Engage Adds More Power to “Blade” Design with Control Pro Black Core in the Poach Extreme

In January we announced that Engage was releasing the Poach Advantage, a paddle that introduced several pioneering features such as its 6-layered face and black polymer core (dubbed “Control Pro Black”), which helped the paddle react to pickleballs differently depending on the speed of play.

Engage is now bringing its newest creation to the world of pickleball: the Poach Extreme. This paddle has the same qualities as the Poach Advantage but uses them in conjunction with the long 17″ design of the Blade. The result is a piece of equipment that allows players to drive balls past their opponents with minimal effort, all without losing the versatility that the lengthier face provides.

Its unidirectional texture meets USAPA guidelines yet makes it simple to send balls down unexpected paths, especially when paired with its versatile reach. And the Poach Extreme looks better than ever thanks to an updated design that features clean color blocks and a sleek targeting reticle.

The standout option in this line is the Marcin Rozpedski Signature look, showing the US Open champion’s name in the center. Engage shares that “Marcin, one of the best known Blade users, switched to the Poach Extreme and never looked back!”

As many players have noted, longer-faced paddles have become something of a trend, but it’s far more than a passing fad. Pro players across the board have found that the amount of court coverage and power they can get from these designs is incomparable, and now that they’ve been combined with Engage’s high-end technology, they’re more noticeable than ever.

The interview below is worth a listen for any players who have been reluctant to get on board with extended reach paddles (or those who want to know how to get the most out of their equipment). In it, the owner of the Pickleball Paddle Reviews channel on Youtube, Jack Bandel, interviews pro player Matthew Blom.

It’s an interesting talk that has Matthew explaining how he became one of, if not “the” first player to popularize Blade-style paddles. Back then, the first widely available extended reach paddles were produced by Brian Jensen of POP Paddles, but now many manufacturers have caught on and players are eager to find the style which allows them the most aggressive behavior without losing control.

Find out why Matthew had his first POP paddle taken away from him by a tournament director and why he now enjoys the Poach Advantage even more than the Blade! If you think you may not be prepared for a longer paddle, he also has some helpful words regarding the pickleball skills you need to master to use these types of paddles.

 

 

Interested in feeling the difference the Poach Extreme can make to your game? Try it out via PickleballCentral to enjoy our 30-day return policy!

Is Your Paddle Texture Standing Between You and Tournaments?

In May of 2016 the USAPA announced that paddle textures would be regulated so that players couldn’t impart as much spin in their hits (at least, not without proper technique). This caused several paddle manufacturers to either remake their offerings or maintain their current designs with the understanding that players wouldn’t be able to use those paddles in USAPA-sanctioned tournaments.

The amended rules state:

2.E.2. Surface. The paddle hitting surface shall not contain holes, indentations, rough texturing, tape, or any objects or features that allow a player to impart additional spin on the ball. Paddle roughness is determined using a Starrett SR 100 Surface Roughness Tester. The allowable limits for roughness shall be no greater than 30 micrometers (µm) on the Rz reading (average maximum height, peak to valley), and no greater than 40 micrometers on the Rt reading (maximum height, peak to valley)…

While recreational players went unaffected, there was also a sizable group of picklers frustrated to learn the paddles they’d been playing with would no longer be viable in competitive play.

Spinning

Using spin as a technique can totally change your game (Credit: Melissa O’Donohue)

Spin is still a high-level strategy used to this day, but it’s more difficult to pull off and less extreme in execution without highly textured paddles, which “grip” pickleballs and send them twisted back across the net. When the USAPA made the motion to regulate texture, it was in the hopes of maintaining pickleball’s accessible nature and ensuring an playing field, so no one would be able to perform these techniques more easily than their opponents.

For newer players that weren’t competing at the time these changes went into effect this may seem like a non-issue, but it’s still an important topic that we see come up fairly often. Some beginners go into pickleball “blind” and buy whatever paddle they enjoy playing with or are recommended, but if and when they eventually look at entering tournaments, they may be surprised to find out the paddle they’ve been using isn’t allowed.

