How to Make Your Own Pickleball Paddle

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Recently we posted a letter from a man who traveled to Moldova to volunteer at a camp for disadvantaged teens. He was a pickleball fan and knew that during his time there he would want to teach the kids how to play. He also knew that there was no money in the budget for paddles so he made his own. You can read about him here:

Inspired by his DIY (Do It Yourself) spirit, we thought we’d let others know how to fashion your own paddles should the mood – or need – strike.

Step 1: Start with a template. We’ve included one here (adapted from www.zerothousand.net)

Change the height and width to fit the specs you want and print it off on paper that’s large enough to fit the whole picture with some breathing room (11×17 should fit the bill).

Note: according to the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) Tournament Rule Book, “the most common paddle measurement is approximately 8” wide by 15 ¾” long. The combined length and width including any edge guard and butt cap shall not exceed 24”.

Step 2: Choose your paddle material and thickness. There is no restriction on thickness, but 3/8” is a common measurement. Every DYI paddle we’ve seen has been made from wood. Most are made from 5 or 7 layer plywood, while some are made from solid wood. High-tech materials like sheets of nomex or aluminum honeycomb with a graphite or fiberglass face are difficult to work with and can delaminate without a strong edge guard. Finding these high-tech materials is very challenging and expensive. We recommend sticking with wood for homemade paddles.

Note: according to the IFP “Paddle Material Specifications,” paddles “shall be made of relatively rigid, non-compressible material… That is the traditional concept of a paddle and that is why the game is not played with a stringed racquet. Paddles that produce a trampoline effect or an effect similar to a stringed racquet are specifically disallowed.”

Step 3: Cut out the template and affix it to your chosen paddle material using spray adhesive or similar glue product.

Step 4: Cut along the template guidelines using a cutting tool of your choice that is both accurate and strong enough given your chosen material.

Step 5: Remove the template from the paddle. Depending on what adhesive you used, removal may involve sanding, soaking, peeling, rubbing, or begging.

Step 6: Sand as needed to make all surfaces smooth and even. This could include the face and edges or anywhere your cutting tool went haywire.

Step 7: Customize your paddle face with paint, stickers, graphics, a picture of your ex, etc.

Note: back to the IFP rule book, “The paddle hitting surface shall not contain holes, indentations, rough texturing, tape, features that are reflective, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart additional or increased spin on the ball.”

Step 8: Build up the handle by gluing small pieces of wood or foam on either side of the handle. Wrap the handle with the tennis grip of your choice. Our most popular grip is the Gamma Ultra Cushion Contour Grip. Use electric tape at the top and bottom of the grip to create a polished look.  Almost all paddle grip sizes are between 4 to 4 ½“ in circumference. Smaller grips allow for more wrist action, which aids in putting spin on the ball and enhances control. A larger grip will provide more stability and be easier on your arm. You can also wrap the edges of the paddle with tape if desired. Common tapes to use are electrical, duct, and athletic.

Step 9: Send us a photo of your new, custom paddle! Send to anna@pickleballcentral.com or upload it to our Facebook page.

Step 10: Share this blog with all your DIY’er friends.

Step 11: Go rule the courts!  ….but don’t play in a tournament. Effective January 1, 2014 homemade paddles are not permitted in USA Pickleball Association sanctioned tournaments. Rule 2.E.5.

Don’t want to go through all these steps? You can pick up a great wood pickleball paddle for less than $15!

ZEN Pickleball Paddle – New from Onix Sports

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We can’t wait to get our hands on Steve Wong’s latest creation, the ZEN Pickleball Paddle.  The ZEN has an aluminum core and a high-end Gamma Contour Cushion grip.  According to the technical specs, the ZEN weighs between 7.3 – 7.5 ounces.  Steve says the paddle is one of his quieter models.

We love the design with the Chinese character Zen.  The paddle colors are supposed to be brilliant. The pictures sure look good.

We’ve ordered a bunch of the ZEN paddles and they are supposed to ship to us next week.  We’ll post on Facebook when our shipment arrives and the paddles are available for sale at the best place to buy pickleball paddles, PickleballCentral.com. 

There are lots of definitions for the word Zen.  I think the definition found in the Urban Dictionary best fits a great game of pickleball:

1. Zen
One way to think of zen is this: a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind. Zen is a way of being. It also is a state of mind. Zen involves dropping illusion and seeing things without distortion created by your own thoughts.  “Sun is warm, grass is green.”

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Edge Guards – love ‘em or hate ‘em? Three reasons I love ‘em

The black edge guard on most all graphite and composite paddles

The black edge guard on most all graphite and composite paddles

Many customers and several other people here at PickleballCentral.com,  don’t like the edge guards and claim the edge guards messes up their shots.   Manufactures have heard the complaints and are hard at work creating a truly breakthrough edge-less paddle.  There are a few good edgeless pickleball paddles on the market now such as Wilson’s BLX and  Wilson’s Champ  but I still prefer a paddle with an edge guard for three reasons:

#1. Protects the Core. There are at least three layers to every composite paddle – a top face, a core and a bottom face. The edge guard seals these three layers and protects them from de-laminating.  De-lamination is when the paddle face detaches from the core. De-laminated paddles are “dead”.  Sometimes small pieces of the core  break off and rattle around inside the paddle.

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De-lamination is when the paddle face detaches from the paddle’s core.

#2 . Play with Reckless Abandon.  The edge guard protects the paddle like the bumper on a car.  You don’t need to be precious with paddle. You can dive for those shots and not be too concerned about denting or scratching your paddle’s edge guard.

#3 Pop.  Maybe it’s just me but I think an edge guard gives the paddle more pop.  I like pop.

What about you? What is your position on edge guards?

- Anna

THE #1 Most Helpful Tool for Choosing a Pickleball Paddle….. Paddle Comparison Chart!

Tiny Paddle Chart


Pickleball Paddle Comparison Chart compares 41 of the world’s most popular pickleball paddles.

We’ve been using our Paddle Comparison Chart for months and it really is the very best tool in existence for guiding people to the right paddle.  We use it all day, everyday.  Just click on these underlined words, Paddle Comparison Chart,  and you’ll see the chart on our website. Some people might need to scroll down a little to see the chart on their computer screen.

The chart has the most current information possible.  Including the weights of the paddles we currently have in inventory. Pickleball paddles are still made mostly by small companies who make small quantities of paddles at a time. There are often variations of paddle weights between batches of paddles. To address this inconsistency, we hand-weigh every single paddle we sell and update our information so the correct weights are listed in each product description and on our Paddle Comparison Chart.

Share this chart with your friends, link to it from your club’s pickleball website. People will find it extremely interesting and helpful.  – Anna

Fiberglass vs. Graphite Paddles, what’s the difference?

Fiberglass paddles often weigh a little more that graphite paddles. Because they are a little heavier than graphite paddles, fiberglass paddles are considered to have more power. Graphite paddles are considered to have more control or finesse. Both graphite and fiberglass paddles are lightweight and strong. There is a general perception that graphite is better but no one has studied if there is a difference in how the ball comes off a graphite vs. fiberglass paddle.
What do you think? Is there a difference between to two paddle face materials?  – anna