Paddle Guide

How to choose the perfect pickleball paddle

Pickleball paddle guide, find the perfect pickleball paddle for you

Choosing the right pickleball paddle for you can be overwhelming, but don't worry. Here at Pickleball Central, our paddle experts have put together this "paddle guide" to help you learn about—and choose—a paddle that fits your unique preferences and play style.

In this guide we go over the 5 most important considerations when buying the right pickleball paddle:

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Pickleball Expert Joseph Sutton

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Pickleball Paddle Type

Control vs Power

Every player is different, and to accommodate different playstyles, paddles come in different types. The biggest differentiation between paddles lies in how much power and control a paddle has. Below you can learn about each type to decide which will best suit you on your pickleball journey.

Power versus control for pickleball paddles

Control Pickleball Paddles

Control or "touch" paddles have a large, consistent sweet spot which helps players place the ball with more accuracy. Control paddles help to “slow the game down” by absorbing more energy and taking pace off of their opponents’ shots, but that limited power can make creating pressure through aggressive offense difficult.

Power Pickleball Paddles

Power paddles make it easy to hit with pace allowing those with shorter, more compact swings to generate additional speed. Players who already tend to hit the ball hard may enjoy the "extra boost" from power paddles. However, power paddles require precision and discipline to keep the ball inside the lines. Therefore, players who are just getting started on their pickleball journey might consider opting to start with a more forgiving paddle.

Pickleball Paddle Thickness

Paddles come in a variety of thicknesses ranging from 8-20mm, and it's not uncommon to see two different thickeness options for the same paddle. There are some general rules of thumb for choosing the right thickness paddle for your game, but it's important to keep in mind that there are some exceptions.

Paddle thickness size chart pickleball

Thinner - Thinner paddles typically have more "pop" or rebound which is why many manufacturers will call their thinner options "power paddles". They often have a smaller sweet spot and can be difficult to control if players are unable to find it regularly making them more common choices for advanced players.


Thicker - Thicker paddles tend to distribute force more evenly and make controlling the ball easier. They have a more even sweet spot across the face and slightly less rebound making shots more predictable. Players who want more forgiveness or are looking to improve their game often choose a thicker core paddle.

Pickleball Paddle Shape

By rule, pickleball paddles may not exceed 17-inches of length. In addition, the length and height together may not exceed 24-inches total.

In an attempt to differentiate themselves and to maximize the "sweet spot" on the paddle, manufacturers have developed a variety of paddle shapes that are within the allowed dimensions.

Generally speaking, there are three main shapes on the market today, namely:

Paddle Shape pickleball chart


  Great for beginners

  Improves hand speed

Most forgiveness

Limited reach

Lower power potential



Best of both worlds

Moderate power

Good hand speed

Fewer options

Not "the best" at any one thing



Most power potential

Great for tennis players

Maximixes reach

Slower hand speed

Smaller sweet spot


Standard – Modeled after the original pickleball paddles, standard shapes offer the widest sweet spot and are typically more maneuverable than longer paddles. Standard shaped paddles are excellent for beginners, but many professional players on the PPA Tour choose this shape for it's quick hand speed for sharper reaction times.


Hybrid – Growing in popularity lately is the hybrid shape that fits between the elongated and standard and carries benefits from each. While a fantastic choice for many, the differences between this and the shapes around it are small, and you do limit your options by narrowing down to this shape alone.


Elongated – Elongated paddles stretch the face out and add reach and power potential by moving the sweet spot on the paddle further from your hand. Elongated paddles are the most common for PPA Tour professionals, former tennis or racquet sports players, and players who need extra reach.

Pickleball Paddle Grip

Handle Length

Depending on playstyle, some people prefer different handle lengths. While most players will be fine with an standard handle, there are reasons a player may choose a short or extended option.

Handle Length pickleball size chart


Great for players with one -handed backhands

Maximizes face for fewer mis-hits

Most maneuverable



Enough room for most players to squeeze in a second hand

Balances power and maneuverability

Most versatile



Great for players with two -handed backhands

Pushes balance higher for more power on full swings

Most leverage for power


Grip Circumference

While most players won't have an issue with grip circumference regardless of the paddle they choose, those will very small or large hands should keep a few things in mind when finding their perfect paddle.

