Join the pickleball craze and find the best pickleball paddle for you. We’ll introduce you to the game as well as models of different sizes, materials, and prices.
Great for players adapting from tennis to pickleball although a few find it heavy
Good for people starting to get into the sport but it's not approved by the USAPA
The cushion grip is comfortable and stays dry, which is especially helpful during intense, heated play.
Large playable surface area due to lack of edge/rim
I enjoy playing tennis, ping pong, and badminton…but never knew about pickleball. While researching the game and watching videos of players in action, I became inspired to try this new (to me) paddle/racquet sport. It looks like fun and fabulous exercise.
What fun activity combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong (a.k.a table tennis)? Pickleball! Gaining popularity since the 1960’s, pickleball is played by people of all ages and athletic abilities. To enjoy it, you’ll want the best pickleball paddle for your specific needs.
In general, pickleball involves two (or four in doubles) people hitting a small plastic ball back and forth over a net.
We’ll explain the game’s nitty-gritty details (e.g., rules, technique, etc.) later [link to “A Closer Look at Pickleball” below], but first want to show you this entertaining sport.
Take a sneak peek
Watch this friendly video for an overview of pickleball and a glimpse of players in action.
After researching more than 30 of the most popular models of pickleball paddles, we edited the list down to these top picks.
We consulted pickleball instructors and athletes to select the ten best paddles for your needs. Players shared their views on and experiences with these specific models.
Check this out:
By poring over detailed feedback from athletes of all ages, levels (from complete beginners to seasoned competitors), and backgrounds (former couch potatoes and retired tennis players), we discovered very interesting insights.
Different people with varied needs honed in on which models to choose for hitting, spinning, and/or just playing efficiently and comfortably.
Just so you know...
We don’t receive any free samples or kickbacks from manufacturers.
Our goal is to provide informative and objective reviews that are useful to you, the consumer. We want to put the right pickleball paddle in your hand so you can get out and play today!
If you want to join in on the pickleball fun, you’ll need to buy a pickleball paddle.
But that much is obvious… Before studying different models, first think about how you are as pickleball player.
Are you a power player (who hits the ball hard)?
Or perhaps you’re a soft player (who, for strategic reasons, nudges or dinks the ball) or a spinner (who puts a spin on the ball when returning it to your opponent)?
When scrutinizing various pickleball paddles, you should pay attention to each model’s weight, grip size, type (composite or graphite), and price.
Depending on your physique (hand size, arm strength, etc.), playing style, and budget, you’ll want–and be able, don’t worry–to find the right paddle for enjoyable pickleball play at the level you desire.
One of the first questions people ask when they’re introduced to pickleball is “Why can’t I just use a wooden racquet?”
That’s a valid question because
People trying pickleball for the first time often use wooden paddles provided at the court.
Made to withstand use from many different–and often inexperienced–players, wooden paddles are durable.
However, they tend to be heavy, strictly utilitarian, and not geared toward any specific type of player.
I love a good analogy, so think about it this way…
This following analogy might be helpful: wooden paddles are to new pickleball players like rental skates are to new skaters.
Neophytes and people who skate maybe once each winter often rent rink-owned skates.
Durable and “standard-issue,” the rental skates tend to be uncomfortable, ill-fitting, and purely functional…and not geared toward any specific person.
How much will you enjoy skating–and be able to skate well–with rental skates?
On the same hand…
Newcomers to pickleball may actually be turned off from the game when using wooden rackets. As we mentioned, wooden paddles are heavy, which can cause soreness in the hand, wrist, arm, and/or shoulder.
Although they’re sturdy, wooden paddles offer much less control than non-wood paddles.
So what does this mean?
After trying pickleball with a cheap wooden paddle, if you discover you like the game and want to learn more, then investigate and invest in a high-quality paddle.
You’ll improve as well as play more often and for longer periods with the right pickleball paddle.
You might become a what’s known as a “pickler”–a pickleball fanatic!
When choosing a pickleball paddle, examine the following criteria:
In order to enjoy the game and play well, you need a paddle with a grip that’s comfortable. It should not only fit your hand but also give you control over the ball.
These will range from 4-inches to 4-½ inches with 1/8-inch increments in between.
A grip with the correct circumference for you will fit your hand, be easy to hold, and not slip.
Smaller grips allow more wrist action for greater control and ball spin. If the paddle’s grip is too small for you, however, you’ll waste energy and possibly injure hand, wrist, and arm muscles from squeezing it to keep it in place.
