Best pickleball paddle

Recreational Sports

Edgeless pickleball paddles maximize the playing surface area, but they don’t have the rubber edge that protects them if they are dropped.

BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details.

Selecting the right pickleball paddle

Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Although it’s been around since the mid-1960s, it’s still relatively low-profile but is among the fastest-growing sports in America. If you want to play, you’ll need to buy yourself a pickleball paddle.

Whether you’re new to the sport or a more experienced player, choosing the right paddle can seem baffling. Original pickleball paddles were made from wood, but now they’re often carefully engineered with composite materials and lightweight cores. Learning more about the features of pickleball paddles will help you select the right one for you.

What to consider when buying a pickleball paddle

You have a range of factors to consider when buying a pickleball paddle. To the uninitiated, it might look like all pickleball paddles are more or less the same, but their differences can have a huge impact on how they feel to play with. For more recommendations, see the guide to pickleball paddles at BestReviews.

Weight

Pickleball paddles can be lightweight, mid-weight or heavyweight. Lightweight paddles are 7.2 ounces or less, mid-weight paddles are 7.3-8.4 ounces and heavyweight paddles are 8.5 ounces or more. Lightweight paddles give you more control but less power. They’re also great for new players or players with injuries who might struggle with a heavy paddle. On the other hand, heavyweight paddles give you more power behind your shots but less control. Finally, mid-weight paddles provide a balance of power and control, which is great if you’re unsure of your playing style or what you want from a paddle.

Grip size

Most pickleball paddles have a grip size of between 4-4.5 inches. It might not seem like half an inch would make all that much difference, but if the grip size is too large or too small, it can feel all wrong. Although you can measure your hands to find the correct grip size, it’s simpler to just go by your height, as this will find you the right size 99 times out of 100. Particularly, if you’re 5-foot-2 inches or under, opt for a 4-inch grip; if you’re 5-foot-3 inches to 5-foot-8 inches, opt for a 4.25-inch grip; if you’re 5-foot-9 inches or taller, opt for a 4.5-inch grip.

Paddle materials 

Originally, pickleball paddles were made from wood, but now wooden paddles are uncommon, while more advanced materials are the norm. Although wooden paddles get the job done, they’re heavy and don’t offer all that much control, which is bad for players who like a more nuanced game. Composite paddles are made with a composite core and either carbon fiber or fiberglass face. They’re relatively light, and you can find them at a range of price points. Graphite paddles are light and responsive yet very strong. They’re often the most expensive types of pickleball paddles you can buy.

Core materials

Pickleball paddles with aluminum cores are light and maneuverable, which is great for control and finesse, but they lack the weight behind them necessary to make the most powerful shots. Moreover, Nomex cores are made of paper in a honeycomb formation dipped in resin to make them extremely hard yet lightweight. They’re great for making powerful shots, but they can be loud to play with, which might annoy neighbors. Finally, poly or polymer cores give you good control but are still relatively powerful and make less noise when you hit the ball. 

Size and shape

The combined length and width of an official pickleball paddle can’t exceed 24 inches. Usually, they’re fairly short and wide, but you can also find elongated pickleball paddles that are narrower than average, so they can add an inch or two to their length. Players who find they need more reach may prefer playing with an elongated paddle.

Sets

You can buy pickleball paddle sets that contain a couple of paddles and a handful of balls. These are designed for new players who want an introduction to the sport. Although the paddles won’t be of exceptional quality, they’re fine for the casual new player, and they’re affordable enough that you won’t feel bad upgrading down the line if you catch the pickleball bug. 

How much do pickleball paddles cost?

If you’re looking for a cheap pickleball paddle to learn on, you can find affordable models for less than $50. In fact, you can buy some basic sets containing two bats and a couple of balls so you can play with a friend for roughly $40-$60. However, experienced pickleball players looking for a more advanced paddle can expect to pay $100-$200.

The best pickleball paddles

Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddle

Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddle

This high-quality pickleball paddle has a poly core that gives better control and dampens sound. It’s made from lightweight fiberglass and is crafted in the USA.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

ProBetter Pickleball Paddle

ProBetter Pickleball Paddle

An affordable pickleball paddle with a poly core and graphite face. It’s a good choice for new players who don’t want to spend a fortune on a paddle.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Gamma Legend NeuCore Pickleball Paddles

Gamma Legend NeuCore Pickleball Paddles

Buyers looking for a high-performance model will love this paddle. It has excellent control and balance, with a larger sweet spot to help you make more great shots.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

ONIX Graphite Z5 Graphite Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle

ONIX Graphite Z5 Graphite Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle

A nice mid-range choice with a graphite face and a lightweight yet hard Nomex core that helps with speed and power. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Rally PXL Graphite Pickleball Paddle

Rally PXL Graphite Pickleball Paddle

This elongated pickleball paddle sacrifices some of its width for length and is ideal for players who need some extra reach. Nevertheless, new players will be better off with a more standard shape.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

JP WinLook Pickleball Paddles Set

JP WinLook Pickleball Paddles Set

If you want to start playing pickleball with a member of your household or friend who doesn’t have their own paddle, this affordable set containing two paddles and three balls is a great place to start before you know whether you enjoy the sport.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.