If you are just starting out as a pickleball player, questions around which paddle to use would often be at the forefront of your mind. Below we have prepared an exhaustive guide around the factors which influence the purchase of a pickleball paddle for a beginner, which is followed by a list of 10 paddles we believe you could use as one of your early purchases as a beginner.
As mentioned in our introduction and history of pickleball, the first paddles were made from plywood harvested from a shed in the garden of Joel Pritchard.
One of his friends on that fateful afternoon, Barney McCullum made the first paddles designed specifically for the game on a saw in his basement. Several alternatives were trialled but one model called the “M2” became the standard adopted by most players.
As the game has grown in popularity, and new innovations in design and the materials used have evolved, the number and type of paddles available on the market has evolved. For starters, we have listed down the factors based on which a pickleball paddle can be purchased.
What are the factors to consider before buying a pickleball paddle as a beginner?
Although there are literally tens of models of Pickleball paddles on the market, there are four main criteria which should be used when deciding which type to buy. They are:
- Grip Size
- Construction and Design
Factors to Consider Before Buying Pickleball Paddle
Here’s an in-depth explanation of the factors to consider before you buy your early pickleball paddle.
This is the single most important factor when choosing a paddle. Bats can range in weight from 6 to 14 ounces, depending on which material has been used in its construction.
Most composite or graphite paddles vary between 6 to 9 ounces, whilst wooden paddles tend to be heavier.
Whilst the weight of a paddle can be a matter of personal preference, the heavier the paddle, the more power it produces. However, as with most racket sports, with weight comes a loss of control. The lighter a paddle, the easier it is to manoeuvre the ball.
A further downside with the heavier paddles is that they can, over time, cause fatigue in the arm and lead to elbow strains.
Pickleball grip sizes are delineated in 1/8 inch sizes, and all are in the range of 4 to 4 ½ inches in circumference.
Grip size matters because playing with too large a grip size can cause the paddle to slip in the hand and leads to elbow problems, whilst, conversely if the grip is to small, the paddle can feel less stable. Players should experiment to find the grip size that suits them, and allows them both to hit the ball effectively, as well as impart spin to it.
Construction and Design
Whilst the earliest Pickleball bats were made of wood, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, new designs and technologies took over, borrowing concepts from the aerospace industry.
The concept of composite Pickleball paddles was born – essentially paddles made from a combination of materials, with a honeycomb core, with a variety of fabrics on the face where contact is made with the ball.
At the most basis them are just foam with a covering over it, whilst, at the other end of the scale there are models with inner springs, layers of foam, cotton wadding, and external fabrics.
Core materials are made of Nomex, Polymer, or Aluminium Honeycomb.
This is a heavier material, which is denser and with a smaller honeycomb size. Paddles made of Nomex are louder, and do not provide the same power as other models, but they make up for it with better control of the ball.
This is a softer material with a larger honeycomb size. It is quieter and offers great power but, sometimes, to the detriment of control.
This has many similar properties to Nomex, and offers great control, although Aluminium paddles provide less power than those made of polymer. They also have a tendency to dent.
Facing (the shell on the surface area of the paddle) come in three types – Fibreglass, Graphite, Carbon Fibre.
The most common type of facing found. It does not offer the control of the other two, but provides greater power.
Also commonly found. Graphite offers control at the expense of power.
Similar to graphite but it is more durable.
Paddle bats vary in price depending on what materials have been used in their manufacture. Wooden paddles usually retail for less than US $40, composite from US $50 to US $150, and graphite models from US $60 to US $160.
Experts suggest that those starting out in the game should begin with an inexpensive composite or graphite model.
Suggested Pickleball Paddles for Beginners
Here are 10 suggested paddle bat models for beginners to consider.
Onix Graphite Z5
This is a paddle that can be used both by normal as well as professional players. It weighs 8.1 ounces, which is at the heavier end of the scale, but means that the ball can be hit with real power. However, it may not be suitable for somebody with a slight frame.
It measures 15 ½ inches in length, 8 1/8 inches in breadth, and has a grip size of 4 ¼ inches, which is best suited for players of average height.
The paddle consists of a Nomex core which is durable, but does mean that it makes a noise when striking the ball. It retails in the average price bracket for composite paddles.
- A solid, durable paddle that will not break easily;
- Offers the player a good combination of power and control;
- Easy to hold.
- It has a small grip circumference;
- It makes a noise which can be distracting when striking the ball;
- Prolonged used can lead to arm fatigue.
Rally Graphite Power 2.09
This is regarded as a good paddle for beginners, reasonably priced without sacrificing quality. It is between 7.83 and 8 ounces in weight which makes it on the heavy side, but it does allow those just starting out in the game more control than they would get with a lighter paddle.
The paddle is 8 1/8 inches wide and has a grip circumference of 4 ¼ inches which is perforated to help prevents slippage and aids control of the ball.
It contains a 50 inch polymer core which enables players to pass opponents, and is quieter than Nomex equivalents.
- It offers players power as well as control;
- The paddle has an extra-large face which offers an increased sweet spot;
- It is balance optimised;
- Reasonably priced.
- The Edges guard of the paddle may be too prominent for some players;
- It is relatively heavy which means that it can lead to arm fatigue;
- Not as durable as some other models on the market.
