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Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners and Professionals

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Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners and Professionals

What size paddle do you need? Pickleball paddles are restricted by a sizing formula similar to that used by airlines: the paddle cannot be longer than 17 inches and the combined length and width of the paddle cannot exceed 24 inches. A standard paddle measures 16 inches long and 8 inches wide, but some elongated paddles use the full 17 inches and tend to have more power than wider options. There is no restriction on the thickness of the blade; Thin paddles can be about one-third of an inch thick, while thick paddles can be up to three-quarters of an inch thick.

What does “pop” mean? You’ll see me using this term several times in this guide. Pop is pickleball parlance for the aggressiveness with which the ball bounces off the face of the paddle; You can think of it as an analogue of how “bouncy” a basketball is.

They are heavy? There is no rule for the weight of a pickleball paddle, but almost all paddles are around 8 ounces. I tried my best to try the widest variety of popsicles I could find and ended up trying popsicles that were about an ounce apart. Light paddles tend to weigh around 7.5 ounces, while heavy paddles weigh around 8.5 ounces. More important is the distribution of that weight: paddles that offer more power tend to be heavier. I prefer blades with a balanced feel.

Do they all have the same shape? Pickleball paddles tend to be quite similar shapes. In my testing, I tried several outliers, including a Joola paddle with a rounded shape more like a tennis racket, and several Selkirk paddles with a cutout between the face of the paddle and the handle designed to minimize air resistance. I think the standard way is still the best.

What are they made of? Older wooden pallets still exist, but I started playing with inexpensive fiberglass pallets. You can get a starter set for $30 (see “Best for Beginners”), and it could be six months before you feel the need to upgrade. That said, the blades recommended here tend to have a carbon fiber face, which is stiff and lightweight, and offers plenty of pop. I also tried some graphite blades, which are cheaper, heavier, and smoother than carbon fiber. If your budget doesn’t allow you to start with carbon fiber, I recommend starting with cheap fiberglass and then moving up to carbon fiber. Please note that when I mention materials, I mean what is used for the face of the palette; Almost all paddles have a similar honeycomb-shaped polymer core. More expensive paddles tend to cut that core in a way that creates uniform gaps on the edge and use heat pressing to seal the face to the core.

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