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Best Pickleball Paddles

Updated December 2023
Bottom line
Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Franklin Sports Pro Pickleball Paddle
Franklin Sports
Pro Pickleball Paddle
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Durable & Rugged
Bottom Line

A professional-quality paddle with superior durability.

Pros

This paddle uses MaxGrit technology to reduce vibrations for improved control and precision. The fiberglass surface layer provides a larger sweet spot, making it a great paddle for beginners.

Cons

Some reports of the surface grit wearing off too fast.

Best Bang for the Buck
JP WinLook Premium Pickleball Paddles Set
JP WinLook
Premium Pickleball Paddles Set
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Portable Convenience
Bottom Line

A great package that comes with everything you need to begin playing.

Pros

The paddles have a big sweet spot and are comfortable to play with. The honeycomb core allows the paddles to be lightweight. Comes with a great carrying case and some balls to begin playing.

Cons

The face of the paddle is smooth instead of textured, which some customers dislike.

ONIX Graphite Z5 Graphite Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle
ONIX
Graphite Z5 Graphite Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle
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Best for Beginners
Bottom Line

A great beginner paddle for those who are new to the game but want to advance their skills.

Pros

Features a wide-body paddle manufactured for ideal ball control. Textured graphite face and honeycomb core. Offers medium weight with a sizeable sweet spot.

Cons

The handle is a bit slippery compared to other models.

Play Paddles Pickleball Paddle
Play Paddles
Pickleball Paddle
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Most Stylish
Bottom Line

This paddle comes in 14 cute designs such as “bacon and eggs” and “watermelon.”

Pros

It uses a special polypropylene core for extra durability without affecting your game, plus a carbon fiber graphite surface for better control of the ball. The grip is cushioned and the edges are hit-resistant.

Cons

The paddle is a little too expensive unless you play regularly.

FILA Pickleball Paddles Set of 2
FILA
Pickleball Paddles Set of 2
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Trusted Brand
Bottom Line

Everything you need for a pickleball session from a trusted brand in sports equipment.

Pros

Includes two paddles, two outdoor pickleball balls, and a mesh carry bag. The paddles are made with wood for durability. Their large sweet spot makes them great to play with.

Cons

The paddles are best for beginners.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 
HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

30
Models
Considered
90
Consumers
Consulted
8
Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for Best pickleball paddles

If you've never played pickleball, you might not know what a pickleball paddle looks like, let alone how it works. It looks like an oversize table tennis paddle or a solid racquetball racket. The paddles are made of wood, fiberglass, polypropylene, composite, graphite and other materials and used to bat a hollow plastic ball back and forth over a net.

The ideal pickleball paddle varies from individual to individual and depends on skill level. When you’re learning the game, an inexpensive wooden paddle is fine, but serious players opt for paddles made of lighter materials that offer a more dynamic response. While you’re learning, you might also want a paddle with a plastic edge around the rim that helps protect it when you accidentally scrape it on the court.

We checked out the top pickleball paddles on the market and found the Franklin Sports Pro pickleball paddle to be the best. This well-built model has a large sweet spot, a durable build and lightweight construction that combine to make it an instant favorite.

Best pickleball paddles

Franklin Sports Pro Pickleball Paddle

This pickleball paddle is a premium option. It weighs 7.7 to 8 ounces and has a 5.6-inch handle with a cushioned grip for maximum comfort. The paddle’s satisfying responsiveness and impressive power come from its rugged polypropylene core and large sweet spot. The proprietary MaxGrit surface not only dampens vibrations but also enables controlled spin for precision play. This paddle, which comes in five colors, is approved by the USA Pickleball Association for competitive and tournament play.

Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle

This graphite and carbon fiber pickleball paddle from a leading manufacturer helps beginner and advanced players get the most out of their skills. Players at every level like this popular paddle for its highly responsive play and optimum control. The flared handle shape mimics that on a tennis racket, and the 4.25-inch grip is comfortable for most players. The wider body makes this paddle a bit heavier than some, at 7.5 to 8.2 ounces. The edge guard protects the paddle from scrapes. This model comes in over a dozen colors and meets all USA Pickleball requirements, making it acceptable for official tournament play.

