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So, you have probably heard or seen Pickleball paddles with longer handles and narrower bodies than standard paddles. These “elongated” pickleball paddles have a shorter face and longer handle. Will these paddles help up your game or are they just a gimmick? Let’s delve into the differences between elongated and standard pickleball paddles and decide which one will help your game!
Elongated Paddles Vs. Standard Paddles
The standard-handled paddles will provide a larger sweet spot, giving you consistently powerful shots across a larger portion of the paddle face. Also, if you do not use two hands or are comfortable with your two-handers on the standard paddles, then the standard should be good for you.
But, if you want or need to generate more pop on your shots, the elongated handles will help you out. They will add a little more whip to your shots, producing more power on your drives, overheads, and serves.
Also, if you feel that you need a little more reach, the elongated paddles will add an inch or two to your wingspan. Lastly, if you are moving from the dark side (tennis) to Pickleball the elongated handles will feel more tennis-like to you than the standard paddle.
Resource: How To Choose A Pickleball Paddle
Elongated Pickleball Paddle Advantages
So, we know that elongated paddles are legal according to the USAPA, but what benefits do they bring to a player’s game?
These extended paddle handles have been around for at least 2 years and the manufacturers claim that they can give a player up to 2 inches of additional reach, compared to the standard paddle.
That sounds like a lot of extra reach and many players could benefit from that extra length on their overheads and groundstrokes.
These elongated paddles will also generate additional leverage or whip during the swing because the paddle face is further away from the player’s hand than with a standard paddle.
So, this additional length will add some pop to your game, as well as generate more spin from the stroke.
Also Check Out: How to regrip your pickleball paddle
Are you a recent Tennis player/convert?
The extended handles will give those players more room to maneuver and will feel comfortable especially if a two-handed backhand is part of your arsenal.
Having that extra length on the handle will feel more comfortable to a tennis player, which can help when making the switch to Pickleball.
Lastly, elongated handle paddles are much more popular with singles players today, again providing more power, reach, and spin than the standard paddles. Singles typically does not require the quick hand/ strokes for those doubles firefights that occur at the net.
Elongated Handle Drawbacks
Adding length to the paddle and reducing the width of the face adds physics to the game of pickleball (I apologize profusely, really):
To understand the pros and cons of the different paddle handle lengths and widths, we do have to dip our toes into the Physics 101 pool.
So, please sit back and be assured that this will not be on the mid-term: longer paddles equal more power and spin, but they also require more time and effort to wield during rapid exchanges.
Moving the longer paddle from side to side takes more time because of the additional handle length. During firefights, you will have to be quicker with your hands to move the length of the paddle to get its face on the ball.
Along with the elongated paddles being a bit slower to maneuver, the sweet spot on them is further away from the player’s hand, compared to the standard-length paddles, so if you are switching, prepare for some “break in” time.
With a standard paddle, the sweet spot is also wider and more forgiving, especially when you hit the ball off center. One final nod to Physics: this has to do with the distance from your hand to the center of gravity on the paddle.
Again, the standard size paddles have a wider paddle face, which will give you the largest, more forgiving sweet spot:
Lastly, there are some pros and coaches that feel that lower-level players generate more power on average with shorter, wider paddles because they are not as consistent at hitting the ball with the center of the paddle.
So, just one other factor to consider when you investigate elongated handled paddles.
Paddle and Handle Rules
First, let’s talk about what the USAPA thinks about elongated handle paddles – are they legal? The USAPA Rulebook (Section 2. E) provides some general paddle guidelines.
They specify the length and width of a paddle’s butt caps and edge guards, requiring that they must not exceed 24 inches and the paddle cannot be longer than 17 inches.
So, keeping in mind that every paddle must not exceed 17 inches in length and the total (length plus width) must not exceed 24 inches, paddle manufacturers have created different paddle designs, staying within those guidelines. That is how we come to the elongated paddle.
To comply with the USAPA rules, elongated paddles are longer, with a paddle face that is less wide than the standard paddle. Elongated paddles take advantage of the full 17 inches of length permitted by the USAPA, and the length of the handle can vary from 5 to 6 inches, depending on the paddle make.
As I indicated earlier, the total length plus the width of the paddle cannot exceed 24 inches, so every inch added to the handle length takes away some width from the paddle face.
This results in smaller paddle faces (think more handle = less paddle face) on the elongated paddles. Any paddle with a handle longer than 5 inches is categorized as an elongated paddle.
Let us use some maths to determine if you should try a paddle with the elongated handle:
Review these questions and, starting at 0, sum your responses to the questions:
- Do you need more spin on your shots? Add: +1
- Do you need more power? Add: +1
- Do you need more consistency in your shots? Subtract: 1
- Are you a former tennis player or two-hander? Add: +1
- Do you play mainly singles? Add: +1
- Do you have trouble hitting the middle of the paddle on your shots? Subtract: 1
- Do you need help with hand/reaction speed at the net Subtract: 1
My total came as follows:
- Do you need more spin on your shots? No: 0
- Do you need more power? No: 0
- Do you need more consistency in your shots? Yes: -1
- Are you a former tennis player or two-hander? Yes: – 1
- Do you play mainly Singles? No: 0
- Do you have trouble hitting the middle of the paddle on your shots? No: 0
- Do you need help with hand/reaction speed at the net: Yes: 1
Totaling my numbers, I come out to -1
For me, an elongated paddle would not help to improve my game. Anyone scoring a +2 or higher, would benefit from trying out an elongated handle paddle.
So there is your guide to elongated handle paddle: Game changer or Gimmick. Would love to hear your thoughts or experiences in the comments.