So, you bought yourself a pickleball paddle. Is it a one-time purchase? Do pickleball paddles wear out?
Pickleball paddles do wear out. Eventually, your pickleball paddle will start to develop dead spots. This will move the pickleball in unpredictable ways. How long it takes for a pickleball paddle to wear out will be dependent on several factors. This includes how often you use the paddle, the material it is constructed from, and the quality of the paddle.
Let’s go into a bit of depth on this. We want to tell you everything you need to know about pickleball paddle wear and tear.
How Long Should a Pickleball Paddle Last?
This will be dependent on a few things:
- The quality of the pickleball paddle
- The material the pickleball paddle is constructed from
- How often you play.
Let’s go through them, one by one.
Cheap pickleball paddles are not going to last very long at all. Even with semi-regular play, you may be able to squeeze a year or two, at most, out of the paddle.
The more cash you spend, the longer you can expect that paddle to last. It isn’t uncommon for some of the best paddles on the market to last 3-5 years.
While composite and graphite paddles tend to be much better when playing, they do not last anywhere near as long as their wood counterparts. They can start to develop ‘dead’ spots quite quickly.
A quality graphite paddle is likely to last 3-5 years. A quality wood paddle could last considerably longer than that, particularly if you are not playing pickleball all that often.
Read an in-depth article on the different materials used in a pickleball paddle here: What are Pickleball Paddles Made Of?
How Regularly You Play
Of course, the more you play the game, the quicker your pickleball paddle will start to wear out. It isn’t uncommon for pro pickleball players to replace their paddles every few months. An amateur (playing once or twice per month) can probably have their paddle last a good few years.
Wonder what kind of paddles the pros use? Check out this article: What Pickleball Paddles Do The Pros Use?
Do Pickleball Paddles Get Dead Spots?
The more you play with the pickleball paddle, the more likely the paddle is to develop dead spots.
When your pickleball paddle develops dead spots, the ball won’t be able to bounce off of it in quite the same way. Basically, the pickleball paddle is going to feel a lot less responsive.
If you play pickleball regularly, then it is likely that you will be attempting to hit the ball with the same part of the paddle each and every time. This is because the paddle has a ‘sweet spot.’ This means that the sweet spot may become less responsive, but the rest of the pickleball paddle works perfectly fine.
Can You Play Pickleball With a Worn Out Paddle?
You can play pickleball with a worn-out paddle, but it isn’t really recommended.
When you have a worn-out pickleball paddle, a couple of things will happen when you try to hit that ball:
- The pickleball may not bounce off the paddle quite right.
- Small bumps in the paddle can cause the pickleball to veer off in odd directions.
These two things will likely be fine if you play an amateur game of pickleball. Not ideal, but passable. However, once you start getting into more intense gameplay, you need to have a rough idea of the direction in which your paddle will send the ball. You cannot afford to let that ball be unpredictable.
If your paddle has only just started to wear out, then you should probably be fine for a while. You aren’t in the most ideal situation, but it is fine. Don’t bother playing with that paddle if there is serious wear and tear. Your game will be seriously impacted. It will be affected so much that the game just stops being fun.
When To Upgrade The Pickleball Paddle
There are a couple of situations when you will probably want to consider upgrading your pickleball paddle.
The most obvious is that as you improve your game and start to play more and more, you will need to pick yourself up a new paddle. Always try to get something a little bit better than you had before if you can afford it.
The second situation where you should probably consider an upgrade is if your pickleball paddle has started to wear out. There are a few ways to spot that you have a dead pickleball paddle.
It Sounds Different
When your pickleball paddle starts to develop dead spots, you will notice a dull little thud whenever the ball comes into contact with the paddle.
You can also try knocking the pickleball paddle with your knuckle. If you hear a dull thud in some areas, and something that sounds a bit springier in others, then you probably have a pickleball paddle that has worn out.
The Ball Is Moving In a Different Way
For many, one of the first signs that their pickleball paddle is on its last legs is when the ball starts to move in a slightly different way. The chance in the way that the ball moves will be subtle at first. As the wear gets worse, you may find that you have lost a little bit of control over the ball.
The Handle Is Falling Apart
If the pickleball paddle’s handle is falling apart, then get yourself an upgrade immediately, even if the rest of the pickleball paddle seems fine. A handle that doesn’t work correctly is tough to grip. If you cannot grip the handle, then you cannot possibly hit the pickleball perfectly. Basically, your gameplay is going to be seriously impacted.
Pickleball paddles do eventually wear out. Depending on how much you play the sport and the quality of the pickleball paddle, you can expect the paddle to last anywhere between 6 months and 5 years. You will know that your pickleball paddle is probably due for an upgrade if you notice dead spots or the ball starts to move oddly as it bounces off of the paddle.