Has Pickleball, the fastest growing sport in America, caught your attention recently? Are you feeling a little overwhelmed by how many choices there are regarding paddles? Well, I’m here to tell you what the best paddle types for pickleball are and how to pick them. The best type of paddle is actually subjective. There are hundreds of paddle types that are all geared towards different play styles and utilities making it hard to pick the best paddle. So, instead of telling you what the best paddle is, I’ll tell you how to decide the best paddle for you.
Most pickleball paddles fall into three shape categories: normal, oversized head, and elongated. There are certain dimensions that paddles have to stay within in order to be legal for play. These are width, length, surface, etc. The shape categories each push these limits to the extreme in their desired direction. Normal-shaped paddles like an ONIX Z5 create a nice even feel with the sacrifice of any specific advantage, oversized head paddles offer a larger sweet-spot area that makes hitting the ball back with gusto a possibility most of the time, and Elongated paddles like the Selkirk Invicta have a longer handle and paddle face at the expense of some width. The shapes of pickleball paddles can dictate the way you play the game to some point, and you want something that will suit how you approach the ball.
What a lot of people notice first when they’re looking for the best paddle types for pickleball is the surface. The surface of your paddle can really affect the way you play with the ball. Certain surfaces have more grip allowing more spin and touch while others focus more on power and have a very smooth finish. Paddles like the ONIX Evoke Premier have a minimal coating on their face to soften the ball’s impact while still giving control and spin. Choosing whether you want to go in on spin, control, or power should dictate how you choose your paddle regarding the surface.
Pickleball paddles are made with honeycomb-like composite cores that change the sound and feel of hitting the ball. The main ones are aluminum, Nomex, and polymer. The difference between the types of cores is mainly in how hard they hit the ball. Nomex, being the densest one, is a lot like throwing a ball at a brick wall and seeing how fast it bounces back. It’s light and powerful, but you sacrifice a lot of control when using a paddle with this core. Aluminum is the next hardest on this list and is generally very light and easy to play with. The main downside to the paddles is that they are very loud and can cause some complaints if you’re playing in a residential area. Finally, we have the polymer core. This core is normally the most expensive option of the three but gives you the best of both worlds. It’s light, durable, and solid so it offers a great combo of control; and power.
The best paddle types for pickleball are really whatever you decide is the best paddle for you. There are other things I didn’t go into such as weight, visual aesthetics, edge guards, and so on. Play with a friend’s paddle and get a feel for what you like before you buy one.
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