The Best Pickleball Paddles in 2021

Pickleball is still a rather new and growing sport, despite the fact that it was invented back in 1965. The rising interest in the sport in the past decade spurred the increase in the equipment made specifically for this sport.

In the early years of pickleball, it was hard to find the right paddle and other tools to properly play the game. Today, new and experienced players can choose equipment from many different brands, especially when it comes to finding the right pickleball paddle.

If you are interested in learning how to choose the best pickleball paddle, what factors to consider and what features to seek, we have prepared a guide on the matter. Also, we have selected a few of the best pickleball paddles that can be found online.

onix graphite z5 pickleball paddle
  • Dimensions: 15.5″ L x 8.3″ W
  • Weight: 7.5-8.2 oz
  • Grip Size: 4 1/4‘’
  • Graphite Surface
  • Nomex Honeycomb Core
CHECK PRICES

Onix Graphite Z5 is one of the most popular paddles overall, not just with professionals. It is one of the best pickleball paddles available for less than $100, so it is a good choice for pickleball enthusiasts and recreational players as well as professionals. The paddle is available in 12 different colors, allowing you to choose the one that you like the most.

This paddle comes with a wide body, which means that it has a large sweet spot to ensure better control. The face of the paddle is made from graphite, while the core is made from Nomex. This provides a good balance of spin and power, along with the weight of the paddle which is in the middle range since it weighs around 8 ounces.

On the downside, this paddle is quite noisy since it produces a loud popping sound when you hit the ball. Additionally, some users complained about the handle getting damaged or broken. We’ve tested the paddle a few times and had no such problems but it could be an issue after prolonged use.

Pros:
  • Large Sweet Spot
  • Medium Weight
  • Excellent Control
  • Good Spin/Power Balance
  • Suitable for Players of All Levels
  • Approved by the USAPA
Cons:
  • A Bit Noisy
  • Handle Not Very Durable
  • No Paddle Cover

HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle

The Best Intermediate Pickleball Paddle

head radical elite pickleball paddle
  • Dimensions: 16″ L x 7.8″ W
  • Weight: 8.0-8.3 oz
  • Grip Size: 4 1/4‘’
  • Composite (Fiberglass) Surface
  • Polypropylene Honeycomb Core
CHECK PRICES

If you are looking for an affordable paddle that can offer great performance, Radical Elite is a smart choice. It is the closest you can get to the best pickleball paddle under $50. This paddle is great for intermediate players – right between the wooden paddles for beginners and graphite paddles for professionals. However, it may not be the best option for beginners since it doesn’t have a body as wide as some other paddles on the market.

The paddle has a composite surface, or more precisely fiberglass surface. Thanks to this and the Poly honeycomb core, you can easily control your shots. Also, the paddle offers a good balance between spin and power, although it doesn’t have a rough surface that can improve the spin. The grip size is medium (4 1/4 inches) and the grip length is 5 inches, suitable for most players.

Unfortunately, this paddle is only available in two colors. So, if design and looks are important to you, it may be hard to find a color that suits your taste due to limited choices. On the other hand, the paddle is reasonably priced and a good choice if you’re buying on a budget.

Pros:
  • Medium Weight
  • Excellent Control
  • Good Spin/Power Balance
  • Great for Intermediate Players
  • Not Noisy at All
  • Approved by the USAPA
Cons:
  • Only Comes in Two Colors
  • No Paddle Cover
  • Not Suitable for Beginners

Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro

The Best Pickleball Paddle for Control

paddletek tempest wave pro
  • Dimensions: 15.8″ L x 8″ W
  • Weight: 7.6-8.0 oz
  • Grip Size: 4 3/8‘’
  • Graphite Surface
  • Polypropylene Honeycomb Core
CHECK PRICES

Although this is one of the most expensive paddles on our list, it is also one of our absolute favorites. First of all, this paddle has a great design – it is quite attractive and looks so modern and innovative. Additionally, the paddle is available in five different colors, although the base color is black in all cases.

When it comes to performances, Tempest Wave Pro is unmatched when it comes to control. It provides excellent accuracy and has a great forgiveness factor. And while accuracy is the focus of the paddle, it also has a great balance of power and spin. After all, it features a textured graphite surface that increases both spin and accuracy, together with the polypropylene core.

