Capital Area Pickleball Association
Serving Dane County Wisconsin

Choosing the Right Pickleball Paddle for You

29 May 2024 4:16 PM | Abigail Darwin

Choosing a paddle can be a daunting task and may seem downright overwhelming with all the different options available on the market right now. Here are a few factors to consider to better ensure you make the right paddle purchase for you:

• Paddle playability and size of the “sweet spot”

o “Playability” refers to how easy a paddle is to immediately pick up and play with for players of most levels and styles. The “sweet spot” refers to the area on the paddle where you can hit the ball most effectively and solidly. Paddles differ with respect to how playable they are and how large their sweet spot is.

• Your playing style

o One key dimension here to take note of is whether you are more of a “power” player (love to hit the ball hard) or whether you are more of a “control” player (love to win a point with a well-placed shot). Control players generally prefer a lighter paddle with a carbon fiber or graphite face, a thick core, and a larger sweet spot. Power players tend to prefer a heavier paddle with a longer handle and a composite surface to add more power and leverage to their shots.

o Another key dimension to take note of is whether you like to add spin to your shots. If so, you will want a paddle with a heavily textured surface.

• Shape/size of paddle

o Generally speaking, paddles come in two varieties – larger faces and shorter handles, or slightly smaller faces and longer handles. If you are someone who is shorter and/or who likes to hit two-handed backhands, you might prefer a longer handle and a smaller paddle face, and vice versa. However, keep in mind that long, narrow paddles tend to have smaller sweet spots and tend to be head-heavy.

• Grip size

o Many paddle brands offer different grip sizes for people with different hand sizes. If you have a small hand, be sure to look for a paddle that offers a smaller grip size.

• Paddle weight and balance

o Paddles can weigh anywhere from about 6 to 9.5 ounces, and the weight may be evenly distributed throughout the paddle, or it may be balanced toward the head of the paddle. The heavier the paddle and the more it is balanced toward the head, the more powerful the paddle is likely to be, but the less control you are likely to have over your shots. Heavier paddles can also tire out your arm more easily, but they can also require less strength to hit a hard shot toward your opponent.

• Paddle materials

o Paddles can be made of many different materials, including wood, aluminum, carbon, graphite, composites (such as fiberglass), and plastic. Generally speaking, paddles with a carbon fiber or graphite surface will offer better control than those with a composite surface. Paddles with a composite surface will generally offer more power but less control over placement. Carbon fiber and graphite paddle faces tend to enable the ability to spin the ball better than a composite paddle face as well.

• Price range

o You can find paddles in a wide array of price ranges from about $10 to over $300! While it is not necessary to buy the most expensive paddle out there, I would also caution against buying the cheapest paddle you can find. Higher quality paddles tend to be made with better materials and will allow you to do more advanced techniques as you progress in your learning of the game, such as adding different kinds of spin.

• USA-Pickleball-Approved status

o USA Pickleball is the official national governing body for the sport of pickleball. If you intend to play in any tournaments, then before buying a paddle, you should make sure that the words “USA Pickleball Approved” appear on the paddle. This indicates that the paddle has been inspected by USA Pickleball, has met certain standards, and has been deemed acceptable for official tournament play. To be USA Pickleball Approved, paddles must be of a certain size and weight, must not have a surface with too much texture, and must have a core made of approved materials.

You can buy a new paddle online, such as through or, or in-person at your favorite local sporting goods retailer.

Happy pickling!

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