Larger grips may offer greater stability, but a grip that’s too large for you may be difficult to hold, strain muscles (e.g. hand, wrist, and arm), and limit movement (e.g., wrist snaps, grip changes, overheads, etc.).
Open your dominant hand (i.e., the one that holds the paddle), straighten your fingers close together, and look at your palm.
Use a ruler to measure the length between the middle crease of your palm. (It’s aligned with the intersection of your fingers and thumb) and the tip of your ring finger.
The resulting measurement is your grip size.
If your measurement falls between two sizes, use the smaller size.
Measure your height and refer to the chart below.
|Up to 5’2” tall||4” grip|
|5’3” to 5’8” tall||4 ¼” grip|
|5’9” and taller||4 ½” grip|
If you can borrow a paddle, grip it properly with your dominant hand.
Then slide your other hand’s index finger between your dominant hand’s ring finger and palm heel.
If your finger fits snugly without you needing to shift the dominant hand’s fingers, this grip size is correct for you.
If there’s a gap, the grip size is too large.
If you have to move your dominant hand’s fingers to accommodate room for your other hand’s index finger, the grip size is too small.
Grip handle lengths we found vary between 4 ¼” to 5 ¼”. Players with small hands prefer shorter handles. Whereas, those with large hands and many former tennis players favor longer handles.
Pickleball paddles range in weight from about 6 ounces to more than 10 ounces.
Lighter paddles offer more control but require more arm strength, energy, and swing for power.
Heavier paddles provide less control but more power.
In either case, injuries can result from pulled and/or strained muscles to maneuver a too-light or too-heavy paddle.
To find a good balance of control and power for your needs, consider your age, strength, skill level, and playing style.
What is your approach to playing pickleball?
If you’re a novice learning the game, choose the paddle that fits your comfort level.
If you use different playing strategies, consider a paddle’s construction and weight.
A power player–also called a “banger”–who hits aggressive hard shots may want a solid and heavier paddle.
A player who plays a soft game with gentle but strategically placed shots may lean toward a lighter paddle that offers more control.
A paddle’s core refers to its internal honeycomb panel that gives it structure, power, and the audible “pop” of a ball when it’s hit.
A paddle’s two faces are the surfaces bonded to the core that come in contact with the ball.
Both composite and graphite paddles utilize various materials, like polymers, Nomex (a nylon-like material used in aerospace and industrial settings), and aluminum for the core.
Faces of composite paddles are composed of various substances like polymers, carbon fibers, vinyl, resin, fiberglass, and more.
Graphite paddles have faces made of a thin layer of graphite.
People often believe graphite pickleball paddles have graphite cores.
The only graphite in the paddle is the layer overlaying its core to create an excellent surface for hitting the ball.
Graphite is strong, durable, hard, and extremely light.
Players who want light paddles that quickly rebound balls with much control love graphite paddles.
Also, graphite is very stiff.
When a ball hits the paddle, the graphite’s stiffness spreads the hit’s energy evenly across the paddle’s surface and helps the player “feel” the ball more.
Experienced pickleball players and competitors often use graphite paddles.
Edged vs. Edgeless:
Some pickleball paddles have an edge guard framing the outside of the paddle face.
The edge guard protects the paddles’ sides from nicks and scratches during play and when scraping and/or hitting the ground accidentally. When a ball makes contact with the edge guard, however, it often bounces off erratically and causes the player to lose control of the ball’s trajectory.
Therefore, edgeless pickleball paddles have appeared on the market to prevent this issue.
While an edgeless paddle may have a smoother look, its sides aren’t protected from chips, dents, and other marks. When deciding between edged and edgeless model, you just need to understand their trade-offs.
Depending on construction, paddles range in price from under $20.00 to over $140.00. Although wooden paddles are the least expensive (usually under $30.00), we don’t recommend them.
Composite paddles run between $50.00 and about $145.00 while graphite paddles cost between $60.00 and $150.00.
In the past year or so, pickleball paddle manufacturers have come out with paddles specially designed for players to put a spin on the ball–topspin, backspin, reverse spin, etc.
While our reviews focus on pickleball paddles in general, user feedback does indicate which models help players produce spin.
Generally, paddle faces with finely textured surfaces provide more “grab” on the ball than smooth surfaces do.
Composite paddle faces constructed of various materials (e.g., vinyl, carbon fiber, fiberglass, resin, etc.) have a slight texture.
Be careful if you plan on using your paddle to play competitively though–official USAPA tournament rules prohibit too much texture.
Also, although graphite faces are very smooth, don’t write them off for producing spin. Some graphite models are designed to provide more control and spin.
Let’s get the game going!