The paddle is also quite lightweight since it weighs around 7.6 ounces. It comes with an edge guard and a thin, high-tech grip that allows you to control the paddle better. However, this paddle is quite noisy and may produce a high-pitched sound when hitting the ball.

Pros:
  • Good-Sized Sweet Spot
  • Medium Weight
  • Excellent Control
  • Good Spin/Power Balance
  • Great for Professional Players
  • Approved by the USAPA
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Noisy
  • No Paddle Cover

Selkirk S2 Amped Pickleball Paddle

The Best Lightweight Pickleball Paddle

selkirk s2 amped pickleball paddle
  • Dimensions: 15.75″ L x 8″ W
  • Weight: 7.4-8.4 oz
  • Grip Size: 4 1/4‘’
  • Composite (Fiberglass) Surface
  • Polypropylene Honeycomb Core
CHECK PRICES

This is another expensive paddle that is worth the money. It is available in a variety of models and colors and you can even choose whether you want the lightweight or middleweight option. It is a great paddle for professional players but you can also get it if you are an intermediate player looking to improve your game.

The paddle has an 8-inch wide body, which means that the sweet spot is pretty large – certainly largest when it comes to Selkirk Amped paddles. The grip size is 4 1/4 inches, which may not suit you if you have a large grip. Additionally, the handle length is 4.5’’, the shortest that Selkirk has to offer. The paddle also includes a durable and subtle edge guard that balances the weight between the head and the handle to ensure that the paddle is not head heavy.

The face of the paddle is made from fiberglass, while the core is a powerful Poly honeycomb. This ensures great control and a good balance between spin and speed, with the emphasis on spin. However, some players may not like the lack of pop and may not be impressed with the paddle’s performance in the power department.

Pros:
  • Large Sweet Spot
  • Excellent Control
  • Good Spin/Power Balance
  • Great for Professional Players
  • Not Noisy
  • Approved by the USAPA
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • No Paddle Cover
  • Not a Good Choice for Power Players
  • Not Suitable for Beginners

Kinetic Pro Speed Pickleball Paddle

The Best Edgeless Pickleball Paddle

kinetic pro speed pickleball paddle
  • Dimensions: 15.75″ L x 8″ W
  • Weight: 7.8-8.2 oz
  • Grip Size: 4‘’
  • Composite (Fiberglass and Carbon Hybrid) Surface
  • Polypropylene Core with Kinetic Tungsten Inlays
CHECK PRICES

This is one of the first pickleball paddles made by the company Pro Kennex, although they do have extensive experience with other racket sports. It is an expensive paddle that features a unique technology to prevent harm to players’ elbows and arms. This is achieved with the use of tungsten-filled chambers within the Polypropylene core, which reduces vibrations and distributes the impact evenly.

In addition to this, the paddle also has a comfort cushion included on the handle to make the grip more comfortable. The paddle’s surface is composite, made of fiberglass, soft skin and a resin system. As the name suggests, the paddle is mostly focused on speed but it doesn’t sacrifice a lot in the control department.

The paddle comes with a cover included, which is not the case with many other paddles on the market. It also features an edgeless technology, so expect some chipping and damage to the edge to appear after a while. On the other hand, it also allows you to control your shots better, especially those that fall on the edge of the face.

Pros:
  • Excellent Control
  • Good Spin/Power Balance
  • Great for Players of All Levels
  • Not Noisy
  • Great with Players with Tennis Elbow
  • Approved by the USAPA
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Only Available in One Color
  • Not the Best Spin Performance
  • Edgeless Design makes It Prone to Chipping

Gamma Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle

The Best Pickleball Paddle for Spin

gamma sports 2 0 pickleball paddle
  • Dimensions: 15.5″ L x 7.5″ W
  • Weight: 7.4-7.8 oz
  • Grip Size: 4‘’
  • Composite (Fiberglass) Surface
  • Aramid Honeycomb Core
CHECK PRICES

Gamma Sports 2.0 paddle comes in a variety of models and colors, as well as a variety of prices. However, all of the prices are between $50 and $100, which falls in the middle range when it comes to pickleball paddles.