Grip circumference pickleball size chart

You can always add overgrips to increase grip size, there is very little you can do to decrease it

Smaller grips also allow your wrist to play a more active role, but too small can cause elbow issues

Most players will be fine using anything in the small and medium categories


Three Ways to Determine Hand Size

1. Height Test

This informal test is supposed to work for both men and women. It's simple and works for the people we've tested. Remember, if in doubt, go with a smaller grip.

Player Height...........Grip Size
Under 5'2".......4 inch grip
5'3" to 5'8".....4 1/4 inch grip
5'9" & taller...4 1/2 inch grip

2. Finger Test

Hold your dominant palm up. Notice your palm has three major creases. Take a ruler and measure from the middle crease of your palm, up to the tip of your ring finger. This measurement should reflect the perfect grip size for you. If you are unsure between two sizes, choose the smaller size.


3. Printable Grip Sizer Chart

Here's an easy, print-out chart we designed to simplify the task of determining your grip size. Print it out and determine your approximate grip size.

Click on the link below:

Printable Grip Size Chart

Pickleball Paddle Weight

One of the largest indicators of whether or not a paddle is right for you is weight. If a paddle is too light for you, you will not be unlocking your full power potential or benefiting from the added stability more weight brings. If too heavy, you may be slow to get your paddle in position and could even experience issues like pickleball elbow. The chart below offers some context for paddle ranges so that you can make the best decision for your game.

Static Weight

Static weight is just the weight of a paddle if you were to put it on the scale. It can be a good starting point for selecting a paddle that will be a good fit for your game as paddles with lower weights tend to be more maneuverable and those with higher weights tend to be more stable and powerful.

Static Weight Ranges (oz.) Performance

Ultra Light: < 7.4

Rare weight range in today’s market. Extremely mobile,/easy to swing, but often lacking power and stability.

Light: 7.4-7.7

Fantastic maneuverability/hand speed. Very easy to swing.

Mid-weight: 7.8-8.2

Common weight range for performance paddles. Balance of mobility and power.

Heavy: > 8.2

High-end performance paddles often fall in this range. Recommended for experienced players and very strong people.

Pickleball Paddle Spin

New paddle technology has improved spin potential more than any other metric, and it's important to understand why that matters.

Generating more spin allows you to

Hit harder shots that bend back into the court.

Attack from lower positions without fear of the ball flying out.

Be more creative with your shot selection.

Using spin in pickleball

Spin elements to look for

Raw carbon fiber pickleball paddle

"Raw Carbon Fiber"

During the curing process, manufacturers can apply a textured sheet to the resin on the face of the paddle called a "peel-ply" When peeled off, it creates an incredibly durable textured weave that adds friction and spin to your shots. This is what manufacturers mean when they say it has a raw surface, and it's one of the most popular surface types on the market today.

Applied grit pickleball paddle

Applied Texture

Whether a grit paint or a cured postproduction treatment, many paddles feature a texture applied that can offer incredible friction and spin potential. While many paddles with applied texture used to lose that texture quickly, manufacturers like Selkirk have developed long lasting applications that offer spin for a long time.

Something to consider: Paddles that can create more spin on purpose can also do so on accident. Brand new players or players who do not use spin often in their game will get more forgiveness and consistency from a paddle with lower spin potential even though marketing material for paddles focuses so highly on it. Good technique is the primary contributor to hitting with more spin.

Frequently asked questions when picking out a pickleball paddle

1. How do I pick a Pickleball paddle? There are so many choices!

The best way to select a paddle is to try them out! Ask your fellow pickleball players if you can test-drive their paddles, or utilize our Risk Free 30-Day Test Drive. Try various weights and grip sizes. If you find a paddle that feels good and balanced in your hand try to get that paddle’s weight. If you don’t have access to a wide variety of paddles to test, our Paddle Guide and Paddle Finder are tools you can use to find your perfect paddle. Try our Paddle Finder here

2. I’m buying my first paddle, any advice?

Picking your first paddle can seem like a daunting task, so use our best in industry paddle finder to select the perfect paddle for your budget, level, sports background, and even color! We also have curated pages like Paddles for Tennis Players and Paddles for Beginners that suggest some of our favorites, and if you're still struggling, feel free to give us a call!

