How To Choose A Pickleball Paddle in 2022

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your game can save you time and money and allow you to improve faster.

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

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

Well, In some cases, this might be true, but there are many more variables that go into a pickleball paddle than you may think. Various paddles can be used for multiple shots. 

Let’s break down the factors at play and how they can be beneficial for choosing a pickleball paddle. 

pickleball paddle buying guide with paddle shapes and size d

Pickleball Paddle Shape

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

Here are some standard shapes you’ll see.  

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

You should choose a standard face size for your pickleball paddle if you’re starting. 

You have your elongated pickleball paddle on the other side of the spectrum. 

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

If you have a good drive and want a little extra power off the face, you should choose this pickleball paddle. 

What Face Shape Should I Choose?

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 face shape compliments someone who has an excellent short game and likes to place the ball.

An example of this face shape can be perfectly displayed on Selkirk pickleball paddles, specifically, Selkirk Vanguard s2 and the Amped Epic.

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 hit it hard, choose this pickleball paddle. When you select more power, you lose control. The one downside with elongated paddles is opening up more room for error.

This is also an excellent paddle for playing back on the court. Playing back will mean more of the court is in play for your opponent, so you will do more running and reaching. This paddle offers greater reach since it’s longer.

Weight

Pickleball paddles come in various 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 Should I Choose?

The weight is very individual, and I recommend trying a few out before choosing a pickleball paddle. Here is what I’ve seen as far as weight preference. 

If you come from a tennis, padel, or squash 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 that 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.

pickleball paddle grip length diagram

Handle Length 

There are a few variations for grip lengths, but generally, you have your longer grips (5.5-6.0 Inches) and 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 more extended grip is also better for players that like to play back. They get a lot more leverage with the long handle, which means they can 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 more prominent 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

If you are better or need to improve your dink shot, choose a pickleball paddle with a short handle.

Grip Width 

The grip and handle size or shape can significantly impact your game.

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

This is a super personal preference. If you have big hands go with a more oversized 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 Paddle Core Material 

Most newer pickleball paddles have a polymer (poly) core. Polymer is pretty much just plastic. Some brands, like Prokennnex and Gearbox, use their 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 thicker the core, the softer and more controlled the shot will feel. It’s going to have a hollower sound paired with that soft feel. 

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

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

Choose a pickleball paddle with a thick core if you like a softer, more forgiving feel.

Contrarily, if you like a more compressed sound with greater power, choose a paddle with a thinner core. 

two Pickleball paddle core sizes being compared to shoe difference in core width

Pickleball Paddle Face Material 

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

I’ve had multiple paddles with fiberglass and carbon fiber, and I could not tell the difference. The sound was the most significant 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 get rid of that paddle instantly. It’s not worth trying to push through that.

Pickleball Paddles that are high quality can be a little pricey. Don’t let the price scare you away from choosing a pickleball paddle that you’ll get a lot of use, especially if you love playing the game.

Trust me on this one. I now have a graveyard of cheap pickleball paddles in my garage when I could have just bought a couple of nice paddles. 

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

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