Is It Possible to Play Competitively with a Wood Paddle?

Wood paddles are usually synonymous with “beginner paddles” in the pickleball community due to their low cost, heavy weight and supposed lack of finesse. But ask Jeremy Rosenstein’s opinion and you’ll hear a different story!

Jeremy works as a sports videographer for the NBA, WNBA and Big Ten Athletics. He’s taken his wood paddle from practice to tournament play many times, and despite receiving funny looks from the competition, no one doubts his paddle’s viability once he’s standing on the winners’ podium. He’s an advocate of player skill determining the outcome of matches rather than the quality of one’s gear, but he also believes that the power and defensive capabilities of wood paddles deserve more attention.

Jeremy Rosenstein

Jeremy Rosenstein

Listen to Jeremy’s story and let us know if you change your opinion on wood paddles:

My name is Jeremy Rosenstein and I’m known as “The Guy with the Wooden Paddle” at every tournament I attend. Competitive players comment and make fun of the fact that I use the wooden Swinger paddle to the best of its ability. They all ask questions and have the same doubts, wondering why I’d use a “cheap beginner’s paddle.” What they don’t know is that I started playing with this precise, well-crafted paddle from the very beginning of my pickleball journey and have never wanted to trade it out!

My choice in paddle shows that this sport is not about using something that will give you a crazy power advantage, but that you can make the most out of your own talents and footwork. For me, that means using a paddle that is fundamentally sound and solid on any outdoor/indoor surface. I have hundreds of photos at tournaments and round robins where I’ve won with my Swinger paddle and no one can believe that I come out victorious with a basic, blue-collar paddle.

I hope my experiences can promote this paddle and put it on the map for other players. It’s gone up against the most powerful composite paddles with their honeycomb cores and outshone them. I learned how to hit hard consistently while also harnessing its finesse capabilities for angled volleys and deadening dinks. This paddle isn’t only suitable for schools and clubs looking to get something at a great price, but for recreational/tourney players as well.

Jeremy Rosenstein

Some players believe the best paddles are those with all the bells and whistles which cost a pretty penny, but since 2014 I’ve been playing with the same durable Swinger. It’s stood the test of time and you know the ball will come off the face consistently. It provides stellar slice and spin variety shots. There’s no edge guard to cause mis-hits. The paddle has a simple design with a wrist strap that provides security and a comfortable grip you can rely on even in the midst of sweaty, steamy indoor and outdoor tourney conditions.

It has won me so many trophies, medals, positive recognition and accolades. People can’t help but talk about “the guy with the wooden paddle” at tournaments all over the midwest and beyond. They see for themselves how the Swinger brings shot-making ability and reliability to my game—and it could do the same for theirs with hardly any money out of pocket.

I hope my experiences shine the light on wood paddles, especially the Swinger, and their viability for players of all levels.

Jeremy Rosenstein

6 thoughts on “Is It Possible to Play Competitively with a Wood Paddle?

  1. Hello enthusiasts. Just go the swinger wood paddle and out of the gate i experienced more power than i need. I have to really pull back my game to keep the ball in. Spin is great and my dink game instantly got better as i did not have to hit as hard. And returning some close ground bounce shots went dink because of increased action off the paddle. Fulfill your curiosity and get one. Lets bring some light on the benefits of a wood paddle. I think its a good path to focus on the basics instead of chasing the paddle tech train. I hope this was helpful . only 2 days in I love the paddle. Also get ready for the jokes like . did you buy that paddle on purpose. Haha

  2. I have played with composite, aluminum and wood paddles. The best one for me is the wood paddle — specifically the 7-ply Diller wood paddle. I am keen to compare it with the wood Swinger paddle.

    The sweet spot is more consistent with wood and it returns the ball with a bit more power. Many other non-wood paddles are sensitive to off-centre hits.

    Weighing my particular Diller paddle came in at 9 oz. The other composites came in at about 8 oz on average. I doubt the 1 oz. in difference would make enough of a difference to my play.

    With the wood paddle, I can slice, spin, dink and drive at will with intentioned shot placements. In my small town community, I am one of the better players using a wood paddle. Every now and then I borrow a friend’s composite paddle just in case to see what I could be missing. I keep returning to my wood paddle.

    Composite can mute and deaden the feel of the ball. If you are the kind of player that wants the paddle to talk to you and give you instant, communicative feedback, a wood paddle will do that very well due to the distinctive sound it makes.

  3. I am elated to read this!
    First off – Lori, you are wrong. Perhaps you’ve been influenced by marketing, or by others who’ve been influenced by marketing. Wood provides the most natural feel of all materials, and is no more the cause of “elbow or other arm issues” than is any other material.

    I’ve been playing tennis for 40 years. I began playing pickleball last year. I went to a town-run pickleball league, and grabbed one of the two models of wood paddles they had for those who didn’t have their own paddle.
    The paddle I grabbed was the Swinger.

    Because of my tennis experience, I took to pickleball like a fish to water. I was among the best players in the league from my first day playing.
    I tried probably 2 dozen other paddles last summer – the ‘latest, greatest’, the ‘high tech’, etc. – I borrowed them from others, I tried different models that a salesman would bring from time to time… NOTHING matched the natural comfort I felt with the Swinger. Nothing even came close. Though the others would affectionately call me crazy for using it, I continued to be among the best players in the league with the Swinger.

    And so I can fully appreciate Jeremy’s story. And I think it’s wonderful that, while others question him, he’s letting the paddle do the talking by winning tournaments with the wooden Swinger.

    As I mentioned, I’ve played tennis for 40 years. When I began playing, wooden racquets were still on the market. No, I don’t still use a wooden tennis racquet today – it’s simply not feasible to be competitive in tennis today using wood. But I do use racquets that are almost 30 years old, from the early 1990s. They feel best to me. They have weight and flexibility, whereas the newer racquets (from about the year 2000 onward) are too stiff and too light.

    Whereas tennis racquet models used to be on the market for decades, today, models are changed every 2 years or so. Purely for profit, as the racquet companies try to convince people that merely different is ‘better’. I have seen all kinds of BS marketing for tennis racquets over the years.
    Every model of tennis racquet promises ‘more power and control’. If that were even 25% true, we would all be able to hit a dime on the other side of the net, and be able to hit a ball through the fence with very little effort by now.

  4. Wooden paddles have no padding or material to absorb shock! I strongly advise that no one use them. That’s how to get tennis elbow or other arm issues. This happened to me after playing with one for a year. Any knowledgeable physical therapist should know this. People feel so invincible until something happens. Everyone is vulnerable! Lori H.

    • Great intro information. Just ordered a swinger from pickleball central. I like the old school thinking and the focus on fundamental skills. I am going to chase that avenue. Also when you do get better and perhaps realize some of the benefits of power and focused shots ( no dead stick) feel when the ball missing the sweet spot. That thinking will spread.

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