The Three Most Important Things to Consider When Selecting a Pickleball Paddle
There are so may paddles to choose from nowadays that sorting out which paddle is best for you can be a bit overwhelming! The best way to narrow the choices is to try out various paddles, but for many of us that option is not available. So here are three key considerations for everyone considering which pickleball paddle to purchase.
Weight is arguably the most important factor when choosing a paddle. Pickleball paddles can range from 6 to 14 ounces. Most graphite and other composite paddles weigh from 6 to 9 ounces. Weight influences how a paddle feels when you pick it up and swing it on the court. For someone without pre-existing injuries, your choice of paddle weight is entirely up to your personal fitness level and comfort. A heavier paddle will help you to drive the ball with power, but will give you less control or “touch”. A lighter paddle will not provide as powerful a drive but will increase ball control and feel. There is conflicting advice given on what weight of paddle to use if you have, for instance, tennis elbow but the majority of sufferers tend to suffer fewer problems when using a middle to heavyweight paddle with the correct grip size for their hand.
There are four categories of paddles: wood paddles (prices range from £10-£15), composite paddles from £35 -£80), graphite paddles (from £60-£115) and premium paddles (£85 upwards to £150). Graphite paddles are composite paddles with graphite hitting surfaces which tends to make them a tad more expensive. Premium paddles tend to be the latest and usually the most expensive paddles that are generally endorsed/used by celebrity players. Wood paddles are the least expensive but are also the heaviest and don’t provide that wonderful “pop” that players love. Most players will graduate quickly from wood to a composite/graphite paddle so if you are new to pickleball and looking for your first paddle, I would recommend that you go for a medium priced composite or graphite paddle straight away. If you are someone who always wants the best, go for a premium paddle!
3. Grip Size.
It is important to play with a paddle that has the correct grip circumference for your hand. Playing with a paddle grip that is too big may cause the paddle to slip in your hand. For this reason if you are trying to decide between two sizes, try the smaller size first. A smaller grip can always be made bigger by the addition of an over-grip. Smaller grips allow for more wrist action, which helps you to put spin on the ball and enhances control. This wrist action also helps to produce powerful serves and facilitates quick hand changes for those players who switch hands during play. A larger grip will provide more stability and be easier on your arm, so it is important to either find the "just right" size for your hand or to customise the grip on your paddle so that it perfectly fits your hand.
If you don't know your hand size then here are a couple of ways to find out:
- Height test: this informal test is supposed to work for both men and women. Remember, if in doubt, go with a smaller grip.
Under 5'2": 4 inch grip
5'3" to 5'8": 4 1/4 inch grip
5'9" & taller: 4 1/2 inch grip
Ring Finger test
Hold your dominant palm up. Notice your palm has three major creases. Take a ruler and measure from the middle crease of your palm, up to the tip of your ring finger. This measurement should reflect the perfect grip size for you. If you are unsure between two sizes, choose the smaller size.
- Paddle Test: when trying several paddles use the following method to verify sizing. If you are unsure between two sizes, choose the smaller size.
Grip a paddle with your normal grip and see if you can slide the index finger of your other hand between your fingertips and the heel of your hand gripping the paddle. Your finger should fit snugly between the two without having to move your fingers. If you must shift your fingers farther away from the heel of the hand to get your index finger in between the two, the grip might be too small. If you have space between your index finger and your fingers or heel of your hand, the grip might be too large.