Pickleball Paddles for Dummies

Pickleball, also known as giant ping pong, also known as mini tennis, is currently taking over the nation and is seemingly here to stay, meaning that it’s time to get in the know.

While tennis racquets may be confusing, pickleball paddles are a bit more opaque because there are not nearly as many factors that go into a paddle’s composition: paddles have no string, beam variability, balance difference, swingweight, etc. Aside from the different colors, pickleball paddles all kind of look the same. Yet there are a few key tech specs to know that the discerning coach and player should know:

  • Weight: This is the most immediately apparent factor. Heavier paddles give you more power, and lighter paddles give you more control. Most paddles range from 6 to 9 oz.
  • Paddle Shape: Some paddles come with a wide and a long paddle option. A wider, square shape has a bigger sweet spot which offers more power without requiring greater accuracy. This is also the standard shape. A longer, rectangular shape offers better reach but requires a bit more precision when hitting.
  • Surface: Some paddles have a textured surface, which will help you generate more spin on the ball. Smooth surfaces won’t give that to you as easily, but you’ll still be able to generate good spin with more power.
  • Core: This refers to the material composition of the paddle. Most paddles now are either made of graphite, fiberglass, or a combination of both (composite). Graphite paddles will be the most lightweight, while fiberglass adds a bit more heft, but both are very long lasting. The materials dictate paddle price.

Like tennis racquets, it’s always best to try out a pickleball paddle before buying, but if you’re already familiar with the game and can understand these specifications, then it’s much easier to buy online and give recommendations. Personal preference ultimately determines who plays with what paddle, so there is no correlation between paddle type and ability. After all, the player has to play the game, not the paddle.