ard pickleball paddles

Our guide to the Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners – Updated July 2018

If you just started playing pickleball and you're looking for a list of the best pickleball paddles for beginners - you've come to the right place.  Chances are, when you got introduced to the game, you may have borrowed a friend's paddle or used a free wooden paddle many recreation centers or YMCAs offer.  Now however, you're hooked.  You can't stop playing the game and you want a paddle of your own!  The goal of this article is provide you the most up to date list of the best pickleball paddles for beginners.  These paddles range from graphite to composite, come in many different shapes, sizes and weights - all without draining you're bank account along the way.  If you're looking to grab an inexpensive paddle that performs well, and is reliable, these are the pickleball paddles to choose from.

Related: Our Top Picks for the title of Best Pickleball Paddles of 2018

Pickleball Paddle Chart

Image DETAILS
vl-table__image

Top Pick

ARD GF200
  • Weight: 8.0oz
  • Length: 15 5/8"
  • Width: 8 1/8"
Check Amazon
vl-table__image

Runner Up

The Venom
  • Weight: 7.8 oz
  • Length: 15 3/4"
  • Width: 8 1/8"
Check Amazon
vl-table__image

Rally Graphite 2.0
  • Weight: 7.8 oz
  • Length: 15 3/4"
  • Width: 8 1/8"
Check Amazon
vl-table__image

HEAD Radical Elite
  • Weight: 8.0-8.3 oz
  • Length: 16"
  • Width: 7 7/8"
Check Amazon
vl-table__image

The Neo Composite
  • Weight: 7.6-7.9oz
  • Length: 15 1/2"
  • Width: 7 5/8"
Check Amazon
vl-table__image

The Fusion 2.0
  • Weight: 7.9oz
  • Length: 15 5/8"
  • Width: 8 1/4"
Check Amazon
vl-table__image

Upstreet Graphite
  • Weight: 8.6oz
  • Length: 16"
  • Width: 7 7/8"
Check Amazon
vl-table__image

Ranger Paddle for Kids
  • Weight: 6.5-6.9 oz
  • Length: 15 1/2"
  • Width: 8"
Check Amazon

Our list of paddles featured in this article is quite lengthy, because there are a lot of quality beginner paddles to consider from some of the top paddle manufacturers in the sport.  However, there are many other paddles, in similar price ranges that we would not recommend.  Why is this?  Well for starters, they're not made by common manufacturers let alone the top brands.  In addition, some of these paddles are sold only online from online retailers.  You cannot go into a common sporting goods store and find these paddles.  In our opinion, this is not ideal.  We've said it before, just because a paddle is sold online and popular, doesn't mean it's a good one.  Research needs to be done. Second rate paddles in the $20-$30 range won't help you improve your game, and they won't stay in shape very long either.  But, pickleball paddles for beginners don't need to be $100 either.  And that's where we come in.  We've done all of that work for you to create a complete, extensive list of the best pickleball paddles for beginners.  


The Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners - Updated: 2018

Top Pick - The GF200 by ARD

  • PAddle Info
  • Paddle Specs
  • Why Players like it

Our top pick for Best Beginner Pickleball paddle is the GF200 from paddle manufacturer newcomer ARD or Advanced Recreation Design. The GF200 is their entry level model however it's also the company's most sophisticated racket as well.  


This flagship graphite paddle has something very unique about it.  In fact, it's a one of a kind concept, using ARD's patented "throat" design. The throat concept is a structural component to the paddle connecting the paddle face to the grip.  Most paddles connect the face to the grip all in one.  Think of the ARD throat design as the neck that connects the paddles head to it's torso; or grip.  It's a structural component that adds to the paddle's large sweet spot and improves stability.  In addition it provides the player less vibration and more consistent performance.  No other paddle on the market offers this!


The polyurethane core adds pop for when you need to push your opponent back to the baseline on serves and returns.  It also gives the paddle good touch and control at the net for a consistent soft game when dinking


We also like that for a beginner paddle, it's slightly heavier than others. Weighing between 8.2 to 8.4 ounces, this paddle can deliver an aggressive smack and give newer players ample power while they're still learning shot and stroke technique.  


For more on the GF200's brother, the composite HF100 and why it made our list of Best Pickleball Paddles for 2018, click here.


Runner Up - The Venom by Pickleball Inc.

Video Source: Pickleball Channel

  • PAddle Info
  • Paddle Specs
  • Why Players like it

The Venom was featured in our other article The Best New Pickleball Paddles for 2017, and for good reason.  Pickleball Inc has essentially been around as a proven pickleball paddle maker since the sport's inception.  And they're not afraid to use their history and tradition and use it as inspiration for future paddles.  

best pickleball paddles for beginners

The Venom uses its unique "tear drop" tapered shape to place more of its overall weight in the paddle's head; much like a tennis racket or traditional wooden pickleball paddle. This, along with it's innovative and proprietary nomex core Pickleball Inc calls their "PFG2 Core" give this paddle great balance, symmetry, control and exceptional power.

As we've mentioned before, most nomex paddle cores tend to be the loudest (we love the trademark "pop") and create a defection response where the ball virtually leaps off of the paddle back at your opponent. However, Pickleball Inc's PFG2 nomex core is ahead of its time, allowing the paddle to remain remarkably quiet.  The finishing touches are a composite paddle face for extra grab and spin and an elongated "tennis-like" handle for better control of the heavy paddle head. Pickleball Inc did it right and for a reasonable price, has made one of the best pickleball paddles for beginners.


ARD Pickleball

The Rally Graphite Power 2.0

Video Source: unplutocratical, video features the first generation Rally Graphite.

