Paddles come in many shapes and sizes, which affects how they feel in your hand and how they play. One important component of paddle shape and size is the length of the handle, which has a direct impact on playability. Handle length affects where the sweet spot sits on the paddle, and how much hitting surface the paddle has.
Without additional engineering in a paddle, the longer the handle, the sweet spot moves higher up on the paddle face. Since the top of the paddle is moving the fastest during your swing, this results in your sweet spot moving faster, which leads to more power.
The USA Pickleball requirements regarding paddle size specify that the length plus the width of the paddle must not exceed 24 inches. Paddles are measured from the bottom of the butt cap to the top of the edge guard. This means a paddle with a shorter handle can have a larger hitting surface. A longer handle will have a slightly smaller hitting surface in order to stay within the 24-inch maximum dimension.
The two most common reasons that players choose a shorter handle:
1. A player has small hands and wants the greater hitting area to minimize mis-hits.
2. A player places one or more fingers on the paddle face and does not want to waste the length of their paddle with unused handle.
Some popular paddles with short handles:
1. Selkirk S2 (AMPED, Vanguard 2.0 or Power Air)
3. ProXR The Wall (14mm or 16mm)
The two most common reasons many players choose a longer handle:
1. A player likes to use two hands for backhand or forehand shots.
2. A player is looking for additional power and consistency in their sweet spot.
Some popular paddles with long handles:
3. Vulcan V570 (Carbon or Fiberglass)
Ultimately handle length comes down to personal preference and is one of the main factors that affects how a paddle feels in your hand. There is no one size fits all – the best fit depends on the size of your hand and your style of play. Ideally trying paddles of different shapes and sizes will give you the best feel for what you like best.