Now you’re armed with information on what to look for in a pickleball paddle. Read ahead to discover which ones are right for you.
Our first impression of this set?
Right away, you can tell that Gamma Sports Needle Pickleball Paddles aren’t ordinary pickleball paddles.
With a length of 16 5/8”, this model is only slightly longer than most other models, but this little bit reaps major benefits. Players rave about its elongated design that gives them extra reach when stretching to hit the ball and making shots.
This paddle’s protracted design still maintains a large and “generous” sweet spot in the center of the paddle’s face and a suitable width for blocking. Many people describe Gamma Sports Needle Pickleball Paddles as lightweight and “very evenly balanced.” In fact, this model was engineered to prevent a top-heavy feel.
But that’s not all
With its finely textured graphite face, this paddle generates excellent spin and accuracy in shot placement. Picklers love its balance of power for hard shots with excellent control for soft hits. Its honeycomb grip provides traction and comfort.
Here’s something really interesting...
In our research, we noticed most feedback was from advanced players, some at the 4.0 skill level (out of a scale of 2.0 to 5.0, from beginner to expert). We figure they probably know what they’re talking about, so we trust their recommendation of Gamma Sports Needle Pickleball Paddles for all skill levels, from novice to experienced. One player notes this model is just right for singles games.
But that's not the best thing about these paddles...
We did not find a single negative review of Gamma Sports Needle Pickleball Paddles!
For an introduction to this much-lauded paddle, watch this video.
Provides extra reach
Large sweet spot and balanced weight
Excellent balance of power and control
With the Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddle Bundle Set, you and a friend will be ready to start hitting balls for practice right away.
Just add a court for a game!
We found inspiring comments from pickleball newbies who recommend these paddles as “terrific” go-to gear for getting into the sport.
Many beginners love the light paddles with comfortable grips. Our experts report them as solid enough to hold up to at least two-to-three sessions of fledgling play per week.
The set includes an e-book, The Ultimate Beginner's Guide To Pickleball, with helpful tips to get started, improve, and ultimately play (and exercise!) more.
The Amazin’ Aces logo with an orange pickleball marks the sweet spot for learning players.
Experienced picklers of all ages describe the Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddle as nicely balanced and excellent for both power and soft shots.
Each paddle has a durable graphite face with a honeycomb polymer core. This combination makes them heavy enough to slam the ball with much force, but light enough to place gentle dink shots just over the net.
More than one reviewer says that the paddle just feels “right” in the hand and emits a satisfyingly good “pop” sound on contact with the ball.
The Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddle does have a 1/8” edge guard to protect the paddle from scrapes during ground shots which can deflect the ball in an unexpected direction if it hits the guard.
One novice player feels that the edge is too wide and a more experienced player thinks the guard reduces playing surface area.
Other criticisms may result from player size and preference: several people find the paddle a bit heavy, the handle a little short, and the face slightly narrow.
The balls included in the Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddle Bundle Set are “not great”, have a weak bounce, and may be too light for outdoor play.
Many reviewers purchased extra Amazin’ Aces Pickleball Paddle Bundle Sets for themselves (for doubles games or when company comes over) and friends as gifts.
They recommend this bundle to others when spreading their newfound love for pickleball.
And this is nice...
Overwhelmingly, consumers compliment this family-owned company’s customer service.
Responsive and proactive, the company quickly followed up about concerns, answered questions, and even sent one person pickleball rules early so he would be ready to play when the set arrived.
We couldn’t find any specific warranty information on Amazin’ Aces’ website, but perhaps contacting customer service directly would be the way to go.
Solid, high quality
Large marked sweet spot
Good for both power and soft shots
Not USAPA approved
Edge guard deflects ball erratically
Balls not that good
Manufactured by Dongguan Mingxuan Carbon Fibre Technology Co., Ltd., the Niupipo Lightweight Graphite Pickleball Paddles Set containing two paddles is perfect for starting a game between two singles players or making a doubles team.
Each paddle has a polymer honeycomb core, a graphite face, and a black edge guard.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
Before even entering in tournaments, beginner pickleball players would benefit from this sturdy paddle with a large sweet spot.
In fact, a couple of newcomers note advanced players (e.g., instructors and champion competitors who happen to be relatives) recommend this model.
People–including a seven-year-old and a 60+-year-old–find this paddle lightweight and easy to swing.
Beginner pickleball players state the Niupipo Lightweight Graphite Pickleball Paddles Set really help them improve their game and inspire them to play even more.
Speaking of playing more, an advanced player notes this model has low vibration, resulting in no user fatigue.