  • PAddle Info
  • Paddle Specs
  • Why Players like it

​Newcomers to pickleball like this paddle because despite it's slightly heavier weight (compared to the original) it has a very light weight feel, and is easy to swing.  New players upgrading from wooden paddles will no longer feel as if their wielding a sledge hammer and will immediately notice an improvement in their dink game.  

The combination of an 8oz paddle with a thick polymer core gives newbies the perfect balance of power, touch and control; three things beginner level players wrestle with constantly.  ​This paddle is durable both in it's construction and it's long term playability.  Players moving up from 3.0 to 3.5 will not feel as if they need another new, more expensive paddle.  This paddle will grow with your game and not need replacing 6 months in.

The price can't be beat either.  It's available everywhere but Amazon typically has the lowest price.  It's even cheaper than the original Rally Graphite!  So you're paying less, for the upgraded version!  


The Radical Elite by HEAD

Video Source: Total Pickleball

  • PAddle Info
  • Paddle Specs
  • Why Players like it

For those of you who might be coming from a tennis background, the name HEAD will sound familiar.  HEAD’s expertise in the tennis game with supremely popular and successful tennis racquets make it an easy translation for them.  In fact, HEAD’s Radical line of racquets finally makes it’s way from the tennis courts to the hard courts of pickleball!

That’s right, if you’ve played with a HEAD Radical tennis racquet, then you know what you’ll be getting with it’s pickleball cousin. HEAD’s Radical line of pickleball paddles are the Tour, the Pro and the Elite.  The Tour and Pro are more seasoned paddles for veterans while the Elite is HEAD’s powerful entry level option.

It’s inexpensive, weighs in at a sturdy 8.1 ounces and is easy to pick up and get a feel for, thank to it's soft ergonomic grip.  For newcomers looking for a great paddle from a reputable company that will grow with them as they gain skill, the Radical Elite is in our opinion, one you must look at.


The NEO Composite Paddle by Selkirk

Video Source: Bell Racquet

  • PAddle Info
  • Paddle Specs
  • Why Players like it

Selkirk has been a respected brand in the world of pickleball for years, and the Neo Composite represents their best paddle for new players. The Neo comes in two simple yet flush color options; red or blue but Selkirk did not skimp out on the paddle tech they put into their entry level option.  The composite paddle face allows this paddle to provide both spin and power while remaining exceptionally light on it's feet. Weighing in at 7.6-7.9 ounces, this is a well balanced, surprisingly light beginner paddle!  Newer players will appreciate the Neo's light weight and fast response at the net, which isn't always felt with composite paddles, let alone budget ones.  Beneath it's composite face is an advanced polymer core.  Despite it being an entry level option, Selkirk has incorporated it's PowerCore polymer technology.  As a new player, all you need to know is that this gives the paddle touch and feel beyond it's minimal price tag.  The best pickleball paddle for beginners should combine great design and manufacturing while maintaining a low price point...the Neo Composite from Selkirk does just that!

best pickleball paddle for beginners
best pickleball paddles for beginners

The Fusion 2.0 Widebody by Gamma

Video Source: Gamma Pickleball

  • PAddle Info
  • Paddle Specs
  • Why Players like it
best pickleball paddles for beginners

The Fusion 2.0 from Gamma Pickleball is a wide body paddle offering a large 8 inch wide paddle face giving new players more hitting surface. Inside the paddle, Gamma opted to go with an aluminum honeycomb core.  This means it's harder than soft "polymer cores" found in many of today's paddles but softer than the extra rigid "nomex" cores found in power paddles.  Essentially, with an aluminum core, the Fusion 2.0 offers a good balance power and touch.  

The paddle face is manufactured out of a fiber glass composite face giving you a playing surface designed to grab the ball and even slow it down. This effectively gives you the chance to dictate the pace of the match and control more points - perfect for a beginner player.  This is why the Fusion 2.0 has made our list of the best pickleball paddles for beginners.  


Graphite Paddle by Upstreet

Video Source: Upstreet

  • PAddle Info
  • Paddle Specs
  • Why Players like it

Beginner players who tend to be more recreational and play outside like this paddle because it's durable, stylish, and comes with a paddle cover! It doesn't hurt that the price tag won't break the bank either and can easily be purchased in larger quantities for group or family play.  

Despite having a graphite face (which tend to be lighter), it's 8.6 is beefy.  But, a lot of that weight can be felt in the shaft or handle.  This can make it feel more like a tennis racket than a pickleball paddle - which for some new players, will be ideal.  

Many players coming from cheapo wooden paddles gravitate towards the Upstreet Graphite and love it's durability and brag about how well it's made.  Upstreet also has a stellar reputation for customer service should you have questions or comments.


ARD Pickleball

The Ranger by Paddletek - 
The pickleball paddle for kids

Video Source: Paddletek Pickleball Paddles

  • PAddle Info
  • Paddle Specs
  • Why Players like it

Well, it's really pretty simple.  Parents and Grandparents like this paddle because it's tailor made for the children in their life!  The two things that make this the best pickleball paddle for kids are:

1.  It's 8" wide paddle face giving younger players a large hitting surface and extended sweet spot.

2.  It's extra long 5 inch grip!  Paddletek made the handle longer so kids can grip the paddle with two hands - giving them an added level of comfort and control.  

The long handle designed for two hands along with the paddle's light weight make it the ideal pickleball paddle for kids 12 and under.


We hope you enjoyed our run down of the Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners! Is it extensive? Yes, but we feel these eight paddles represent the very best in paddles designed with a beginner in mind.  If you're looking to upgrade beyond a beginner paddle, check out our post on the Best Pickleball Paddles for 2018!

Leave a comment below, we'd love to hear from you!  What paddle do you use? Why do you like it?

Leave a Comment:

2 comments
Add Your Reply