These paddles are all suitable for new and experienced players since they are middle-weight, average-sized paddles. That being said, there are options with a wider body out there, which may be better for inexperienced players. The surface of these paddles is textured and made from composite fiberglass, which offers great control and amazing spin. The core is made from Amarid and offers a bit of power, although not as much as some other pickleball paddles on our list.

The grip size and handle length are both set at 4 inches, which may not suit players with larger hands. Additionally, the paddle is made to provide a comfortable, sweat-absorbent grip. On the downside, some users complained about the durability of the paddle. We’ve only tried it out a few times, so we can’t exactly say how durable it is.

Pros:
  • Solid-Sized Sweet Spot
  • Excellent Control
  • Great Spin
  • Good for Players of All Levels
  • Not Noisy
  • Approved by the USAPA
Cons:
  • No Paddle Cover
  • Not the Best Power Performance
  • Not the Most Durable Option

Rally Graphite PX Pickleball Paddle

The Best Pickleball Paddle for Beginners

rally graphite px pickleball paddle
  • Dimensions: 15.7″ L x 8.125″ W
  • Weight: 7.7-7.9 oz
  • Grip Size: 4 1/4‘’
  • Graphite Surface
  • Polypropylene Honeycomb Core
CHECK PRICES

This is one of the best-priced graphite paddles, which makes it perfect for beginners. Additionally, it also has an XL head and a large sweet spot, allowing the inexperienced players to have more control over their shots despite the lack of practice. The paddle comes in four different colors you can choose from.

The surface of the paddle is made from graphite, as we mentioned. However, the surface is also textured to ensure better spin in addition to control. The paddle also has a Poly honeycomb core, which provides a bit of a pop but the power is not the biggest strength of this paddle.

This paddle also comes with a perforated and cushioned grip to ensure comfort and prevent it from slipping due to moisture. The grip size is small, 4 1/4 inches. We loved the way the paddle felt in our hands and most reviews are quite positive. However, some users were not happy with the construction and durability of the paddle, especially the paddle’s edge guard.

Pros:
  • Excellent Control
  • Great Spin
  • Good for Players of All Levels
  • Not Noisy
  • Non-Slip Grip
  • Approved by the USAPA
Cons:
  • No Paddle Cover
  • Not the Best Power Performance
  • Not the Most Durable Option

Prince Spectrum Pro Pickleball Paddle

The Best Pickleball Paddle for Professionals

prince spectrum pro pickleball paddle
  • Dimensions: 15.34″ L x 8.14″ W
  • Weight: 7.2-7.6 or 7.7-8.3 oz
  • Grip Size: 4 1/8‘’ or 4 3/8’’
  • Composite (Fiberglass) Surface
  • Polypropylene Honeycomb Core
CHECK PRICES

If you are a professional player looking for a great all-around paddle, Prince Spectrum Pro is probably the hottest item on the market right now. It is a unique paddle with great features and a customizable weight and grip size. The paddle also comes in four different colors.

The first unique feature of the paddle is the shape, which is rounder compared to traditional pickleball paddles and more similar to tennis racquets. That means that the sweet spot on the racket is fairly large, possibly the biggest ever. Another revolutionary feature is the very thick poly honeycomb core. The core is unlike any other since it is 9/16-inches thick, much thicker than usual. The surface of the paddle is made from UV-coated fiberglass and it is textured to improve your spin shots.

In addition to all this, you can choose between the lightweight and medium-weight options, as well as between two grip sizes (4 1/8’’ and 4 3/8’’). All in all, it is a well-rounded paddle that provides impressive levels of power, control and spin.

Pros:
  • Very Large Sweet Spot
  • Excellent Control
  • Great Spin and Power
  • Good for Professional Players
  • Not Noisy
  • Approved by the USAPA
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • No Paddle Cover
  • Too Sophisticated for Beginners

Gamma Poly Core Pickleball Paddle

The Best Elongated Pickleball Paddle

gamma poly core pickleball paddle
  • Dimensions: 16.625″ L x 7.125″ W
  • Weight: 7.5-7.8 oz
  • Grip Size: 4 1/8‘’
  • Graphite Surface
  • Polypropylene Honeycomb Core
CHECK PRICES

This is the only elongated paddle on our list and it is one of the best pickleball paddles of this type on the market. This paddle, also known as Gamma Needle, is 16.625 inches long and 7.125 inches wide, which gives it the unique elongated look. This elongated design provides you with an excellent reach around the net.

