When somebody starts playing a new sport, they usually don’t want to spend much money on equipment. This implies choosing a pickleball paddle that is the most affordable of all. However, there are many factors that go into choosing the best paddle for playing this sport as a beginner.
It is recommended to start playing pickleball with a wooden paddle. These paddles are more affordable, and they have a large sweet spot. However, if you’re looking for a lighter paddle, which will also be durable, you may want to go for a carbon fiber paddle.
The most important factor in picking the right pickleball paddle is its weight. However, beginner players are also concerned about the cost. So, finding something that will offer the best of both worlds is a good idea.
Here we will look at the features of different pickleball paddles available on the market and then see how to pick the right paddle according to your playing style and skill level.
Types of Pickleball Paddles
Three main types of pickleball paddles are commonly used. These are wood, composite, and graphite. All these materials have pros and cons, and in this section, we will look at their features to see which one might be best for a beginner.
Wood Pickleball Paddles
Wood pickleball paddles are the most traditional type of paddle, and they’re also the most affordable. They’re typically made of maple or poplar, and they have a large sweet spot. The sweet spot is the area on the paddle that gives the most accurate response, which can usually be found in the center.
However, one downside to using wood paddles is that they can be heavier than composite paddles. We will shortly discuss why weight can significantly impact your game, particularly if you’re a novice player.
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Composite Pickleball Paddles
Composite pickleball paddles, as the name implies, are made of various materials, including carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar. They’re lighter than wood paddles and have a smaller sweet spot.
If you’re looking for a branded paddle, you may want to consider paddles made with aerospace technology. These are known as Kevlar paddles and offer enhanced playability with their three-layer core. The overall increased thickness of the core offers more stability and control.
Composite paddles are more expensive than wood paddles but less expensive than graphite ones. If you are against spending a lot of money on a pickleball paddle but still want something that is durable and lightweight, go for a composite paddle.
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Graphite Pickleball Paddles
Graphite pickleball paddles offer many advantages over other types of paddles, and if you’re looking for a high-performance paddle, a graphite paddle is definitely worth considering.
Graphite paddles are known to respond very quickly to the ball as the surface is very hard. One of the major advantages of graphite pickleball paddles is that they’re very lightweight. This means you can swing the paddle more quickly and generate more power behind your shots. This is a good feature to consider for beginners.
However, graphite paddles have their disadvantages. One of the biggest downsides of buying such a paddle is that it can be quite expensive. If you’re just starting out in pickleball, you may not want to invest in a high-end graphite paddle until you’re sure you’ll stick with the sport.
Additionally, graphite paddles can sometimes be less durable than other types of paddles, so if you play a lot of pickleball, you may want to consider a different material.
How Do You Pick the Right Pickleball Paddle?
While weight and grip size are the most important factors to consider when choosing a pickleball paddle, other factors like surface material and core are also important. Let’s look at these factors so you can pick the right paddle for yourself, depending on your needs and skill level.
The grip size of the paddle is an important consideration because it affects your control over the paddle. A smaller grip size is good for experiencing more control, while a larger grip size will give you more power. You should choose a grip size that is comfortable for you to hold.
A larger grip circumference is easier to grip for larger hands. However, choosing a grip size that is neither too small nor too large is recommended. You can apply the index finger test to find the best grip. In this test, you have to grip the paddle with your dominant hand in an Eastern grip and then slide the index finger of your other hand between your ring finger and palm on the grip.
If your finger fits snugly in this gap, it is the right grip size for you. Ultimately, the grip size you should choose must not affect your game or cause tennis elbow. You can find your ideal grip circumference and stick to it with practice and experimentation.
In terms of surface material, carbon fiber is the best for beginners. Not only is it lightweight, but it also offers the durability and control beginner players need. Choose an aerodynamic shape if you want a larger sweet spot. However, carbon fiber paddles can be expensive.
While graphite is less durable, it can be a great choice for beginners who want an easy time hitting the ball. The surface offers more energy than all other materials and a better feel than fiberglass.
Composite pickleball paddles are great if you want to learn how to spin. They come with a textured surface, making it easy to control the ball’s direction. However, composite paddles are better suited to intermediate players. And finally, choose a reliable wooden paddle if you’re low on budget.
Core Material and Thickness
The core affects the weight, balance, and feel of the paddle and determines how much power and control the player has.
Polymer cores are considered the best in terms of maneuverability and weight. They are made from a type of plastic material. Because of their lightweight, these paddles are the most forgiving on the arm and shoulder, making them a good choice for players with injuries. However, they may not offer as much power and control as the other types of cores.
The performance of a paddle is more a measure of its core thickness than its surface material. Thicker polymer cores are generally not recommended for beginners because they are meant for attacking the ball in an aggressive game. For beginners, paddles with a thickness of about 14mm are good enough.
While USA Pickleball does not put any restrictions on the weight of the paddle, it is usually recommended to go for a lighter paddle, especially if you’re a beginner.
Most pickleball paddles weigh anywhere between 6 to 14 ounces. Lightweight paddles have a maximum weight of 7.5 ounces, while heavyweight paddles weigh more than 8.5 ounces. A heavier paddle will add more power to your shot, but at the same time, it will be difficult to swing and drain your energy quickly.
Heavy paddles are also difficult to control for someone who has just started playing this sport. Moreover, if your playing style involves more wrist twists and quick flips, a lightweight paddle is the best choice.