Players praise this paddle for offering both power for long, hard shots and control for ball placement. Also, nice is the grip–cushioned with perforated and stitched wrap–which is comfortable and easy to hold securely.
The only negatives we encountered were:
Overall, the Niupipo Lightweight Graphite Pickleball Paddles Set was described as high-quality and earned almost unanimously positive marks from consumers and our experts alike!
Soft “pop” sound
Grip large for small hands
The most popular model in the Onix line, the Onix Graphite Z5 Paddle wins marks for its wide body and large sweet spot.
Many players–especially former tennis players, we’ve discovered–really like this paddle’s size, shape, and feel.
Our experts agreed--it’s light and well balanced. Two novice players note while this paddle’s weight is great for beginners, they both have seen very advanced players use the Onix Graphite Z5 Paddle.
That gave the peace of mind knowing they know they can continue to use it as they progress.
Speaking of progress, reviewers also remark this model helps them improve their game.
Who can argue with that?
Slightly flared at the bottom and wrapped with perforated and cushioned grip tape, the Onix Graphite Z5 Paddle’s grip is comfortable and appeals to tennis players.
The textured graphite surface on the paddle’s face slightly grips the ball for good control and spins.
But wait, there’s more...
Reviewers report the Onix Graphite Z5 Paddle is responsive on volleys and great for serves.
It’s a hybrid of power and touch:
The Onix Graphite Z5 Paddle also produces a good “pop”.
A bit on the downside, though...
A few people think the Onix Graphite Z5 Paddle seems overpriced.
Others feel the handle is a bit short.
Finally, two buyers noted the paddle was advertised as made in the USA when they actually are made in Mexico.
To be fair, during our research we didn’t find this claim. In fact, the manufacturer’s website states that it’s made in Mexico.
For an introduction from Steve Wong–international pickleball champion and owner of Onix Sports–watch this video.
Large sweet spot
Comfortable grip (resembles tennis racquet handle)
Blends power and control
Fine texture of paddle face surface for spins
Overpriced for a few
Handle feels short for some
The Pickle-Ball Inc. Elite Pickleball Paddle is another model favored by tennis players transitioning to this funnier-sounding activity.
The Pickle-Ball Inc. Elite Pickleball Paddle comes in two different series: Finesse and Power.
Both differ only in weight and grip circumference.
The Power Series paddle is slightly heavier with a denser core for more power. One newcomer feels that the paddle helps her adapt her tennis routine to the pickleball game. Another former tennis athlete appreciates the paddle’s feel and longer handle.
Something for everyone
And ex-tennis players aren’t the only ones who benefit from the Pickle-Ball Inc. Elite Pickleball Paddle.
People without any previous racquet-sport experience as well as experienced picklers like this solid and sturdy teardrop-shaped paddle with a large sweet spot.
One fledgling player reports this paddle has improved his game immensely while one competitor credits the paddle for helping to produce a medal-winning performance.
Constructed of a Nomex core and a graphite face with a polypropylene overlay, the Pickle-Ball Inc. Elite Pickleball Paddle is lightweight (which helped one player with shoulder issues) and easy to handle.
Nonetheless, it’s still solid and durable in addition to providing great control and power.
Well, maybe not everyone...
A few users feel the paddle is a bit heavy and one person thinks the handle is too long.
Otherwise, we found only reports of how comfortable the Pickle-Ball Inc. Elite Pickleball Paddle is.
Provides control and power
Based on comments from beginners, mid-level players, and experienced competitors, the Rally NX Graphite Pickleball Paddle is good for all abilities. It’s comfortable, lightweight, and offers great control.
The paddle’s hard, textured surface allows developing players to improve their side, top, and bottom spins.
No pain is good!
The fact that the Rally NX Graphite Pickleball Paddle seems lightweight to players is important. One player says that she enjoys the paddle’s touch and power without straining her arm and shoulder.
A 69-year-old pickler reports he can play for two hours straight without any wrist or arm pain.
Another reviewer admits that it took a few sets to adjust to this paddle’s lightness but as soon as she adapted, her game took a “quantum leap.”
The Rally NX Graphite Pickleball Paddle’s handle is covered with Winn Dry Tac grip tape, which is comfortable.
Even when sweating, players find their grip doesn’t slip.
The best compliment we think is from one reviewer who says the paddle feels like an extension of his arm.
The Rally NX Graphite Pickleball Paddle provides a good feel and touch for soft shots like dinks as well as for hard hits.
