Explained: Core Thicknesses

by Patrick Moore on Mar 24, 2023

Explained: Core Thicknesses

With so many paddles available it can seem a little daunting to choose a paddle, especially if it’s your first one. We hear you! Luckily there are a few key attributes you can consider to help whittle down the offerings to find the paddle that best compliments your game.

Today we will take a look at core thicknesses and how they affect a pickleball paddle's playability.

On a broad level, the thinner the core of a paddle the more powerful the paddle, and conversely, the thicker the core the more control-oriented the paddle. Historically a .5” or 13mm core was the halfway point in the spectrum, with everything thicker deemed a “thick core” and anything thinner a “thin core”. As the sport has evolved, manufacturers have started using new materials in the hitting surface and the core, which has led to thicker cores being more common.

Currently you will see a lot of cores in the 14mm to 16mm range, with more extreme paddles like the Diadem Warrior measuring in at a super thick and ultra controllable 19mm, and the HEAD Extreme Tour paddles with a powerful 11mm core.

The core factors in to almost all characteristics of a paddle in one way or another. No matter the material or the thickness, the core affects the size of the sweet spot, the pitch and volume of the paddle, the number of vibrations that reach your hand, and the amount of power the paddle can produce.


By far the most discussed attribute of core thickness is its affect on power. As discussed earlier, the thinner the paddle the more power it will tend to generate, and the thicker the core the more controllable the paddle will be.

Sweet Spot

Sweet spot size is another key paddle attribute than can be affected by core thickness. Thicker cores generally create a larger sweet spot which helps prevent and reduce mis-hits, while thinner cores will tend to have a more precise sweet spot which can help to pack your shots full of power.


The sounds associated with pickleball are sometimes a point of contention, and while paddles as a whole are much quieter these days, the sound your paddle makes can be affected by the thickness. Thinner cores are generally louder and produce a higher pitch noise than thicker core paddles.


Vibrations from impacting the ball are both good and bad, making this a key feature of many paddles. Generally, thick core paddles limit vibrations which can help prevent elbow and arm injuries, but, vibrations also provides you with much feedback on off-center strikes. That means that thinner core paddles allow more vibrations, which will provide you with more feedback but also send more vibrations up through your wrist and elbow. For players with “tennis elbow” or other common arm injuries associated with racquet sports, some may prefer to avoid the additional vibrations.

It is important to remember that the materials around the core and the other aspects of paddle construction also factor into how a paddle plays, but understanding how core thickness can affect playability is a great place to start when looking for your dream paddle. 

Shop Our Favorite Long & Short Handle Paddles