Choosing Your Pickleball Paddle
There are hundreds of paddles from which to choose. Your play style will lead you to the type of paddle that makes the most sense for you. If you generate enough power on your own, you may want a soft-playing paddle which adds control. Or, you may choose to accentuate your strength and choose a paddle that adds to your own power. And vice versa; as a control player you may want a paddle that hits hard and helps you put a ball away. Or, you may look for a paddle with great control to help you place a shot precisely where you intend. In then end, all paddles have some elements of power and control, and our paddle guide is intended to help you find the right mix for your style of play.
Power VS Control
Manufacturers design pickleball paddles utilizing a variety of materials and technologies that are intended to add elements of either power or control. It is the combination of all of these factors which translate to specific play characteristics on the court. The main factors that affect power and control are:
- Paddle Shape (The length plus the width must be no more than 24.0 inches)
- Paddle Core (Including material type, density, and thickness)
- Paddle Face (Including material type, number of layers, and finish/texture)
- Paddle Handle (Including length and circumference)
- Paddle Weight (Many paddles are offered in different weight ranges)
- Elongated Shape
- Thinner Core
- Fiberglass Face
- Longer Handle
- Heavier Weights
Power paddles tend to have hotter and tighter sweet spots, and provide greater feedback.Shop Power Paddles
- Wider or Rounded Shape
- Thicker Core
- Graphite or Carbon Fiber Face
- Traditional Length or Shorter Handle
- Lighter Weights
Control paddles tend to have larger and more consistent sweet spots, and are forgiving of mis-hits.Shop Control Paddles
*Grip caveat: The circumference of the grip is more about comfort than power or control. You want to find the grip that works best for your hand size. Three Ways to Determine Your Hand Size
Paddle shape influences playability in numerous ways. Ultimately, it affects the size, placement and shape of the sweet spot. All manufacturers work within the USA Pickleball specifications for paddle shape:
- Size: The combined length and width, including any edge guard and butt cap, shall not exceed 24 inches (60.96 cm). The paddle length cannot exceed 17 inches (43.18 cm). There is no restriction on paddle thickness.
In general terms, the longer and narrower a paddle is, the higher the sweet spot will be on the face. A higher the sweet spot means it is further away from your hand (greater leverage), and the contact point on the face is therefore moving faster when it strikes the ball. All of this translates to more power!
Other shape factors that will affect the size of the sweet spot are:
- Rounding of the paddle corners leads to a larger and more consistent sweet spot
- Increase in paddle face area – a shorter handle and longer paddle face combine to increase the size of the sweet spot
The major factors that affect power and control from a paddle core perspective are material and thickness.
The majority of paddles are made with a polymer honeycomb core. The harder the polymer used, the more energy that is absorbed by the core. More absorption leads to a wider sweet spot and a more consistent feel across the face of the paddle (better control). The softer or more flexible the core is, the more energy is returned to the ball which creates more pop (increased power). A Nomex paddle core is a different material which, although it is quite hard, has different properties and adds a degree of power. However, Nomex is somewhat rare to find in pickleball paddles these days because it is not as durable as polymer honeycomb cores.
There is no regulation that governs paddle thickness. Paddle thickness operates in a similar way as material. The thicker a core is, the more energy is absorbed (better control). The thinner the core is, the more energy is returned to the ball (increased power).
There are a few less common ways that cores are engineered to affect paddle performance. Solid Span Technology (SST), for example, uses graphite for the core. Some paddles use a hybrid of materials to attenuate performance. And some manufacturers use dampening materials in the core to change the placement, size, and shape of the sweet spot which yields slightly differences in paddle feel.Shop by Material
The length of the handle is important in determining just how high up the paddle face, and how far away from your hand, the sweet spot lands. The longer the handle, the higher the sweet spot. As mentioned earlier, a high sweet spot means more paddle head speed at the sweet spot when contacting the ball, which translates to more power. A shorter handle not only moves the sweet spot down the paddle face (closer to your hand), it can yield a large surface area, which in turn enlarges the sweet spot and makes paddle performance more consistent across the face (better control).Shop by Size & Weight
Don't know your hand size? 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:
Frequently Asked Questions when Choosing a Pickleball Paddle