As such, if players think they eventually might want to delve into competitive play and don’t want to change paddles down the road (which is another feasible option), we highly recommend asking our representatives if the paddle they’re buying is “USAPA-approved.”

You can also check this information for yourself by visiting the USAPA website, highlighting the “Rules & Referees” heading, and looking at the “Approved Paddle List.”

Although the USAPA has limited the amount of texture on paddles, this doesn’t mean all paddles are entirely smooth. Our customer service team is always happy to help people decide which option may be best for them, so if you’re looking to get a bit of an edge when it comes to working on spin, we can help!

Lipen Chang, one of our customers, recently reached out to us because he found himself in a situation similar to that described above. He had purchased 6(!) paddles from our Amazon store but discovered that an upcoming tournament wouldn’t allow him to use his paddle due to texture regulations. We were able to replace his paddle with another option… after which, Lipen (and his partner) went on to win gold in the tournament!

Lipen Chang

Lipen Chang and his gold medal!

It just goes to show that even if you’re currently using a non USAPA-approved paddle, it’s more about the player than the gear! Of course, getting the right paddle matters when it comes to complementing your skill and getting into tournaments, so don’t hesitate to try different things until you find the perfect option.

You can always give us a call at (888)-854-0163 if you’d like to find out if your current paddle is USAPA-approved, what textured paddles we recommend and how to stay up-to-date on the newest paddle innovations. Best of luck on the courts!

Introducing the ProKennex Kinetic Pro Speed Pickleball Paddle

Introducing the ProKennex Kinetic Pro Speed Pickleball Paddle,
the First Paddle Designed To Prevent Arm Injuries

As the sport of pickleball grows, the number of players suffering from “pickleball elbow” and related arm injuries is also on the rise. We hear from many players looking for equipment that will help alleviate and prevent injuries to the arm. Finally, there is a paddle designed specifically to do just that, the Kinetic Pro Speed pickleball paddle just introduced by ProKennex Pickleball.

Kinetic Energy System

A leading science and design company well known in the tennis and racquetball worlds for their innovative injury-prevention product designs, ProKennex has been immersed in racquet sports since the 1970s. Their Kinetic Energy technology was thoughtfully developed specifically to prevent arm and elbow injuries. Utilizing a highly sensitive timing system with internal tungsten-filled chambers that reduce vibration and focus energy more efficiently, the ProKennex Kinetic Energy technology protects players from harmful impact forces and creates the most efficient energy transfer from paddle to ball.  The micro-tungsten beads are embedded in the paddle’s perimeter, absorbing impact vibration before it has a chance to travel from the paddle up your arm and into the soft tissues in your joints.

Steve Dawson, USAPA Nationals and US OPEN medalist, attributes the ProKennex Kinetic Energy system to saving his tennis career over 30 years ago, enabling him to become a Big 8 Collegiate champion, and successfully play and coach full time since graduating college.  As a young adult, Steve developed almost career ending elbow injuries, and after a switch to the ProKennex Kinetic racquets, he restarted his career, going on to a set of great collegiate championship performances, and a long, professional teaching career.  He swears by the technology, and is a living testament to its effectiveness.

Reduced Shock and Vibration

An independent study conducted by MIT Labs found that the ProKennex Kinetic Energy system delivers impressive improvement in shock reduction and dampening characteristics, creating a 43% reduction in vibration and a 20% reduction in shock, which the team at ProKennex believes can result in less damage to the arm. Shock and vibration are greatly reduced within the paddle, before traveling up your arm.

Preferred By Pros

Jennifer Dawson, 2018 USOPEN

Jennifer Dawson, 2018 US OPEN 4X Medalist with the Kinetic Pro Speed Pickleball Paddle

Pickleball Pros Jennifer Dawson, Steve Dawson and their son Callan Dawson have partnered with ProKennex to develop the Kinetic Pro Speed paddle, and all three of these powerhouse pickleball players now play exclusively with the Pro Speed.

