Pickleball is quickly becoming one of America’s most popular recreational sports, meaning many new people are looking to play. That means that all of these people will have to get themselves paddles! So what are pickleball paddles made of?
There are four main types of pickleball paddles and the material they are made of: wood, graphite, composite, and fiberglass.
Each of these paddles has its strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to know the differences between the three before you buy! Read on to find out everything you need to know about what pickleball paddles are made of!
The different kinds of pickleball paddles
There are a wide variety of different kinds of pickleball paddles that are popular amongst pickleball players. Each has its strengths, weaknesses, and reasons for being used. The most common are wood paddles, graphite paddles, fiberglass paddles, and composite paddles.
Below, you can read more in-depth about each kind of paddle so you can decide on what kind of pickleball paddle would be best for you!
1. Wood paddles
The chief benefit of pickleball paddles with a wood core is that they are inexpensive. This means that they are great for beginners who aren’t sure how much they’re willing to invest in the sport yet. However, just because they’re not super expensive doesn’t mean they’re shoddy paddles or will be a disadvantage during play.
Read in-depth here: How to Play Pickleball
Wooden paddles are the most traditional type of pickleball paddle, as they were first used to play the sport when it was first invented in the mid 20th century.
Nowadays, the term “wood” is more often used to describe the core of the paddle rather than the outside (although there are very cheap paddles with wooden outsides available as well). However, the material remains one of the most popular, dependable, and inexpensive paddle types.
Here is an example of a wooden pickleball Paddle.
2. Graphite paddles
Graphite paddles are another popular type of pickleball paddle. These are often the most expensive. Usually weighing between 5 and 9 ounces, these paddles often have a graphite face with a Nomex, aluminum, or polymer core. If you’re interested in these kinds of cores, scroll down, as we’ll go over them later in the article!
Professional and competitive players often use these due to the lightweight and quick action of the graphite face. These are not always the best for beginners, though.
Read in-depth here: Is Pickleball a Professional Sport?
Here is an example of a Graphite pickleball Paddle.
3. Composite paddles
Composite paddles are basically a combination of wood paddles and graphite paddles. They have a composite core and a fiberglass or carbon fiber surface for hitting the ball with. The cores are often Nomex (a rigid kind of nylon), aluminum, or polymer.
Composite paddles make putting a spin on the ball a little easier, making them more and more popular among better players as time goes on.
If you want to check put some Composite Pickleball Paddles you can find them here: Composite Pickleball Paddle
4. Fiberglass paddles
Fiberglass, similarly to graphite, is another lightweight type of paddle popular with the best players. Fiberglass paddles are simply a type of composite paddle.
Fiberglass paddles are more focused on precision than power. This makes them pretty good for beginners or intermediate players looking to hone certain aspects of their game. If you are struggling with accuracy or want to make your accuracy even better than it already is, a fiberglass paddle might be right for you.
Here is an example of a Fiberglass Pickleball Paddle.
Graphite vs. Composite vs. Fiberglass
So what is the best reason to buy a graphite, composite, or fiberglass paddle?
Graphite paddles are great for adding some power to your game. The strength of the graphite material makes even a very thin layer of it send the ball flying quite fast towards your opponent. This is one of the main reasons they are the most popular paddle amongst professional players, as this power can give you a serious edge in a fast-paced game of pickleball.
On the other hand, fiberglass paddles are, as mentioned above, primarily for improving accuracy. Although not as popular among the best players, these can also be great. Since fiberglass is a more flexible material, it allows you to have more control on impact with the ball, increasing the ease with which you can hit the spots you want to on the pickleball court.
Composite paddles are also more focused on accuracy, as fiberglass is a type of composite paddle.
It should be noted that graphite paddles are more durable than the other kinds of paddles, making them a great investment if paddle longevity is a particular concern of yours.
Different types of pickleball paddle cores
There are a couple of different types of cores that can be in a pickleball paddle. You can have the classic wood, but they are mostly used for cheaper, mass-produced paddles for gym classes and beginners courses nowadays.
There are three different kinds of commonly used pickleball cores: Nomex, aluminum, and polymer.
What is the best core material for a pickleball paddle?
There are a few different kinds of materials that are often used in the cores of pickleball paddles.
Nomex is a material with a honeycombed structure originally made for firefighting equipment. In more recent years, Nomex has been used to create the cores of pickleball paddles. These cores are excellent for hitting the ball fast and with a ton of power and create a signature “popping” noise when they come into contact with the ball.
Check out these Nomex Pickleball Paddles.
The polymer core is made of a plastic blend and is far quieter than Nomex paddles. They hit with far less power, which can be good in more casual games or gated communities.
Aluminum pickleball paddle cores also have a honeycomb structure. However, they differ from their Nomex counterparts in that they are not designed for power. In fact, they are far better for accuracy, meaning they’re suitable for beginners and those who struggle with aim.
Truthfully, there is no “best” option, depending on your situation. However, professionals tend to use Nomex cores with graphite faces, so these are often considered the “best” options for high-end pickleball play.
What paddle do the pros use? Read about it here: What Pickleball Paddles Do The Pros Use?