The one feature where people express conflicting views is the paddle’s edge guard. Protecting the sides of the paddle face, the edge guard is supposedly about half as wide as those on others paddles, leading to fewer erratic ball deflections when hit.
Some players like this but a couple others still dislike the presence of the edge guard.
Maybe these users should look at models without edge guards, like the Amazin’ Aces BAINBRIDGE Pickleball Paddle (Pro Series) and the Wolfe XF Edgeless Graphite Pickleball Paddle, which we’ll review later.
The bad and the good
We did find feedback from consumers of the Rally NX Graphite Pickleball Paddle not lasting or holding up within a month or the first few months.
Several players who swear they aren’t hard hitters experienced paddles breaking where the face and handle meet.
Luckily, most encountered responsive customer service and quickly received replacements for defective merchandise under warranty.
Not USAPA-approved due to textured surface
Broke after a month or two for some
Both pickleball instructors and newcomers recommend the Rally Tyro 2 Pickleball Paddle Set for beginners. This great starter set is economical and delivers good quality at a low price.
Players learning pickleball benefit from the Rally Tyro 2 Pickleball Paddle: it’s lightweight, easy on wrists, and easy to control. The paddle has a high-tack moisture grip that’s comfortable and just the right size for players with small hands.
A few reviewers find the grip a bit large and the handle a little short. Others (especially men) find grip too small.
The Rally Tyro 2 Pickleball Paddle’s white graphite face is standard size and has a fiberglass overlay. Its subtle nubby texture (which doesn’t meet USAPA specifications) is great for practicing spinning. The paddle is well balanced for control and power.
Here’s the catch:
Although the Rally Tyro 2 Pickleball Paddle is well-suited to beginners, unfortunately it also seems to be limited to beginners (or up to mid-level players).
Many people confirm this view, stating that the paddles are not very strong.
Two users report the handles breaking soon after starting to play.
Others describe indentations and marks on the paddle’s face from its impact with the ball.
Maybe this model is good for newbies just learning to hit the ball, but not hard and fast yet.
People also dislike the raised rim around the paddle face (the guard, we assume) because it deflects the ball in a “crazy” direction.
Maybe these users should look at models without edge guards, like the Amazin’ Aces BAINBRIDGE Pickleball Paddle (Pro Series) and the Wolfe XF Edgeless Graphite Pickleball Paddle. More on those in a bit.
In any case
Good for beginners
Lightweight and easy to control
Not USAPA-approved due to textured surface
Seems to be limited to beginners
Named after the island where it all began, the Amazin’ Aces BAINBRIDGE Pickleball Paddle (Pro Series) is endorsed for pickleball rookies and veterans.
Composed of an aluminum core and a graphite-fiberglass-blend face, this paddle is light yet powerful for hard overhead, backhand, and forehand strokes.
One player recommends this lightweight paddle for anyone with shoulder issues.
The Amazin’ Aces BAINBRIDGE Pickleball Paddle (Pro Series) offers good precision and control. Although its face is smooth, most reviewers are happy with the amount of spin they still can put on the ball.
A few players wish the paddle face had a little texture. Many people like the paddle’s “quick” response. It delivers power for deep shots and control for drop shots. Its “pop” sound is “reassuring” and “satisfying”.
Into the great blue yonder…
What makes the Amazin’ Aces BAINBRIDGE Pickleball Paddle (Pro Series) different from any of the previous model reviewed is its rimless design.
Without any edge guard, the paddle’s pretty blue face extends smoothly and seamlessly from one side to the other.
Several players love and specifically selected this model because it’s edgeless and minimizes erratic bounces from the ball hitting a rim/edge guard.
We found complaints of the paddle chipping when scraped against hard surface outside courts. A few people speculated on the eventual impact on the paddle’s face and overall structure; they feel that the paddle is a bit “delicate” and scratches easily.
Nonetheless, most players are willing to put up with surface scratches and chips in order to avoid “wonky” deflections of the ball.
Consumers like that the Amazin’ Aces BAINBRIDGE Pickleball Paddle (Pro Series) comes with the free e-book ebook, The Ultimate Beginner's Guide To Pickleball with instructions and rules for getting started. People also compliment this family-owned company’s customer service.
We couldn’t find any specific warranty information on Amazin’ Aces’ website, we suggest contacting customer service directly.
Chips and scratches easily due to insufficient edge guard
One person thinks the handle is long
Join the call of the wild with the Wolfe XF Edgeless Graphite Pickleball Paddle Set. It includes two paddles (one red, one purple), one paddle case, and three balls so you can start playing right away!
The paddle model is composed of four layers: a honeycomb core topped with a resin layer covered by fiberglass under a graphite layer, all topped with interwoven 3K carbon fiber.