At last month’s 2018 US OPEN Pickleball Championships, Jennifer won Gold in the Women’s Senior Pro Doubles and Silver in Women’s Senior Pro Singles playing with the Kinetic Pro Speed. Steve, a long time “survivor” of tennis elbow through his 35+ years of playing and coaching high-level tennis and pickleball, appreciates the same injury-reduction benefits of the ProKennex Pro Speed Pickleball Paddle that caused him to select the ProKennex Kinetic Energy technology as his preferred tennis racquet design.

Fast and Maneuverable with Exceptional Shot Performance

Engineered for maximum maneuverability with wind-resistant edgeless construction and thin core technology, the Kinetic Pro Speed paddle is lightning fast, nimble and responsive. The unparalleled tip speed improves quickness and reflex enhancement. The Kinetic Energy shock absorbing system helps players experience greater touch, feel and control, improving confidence and success at the net.

What Do Our Pro Testers Think?

Our staff has tested the paddle extensively here on the courts at Pickleball Central, and in many ways this paddle defies traditional categorizations.  It is without question the highest performance edgeless paddle we’ve ever tested, with a large, consistent sweet spot.  Most edgeless paddles we’ve tested don’t provide good shot feel the closer you get to the edge, but the Pro Speed maintains a solid feel out towards the edge similar to paddles that use a traditional edge guard.  We theorize that its integrated carbon fiber flush fit perimeter (which is super durable) gives the paddle stability at the edges that many prior edgeless paddles lack.

Jennifer Dawson with her ProKennex Pro Speed Paddle

Jennifer Dawson with her  Kinetic Pro Speed Paddle

It features a unique core and face build-up combining 7 layers of polymer, carbon fiber, and hybrid composites for a paddle that delivers tons of power with a large consistent playing sweet spot.  Weighing in at around 8.0 ounces, the paddle itself does a lot of the work, reducing the swing energy you need to use to power a ball over the net.  In warm, or outdoor windy conditions, or in situations with a softer playing ball (like the Onix), this paddle excels at giving you power without needing to swing super hard. It does this without giving up a soft touch – in fact, the feel of the ball on the paddle is unique because you feel less vibration in the paddle, and as such the sound and hand feel is less “noisy”, with a more confidence inspiring “solid” feel.

Don’t wait to be injured, prevent it before it happens with the Kinetic Pro Speed, the revolutionary new pickleball paddle that leverages nearly thirty years of injury-prevention design expertise. Learn more about the Kinetic Pro Speed on our website.

Selkirk Wows the Pros & Brings Improvements You Can Feel to Amped Paddles

Whenever new paddles are released you hear promises of equipment being taken “to the next level.” But what does that really mean?

In certain cases it involves a manufacturer creating something we’ve never seen before—a unique paddle shape, grip or look. Just as often, however, we see fresh iterations of pre-existing gear.

Selkirk Amped Paddles

Tyson McGuffin won the 2017 USAPA Nationals Gold in Men’s Open Singles with the Amped Maxima 

Paddles might get a new decal or weight class, minor tweaks which can nonetheless result in significant differences in play. With Selkirk’s recently released Amped series, however, the paddles have undergone so many alterations from their original design that they truly are on a “different level” than the predecessors.

The main thing the Amped paddles share with their original models is shape. Selkirk has taken 4 of their most popular paddles and mirrored their style to address different types of play.

Each paddle comes in multiple colors in addition to those shown below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epic – A traditional widebody paddle shape that balances handle length and surface area. Its wide sweet spot helps with fast volleys at the net and can suit any player type.

S2 – Has the largest sweet spot of any of the Amped paddles, providing a very responsive and lively feel. The broad design provides plenty of surface area to easily return pickleballs while focusing on technique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Omni – Provides reach and control. Paddle has a shorter handle designed for players who grip lower on the handle or those who play with a finger against the face. This allows for maximum reach while maintaining a decent width.

Maxima – The longest paddle; ideal for power players who drive the ball but requires precision due to slimmer face. Weighing only 7.5 oz, it features a power-generating, head-heavy balance preferred by tennis players.

