Are you newly retired and looking to stay active? Perhaps you're looking for a sport that you can learn to play quickly. Pickleball is a fast-paced paddle sport that can be played by people of all ages and skill levels. Having the right pickleball equipment is essential to learning and enjoying the game right away.
The rules of the game are fairly simple to understand for beginners. Click here to learn more about the rules of pickleball and how to score: How to Play Pickleball. With enough practice, the sport can be played competitively by less experienced players.
Since this fun sport involves several elements of ping-pong, tennis and badminton, you need a special paddle to play with. Choosing the right paddle can be a daunting task since like any other sport, the right equipment plays a crucial role in helping you win the point.
Related: Ever wonder which kind of paddle leads to the most miss-hits? The answer may shock you!
Pickleball Equipment - What You Need
Before you get started, here are a few mandatory pieces of pickleball equipment you will need to play the sport:
- Pickleball Paddle: You cannot start your game without a paddle. There are hundreds of paddles available on the market today, all in various colors and styles. Users must also pay attention to the material and weight of the paddle before making a purchase.
- Pickleball Balls: Pickleball balls are unlike any other you have ever seen before. The hollow plastic balls have several holes and are categorized for outdoor or indoor use. The indoor balls typically have larger holes and are not as durable while on the other hand, outdoor balls are constructed using harder plastic and have much smaller holes. Pickleball balls typically come in packs of 6 or 12 and can vary in color based on the court you're playing on.
- Pickleball Net: If you are about to set up your own court, you will require a net. There are several net systems you can choose from and most of them come with a handy carrying bag. Invest in a portable net system that you can set up anywhere you go or simply purchase a simple net if you have a permanent court with sturdy posts.
Related: Looking to improve your serve? Click here for the one and only training course I recommend to improve your fundamentals.
Things to Consider when Purchasing a Pickleball Paddle
The first piece of equipment you'll need is a great pair of dedicated pickleball shoes. You can read more about how pickleball shoes can help prevent injuries here. You can read about the best pickleball shoes here. The second essential piece of pickleball equipment you need is a paddle. The paddle must feel comfortable in your hands and should be easy to maneuver. Here are a couple of important factors you should keep in mind to select a paddle that is right for you:
Paddles are available in a variety of sizes, hence you should choose one according to your grip size. A larger paddle can easily slip from your hands, causing injury. People usually prefer smaller grips as it improves wrist action, leading to more control and spin. To determine which grip size is right for you, print out a handy size chart or use a ruler to measure the distance from the middle crease of your palm to the tip of your ring finger.
If you are between grip sizes, we recommend you opt for a smaller grip for better control or use an overgrip. An overgrip is a soft padding that is taped around the grip of the paddle to keep it from slipping in your hands.
The most basic wooden paddles can be bought for around $15. These paddles are best for beginners and for kids, especially if the equipment has to be shared with many people. Apart from inexpensive wooden options, you can also opt for premium paddles constructed from graphite, composite, aluminum and new high-tech materials that are resistant to damage, such as carbon fiber and polymers. However, these paddles tend to be more expensive and their price can range from $40 to $130, depending on performance.
Weight is one of the most important factors when choosing the right paddle. The normal weight ranges between 6 oz. to 12 oz. Lighter paddles stay between 6 to 7 oz. while heavier ones are 8 oz. and above. While a heavier paddle may be difficult to maneuver, lighter does not necessarily mean better. Choose the weight according to your age, skill level and most importantly, comfort. The weight of the paddle affects the swing speed and the reaction time.
A heavier paddle aids in driving the ball, helping you make awesome power shots but offers less control. Additionally, the extra weight can strain your arm and affect your overall performance. Sometimes, a weak player can benefit from a heavier paddle as it increases deflection or power, allowing you to hit the ball at a much faster rate without putting in too much effort. Use a heavy paddle for single matches if you want to add more oomph to your slams and hard shots.
Lightweight paddles are easier to maneuver and offer better control. However, a paddle that is too light may cause more vibration in your arm and elbow, affecting your control and accuracy. In addition, lighter paddles may make it harder to place deep shots to your opponent's baseline. Deep shots are a key component to pickleball strategy, so choosing a paddle that allows for that is essential.
You want to look good when you are winning right? Pickleball paddles are available in a wide variety of colors and styles so you can choose one according to your preferences. Basic paddles like wooden ones tend to be vanilla looking, however the more high-tech paddles offer bright color schemes and immediately give off the impression of an advanced player. If you don't have the skills, you can at least look the part with these paddles!