Head Radical XL Pickleball Paddle

Head is a respected manufacturer of sporting equipment and apparel known for its premium, high-quality products like skiing and tennis gear. This Head pickleball paddle features a polypropylene core and a graphite surface texture for superior shot placement and spin. This elongated paddle is narrower and lighter (7.6 ounces) than beginner paddles and designed to give advanced players the power they desire. The honeycomb core and Ergo Grip absorb vibrations for greater control and comfort. This model is best for the experienced competitive player who is looking for a superior paddle.

Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle

If you’re serious about pickleball, this well-balanced graphite paddle will catch your eye. Paddletek has prioritized speed and precision and designed this paddle with satisfying response and a large sweet spot to give players the superior control and accuracy they need. It’s a top choice for aggressive competitors. The textured graphite surface lets you add the perfect amount of game-winning spin to the ball. The high-tack performance grip ensures you can hold the paddle with confidence, while the edge guard gives you peace of mind.

Amazin' Aces Pickleball Set

Not everyone is leaping out of the gate hoping to become a professional pickleball competitor. Some people just want to try the game to see if it’s a good fit for them and their friends and family. If you’re looking for an affordable way to begin your pickleball adventure, this set comes with four paddles, four balls and one carry bag. The design is simple, though the paddles are made of maple and, at 10 ounces, heavier than the paddles experienced players prefer. Still they have a large sweet spot and a comfortable, cushioned grip. The entire collection costs less than what you might expect to pay for a single high-performance paddle. The no-question-asked one-year warranty is a welcome bonus.

Joola Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16 Pickleball Paddle

Joola, a leader in table tennis equipment for over 70 years, is the official paddle sponsor of top-ranked pickleball player Ben Johns and the Professional Pickleball Association Tour. Joola and Johns have teamed up to create a high-end line of pickleball equipment. This polypropylene and carbon model is best for experienced competitive players. A special foam injected into the paddle perimeter contributes to its stability and consistent performance. This paddle ranks in the top 10% for control, power and spin, giving you a decisive advantage on the court. 

Selkirk S2 Amped Pickleball Paddle

The Selkirk S2 is an impressive pickleball paddle made with proprietary technology. High-end performance is the goal, and the FiberFlex fiberglass construction has a thicker than average core to provide excellent cushioning and reduce vibrations for a smoother offensive game. The large surface has been manufactured to generate unparalleled ball spin. These paddles are tested and approved by the USA Pickleball Association for tournament play, and they’re the choice of some of the sport's top players like Tyson McGuffin and Enrique Ruize.

What to know before you buy a pickleball paddle

Game basics 

Pickleball is played with either two or four players. At 44 by 20 feet, the court is smaller in area than a tennis court but has the same surface (and pickleball lines are often overlaid on tennis courts). Also, the net for pickleball is positioned slightly lower (34 inches in the middle) than the net for tennis (36 inches).

Pickleball uses a hollow plastic ball with holes in it that resembles a Wiffle ball but is smaller. After the ball is served (underhand), it must bounce once outside the non-volley zone near the net (called the “kitchen”) before being returned. The serving team must also let the returned ball bounce once before hitting it. After that, as long as the player is outside the kitchen, they can volley the ball. 

Points are only scored by the serving team. In doubles, if the first server on a team loses the point, the second team member serves until they lose a point and the serve goes to the other team. The first team to score 11 points with a two-point lead wins. Games can also be played to 15 or 21 points.

Paddle materials

Pickleball paddles are made of graphite, carbon fiber, fiberglass, combinations of these or wood. Each material has its pros and cons.

Graphite: High-end paddles are made of graphite. These paddles are light and thin but incredibly strong. They are good for players who depend on finesse rather than power. The higher price of graphite paddles makes them a better option for serious players.

Carbon fiber: This is a different form of graphite. It is also rigid and light, but it’s more durable because of the way it’s constructed. Carbon fiber paddles offer great control and spin and about the same power as graphite paddles. 

Fiberglass: This is probably the most common material in paddles used by recreational players. The paddles are incredibly durable and surprisingly light. They offer a lot of power, but the sweet spot is smaller, so control can be more difficult.

Hybrid: You’ll see many pickleball paddles that are made of a combination of materials. The particular combination can offer lighter weight, greater control, a larger sweet spot, more power or other desired characteristics.

Wood: The first pickleball paddles were made of wood. It’s inexpensive and provides good enough performance and durability for kids or beginners. But it’s heavy compared to the other materials and offers little in the way of control or spin, so it’s never recommended for competitive play. 

What the paddle’s core is made of and its thickness are just as important as the rest of the paddle. Polymer is by far the most popular because of its control, power, low noise and durability.

