As pickleball grows as a sport, so does the technology used to make the paddles. Pickleball paddles started out being made out of leftover scrap wood as shown in this awesome video by Pickleball Channel…
The Nomex Core
The first light-weight composite core put into pickleball paddles was the Nomex honeycomb core. Nomex technically is a “a registered trademark for flame-resistant meta-aramid material developed in the early 1960s”, according to Wikipedia. This is the original cardboard-like material that is then dipped into resin to toughen it up. A fun property of this core is while it’s extremely tough while applying pressure down onto the honeycomb core, it is squishy while squeezing on the side of the core (as shown below).
The Aluminum Core
The second honeycomb core found in pickleball paddles is aluminum. Aluminum cores are exactly what they sound like: honeycomb-shaped cells made of the metal aluminum.
Aluminum cores are well-known for being the best at providing “touch”. We consider touch to be maneuverability, ball placement and finesse at the net, or being able to perfectly place your shot. Aluminum honeycomb core is slightly softer than Nomex, meaning the ball pops off just a bit slower which gives you more time to manipulate the ball. Aluminum cores are usually quieter than Nomex cores as well.
The Polymer Core
The newest core is polymer, which is basically a plastic blend developed specifically for pickleball. Just like the other two cores, it’s laid out in a honeycomb pattern.
Polymer cores are the softest and quietest cores on the market. Because it is a plastic, each hit is quieter since the surface isn’t quite as hard. Lots of communities with noise restrictions list paddles with polymer cores the most frequently on their “Quietest” or “Approved” paddle list. Because polymer is the softest core, you’ll find that these paddles give you an immense amount of control over shot placement.
What’s your favorite type of pickleball paddle core?