If you thought color does not play an important role in the game, you are wrong. The USAPA makes it illegal for players to use yellow paddles or wear yellow shirts as it makes it harder for your opponent to see the ball coming off the paddle. No cheating!
A longer handle shortens the paddle face. Newer players who want to enjoy the sport are likely to benefit from a longer handle length for greater comfort and control. Additionally, some players state a longer handle improves paddle balance and offers more stability.
Pickleball can be played outdoors and because of that, your pickleball equipment needs to be durable. That is why we recommend you invest in a high quality and durable paddle constructed from tough materials. If you intend on playing outside, invest in a paddle with a protective edge so that it does not bear much damage if it hits rough surfaces. Some new paddles have UV protection to reduce damage from the sun. Playing indoors will not cause much damage to your gear.
Contrary to popular belief, newbies are harder on the paddles than experts. Beginners drop the paddles on the ground more often and store them carelessly because they are not familiar with proper paddle care. For this reason, we strongly recommend that beginners invest in well constructed paddles that are accompanied by edge guards to withstand accidents. The Rally Graphite Paddle is a perfect example, you can read our review here: Rally Graphite Review.
Paddle deflection is a term used to measure how rigid a paddle is. The deflection can be measured by putting a weight on the center of the paddle and measuring how much the paddle bends. Most composite paddles have the heaviest amount of deflection because of their textured surface. This allows them to be great options for putting spin on the ball.
Different Kinds of Paddles
Choosing the right pickleball paddle can be overwhelming. Paddles can be categorized into different types, based on materials. These materials give the paddle different attributes, strengths and weaknesses. Needless to say, the paddle can be the most confusing piece of pickleball equipment you'll ever buy. However, we're here to shed some light on the subject and walk you through the pros and cons of each type of pickleball paddle. Some of the most common paddle types include:
- Carbon fiber
Wooden Pickleball Paddles
Wooden pickleball paddles are a decent choice for beginners or those who have just started playing the sport. These paddles are lightweight and offer a better grip. Additionally, wooden paddles are inexpensive as compared to other materials and can also be used by children without worrying about damage.
Pros of Wooden Paddles
- Generally inexpensive and budget friendly
- Ideal choice for beginners and amateurs
- Offer players a better grip
- Safe in the hands of kids
- Highly durable, depending on the choice of wood
Cons of Wooden Paddles
- Not for experienced players
- Typically heavy-weight, not the best choice if you want greater control
- Prone to breaking
The Best Wooden Pickleball Paddles include:
Swinger Pickleball Paddle
The Swinger Pickleball Paddle is constructed using 5-ply wood and is one of the most popular wooden paddles available on Amazon with the best reviews. The paddle comes with a black handle wrap and rope safety strap that is perfect for beginners and kids. It's a perfect starter paddle for someone just learning how to play. Once you've mastered various shots and increased you skill level, this paddle may not suite your needs anymore.
- Affordable Price: Unlike other paddles on the market, the Swinger Pickleball Paddle is available at an incredibly reasonable price.
- Sturdy Build: The sturdy and strong build offers a better grip to the user, preventing accidents and resulting in better shots.
- Offers Flexibility: The wooden paddle offers more control and power, allowing the user to swing the ball naturally and with better flexibility.
- Heavy: While Swinger Pickleball Paddles are available at an affordable price, they are heavier than most wooden paddles in the market and are not much different in weight than graphite paddles. Many players have complained that this paddle has resulted in arm strain.
At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. This paddle is the ideal choice for people who are on a tight budget but still want to enjoy the sport.
Taiwan Diller Wood Paddle
The Taiwan Diller Wood Paddle is constructed from hardwood. Each paddle is cut from 7-ply hardwood, resulting in a highly durable product. A large number of community centers, youth programs and recreation centers invest in these paddles to train inexperienced players without worrying about causing damage to expensive products.
- Lightweight Construction: The Taiwan Diller Wood Paddle is much lighter than other wooden paddles in the market.
- Quality Black Tape Grip: This well-constructed wooden paddle features a quality black tape grip that provides comfort and also results in better performance. Additionally, you can take off the grip if it bothers you.
- Rope Wrist Strap: Does the paddle keep slipping out of your hands? Rest assured, the Taiwan Diller Wood Paddle features a rope strap that you can hang on your wrist, keeping the paddle secure in your arm instead of worrying about it falling on the floor.
