Finding Your First Paddle

Written by John C., Director of Vendor Relations at PickleballCentral

So many of us have been introduced to the game of pickleball by friends, family or chance only to become hopelessly addicted. We start with borrowed paddles and soon can’t wait to get our very own. Then when we go shopping and are just overwhelmed with all the choices. How do you pick your very first pickleball paddle?

It starts with some basics. Have you played racquet sports in the past? Is there a different type of sport you have played? Or, is this your first foray into athletics? To all of you we say, “welcome to the wonderful world of pickleball!”

New to Sports/None of the Above – look for a great entry level paddle to get you started, there are many paddles that are low cost and make the game easier to play than the old wood paddles that are often used in schools (SLK Latitude, Engage Trident, Vulcan V330, PROLITE Illuminate 2.0, Rally Tyro 2, Oneshot X).

Tennis – look for a paddle from a trusted name in tennis (HEAD, Prince, ProKennex, Babolat, Wilson or Diadem) – the grips feel very familiar – or use our Oversized Pickleball Paddles Category to find a paddle that is slightly elongated that puts the sweet spot further from your hand, similar to a tennis racket (GAMMA Compass, Electrum Model E, Paddletek Tempest Reign Pro, Selkirk Vanguard Hybrid Invikta, and Oneshot Powershot are some of our popular elongated paddles at this time). You may also look at handle length if you favor any two-handed shots – anything 5 ½” or longer should work (Franklin Ben Johns Signature, HEAD Gravity LH, Engage Pursuit MX, Prince Quantum Pro and Vulcan V560 Control).

Badminton/Squash – look for a paddle that is long handled and head heavy (PROLITE Cypher Pro, Paddletek Sabre Pro, Selkirk Vanguard Hybrid Mach6)  and has the right size grip for you hand (check out our Paddle Guide to see three ways to measure it).

Racquetball – look for a paddle that is tear drop shaped with a high sweet spot (Onix Evoke Teardrop, Champion Graphite Elite, GAMMA Hellbender). You probably want a standard or short handle size (Selkirk AMPED Omni, Vulcan V550, HEAD Gravity SH).

Table Tennis – look for a paddle that can impart a lot of spin through texture or face material (Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro, Electrum Pro Graphite, PROLITE Titan, ProKennex Ovation Flight, Pursuit EX 6.0). You will probably feel comfortable with a short handle paddle that lets you get the most from a paddle while playing with a finger (or two) up on the face (Selkirk AMPED S2, GAMMA Typhoon, Onix Vertex).

Baseball/Softball – look for a paddle that is well balanced and has a large sweet spot to provide you success as you enter in to a racquet sport (Prince Response Pro, ProKennex Kinetic Pro Speed II, Diadem Icon, Paddletek Tempest Wave II, Babolat RBEL, Oneshot Pureshot Brian Ashworth).

The secret is to get started with a paddle that gives you a chance to find out what kind of player you are. An all-court paddle combines power for your long shots and touch for your short game. As you develop you can decide if you need more power (my shots are going into the net, my serve is not deep enough) or more control (I am constantly hitting the ball out, my dinks don’t go where I want them to). Like most of us, you will find that you go through a few paddles as your skill increases and you understand more about what different paddle characteristics do for your game.

A great place to start your research is our Paddle Guide, where these sections will help you narrow your choices and help you find your very first paddle:

And, if that doesn’t work, call us at 1-888-854-0163. We all play pickleball and went through exactly what you are going through now. Nothing makes us happier than helping you find a paddle that fits your game. And then you buy with confidence, knowing you have a 30-day test drive to make sure it works on the courts – that’s where it counts.

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