Selecting the Right Paddle
Types of Pickleball Paddles
Paddles are usually categorized as one of three types, wood, a composite material, or graphite (carbon fiber). Wood paddles provide consistency in hitting and at a reasonable price point. Wood paddles tend to be much heavier than a composite paddle. When comparing a paddle made of wood and one of a composite material or graphite, the weight differential can be quite obvious however a wood paddle is still not considered to be too heavy to play with. The real difference is found as you play, the longer you play the more impact a heavier paddle will have as you become tired. Differences in wood paddles are typically the type of wood, the number of wood plus and the handles. Handle circumferences can vary and it really depends on your grip size as to which is better for your play.
The paddles categorized as composite and graphite (carbon fiber) can have more substantial differences. There are three main components to the paddles: the surface material, the core material, and whether or not the paddle has an edge guard. The surface of a composite paddle is typically fiberglass while the surface of a graphite paddle is actually graphite which is also known as carbon fiber.
Paddle Surface Types:
- Wood: Wood surface
- Composite: Fiberglass surface
- Graphite: Graphite surface also known as Carbon Fiber
- Wood: A wood core, usually a multiple-ply wood
- Composite: A core made up of multiple materials which could have various resins, carbon fiber, fiberglass
- Nomex: A honeycomb core usually made of DuPont Nomex® paper coated with a heat resistant resin
- Aluminum: A honeycomb core made of aluminum, strong and light
- Edge Guard: An edge guard is a piece of material wrapped around the paddle face edge to keep the paddle from chipping but creates a slight lip around the edge of the paddle and may create a miss hit or mis-guided ball if hit
- No Edge: A paddle that does not have an edge guard and therefore has a consistent flat surface providing the widest possible playing surface without the risk of a miss hit ball
Which Type of Paddle is Right for You?
Wood surface paddle. Generally heavier than composite or graphite paddles. Less expensive that than composite or graphite. Great for beginners who want to learn the game without making a big investment.
Fiberglass surface. Lighter than wood but also more expensive. Used by all skill levels - from beginner to advanced. A bit heavier than graphite and thus associated with more power.
Graphite surface also known as Carbon Fiber. Used by all skill levels - from beginner to advanced. Generally they are the lightest paddle. As they are a bit lighter than composite they are considered to have a bit more control and finesse. However, they still can provide excellent power.
What does all this mean? Let’s recap: when it comes to pickleball paddles you have a choice of either wood or non-wood. Wood paddles provide a lower cost and a cost effective way to start playing. Non-wood paddles are either composite or graphite (carbon fiber). Composite is the next step up from wood paddles providing a much lighter paddle. Graphite paddles are considered by many the best technology available providing an excellent combination of strength and weight reduction. Select a paddle that best suits your budget and skill level and start playing pickleball today!