- Only for Beginners: These paddles are best suited for beginners, hence if you wish to play pickleball as a competitive sport, you will have to invest in a composite, or graphite paddle instead.
The wooden paddle is a must-have if you intend on trying out the sport or need to buy paddles in bulk for your recreational center at a reasonable price.
Rally Meister Paddle
The Rally Meister Paddle has a high-end cushion grip, unlike other more expensive wooden paddles in the market. It is a great choice for beginners and people who run community centers and other organizations. The high quality wooden paddle is constructed using seven piles of maple glued together to result in a highly durable and long lasting product.
- Strong Paddle Core: The sturdy build of the paddle results in a product that can withstand damage and will last you a long time.
- Top-Notch Polyurethane Grip: The sturdy grip is better constructed than most expensive composite and graphite Pickleball paddles on the market. Additionally, the grip is resistant to moisture and is cushioned to provide greater comfort for the user.
- Includes Wrist Strap: The Rally Meister Paddle features a wrist strap that keeps the paddle intact in your hands so that the paddle does not fall during a heated match. The strap also adds convenience for people who wish to store the paddle on a hook.
- Small Size: A few players have complained about the size of the racquet, saying it is too small for big hands.
- Heavy: Though the paddles are perfect for beginners, they are a little too heavy compared to other wooden paddles on the market.
Reasonable size and quality construction makes the Rally Meister Paddle a must-have for dedicated Pickleball players who are on a budget.
Graphite Pickleball Paddles
Graphite Pickleball paddles are among the most popular paddle types on the market today. However, players must understand that there is no such thing as a 100% graphite pickleball paddle and there are several different grades of graphite.
Pros of Graphite Paddles
- Graphite paddles tend to weigh less than paddles made from other materials, especially when compared to wood
- Some players have stated that graphite paddles improve performance because the ball pops off faster
- Easily available in the market, many good brands to choose from
Cons of Graphite Paddles
- Quite expensive
- Not suitable for beginners
- Not suitable for recreational centers and other organizations where equipment must be shared among several people
Pro Lite Sports Aero-D Graphite Pickleball Paddle
The Aero-D Graphite Paddle is one of the lightest graphite paddles ever - 6.7 oz! The lightweight design features carbon fiber to improve responsive performance and result in better shots. This is the lightest paddle in the Pro-Lite series and is a popular paddle among pickleball enthusiasts.
- Lightweight Construction: The lightweight construction allows users to play for longer periods without experiencing fatigue. Additionally, the paddle is easy to maneuver and handle for new and experienced players.
- Longer Handle: The Aero-D Graphite Paddle features a longer hand that provides extra comfort to players, especially those who are accustomed to playing tennis.
- Faster Play: The lightweight construction results in faster play and is the ideal choice for those who wish to play pickleball for extended periods of time.
- Balanced Weight Distribution: The impeccable design promotes equal weight distribution throughout the paddle, minimizing fatigue.
- Reasonable Price: Unlike other graphite paddles in the market, the Aero-D Graphite Paddle is available at an affordable price.
- Too Light: The Aero-D Graphite Paddle is not a good choice for players who are looking for a heavy paddle that will add more power to their shots.
- Smaller Paddle Face: The Aero-D Graphite Paddle features a smaller paddle face than other paddles on the market, making it harder to hit the squarely on the paddle's sweet spot. This is not ideal for beginners.
Overall, the Aero-D Graphite Paddle is not a bad buy but it is more suitable for experienced players.
Epic Polymer PowerCore Graphite Paddle
The Epic Polymer PowerCore Graphite Paddle features the inherent powers of the PowerCore technology. The paddle features an intricate graphite surface with a slick glossy finish that is great for under-spin and top-spin shots. Additionally, the polymer core increases responsiveness and allows the player to take the best shots with ease.
- Exceptional Design: The Epic Polymer PowerCore Graphite Paddle features a lightly textured graphite face with a honeycomb core structure to help you get extra spin and prevent dead spots. The eye-catching design is sure to catch the attention of your opponent while increasing your performance.
- Vibrant Colors: For anybody who wishes to add more color in their life at the pickleball court, the Epic Polymer PowerCore Graphite Paddle is the solution to all your problems. The vibrant colors are a showstopper and will give you an extra oomph when you are performing.
