Do Smaller Paddles Have Bigger Sweet Spots?

Growing Trend: Teardrop/Tennis-Style Paddles

Many people believe that the greatest strength of teardrop or racquet-like paddles is their added reach. While this is a plus, along with the fact that a longer handle allows players to utilize a double-handed backhand, there are two other strong benefits that often go unnoticed.

Small Paddles are Big Sweeties

The first is that a teardrop paddle’s sweet spot actually spans more of the face than it does on a standard, rectangular paddle. As you’ll see below, due to the fact that the face is tapered near the handle and balloons near the center, you’ll find that the majority of the face reacts with a viable pop. Even if you end up hitting near the edge, these types of paddles provide a lively reaction.

Sweet Spot Comparison

A sweet spot comparison, the Z5 vs the Power Play Pro

In comparison, while a boxy shape offers more surface area overall, the sweet spot is only relegated to the central area of the paddle. A bigger face does offer more opportunity to hit the ball, and hence, can be helpful for beginners that need as much playing surface as possible. The trade-off is that the ball won’t react with as much vigor near the edges as it would with a teardrop paddle.

In essence, with a teardrop paddle you end up with around 90% of the face being “poppy” and usable, where only 75% or so of a rectangular paddle’s face is as reactive. This means that a small paddle can provide surprisingly big benefits.

Roll Your Way to Victory

The other major plus to having a longer paddle is creating space for the ball to roll across its surface. Without arguing whether a textured surface provides more spin, the fact stands that a smooth surface reduces friction between the ball and paddle, creating opportunity to build up spin as it rolls along the surface.

Of course, you need enough space to do this and develop a “scooping” motion instead of popping the ball away. The elongated shape lends itself to this, and in fact, one of our pros developed several paddles with long faces for this very reason.

The paddles in question are the Encore GP and Omni 30P XO. The Omni definitely has a stronger taper than the GP, but both provide a lengthy face you can use to practice a rolling swing.

Other good paddle options with tapered, long faces are the Evoke, Elite Finesse and Power Play Pro. These paddles are weighted a little differently than most, but once you get used to them, a lot of picklers end up liking the extra surface area and unique tactics they can provide during play.

Do teardrop paddles give you a competitive edge? Or do you think they’re more of a “niche” pick?

5 thoughts on “Do Smaller Paddles Have Bigger Sweet Spots?

  1. I like your findings and depending on the players strokes the design could give player better performance or results.

    IMO I have tried several different paddles and what I think feels good to the person and what they get use to. As far as rolling ball off the paddle, any high level tennis player can put huge amount of topspin or slice on the PB on ground strokes or volleys even though its on the face millisecond compared to tennis ball on tennis racket.

    I think a better comparison of paddles would be how the ball reacts when hit in the sweet spots. which IMO heavier paddle is superior? all the paddles I played with I always come back to the one that feels good to me.

    Enjoyed, Thanks

    Like

  2. Sorry Laura, I totally disagree with your analysis of the sweet spot and spin/surface. Physics doesn’t agree with your assumptions. Also, you are not accounting for the handle of the paddle which affects the location of the sweet spot in an adverse manner.

    Like

    • That’s fine, you are certainly allowed to disagree. 🙂 Whether or not a ball can actually “roll” for an extended period of time on a paddle, it is a good image for players to keep in mind per Prem’s article, and based on Glen’s experiences he did notice a difference in play, which I thought was worth mentioning. At the least, the impulse-momentum theorem supports the thought that the longer a paddle is in contact with a ball, the higher the momentum.

      Like

  3. I thought the ball was on your racquet for 250ths of a second. If so then I can’t see the ball rolling along the paddle.

    Like

    • I don’t know the exact amount of time most pickleballs are on a paddle, and you’re right, I doubt it’s long – but I based this article on what Glen told me about his play style and I trust his word (and skill)! There’s a video of him playing with the Encore GP on the product page (http://www.pickleballcentral.com/Encore_GP_Composite_Pickleball_Paddle_p/eng-gp.htm) and you’ll notice he hits with an underhanded, scooping motion a lot of the time rather than “popping” it back and forth, unless the ball is coming at him quickly. Since most paddles aren’t very textured the only way they can develop spin is mostly through longer contact with the paddle surface, which is why follow-through is important. The “Pickleball Guru” Prem Carnot also discusses a scooping/bowling motion on this page: http://pickleballhelp.com/4-secrets-for-how-to-hit-the-dropshot – It’s interesting stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s