact.
Paddles can range widely in price, from budget-friendly options suitable for beginners to high-end paddles used by professionals, which offer enhanced performance characteristics.
Some paddles are approved by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) for competitive play, while others might not meet the specifications.
Design and Aesthetics
Paddles also come in various colors, designs, and aesthetic appeals, which might be a consideration for some players.
What’s your favorite pickleball paddle for beginners?
|Onix Z5 Graphite Pickleball Paddle
|Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddle
|HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle
|JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion
|Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle
|Oneshot Pickleball Paddle - Oneshot X