- Ultra-Low-Profile Edge Guard: The paddle features a low profile edge guard that protects it against damage in case you plan on playing outdoors or drop the paddle on a rough surface.
- Durability: The high quality design combined with the edge guard increases the longevity of the product, making it resistant to external damage.
- Bad Paint Job: Some players have complained about the paint fading. This appears to be the only con of the product. However, keep in mind that the PowerCore Graphite Paddle features an excellent design and comes in vibrant colors.
The product is a must have for players who want to play at a competitive level. The paddle may seem a little expensive but the high quality is certainly worth the price tag.
Attack 2.0 Paddle
The Attack 2.0 Paddle is an excellent paddle that offers great power and comfort for all kinds of players, irrespective of age and skill level. The paddle features a graphite face, covered with UV vinyl and is designed to withstand the harsh rays of the sun. The paddle features an aluminum honey comb core like the original Attack paddle but offers extra spin to help you make those tricky "dink" shots.
- Wide Paddle Surface: The Attack 2.0 Paddle features a wide paddle surface of 8” that provides a sufficient hitting surface to users.
- Tall Paddle: The paddle has a total length of 15-3/4” that is comparatively much larger than other paddles on the market.
- Black Edge Guard: The paddle features a black edge guard that protects the paddle against damage in case you plan on playing outdoors or drop the paddle on a rough surface.
- Heavy-weight: The paddle weighs around 5.5 pounds that may be too heavy for some players, especially beginners.
The Attack 2.0 Paddle is one of the best graphite paddles on the market that will offer you the power and comfort you require while playing pickleball.
Composite Pickleball Paddle
Composite pickleball paddles generally consist of fiberglass hitting surfaces combined with an aluminum or polymer core. These paddles are highly sought after in the world of pickleball as they feature an incredible combination of strength, feel and spin you won’t find anywhere else. Their textured surfaces allow for the paddle to grab the ball momentarily and add spin to your serves and return of serves.
Pros of Composite Paddles
- Composite paddles are generally lightweight and are easy to maneuver
- They create that trademark ‘pop’ sound when the ball hits the paddle surface that pickleball players are beginning to love
- Composite paddles are designed for experienced players who wish to increase power and performance
Cons of Composite Paddles
- These paddles are generally expensive
- Due to their heavier weight, these paddles may not allow for as much touch or control
NEO Composite Pickleball Paddle Bundle
The NEO Composite Pickleball Paddle Bundle not only offers players the supreme control a paddle requires but is also designed to withstand heavy usage. The elegant and stylish paddle features a stunning blue or red background and has the ideal paddle length.
- Ideal Weight: The paddle is available at an ideal weight which offers the player both power and finesse while playing the game.
- Small Grip: The paddle features small grip that conveniently fits in the hands of most users.
- Wide Paddle Face: The paddle face is comparatively wider than other paddles in the market, eliminating the chances of the ball hitting the edge guard and increasing "sweet spot" accuracy.
- Not Suitable for Beginners: The wide paddle design may be difficult to balance for new players.
The NEO Composite Pickleball Paddle Bundle is a must-have since it offers 2 composite paddles along with 4 pickleballs in an incredibly mind-blowing package.
Pickle Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle
The Pickle Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle is a ridiculously inexpensive composite paddle that is made using durable aluminum composite combined with a high-density neoprene core. It is one of the bestselling composite paddles on Amazon and is loved by pickleball enthusiasts around the world.
- Built from Quality Materials: The Pickle Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle is built using quality materials and designed to withstand heavy usage for long periods without suffering damage.
- Features Premium Grade Tape: The Pickle Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle features premium grade tape that offers a better grip.
- Rugged Edge Guard: From striking the ground to hitting harsh shots, the Pickle Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle is designed to withstand damage, thanks to its rugged edge guard.
- Heavy: The Pickle Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle is certainly not the lightest paddle on the market but it is not so bad for its low price tag.
- Too Small: Users with big hands may find the paddle too small to use.
The Pickle Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle is a fairly decent paddle for its price. If you want to invest in a paddle for competitive sports, you may have to purchase a different brand.
Having quality pickleball equipment is crucial, especially if you're looking to improve your game. Many times the first step to improving your skill level is to upgrade your gear. There are many types of pickleball paddles on the market, hence it is imperative that you conduct proper research before you make a purchase. Hopefully, this guide gives you everything you need to know about pickleball equipment and how to choose the right pickleball paddle. Good luck!
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