Take it easy
The Wolfe XF Edgeless Graphite Pickleball Paddle is lightweight and easy on the joints (e.g. wrist). Its grip is described as strong, comfortable, tacky, and easy to hold. The paddle’s edgeless design gives it a very large playable surface, which players love.
One person remarks that you can hit the ball anywhere on the paddle’s face without worrying about it off bouncing astray in an unexpected direction.
Two customers like that the “pop” sound is solid but not too loud.
Large or small?
In terms of the paddle’s sweet spot, we noticed a couple of conflicting reviews with interesting conclusions.
The sweet spot is “huge” to some but “small” to one person.
More than one person notes that hits located away from the center of the paddle face and near the edge are weak.
We wonder if the sweet spot seems small because the playing area is large and if the rimless edges just make weaker, less stiff surfaces for smashing the ball.
Customer service earned some positive (from a few) and negative (from two) feedback. The Wolfe XF Edgeless Graphite Pickleball Paddle is described as “durable” by some but “fragile” but others.
Its surface reportedly seems to be marked up easily upon contact with the ball. Also, as expected with a rimless/guard-less paddle, it chips and scratches on the side if scrapped on the ground. The balls are just “okay”.
The manufacturer has a 30-day refund policy.
Comfortable, tacky grip
Large sweet spot
Edgeless design to minimize erratic bounce-offs
Marks up easily
Scratches and chips on sides without edge guard
The Rally Graphite Power 2.0 Pickleball Paddle has an extra-large graphite paddle face and thicker polymer core. Its large sweet spot generates significant power and is excellent for hitting long shots as well as dinking from the kitchen.
This sturdy and balanced paddle is lightweight. As with other paddles, we found some people who think the paddle is a little too light and others who think it is a touch too heavy.
It has an edge guard with corner-shield protection, meaning slightly thicker rims at the paddle’s upper corners.
Up your game
Several people believe the Rally Graphite Power 2.0 Pickleball Paddle helped them improve their game.
Well-suited to beginners and experienced (mid-level) players, this paddle also provides good spin for intermediate picklers demanding more out of a paddle design.
We encountered positive reviews from many former tennis players who really like this paddle.
Speaking of other sports…
The comfortable, easy-to-hold grip of the Rally Graphite Power 2.0 Pickleball Paddle is adapted from high-end golf designs for traction, cushioning, and moisture wicking.
One player states that this model is great for arthritic hands; another customer who plays four-to-five times each week believes that this paddle provides “minimal stress” on the body.
We came across three reviewers who didn’t like the “hollow” sound of the ball hitting the paddle. Several others like the “pop” of this paddle, so we guess this problem doesn’t really affect performance.
Speaking of performance…
A few people mentioned their new Rally Graphite Power 2.0 Pickleball Paddles arriving with minor cosmetic surface flaws (e.g., a blemish on the face, a scratch on the rim) that didn’t affect the paddle performance in action.
Nonetheless, those who contacted customer service were pleased by responsive assistance. We read reports of broken paddles under warranty being quickly replaced.
Such flaws included several incidents where the edge guard came loose and separated from the paddle’s body after a few weeks or months of use.
Comfortable and easy-to-hold grip
Large sweet spot
Favored by former tennis players
New paddle arriving with minor cosmetic blemishes
Edge guard separating from paddle body
Fast-paced and social, pickleball is easy to learn and play. Let’s take a closer at the game, its rules, equipment, and more to get you started playing for fun and exercise.
Two (or four in doubles matches) players each stand on opposite sides of a 20’ x 44’ court divided in half by a 36’-tall center net. Click here for a bird’s-eye view of a pickleball court. Each side of the court is divided into three sections:
To begin play, from behind the baseline of the right service area Player 1 serves the ball underhand (without a bounce) crosscourt, where it must clear the net and bounce into the Player 2’s right service area diagonal to Player 1.
Player 2 hits the ball back to Player 1’s side, where it must bounce once again before Player 1 returns it over the net.
This is the double-bounce rule.
After the second bounce, players rally the ball back and forth either by volleying it or hitting it after it bounces once.
Stay out of the kitchen!
No player is allowed to run into “the kitchen” to volley a ball back over the net.
This rule was instituted to prevent players from smashing or spiking the ball over the net.
Nonetheless, a player can enter “the kitchen” to hit a ball after it bounces. Watch this video that clearly explains how to get started playing pickleball.
Play continues until someone hits the ball into the net or out of the court or lets it bounce more than once.
