Do Smaller Paddles Have Bigger Sweet Spots?
by laurapbc on May 11, 2016
Growing Trend: Teardrop/Tennis-Style Paddles
Many people believe that the greatest strength of teardrop or racquet-like paddles is their added reach. While this is a plus, along with the fact that a longer handle allows players to utilize a double-handed backhand, there are two other strong benefits that often go unnoticed.
Small Paddles are Big Sweeties
The first is that a teardrop paddle’s sweet spot actually spans more of the face than it does on a standard, rectangular paddle. As you’ll see below, due to the fact that the face is tapered near the handle and balloons near the center, you'll find that the majority of the face reacts with a viable pop. Even if you end up hitting near the edge, these types of paddles provide a lively reaction.
In comparison, while a boxy shape offers more surface area overall, the sweet spot is only relegated to the central area of the paddle. A bigger face does offer more opportunity to hit the ball, and hence, can be helpful for beginners that need as much playing surface as possible. The trade-off is that the ball won’t react with as much vigor near the edges as it would with a teardrop paddle.
In essence, with a teardrop paddle you end up with around 90% of the face being “poppy” and usable, where only 75% or so of a rectangular paddle’s face is as reactive. This means that a small paddle can provide surprisingly big benefits.
Roll Your Way to Victory
The other major plus to having a longer paddle is creating space for the ball to roll across its surface. Without arguing whether a textured surface provides more spin, the fact stands that a smooth surface reduces friction between the ball and paddle, creating opportunity to build up spin as it rolls along the surface.
Of course, you need enough space to do this and develop a “scooping” motion instead of popping the ball away. The elongated shape lends itself to this, and in fact, one of our pros developed several paddles with long faces for this very reason.
The paddles in question are the Encore GP and Omni 30P XO. The Omni definitely has a stronger taper than the GP, but both provide a lengthy face you can use to practice a rolling swing.
Other good paddle options with tapered, long faces are the Evoke, Elite Finesse and Power Play Pro. These paddles are weighted a little differently than most, but once you get used to them, a lot of picklers end up liking the extra surface area and unique tactics they can provide during play.
Do teardrop paddles give you a competitive edge? Or do you think they're more of a 'niche' pick?