These paddles have already proven their success on the courts, but through their Amped evolution, the designs have been strengthened further. Both the faces and cores have been updated to provide improved touch, consistency and control.

Thanks to these changes, Selkirk believes they’re truly hit on a combination of “power and control” that players will love.

FiberFlex Unidirectional Fiberglass

The face material’s “unidirectional” quality relates to Selkirk’s unique manufacturing process, including the way inks are melded onto the face. This affects performance by providing players with an even feel and additional “cushioning” that causes pickleballs stay against the face longer.

X5 Polypropylene Core

This thicker, patent-pending core creates a larger sweet spot, reduces vibration to prevent pickleball elbow and minimizes torque. Torque is what happens when you hit off-center, causing a paddle to twist in your hand and reducing accuracy.

Unibody Design

This sturdy design melds the core and face together for improved performance and durability.

Many 5.0 players have already tried the Amped paddles and are loving how they play. You can find pro reviews in the Selkirk paddles category on PickleballCentral.

Amped Fans Include:

Tyson McGuffin, 2016 National’s Medalist & 2017 USAPA Nationals Singles Champ
Kurtis Campbell, SoCal Summer Classic Gold Medalist
Tonja Major, 2017 US Open Gold Medalist & 2017 USAPA Nationals Bronze Medalist
Morgan Evans, 2017 TOC Champion

And many others! Check out the video below to hear more about the Amped paddles from top player Glen Peterson (US Open & USAPA Nationals Gold Medalist):

To find the perfect selection for your play style, check out the Amped paddles at PickleballCentral and get ready to supercharge your play.

Amped Contest

We’d also like to extend a special offer to our readers by providing a chance to win one of the Amped paddles for yourself.

Just click the image below and enter a few details to test your luck. Entries close on November 21st, so make sure to join in soon!

Amped Contest

Gamma Proves Beauty Isn’t Skin Deep… When It Comes to Paddles

All paddle surfaces are not created equal.

When it comes to graphics, Gamma has found that good-looking design isn’t only a matter of appearance; it also affects how a paddle plays.

This means that you should never have to choose between style and function. And now with Gamma’s new paddle releases, you can own the best of both worlds.

The Mirage and Razor are here to bring together the best aspects of paddle technology and surface design.

Gamma Mirage

Gamma Mirage, $89.95

This duo’s most clever feature is all in the face, in that Gamma uses a direct print process rather than a screen print or a printed label during manufacturing.

Direct Printed Graphics

Chuck Vietmeier, Director of Product Marketing at Gamma, explains, “[Direct printing] not only gives us a clear, clean and high-end look, but it allows players to get the most response from the face of their paddle. Vinyl graphics in our opinion do not allow for proper ball feedback.”

Gamma dug into customer research to find out what players were seeking in their equipment at high levels of play. Aside from determining that polymer core paddles were clearly the top choice when it came to trends, they found many players craved a responsive feel and softer sound.

Smooth Poly Core

This resulted in the paddles utilizing Gamma’s new “Sensa Poly Core” for increased control, while offering variation in surface materials and weight.

Chuck says that the new polyester core in the Gamma paddles make them a more comfortable option for players at all levels of play. “The core is so responsive that allows a player to hit more accurate shots with less effort.”

Gamma Razor

Gamma Razor, $109.95

The Mirage uses a composite face while the Razor has a graphite surface.

The Perfect Face/Weight Combo

Chuck explains the graphite-faced Razor “allows for a lighter, more maneuverable paddle with lots of pop and ball feedback. It has more more power without sacrificing control and feel.”

The Mirage weighs in at a heavier 8.0 oz, with the Razor sitting at 7.6 oz.

These paddles do have a standard edge guard unlike Gamma’s original series with their patented flush edge guard, but the face overlap is minimal (~1/8″) and only serves to broaden the sweet spot within the paddles.

One thing Gamma has brought back is their popular updated honeycomb grip from the 2.0 line, offering high traction and increased comfort thanks to the cushioned design.

USA-Made and US Open Success

We know many of our customers care about where paddles are manufactured, which is why we’re also happy to report that Gamma paddles are produced wholly within the USA.

