Choosing the right beginner pickleball paddle

There are literally hundreds of different paddles available on the market and they all come in various shapes, sizes, weights, handles, materials and finishes! So how do you select the right paddle for you?

Matt Leete our resident expert and rapidly improving pickler has put together a guide focusing on his four ‘best picks’ for a great paddle with which to start your pickleball journey…

Watch out for some of Matt’s top beginner tips too!

I have selected four very popular beginner pickleball paddles. The four I have selected are from different manufactures, but they have subtle differences between them. The four paddles are:

One of the main aspects of beginner pickleball paddles is the price. The majority of these come in at the lower end of the price range, mainly due to the materials used and to introduce you to the sport. You can get a good quality beginner paddle for £50-70.

The properties of the beginner paddles normally weigh slightly less, have a thinner grip circumference and more of a traditional shape.

Beginner paddles normally weigh less than intermediate/advanced paddles due to the core and handle circumference being slightly thinner. With the paddle being light, this enables the player to have more manoeuvrability and to have less strain on the arm and wrist, especially if you haven’t done these kinds of movements/strokes before.

After playing for a while, you will start to build on the muscles needed for pickleball, you may feel like you need to upgrade your paddle. This might be because you have improved as a player and need a more advanced paddle, or you want a new paddle that will give you more speed or spin etc. When you move up in the paddle ranges, you may feel like you will be able to cope with a heavier paddle which will give you more momentum behind the ball for driving shots and volleys.

Out of the four paddles selected the Oneshot X is the lightest paddle.

Wear appropriate footwear. There’s nothing worse than trying to move round the court and not having the confidence in your shoes. This could be support round your ankle or the outside of your foot, when changing direction, or indeed the grip on the underside of the shoe.

A thin grip circumference is great for beginner paddles. There is nothing worse than trying to play with a paddle where the grip is too thick for your hand. This can cause strain/stress on the elbow and may even contribute to tennis elbow. So having a thinner grip circumference means the paddles are accessible for all.

Even if you have big hands, you can add overgrip to the handle of your paddle to suit your needs. You can always add tape to the handle, but you cannot take it off. This means that the majority of beginner paddles will suit most adults and even most teenagers if they are looking at getting into the sport.

The Joola Essentials has the thinnest grip circumference out of the four selected paddles.

The traditional shape of pickleball paddles are ideal for the beginner range as they offer more surface area for the ball to hit and therefore they have a slightly bigger sweet spot. The more often you can hit the sweet spot on your paddle, the more consistent your different types of shots will be.

The traditional shape of a pickleball paddle normally measures 16in in length and 8in in width. The overall combined length and width of a pickleball paddle cannot exceed 24 inches. This type of paddle shape offers a great combination between flexibility, spin, balance, and power.

Practice your dinking shots. In doubles dinking is a very important part of the game, not allowing your opponent to get in with the first attacking shot can be worth many valuable points in a tight doubles match. Even if its 5/10 minutes at the start of your session, practice down the line and cross court dinks. This will also help you improve your touch and feel on the ball.

The Onix Z3 paddle has a slightly wider face than average. This is to increase the surface area of the paddle to make it more consistent and easier to make contact with the ball. The more consistent shots you play, the longer the rallies become, which means you will improve at a faster rate.

It is also a popular paddle due to the vibrant colours it comes in. It comes in 5 different colours so you and your friends can level the playing field with the same equipment but stand out while doing so!

The Vulcan V330 Hybrid pickleball paddle comes with a graphite face. Graphite surfaces are the most durable so you’ll know that the paddle should outlast your ‘beginner phase’ of your game.

Graphite also tends to be more rigid which gives you a softer touch on the ball, so when you are playing your dinking shots or 3rd shot drops, you will be able to control and feel the ball better on the paddle face.

Make sure you choose a paddle that is suitable for your level and hand size. Start off with a controlled paddle, get used to the feel of the game, this helps by having a slow/controlled paddle so you can develop at a faster rate. This is because you will be able to swing the paddle harder without worrying about the ball flying out the back of the court. Also try the hand measurement exercise, so you have a rough idea of which grip circumference to go for!

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