What to Look For When Purchasing a Paddle!

What to Look For When Purchasing a Paddle!

First off you can never go wrong with the OG Diller! Just kidding, we have advanced more than that so you'll need to start looking at upgrading that wooden paddle! ;)

So...What paddle should I be using?

Probably the question that most beginners and intermediate players ask, and the one most seasoned players get tired of hearing! But, it does need to be answered! What paddle I recommend to my students often depends on their style of play. It's almost impossible to give a recommendation without seeing you play, but I can give you a couple of things that I look for in a paddle and what I suggest.

First off, if you have never played before and just want to see if you'll like pickleball, buy something as cheap as you can, or get a loner paddle from a friend. At this point, the quality of the paddle doesn't matter. You can purchase a $10-$15 paddle from Walmart or Amazon and be perfectly fine. Just know it isn't a paddle that you will want to use for more than a month or so. 

Once you become a true beginner who has decided to play the game for any committed length of time, now it is time to think about upgrading your paddle to something of better quality. There are a range of paddles that you can go with here, but I don't recommend getting the most expensive one, thinking that it might be the best quality for you. There are major differences in how paddles play, and some of the more expensive ones can be difficult for beginners to start using. So what should you be looking for?

At a beginner level, it's going to be important to get a paddle with a large sweet spot. Just an FYI, I am an advance player and the size of my sweet spot is still very important to me and the paddles I use have big ones! When looking for a paddle with a large sweet spot, the rule of thumb is that the thicker the paddle, the larger the sweet spot it. Also, the larger the surface area of the paddle, the larger the sweet spot is. I don't recommend anything that is oval shaped as the sweet spots on these paddles often tend to be smaller. Also a type of paddle that I don't recommend for a large sweet spot are thin - one piece paddles like the old gearbox paddles or the Selkirk Power Airs. These can be frustrating to use for most beginners and intermediate players; the sweet spot is just too small. A couple of paddles I do recommend for a larger sweet spot are the Electrum Model E's, Double Black Diamonds by six-zero and the Gruvn line of paddles. I have tested all of these and find them to have great sweet spots. 

But what if you want more power? Well you can get it! If you have a paddle that you like but you feel is a little light, you can always add lead tape to your paddle to increase the power a little bit. If you feel like this doesn't give you the power you need though, it's time to start looking for a different paddle. It's important to know that most of the time, increasing power means decreasing the control you have and the size of the sweet spot on your paddles. Thinner paddles often have a little more power but as they get thinner, they lose some control. The best paddle I have personally used to get the best of both is the Black Double Diamond and the SLK Halo. You can get this paddle in power or control to help guide you with what you need the most. 

As you become more advanced and you want to start working with spin on your shots, you'll need to start looking at paddles with rougher surfaces that will allow you to get the most out of your spin. CRBN in my opinion has some of the best paddles with gritty surfaces. Also, Zane Navratils PRO-XR paddle is pretty sick when it comes to gritty-ness. Most paddles these days are coming with rougher faces to aid with spin, so you don't have to search too hard. Just make sure the paddle you choose also allows you to maintain the power/control balance you like!

Maximum power...what do I use? The Selkirk Power Air is the most powerful paddle I have personally used. I played with one for about 2 months, but I was unable to control the ball how I wanted. But I could hit the ball really hard. CRBN also has some powerful paddles so you can check those out as well. 

One thing that I do want to mention. It can be deceiving watching pros use different paddles. First off, most of them aren't purchasing them, so price isn't as issue for them. So if you are thinking about buying a paddle over $200, make sure it's one you want and one you aren't buying just because Tyson McGuffin is using it. Another thing is, professionals control the ball much better than amateurs do, so they can sacrifice their sweet spot to gain an advantage in another area. You may not be able to do that, so try out and choose your paddle to cater to your game. 

I believe that you can get a top quality paddle for $160-$180. The best advice I can give you is to try out different paddles and see which one works for you. I know highly advanced players who use paddles they find in the $100 dollar range, so don't feel pressure to break your bank to get a good paddle! 

I hope this helps in guiding you to a satisfying paddle purchase. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have! I am certified teaching pro in Augusta, Ga and I help students with their games and paddle purchases every day. If you would like me to help me with your game, please reach out me about my video analysis services so we can get your game headed in the right direction!

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