Points are earned only by the serving player (or doubles team).
Informal games are played up to 11 points (with a 2-point margin) and tournament matches are played up to 15 or 21 points (with a 2-point margin).
For a detailed summary of pickleball rules, visit this page published by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA).
Check out these moves…
When keeping the ball in play, pickleball players can hit back the ball in a variety of strategic ways, including but not limited to the:
We discovered a few more funny pickleball-specific terms we just had to share:
Beside the paddles, what else do you need for pickleball? You’ll want to obtain:
If you can’t get to a local pickleball court, why not make one at home?
You can mark out (with chalk, tape, paint, or whatever is appropriate) pickleball court lines in the street, in a parking lot, on a tennis court, on a gym floor, or wherever you find a smooth, flat surface and enough space.
Check out USAPA’s helpful instructions on fashioning your own pickleball court.
From its humble beginnings as a family game invented to entertain cranky kids to today, Pickleball has exploded in popularity.
It’s a rainy summer weekend afternoon in 1965 on Bainbridge Island in Washington state…
In response to bored kids grumpy about the poor beach weather, Congressman Joel Pritchard and businessman Bill Bell gave their kids wooden paddles and a plastic ball and then sent them to play on a badminton court.
Soon, the adults enjoyed and took over this yet-unnamed and still evolving activity.
Necessity is the mother of invention…
Friend Barney McCallum joined in and all three men redesigned the equipment.
They lowered the court’s net to the height of Joel Pritchard’ waist.
After they rejected ping pong paddles, Barney McCallum designed and cut from wood in his basement the prototype of today’s pickleball paddle.
The men also established rules for the game. For example, the no-volley zone or “kitchen” was invented after a tall friend ran up to the net and used his unfair height advantage to smash the ball onto the opponent’s side.
All in good fun
Throughout this game’s evolution, the inventors’ top priority was family fun. They brought pickleball home from Bainbridge Island with them after the summer ended.
Soon it became a suburban street game, an evening at Seattle University, and an activity to add levity to Congressman Joel Pritchard’s political events.
By 1972, interest in pickleball so much that the three men formed a company to handle the increasing public demand for pickleball equipment. The first pickleball set cost $29.50 and included four paddles, four balls, and a net.
From the horses’ mouths
Hear straight from Barney McCallum and the first players (the bored kids now as adults) how pickleball developed from a backyard game to a professional sport in this entertaining video.
The rest is history
As the sport became more and more popular, players organized tournaments. In 1984, USAPA was established as the official governing body.
By 1990, pickleball spread from Washington State to all 50 states.
Currently, there are almost 4,000 pickleball locations in the US, with international clubs and governing bodies in countries including Canada and India.
For a timeline of pickleball’s evolution, click here.
According to the USAPA, this interesting moniker has two different origins:
One reviewer proposed another interesting theory: maybe the sport earned its funny name because the “pop” sound of a pickleball hitting a paddle shot sounds like the “pop” of new pickle jar being opened.
In any case, the name “pickleball” certainly is memorable and evokes an enjoyable homey vibe.
Besides being such a fun activity, why is pickleball such a popular way to exercise?
Enjoyable by players of all levels, this cross-generational game is especially in demand among older adults as well as athletes looking for a way to sweat without too much risk of injury.
Of course no activity is injury-free. To learn helpful information about preventing and treating common pickleball injuries, click here.
Just to be clear
We’re certainly not telling you to quit tennis, badminton, ping pong, or other racquet sports!
We just wanted to introduce you to another similar sport–pickleball–and advise you on choosing the best pickleball paddle.
As you can see, pickleball is a cousin of tennis, badminton, and ping pong.
If you play these sports, you’ll enjoy pickleball and have a head start!
For the sake of comparison, let’s conduct side-by-side examinations of equipment from the four activities.
First, let’s look at paddle/racquet sizes:
Pickleball: the maximum length from grip butt cap to rim is 24 inches (60.96 cm); the most common paddle face measurement is about 8” (20.32 cm) x by 15¾” (40 cm)
Tennis: the length ranges from 27” to 29”; a midsize head measures under 95 square inches; a standard head is 85 to 98 square inches; a midplus head measures 99 to 105 square inches; an oversize head is 106 to 135 square inches
Badminton: 26.5” (675mm) long from frame tip to handle end; no definite size but generally oval or square in shape
Ping Pong: the blade head is about 6.7” (17 cm) long and 5.9” (15 cm) wide; handles vary in lengt
If you want to learn about selecting the best ping pong paddle, read “9 Tournament-Worthy Ping Pong Paddle Reviews”.