Rally Tyro 2
This bat is well-known for the quality of the performance it delivers. It has an average weight in the range of 7.5 to 7.9 ounces, and its long handle is 5 inches in length, whilst the paddle face is 7 ¾ inches wide.
The grip circumference is 4 ¼ inches. The core is manufactured from a mixture and fibreglass, which offers players both power and control. It also makes it quieter than many other models.
It is, however, one of the most expensive models available.
- Offers players a combination of control and power;
- Made from high quality materials;
- Quieter than most other paddles.
- The grip size may not suit those with larger hands;
- More expensive than may other models.
Frequently used by pros because of its ability to impart spin to a ball, this is also suitable for less advanced players of Pickleball as well.
It is amongst the heaviest models on the market, weighing in at an average of 8.6 ounces, and is 15 ¾ inches long and 7 ¾ inches wide. It has a grip circumference of 4½ inches which is suitable for those with big hands, although they might find the handle a bit short.
The core is formed from a polypropylene honeycomb composite that aids clean shot making, and is comparatively quiet as well. The model is competitively priced.
- Made from quality materials;
- Easy to hold and control shots;
- One of the heaviest models on the market. Extended play can lead to arm fatigue and even elbow strain;
- Players with big hands may find the handle is not long enough.
Amazin’ Aces Classic
Designed to be an ideal paddle for beginners and children, this is a durable model which offers them a good level of performance.
At 10.5 ounces it is one of heaviest paddles on the market, but this does make it easy to hold and control. It is 15¾ inches long, and 7½ inches wide, with a handle length of 4½inches, suitable for players with average hands.
The core is made of strong honeycomb polymer, whilst the face is constructed from durable graphite. It is by no means the cheapest model on the market, though.
- An ideal paddle for beginners because it has a large sweet spot;
- It has a firm grip and is easy to control;
- It is durable.
- One of the heaviest paddles around;
- It may not fit those with long hands;
- Comparatively pricey.
GAMMA New 2.0
This is the latest version of a classic paddle that has been a best-seller for years. Like the two models above, it is slightly heavy at 8 ounces, but this does offer the beginner the combination of both power and control.
It is 15½ inches long and 7½ inches wide, and has a grip circumference of 4 inches. Its core is made of honeycombed fibreglass, as is the face, which increases the speed at which a ball can be hit. It is competitively priced.
- Produces very little noise;
- Contains a sweat absorbing grip;
- Reasonably priced.
- Small grip means it is not suitable for players with small hands;
- Heavy so extended use can lead to arm fatigue;
- Not particularly tough or durable.
Rally NX Graphite
This paddle is known for its performance and durability. Again slightly on the heavy side with an average weight between 7.4 and 8 ounces, it does not lend itself to those looking to hit the ball lightly.
The NX Graphite is 15 ¾ inches long, 8 1/8 inches wide, and has a grip circumference of 4 ¼ inches. The core is Made of Nomex honeycomb which is both durable and lightweight.
The handle contains material designed to prevent hands from slipping, whilst the edges of the paddle are protected and trimmed. It is one of the cheapest paddles on the market.
- It has a large sweet spot so suitable for beginners;
- It comes with dry grip material to prevent hands from slipping;
- It is inexpensive;
- Renowned for durability.
- The grip size will not suit those with large hands;
- Like all Nomex manufactured paddles it is noisy;
- It is heavy so takes effort to produce shots.
Another best-selling model, which is suitable for both normal and tournament players. The average weight is 7.6 ounces, and it is 15¾ inches long, 7¾ inches wide, with a grip circumference of 4¼ inches.
It has a composite core, with polymer being the principal constituent and is relatively expensive compared to some of its competitors.
- Suitable for players of all levels;
- Offers good control on every shot;
- The grip size is not suitable for those with big hands;
- It is comparatively expensive;
- The model is not renowned for its durability.
GAMMA Classic 1.0
This paddle is very lightweight and the range stands out because of the vibrancy of its design.
The average weight of the paddle is only 7.1 ounces, which means that a player does not have to exert a great deal of effort to make a shot, and there is less consequent risk of arm strain.
The paddle length is 15 ½ inches, it is 8¼ inches wide, whilst the handle is 4 inches long. The grip circumference is 4 ¼ inches. The core is manufactured from graphite, as is the paddle face.
This model is inexpensive.
- Lightweight, therefore reduces the amount of effort exerted, and the strain on arms;
- Easy to hold;
- Short handle and grip circumference makes it a poor choice for players with large hands;
- Does not lend itself to putting spin on a ball;
- Not known for its durability.
Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle
This is considered one of the best models for those taking up the sport. It weighs 8/6 ounces on average, is 15 ¾ long, 7 ¾ inches wide, and its handle length is 4½ inches. The grip size circumference is 4¼ inches.
The core is manufactured from polypropylene in a honeycomb design that incorporates three layers, as opposed to the usual two. The face is made of graphite. The model is very affordable, even for those on a tight budget.
- The paddle has a long handle and offers a medium grip;
- The bat gives decent control and provides limited vibration when playing;
- It is very affordable.
- The paddle is comparatively heavy;
- The handle can get hot and sticky;
- The bat is not very durable.