How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle
Depending on how often you play, a pickleball paddle can be a very personal purchase. If you are a daily pickler you may spend more time with your paddle than some of your close friends. So when looking to buy a new paddle, it is important to make a good choice. Here’s a guide to help you…
Know Your Game. Pickleball paddles come in all shapes and sizes and have very different characteristics. Some are designed for power while others for feel. Some are made to create as much spin as possible while others are meant to be super quick and maneuverable.
In order to choose the right one for you, it is important to be clear on how you play. Is your game based around power or are you more of a soft game player? How important to you is spin? Are you a new player who would benefit from maximum surface area or an advanced player who consistently hits the centre and wants something more nimble? Not everyone needs the same thing from a paddle so make a list outlining your game -- or ask a friend to give you their thoughts on how you play -- and take it with you when you look to buy.
Be Willing to Grow. Don’t expect your new paddle to feel like your old one. It won’t. And that shouldn’t count as a strike against it. Be patient in getting to know your new paddle and enjoy learning about its subtleties and discovering its strengths. Since this process will take a little bit of time, don’t get yourself a new paddle just before a big tournament or important match. Give yourself and your paddle some time to get acquainted in low pressure situations.
Aim for Substance and Style. While it is important that your paddle feels great it’s also important that it looks good too -- at least to you. Whether it’s the overall design or the graphics, you’ll want to get a paddle that you are proud to play with. Manufacturers are making increasingly original graphics and there are designs to fit everyone’s tastes. And if you can’t find one you like, some companies like Pro Lite will even let you design your own graphics!
What's with Weight? People can be very particular with the weight of their paddle. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that lighter is always better.
While a lighter paddle is easy to maneuver, it is also less stable on off-centre hits. Heavier paddles can feel more solid in your hand and can give you confidence that if you don’t hit the ball perfectly, you can still make a decent shot. Heavier paddles also help you generate more speed than light ones but they take more effort to swing. Be open to trying out paddles of all weights -- you just might surprise yourself!
If it Feels Good, Do It! People can tell you all they want about how great a paddle is but what matters most is that it feels good to you. So whether you try one of your friends’ paddles or borrow a demo, let your intuition guide you. Don’t overdo it on the equipment reviews or be too swayed by what the pros are playing with. If you find one that feels good and meets your needs, consider giving it a go. Who knows, it might be the start of a beautiful relationship!
Mark Renneson is the founder of Third Shot Sports and is a 5.0 competitor. He is currently using a customized Engage Pickleball Paddle similar to the Encore Pro. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org