All of the paddles are, of course, USAPA approved so you can take them to your next tournament.

Lucy with Phaser 2.0

Lucy with her original Gamma favorite, the Phaser 2.0

A top player who’s been making use of Gamma’s line is 5.0 player Lucy Kitcher. Lucy took home several gold medals at the 2017 US Open and originally met Gamma reps at the tournament last year.

Gamma felt “her passion and drive to excel in the sport of pickleball matched [theirs],” and from there on out an ideal partnership was formed.

Pro Player Lucy Kitchner Shares Her Pick

Lucy formerly used Gamma’s Phaser 2.0 and is now playing with the Mirage due to its balance between touch and power. She notes that players coming from a tennis background may prefer the Razor for its more fast-acting graphite surface.

“Gamma shares the same passion for pickleball as the players,” Lucy says. “They’ve expanded into pickleball because they enjoy the game and have been in and amongst the players asking questions and looking to provide them with what they want.

“They’ve already been on the front lines with grips, ball carts and nets, and are now are producing top-notch paddles that will suit recreational players as well as the pros.”

Finding the Magic Fit

We loved Lucy’s response when we asked her how players could determine the right paddle for them amid the new lineup.

“It’s like Harry Potter: The wand chooses the wizard! You really have to try them and see which one feels right.”

We agree! Wizards—er, players, that is—know there’s nothing quite like trying a paddle for yourself.

We’ll take this moment to gently remind readers that here at PickleballCentral, we give all customers a 30-day, 100% satisfaction guarantee.

After purchasing any paddle from us you’re free to try it out for those 30 days to ensure it’s a match. If it isn’t, just give us a call and we’ll exchange it for one that serves you better.

Lucy rounds out her admiration for Gamma by adding, “Gamma has been pleasant and flexible to work with and has given me the tools I need to play my best. I’m hoping to be a positive representation of the high quality brand they are. I’m grateful for their support and hope they feel the same about my efforts to share their product line with others.”

Try out the new Gamma paddles and feel their responsiveness for yourself after checking out the lineup.

What’s in a Weight? 4 Ways Paddle Weights Affect Play

There are many qualities to consider when purchasing a new paddle, but the one we hear rallied about the most is weight.

This is a reasonable focus for many players. Weight is the one attribute which can often make or (literally) break someone’s well-being on the court.

If a paddle’s shape doesn’t feel right, you can swap from a long face to a wide one with relative ease. Choose the incorrect weight, and you may find old injuries flaring up, even putting a damper on your play due to pain.

It might seem intimidating, but selecting a paddle with the best weight for your needs doesn’t have to be difficult. If you keep in mind the following attributes, then you’ll be able to make an informed decision:

Mini Weight Lifter

What’s your perfect weight? (Credit: Tim Lauer)

Power

The most obvious way a paddle’s weight affects play is through its ability to generate power. Heavy paddles provide additional speed and heft behind every hit, even when you aren’t focused on slamming.

Contrary to the common myth that players with weak wrists are better off with a light paddle, sometimes an option slightly on the heavier side is just what’s needed to give that extra pop of power to drive balls over the net.

Control

Paddle materials play a large role in how easy it is to direct pickleballs during play, with softer options like polymer considered easier to control. While this is half of the equation, weight is another factor which affects how well you can manage the game’s tempo.

A heavier paddle is more difficult to move quickly. Even strong players take more energy to move a heavy paddle to a different position, which can prove problematic during fast rallies at the net.

A lighter paddle is easier to maneuver, but on the other hand, it’s harder to defend against slams due to having to stabilize the paddle yourself instead of letting a dense paddle absorb the shock for you.

Equations

You shouldn’t need a blackboard to know the ball will go where you want it (Credit: simpleinsomnia)

Material

While it would be nice if manufacturers could magically create their paddles at any weight players desired, it’s tricky to balance so many factors during construction. Composite materials are generally heavier than graphite, which is why you’ll see most heavy paddles use composite faces while lighter paddles use graphite faces.