Despite the elongated design, the paddle still has a large sweet spot, although not as big as some standard paddles. The paddle surface is made from graphite, ensuring great control. The core is made from Sense Poly proprietary material that reduces vibrations to make the shots more comfortable.

The handle is ribbed, perforated and cushioned, making it both comfortable and easy to control. The grip size is small, set at 4 1/8 inches, so it’s not a good choice for people with large hands. All in all, this paddle doesn’t lack anything compared to standard paddles but it does provide easier maneuverability and better reach.

Pros:
  • Great Control
  • Good Spin/Power Balance
  • Suitable for Professional Players
  • Not Noisy
  • Non-Slip Grip
  • Approved by the USAPA
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Only Comes in One Color
  • No Paddle Cover
  • Not Suitable for Beginners

How to Choose the Best Pickleball Paddle

So, you want to try out pickleball or maybe you already did and now you want to play this exciting new sport on a more serious level? In any case, next to choosing the best pickleball shoes, the selection of your pickleball paddle is the most important thing.

After all, pickleball is very similar to other racket sports. Just like choosing the best tennis racket can help you raise your game on a tennis court or the way that the right ping pong paddle can make you a table tennis master, choosing the right pickleball paddle is the first step to becoming a great pickleball player.

With that in mind, we have prepared a short guide to help you understand what features you need to consider when you buy a pickleball paddle.

Paddle Size and Weight

While there are some limitations to the size of the pickleball paddle you can use (combined length and width can’t exceed 24 inches and length can’t exceed 17 inches), you are generally free to choose the size and weight of your paddle.

The most common paddle size is 8 by 16 inches, followed by the elongated 7 by 17 inches paddle. However, if you are not interested in playing competitive matches, you can find a variety of oversized paddles on the market, with a wider hitting area.

When it comes to paddle weight, you can choose any weight that suits you. Pickleball paddles can weigh anywhere from 6 to 14 ounces. Paddles that weigh between 7.5 ounces and 8.5 ounces are considered medium weight, while anything outside of that range is considered light and heavy.

Lighter paddles provide more control but less power, while the heavier paddles provide more power and less control. Additionally, heavier paddles require more arm strength and they can hurt your elbow – go with a lighter paddle if you suffer from tennis elbow or some similar problem.

In general, heavier pickleball paddles are better suited for beginners, while lighter paddles are more common amongst professionals since they require a faster reaction time from players. However, the best choices for beginners are medium-weight paddles because they are a good starting point and allow you to find your preference.

Grip Size

Another crucial feature of pickleball paddles is the grip size. You need a size that will fit in your hand comfortably, so your hand size is the crucial factor to consider. Grip sizes for pickleball paddles are broken down into increments of 1/8 inches and almost all grip sizes are in the range between 4 and 4 1/2 inches in circumference.

If the grip size is too small the paddle may slip out of your hand. If it is too large, you may not be able to control the paddle properly since you will struggle to wrap your hand around it.

On the other hand, a smaller grip size allows you to control your spin better thanks to the increased wrist action while the larger grips offer more stability.

The easiest way to determine your grip size is to consider your height. In general, the 4-inch grip is best suited for players under 5’2”, the 4 1/4-inch grip works well for players between 5’3” and 5’8”, while the players over 5’9” usually work best with the 4 1/2-inch grip.

You can also use this print-out chart to help you determine the best grip size to suit your hand size.

Paddle Material

There are no limitations to the material used to make pickleball paddles but some of the most common materials include wood, graphite, polymer plastic, composite, fiberglass, etc.

Additionally, different materials can be used for the paddle core. The most popular for their strength and durability are aluminum, polypropylene and Nomex (a man-made textile into powerful fibers).

Wood

Wood is the base material for pickleball paddles – all paddles for this sport were originally made of heavy chunks of wood. Of course, wooden paddles have been refined as the sport became more popular and hefty hardwood paddles were replaced for plywood.

