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0 comments / Posted on by Sara McInnes

According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) there are over 3 million pickleball players in the United States alone, so naturally, the increase in paddle manufacturers has taken a dramatic upturn; with each company producing multiple types of paddles with various grip sizes, weight, and shapes. When it comes time to buy your own paddle it can be quite difficult to narrow down which is the “right” one for you. This guide by PickleballGuys should help navigate you through the wide variety of paddles to the one that best fits your game. 

When starting the search there are three main criteria you will generally want to follow the following criteria: 

  • Weight
  • Grip size
  • Price range

The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) and USAPA state that there are no paddle weight limitations [Rule 2.E.4 IFP 2020 Official Rulebook]. The general range of popular paddle weights is 7.0-8.4 ounces (pretty much very manufacturer measures paddle weight in ounces). The reason why weight is so important when choosing a paddle is that it will affect the way you play. A lighter paddle tends to provide more spin and control at the net and a heavier paddle will generate more power behind the shot. The material of a paddle will determine its weight with the majority of that weight coming from the paddle core. 

Let’s quickly review the material inside of a paddle and how it affects the weight and sound of a paddle. There are three different types of cores and they all maintain the same honeycomb shape with a variance in the size of the hexagon. Usually, the larger the honeycomb cell, the more powerful the paddle will be.

Core Material Types

Advantages

Disadvantages

Nomex: a cardboard dipped in resin

(also known as Aramid)

Very powerful and will create fast and decisive shots.

Creates a loud sound and often causes “ears to ring”. Heavier material which can weigh down on a person over time.

Aluminum

Light in weight which makes it a good choice for those who have arm, shoulder and/or wrist limitations. Will provide ample control of the ball.

Paddles with this core can feel handle-heavy because they are so light, therefore, less balanced. Generates less power. Creates a high pitch “tinging” noise.

Polymer/Polypropylene: plastic

Provides a balance of power - control - stability.

Newest and most popular core technology.

Noise is absorbed well, leaving a more appealing sound than the other two cores.

This material is known to crack or crumble over time and after over-use with hard shots. You can hear the plastic bits rattling in your paddle as you shake it.

The smaller the cell size, the more vibration you feel in your hand and up your arm.


The pace of the game is constantly evolving and there’ are many “right” ways to play, with the popular debate being Control vs Power. As you play more and more, you will eventually come to understand if you enjoy playing with more power, precision or a bit of both. Be sure to factor in the sound a paddle makes when hitting the ball as well. Although there are some gated communities that restrict sound by approving a list of "green zone" paddles aka quieter paddles, there is no rule according to IFP and USAPA on noise volume. That said, some people avoid paddles that make higher pitch sounds like "pinging" or "ringing". By reading through the advantages and disadvantages of each core material we hope you were able to gain a better sense of what you might like to play with.

Determining an appropriate grip size can be done in one of two ways:

1. Take a paddle in your hand and grip it naturally. Using the opposite hand, try to slide your index finger between the tips of your finger to the “butt” of your hand, and your index finger should have a bit of "wiggle" room:

              

In picture #1 you can see that the index finger is making quite a bit of contact with the ends of the other fingers and "butt" of the thumb. Picture #2 and #3 are examples of grips best suited for that size of a hand. 

 2. You can follow the general “height” rule, as shown below:

Height and hand size

Grip Circumference 

Under 5’2” or small hand

4”

5’3” - 5’8” or medium hand

4 ⅛” - 4 ¼”

5’9”+ or large hand

4 ½”+

 

Pro tip: Think about choosing a grip that’s smaller rather than the right size and use overgrip to customize your handle. By doing so, you can also preserve the life of the original grip and select fun patterns and colours of your overgrip.

By using the grip test or size chart you should be able to determine the size of grip best suited for you. Not to be confused though, handle length is different from grip size. According to the IFP, a paddle length cannot exceed 17 inches in total, so manufacturers are somewhat restricted in regard to elongation. The standard length of a handle sits between 4-5 ½ inches. This seems to be the best handle length that still allows for a good paddle face size. Why have a 5 1/2 inch handle? The longer handle appeals to those who have two-handed forehand and/or backhand shots, or people with larger hands. The shorter handle length is appealing for those who have smaller hands or tend to “choke up” on the handle, which ultimately keeps the person's hand close to the paddle's face.

Ex. "Choking up" on a paddle handle: the paddle is held higher up on the handle, closer to the paddle face.

As you begin to compare prices between paddle brands and paddle types you will notice a wide and varying range of prices. Speaking in Canadian dollars, you can find a paddle anywhere from $50-$210. Players will base their price range on personal finances, the amount of time they’re looking to invest in pickleball and sometimes brand preference. Some brands offer manufacturer warranties so if that is important to you be sure to do a bit of research before purchasing. You can also contact our Pickleball Pro and Specialist with any questions about selecting a pickleball paddle or if you are visiting our flagship store be sure to talk to one of our sales associates.

PickleballGuys offers a wide selection of pickleball paddles and equipment. We’re proud to say that our low prices are a result of the strong relationships we have with the manufacturers. We are confident that you will find a pickleball paddle within your price range. Be sure to try a few different paddles whenever you get the chance because having a feel for a paddle will also help you during your search!

For more information about the technology behind paddles, check out this article.

Did we help you find your paddle? Let us know in the comment section below.

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