There are exceptions of course, especially as paddle technology has become more refined. Manufacturers are offering all sorts of material pairings at different weights. But if you prefer the feel of a certain face type, you may want to check what weights are offered for that particular material.

As of now, paddles classified as “very heavy” on our site are still entirely composed of composite or wood options, though you can find a few graphite paddles if you move down to the standard “heavy” category. The reverse provides more options (there are plenty of lightweight composite paddles).

Balance

When discussing weight distribution, paddles can be referred to as head-heavy, handle-heavy or balanced. Depending on your play style and background in other sports, you may prefer a head-heavy paddle since this feels more akin to a tennis racquet and helps lead your swing into the ball.

Handle-heavy designs are great if you have more of a “wristy” game and want the paddle to feel like an extension of your body, where balanced paddles are suitable for just about any player.

A paddle’s weight combined with its shape determines its weight distribution, so be sure to keep an eye on how each paddle’s balance will affect your ability.

Balance

If only we all had this level of balance! (Credit: Ricardo Liberato)

 


 

If you like the way a paddle plays but still feel something is “off,” take advantage of our 30-day return policy and give it a shot in a different weight. Even something as small as a 0.2 oz difference is noticeable to pros at a high level of play.

You never know when a simple change may give you just the edge you need.

Kovalova and Wright Elite Pros

Following this train of thought, Engage has recently announced their famous Elite Custom Pro is now being offered in a new “Lite” model which averages an even 7.6 oz.

This is lighter than their original 7.9 oz Standard model, so players who loved the Custom Pro’s length and versatility but craved more speed are recommended to give the paddle another perusal.

Check out the Elite Custom Pro listing and let us know if you have any questions about how to determine your most suitable paddle weight!

Paddletek Offers Players More Reach and Stability with the Helo

The Paddletek Helo is an exciting new addition to the world of elongated paddles. Where similar styles use smaller grips, the Helo provides exceptional cushioning and sturdiness throughout the handle without slowing down response time.

Using a large 4-1/2″ grip with this paddle greatly improves durability since the head-dominant design can cause structural stress along face/grip meeting point. It also gives players greater stability when using a ping pong-style grip with a finger bracing against the face.

The Helo’s 17″ length is still its most notable feature, offering an extended reach that allows players to cover more ground in both singles and doubles. This makes it an ideal pick for intermediate to advanced players who want the ability to reach long shots, as well as beginners who want to become competitive despite limited mobility.

Individuals coming from backgrounds in other racquet sports in particular may find it easier to familiarize themselves with this style of paddle and enjoy the head-dominant design.

The Helo has an oblong sweet spot that runs from the middle of the paddle to the top of its face. Adjusting from a square-shaped paddle to the Helo’s shape can take some adjustment, but once players start hitting in its upper region, they tap into the full reactivity of Paddletek’s ProPolyCore.

This is the same core used in popular paddles like the Element, known for its vibration reduction. This helps prevent “pickleball elbow” and other stress-related injuries. It produces a quiet sound, making it a great fit for communities with noise restrictions. The sturdy polymer honeycomb creates consistency across the paddle and makes it easier to control than harder cores.

Compared to Paddletek’s other elongated paddle, the Horizon, the Helo has a slightly longer but thinner face, providing even more reach. It also weighs more than the Horizon but still lies in a medium range (7.6 – 7.9 oz), giving it extra power in every hit.

Paddletek has taken special care with the appearance of this paddle in addition to how it plays. Where earlier designs would cover the center of the paddle with paint, the Helo keeps the face clear so that it’s easy to tell where the sweet spot is at a glance. This also reduces the weight of the paddle overall to prevent it from running too heavy.Paddletek Helo

The dotted pattern along the sides of the Helo is elegant yet simple, providing a nice complement to Paddletek’s other offerings. It currently comes in blue, raspberry and red colors.

For fans of the Element who want greater versatility, or for those who love longer paddles and want a high level of durability in their paddle, the Helo will be sure to please.

Take a closer look at the Helo’s specs and high-quality construction at PickleballCentral.