Paddle size and weight

For competition, USA Pickleball states that the size of a pickleball paddle (including the handle) cannot exceed 24 inches, while the paddle part can’t exceed 17 inches. There are no restrictions when it comes to thickness. The average paddle is 8 inches wide by 15 inches long. There are longer or narrower paddles and longer or shorter handles. The paddle you choose will depend on comfort and your skill level.

The ideal weight of a paddle is a preference. A player needs to swing a light paddle harder for a powerful shot, but they have more control. Conversely, a heavier paddle can give a player less control but more power, but a heavy paddle is more tiring.

Edged vs. edgeless

The edge guard on a pickleball paddle helps protect it from damage that may occur from hitting it on the ground during gameplay. The raised edge guard can affect control if you hit the ball with the edge. You might opt to sacrifice this protection to get an edgeless paddle to maximize the paddle’s playing surface and sweet spot.

Grip 

It’s important that the grip on your pickleball paddle is the right size for maximum control while playing. To find your grip size, measure from the middle crease in your palm to the tip of your index finger. This distance is usually somewhere between 4 and 5 inches. When you hold the pickleball paddle as you would when playing, there should be a finger’s width of space between the fingertips and palm of the hand that’s holding the paddle. 

Tips for playing pickleball

  • Learn the fundamentals. Before you can have fun playing pickleball, you need to learn the basics. Take the time to develop skills such as serving, volleying and dinking. After learning the basics, you can adapt them to your style of play.
  • Don’t be afraid to play near the net. The fastest, most exciting pickleball game is played right near — but not inside — the kitchen line.
  • Don’t hit on the run. Whenever possible, set yourself up for a shot with a solid stance. You’ll have more control over where you place the ball.
  • Aim for your opponent’s feet. One strategy that works in almost all situations is to aim the ball at your opponent’s feet. This puts them at a disadvantage because they’ll need to hit the ball up to get it over the net.
  • Watch your placement for the overhead smash. As in tennis, the overhead smash can be a devastating, point-winning shot, but not if you’re in the kitchen when you hit it! You can step in the kitchen to hit a ball only if the ball bounces first.

FAQ

Q. How much do pickleball paddles cost? 

A. The most affordable paddles are wood and cost less than $50. These are heavier than other paddles, but they’re fine for kids and beginners on a budget. For $50 to $100, you can buy paddles made of better materials that deliver good control of the ball without being too heavy. High-end, high-performance paddles can cost as much as $200, which is probably more than most casual players want to spend.

Q. Why do some people put lead tape on the edge of their pickleball paddle?

A. When you add lead tape around the edge of a paddle, you add weight. If you don’t have a health condition, such as tennis elbow, that would make the extra weight a detriment, then your game can benefit in two ways. First, the added weight gives you more power, which can give you an edge with overhead shots. Second, and maybe more important, the weight increases the size of the paddle’s sweet spot. This makes it easier for you to block and dink, two low-power strategic shots.

Q. Do I need a heavier or lighter pickleball paddle if I have tennis elbow?

A. The best paddle to get if you have tennis elbow is one that weighs 7 to 8 ounces. A paddle that’s too light requires you to swing harder and doesn’t absorb the shock as well. If you choose a paddle that’s too heavy, the weight could inflame the nerve and cause you pain.

Q. Can I make any alterations to my pickleball paddle?

A. According to pickleball rules, you can. However, these alterations are limited to edge guard tape, lead tape and changes in the grip, such as adding overgrip tape. You may also add markings for identification as long as they don’t change the texture of the paddle and they’re in good taste.

Q. What’s the difference between replacement grip and overgrip tape?

A. You use replacement grip tape when you’re dissatisfied with the grip that came on your paddle or when the original grip begins to wear. This process involves removing the old grip and replacing it with a new one. Overgrip is applied on top of the regular grip to reduce sweat buildup and give you greater comfort and more control.

Q. Who invented pickleball? 

A. While there are many accounts of how this sport originated, one seems to be more popular than all the others. In 1965, a congressman named Joel Pritchard wanted to create a game that his whole family could play. Using items he already had, he came up with pickleball.

Some say the name of the game comes from the family dog, Pickles, that kept stealing the ball. However, other individuals cite a pickle boat, which is made up of a crew of leftover rowers who weren’t chosen by other teams, as being the inspiration for the name. 

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