How To Choose A Pickleball Paddle in 2022

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This article is intended for intermediate or advanced Pickleball Players. If you’re just getting started, we have some valuable info from our Beginners Pickleball Paddle Guide. 

We’ve all heard it, “it’s not me, it’s the paddle,” or, “God my paddle sucks.” 

Well…In some cases, this might actually be true. There are a lot more variables that go into a pickleball paddle than you may think. Various paddles can be used for various shots. 

Let’s break down the factors at play and how they can be beneficial. 

pickleball paddle buying guide with paddle shapes and size d

Pickleball Paddle Shape

Let’s start with the most noticeable feature when buying a pickleball paddle. The face shape.

Here are some standard shapes you’ll see.  

A very standard face shape is about 15.5-15.75 inches tall and 8 inches wide. Chances are, you or someone you know plays with this type of face. It’s a great place to start and really get to know your game. 

This face shape is a little less common. Paddles with this face shape can range from 16-17 inches tall and are usually 6.75-7 inches wide. They have much more length but less width. 

These two face shapes are both ends of the spectrum and then there are hybrids within these. 

What Face Shape Is Right For Me?

Wide Face

Let’s take those two face shapes from before. The standard face shape (15.75” X 8”) is more forgiving and has a little less pop. This compliments someone who has a good short game and likes to place the ball. An example of this face shape can be seen on the Selkirk Amped S2

Standard Pickleball paddle face shape.

The bigger the face, the wider the sweet spot is. This means that if you’re hitting low, crosscourt dink with a low margin for error, you can catch it high or low on the face and still execute the shot. 

Narrow Face Shape 

This tall, narrow face shape is less forgiving and has a more compressed sweet spot. This is complementary for harder, faster shots that come off HOT! An example of this is the HEAD Radical XL

long face shape pickleball paddle.

If you play a longer game and like to play back and hit it hard with more room for error this is a much better paddle. 

Playing back is going to mean more of the court is in play for your opponent so you’re going to do more running. This paddle is also complimentary for greater reach since it’s longer. 

Weight

Pickleball paddles come in a variety of weights, and the weight can be displaced in different places on the paddle. 

  • Lightweight paddle average weight is 7.3oz – 7.7oz
  • Midweight paddle average weight is 7.8oz – 8.4oz
  • For Heavy Paddle the average weight is over 8.5oz

The weight can be more towards the top of the paddle, or closer to the handle, but it’s all right around the center. 

pickleball paddle weight distribution diagram

What Pickleball Paddle Weight is right for me?

The weight of the paddle is very individual and I recommend maybe trying a few out. But here is what I’ve seen as far as weight preference. 

If you come from tennis, padel, squash, or background, you may prefer the heavier paddles with more weight on the head.

If you come from a Ping Pong or racquetball background you may favor lighter paddles with weight closer to the handle. 

Another sign that you need to change weight is where you tend to miss the ball.

For instance, If you tend to hit the ball early your paddle is too heavy.

Signs Of Hitting The Ball Early

  • The ball goes high when you want to hit it low
  • You push the shot. (Right handed forehand goes right)

The opposite is true if you have a paddle that is too light. You might hit the ball late. 

Signs Of Hitting The Ball Late

  • The ball hits the ground sooner than you expected
  • You Pull the shot, (Right handed forehand goes left)

PRO TIP: Rule 2.E.5.a states that there is no weight limit on a paddle so you can use lead tape to add extra weight to the paddle.

Pickleball Paddle Grip 

The grip is another factor that can have a huge impact on your game. It can prevent injury, and help you perform certain shots better.

Here’s how…

pickleball paddle grip length diagram

Handle Length 

There are a few variations for grip lengths, but in general, you have your longer grips (5.5-6.0 Inches) and you have your shorter grips (4.25-4.0 Inches). 

Here is what to consider when looking at grip length. 

Longer Handle 

They give you the ability to use two hands for shots like a backhand. Some people prefer two hands for a better feel and more control. 

The longer grip is also better for those who like to play back. They get a lot more leverage with the long handle which means they can really move the ball.

An example of this is the Selkirk Vanguard Hybrid.

Short Handle

Short handle = short shots. 

Shorter handles are synonymous with taller faces and a bigger sweet spot. You don’t have as much leverage, but you have more control and consistency with dinks. 

An example of this is the Selkirk AMPED Omni

Grip Width 

The grip and handle size or shape can make a huge impact on your game.

I was experiencing wrist and elbow pain in my first year of playing. I found that my grip was too small causing me to grip it WAY TOO TIGHT. 

This is a super personal preference. Now obviously if you have big hands go with a bigger grip and if you have smaller hands go with a smaller grip. 

Everything else is up to you. This should be pretty easy and quick to figure out what feels good in your hands. 

Pickleball Padle Core Matieral 

Most newer pickleball paddles you’ll find have a polymer (poly) core. Polymer is pretty much just plastic. There are some brands, like Prokennnex and Gearbox that use their own proprietary material. 

The material you choose is not as important as the core width.

Core Width

This is where you start to feel a difference in performance. 

The wider the core, the softer and more controlled the shot is going to feel. It’s going to have a hollower sound paired with that soft feel. 

A paddle with a thinner core like the ProKennex is going to have a tighter hotter feel which is better for driving the ball. 

Again like most, this is a personal preference based on your game. 

Pickleball Paddle Face Material 

The main materials you’ll see are fiberglass or carbon. As far as performance, the material alone won’t make a huge difference. 

I’ve had multiple paddles with fiberglass and multiple with carbon fiber, and I could not really tell a difference. The sound was the biggest thing and I like a tighter sound but that’s just me. 

Key Takeaways

It’s going to take some time to find the right one. Just because you play with it one day and it doesn’t perform well or feel great, you have to give it a fair chance.

If you feel any pain to extreme discomfort you can pretty much get rid of that paddle instantly. It’s not worth trying to push through that.

Pickleball Paddles that are high quality are all priced within $50-$60 away from each other. Don’t let the increase in price deter you from getting a paddle that will make you happy and that you’ll get a lot of use out of. Trust me on this one. I have a graveyard in my garage now of paddles I thought were a budget option

They stack up quickly. Just get a couple you love.

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