3. What’s the difference between fiberglass , graphite, and carbon fiber paddles?

Graphite and carbon fiber paddles are considered to have more control or finesse due to how they spread energy equally across the face of the paddle. Fiberglass paddles tend to store and release more energy on contact making them more powerful, but the sweet spot can be slightly smaller than those made of carbon fiber or graphite.

4. Why do so many paddles have an overlapping edge guard?

You’ll find an edge guard around the edges of most composite paddles. The edge guard maintains the integrity of the paddle and provides a covering to the open honeycomb interior. Modern construction techniques have allowed manufacturers to seal the edge of a paddle without the need for an edge guard. These paddles are called "edgeless", but a more accurate term would be "edgeguard-less".

5. How do I find a paddle with power?

Looking for more power? Look for elements like heavy weight, thin core, elongated shape, and thermoforming. They are not all necessary, but each of these features contributes to a more powerful paddle. Check out our page of Power Paddles.

6. How do I find a paddle with more control?

Looking to improve control? Select a light-weight or middle-weight paddle with a thicker core and construction of graphite or carbon fiber. Maneuverability, forgiveness, and shock absorbtion all work together to make it easier to place the ball where you need it to go. Check out our page of Control Paddles.

7. How long should a paddle last?

How long a paddle lasts depends on how you care for it and how often you play. Top-notch players who play daily usually expect to retire a carbon fiber or composite paddle after about three to six months. For people playing a couple of times a week, a paddle should last around one to three years. Wood paddles are extremely durable and will last many years.

8. How do I find a quiet paddle? My neighbors don’t like the happy pickleball pop.

Shhh! Pickleball noise is a hot topic on courts around the world, and there are some paddles that do a better job producing less. Look for paddles with thicker cores and softer carbon fiber or graphite faces. Shop quiet pickleball paddles

9. What is a “Sweet Spot”?

All paddles will have some sort of "sweet spot" in the center of the hitting surface, regardless of the dimensions, as does a tennis racquet, baseball bat, or table tennis paddle. It's a matter of physics, nothing else. Thicker paddles and paddles with a higher twistweight will rotate less on off center hits making the sweet spot feel larger.

10. Are there indoor and outdoor paddles?

Paddles are not made specifically for indoor or outdoor play. Balls are made specifically for indoors or outdoors, but not paddles.

11. Are there men’s and women’s paddles?

Pickleball paddles are gender neutral, and there is no such thing as a men's or women's pickleball paddle.

12. I’m a former tennis player, what paddle should I choose?

Former tennis players or racquetball players often like a paddle with a longer handle and elongated face. The longer handle enables a two-handed backhand and more room for quick hand switches. Shop paddles for tennis players

13. What difference does handle length make?

Longer paddles handles, such as those 5.5" or longer, provide more reach on ground strokes, added leverage on serves, and more space for players that use a two-handed backhand.

14. What is Paddle Deflection?

Pickleball paddles have a rigid paddle face. The USA Pickleball Association measures how rigid a paddle face is, by measuring the paddle face’s deflection. The Association tests paddles by putting a weight on the center of the paddle face and measuring how much the paddle bends under the weight. This measurement is the paddle’s deflection. Most people might think of this as “flex.”

15. How do I Check the Fit of my paddle?

Grip a paddle with your normal grip and see if you can slide the index finger of your other hand between your fingertips and the heel of your hand gripping the paddle. Your finger should fit snugly between the two without your having to move your fingers. If you must shift your fingers farther away from the heel of the hand to get your index finger in between the two, the grip might be too small. If you have space between your index finger and your fingers or heel of your hand, the grip might be too large.

16. What are some of the top brands in pickleball?

Selkirk - With high quality paddles at every price point and some of the world's best on their roster, Selkirk is a trusted brand that stands by their products and innovates regularly.
Joola - As a sponsor of the best male player in the world, Ben Johns, Joola uses their extensive background in table tennis manufacturing to craft pickleball products designed to compete at the highest level.
Diadem - Coming from the tennis world, Diadem puts the research and development into their products that consistently keeps them in the discussion as one of the industry's top brands.
Paddletek - As the sponsor of the best female player in the world, Anna Leigh Waters, Paddletek produces some of the industry's highest performing tech at every price point using American manufacturing.
Engage - Engage makes their products in the USA, and they do an incredible job of it. Their Pursuit series continues to grow and always seems to be in the discussion for paddle of the year.