So, wooden paddles today are much lighter but still equally durable and reliable. They are also the most affordable option. However, despite making them lighter than before, wooden paddles are still heavier than paddles made with other materials. That being said, their price and durability make them a good option for beginners and recreational players.

Polymer Plastics

Pickleball paddles made from polymer plastics are another affordable option used mostly by recreational players. They are made from a mix of materials to make them lightweight and ensure durability.

Of course, the tradeoff comes in performance but they are a good choice for new players who are getting used to the sport. Additionally, some of these paddles can be quite good.

Graphite

Some of the most popular pickleball paddles are made from graphite. They are mostly used by professionals because they are more expensive than other options. Graphite provides pure strength, great response and excellent control.

These paddles are more sophisticated than other materials and they are not only more responsive and quicker than other options, they are also lighter. If you are looking for a way to improve your game and take it to another level, switching to graphite paddle may be a smart idea.

Composite

As the name suggests, pickleball paddles made from composite can include a different mix of materials like fiberglass, graphite, aluminum, etc. In general, this blend offers high quality for serious players and competitive amateurs – the quality of composite paddles is somewhere between wood and graphite. Additionally, the price is also in the middle range.

You can expect solid control and power from composite paddles, as well as a highly responsive surface. These paddles are also lightweight and durable.

Other Features to Consider

In addition to these most important features, it is also important to ask yourself a few questions and consider a few more features before you choose a pickleball paddle.

Noise Levels

Pickleball is a noisy sport – the paddle will make a strong sound every time it connects with a pickleball.

However, some paddles are less noisy than others, which can be important if you live in a noise-sensitive area. If that’s the case with you, it would be smart to avoid paddles that have a Nomex core since they produce a lot of noise. Instead, choose a paddle with a polypropylene core since these paddles have a foam center that reduces noise.

Edge vs. Edgeless

Some pickleball paddles have protective edges or edge guards. These guards keep the edge of the paddle safe from chipping and other potential damages. However, these damages are mostly cosmetic in nature, although constant chipping can make your paddle less durable with time.

If you are not that worried about protecting your paddle, you can go for an edgeless paddle design. These paddles are popular with professionals because they are more aerodynamic, more lightweight and provide a larger “sweet spot”.

What Is Your Skill Level?

As we already mentioned, the paddle that you choose should correspond to your experience and skill level. If you are new to the game of pickleball, you should consider cheaper options like paddles made from wood or polymer plastics. These options are not just more affordable, they are also better suited for beginners compared to graphite or composite which require more skill.

What Is Your Playing Style?

Do you prefer to have more control and like to hit precise shots or do you rely on power to beat your opponents? It is important to choose a paddle that suits your natural playing style. For example, if you are a power player, go for a medium-weight paddle that can increase your precision without taking away your powerful shots.

Where Do You Play?

Pickleball can be played both indoors and outdoors and knowing which you prefer should impact your decision when you choose a new paddle. If you play mostly indoors, you can choose any paddle since there are no weather conditions to affect it badly.

Meanwhile, if you are playing outdoors, your paddle should be able to handle humidity and other elements. With that in mind, wooden paddles may not be the best choice since they are not as resistant to the elements as other materials. And don’t forget to consider the elements when you shop for the best outdoor pickleballs as well.

What Is Your Budget?

The price of a pickleball paddle is often a determining factor, especially if you shop on a budget and if you are new to the sport or you only play it for fun. Luckily, the range of prices for pickleball paddles is pretty stretchy – you can find paddles that cost less than $50, as well as those that cost a few hundred dollars.

Since most pickleball players enjoy the sport recreationally, they tend to go for options in between the two extremes. Of course, you should keep your budget in mind and choose the option that suits you the best.

Conclusion

The most important piece of equipment for pickleball is the paddle and choosing a paddle that suits your style, experience level and budget is crucial to your success at the court.

With that in mind, we hope that our guide and our selection of pickleball paddles were helpful enough to make your decision a bit easier.

About The Author

Vladimir Kovacevic

Vladimir is a former journalism student and an active freelance writer. He has a lifelong passion for sports, especially soccer, basketball and tennis. His basketball playing days ended after high school but he still likes to play hoops with his friends. Vladimir also likes to ride his bike at some of the most popular green areas in Belgrade, Serbia.

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