|Pickleball: 20’ x 44’ (6.1 m x 13.41 m) for both singles and doubles games||Tennis: 78’ x 36’ for doubles matches; 78’ x 37’ for singles court matches|
|Badminton: 20’x44’ (same as pickleball!)||Ping Pong: 108’ x 60’ (official table size); are 84’ x 42’ (recreational table size)|
|Pickleball: 36’ (0.914 m) high at the side posts and 34’ (0.86 m) high in the center||Tennis: 3’6” (1.07 m) high at the side posts, and 3’ (0.91 m) high in the center|
|Badminton: 5’ high||Ping Pong: 6’ (15.25 cm) high|
If you’re looking for a ping pong table, peruse “10 Reliable Ping Pong Table Reviews”.
Pickleball: a hard plastic ball with holes; 2.874” (73mm) to 2.972” (75.5mm) in diameter; between 0.78 and 0.935 ounces (22 to 26.5 grams) of mass
Tennis: a hollow, two-piece rubber shell filled with pressurized gas and covered with nylon or wool; between 2 ½” and 2 5/8” in diameter and 2 to 2 1/16 ounces of mass
Badminton: a conical shuttlecock with 16 feathers (real or plastic) fixed in a cork (or rubber) base; each feather is 2.8” (70 mm) long; the shuttlecock weighs 0.168 to 0.194 ounces (4.75 to 5.50 g); the cork’s diameter is 0.98” to 1.10” (25 to 28 mm); the diameter of the circle made by the feathers is about 2.1” (54 mm)
Ping Pong: a celluloid ball filled with air; 1.57” (40mm) in diameter; 0.095 ounces (2.7 grams) of mass
Ending on a fun note
Looking for a way to repurpose old pickleballs?
Searching for just the right gift for your favorite pickleballer?
We found this page with creative and cute ideas for pickleball crafts, cookie cutters, keychains, wine glasses, clothing and more.
Despite its whimsical name, pickleball is a legitimate sport. It’s a fun and easy-to-learn activity for family members and friends of all ages. People who want to take their game to the next level can enter tournaments.
One USAPA rule–“The paddle hitting surface shall not be adversely reflective, such that it has the potential to obscure the vision of opposing player(s)”–demonstrates that pickleball officials take the sport seriously and won’t put up with such dirty tricks.
For the most enjoyable experience, find the pickleball paddle that best suits you and your style of play.
Figure out your grip size, what weight you’ll find most comfortable, whether you want an edged vs. an edgeless design, what type of paddle face you want, and what price you’re willing to pay.
Pick some more equipment (at least a couple of pickleballs to start) and soon you’ll be dinking, volleying, and slicing away.
See you on the court!
Gamma Sports Needle Pickleball Paddles won unanimous positive reviews from players for its elongated yet balanced design that provides extra reach. Still, wide enough for blocking, the paddle’s face has a large sweet spot in the center for power shots. Lightweight with great control and touch, it is recommended for players of all levels, from novice to advanced.
This is a great value for beginner and experienced pickleball players.
Pickleballers, new and experienced: please tell us what you think of our reviews and information. Have you used any of these pickleball paddles? Do you have suggestions of different pickleball paddle models? Please let us know anything you’d like to add.
Both. Pickleball courts can be inside a gym (e.g., for physical education classes at school) or outside. Noise may be an issue in an indoor setting, but at least you don’t have to worry about the weather. Playing pickleball outdoors is wonderful for getting fresh air, but you’re at the whim of nature’s elements, like wind and rain.
Although inexpensive, wooden paddles are heavy and may impede your enjoyment of and improvement in the game. Choose a light, standard (in shape and size) composite or graphite paddle and go from there.
This is an excellent question given reviewers’ comments we’ve seen on paddles scratching and breaking. Your paddle’s lifespan is affected by how well you care for it and how often and hard you play. Advanced picklers who play daily and compete usually expect a graphite or composite paddle to last about one year. For recreational picklers who play a couple or few times a week, a paddle should hold up about three years.
While many players want their paddles’ faces to have some texture to “grab” and spin the ball, excessive roughness (as opposed to smoothness) is prohibited.
According to the USAPA, “The paddle hitting surface shall not contain holes, indentations, rough texturing, tape, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart additional spin on the ball. Paddle roughness is determined using a Starrett SR 100 Surface Roughness Tester. The allowable limits for roughness shall be no greater than 30 micrometers (µm) on the Rz reading (average maximum height, peak to valley), and no greater than 40 micrometers on the Rt reading (maximum height, peak to valley).”