HEAD Paddles Bring Tried-and-True Performance to the Industry

Today we’re excited to introduce a new line of paddles from a manufacturer just entering the world of pickleball but experienced in creating equipment for many other racquet sports: HEAD.

Certain companies might make the assumption that what works in one industry can be applied to another, but HEAD took a more humble approach to development and began their pickleball journey without any preconceptions.

HEAD PickleballCentral

Instead, they spent three years researching what makes a paddle great and developing a strong new lineup with input from pickleball pro Sarah Ansboury, 2015 USAPA Nationals gold medalist.

This has resulted in two paddle series called the Xtremes and Radicals. There are four product offerings within each, and players are sure to find a fit that will match their skill level and play style.

As the official launch partner for HEAD Pickleball, we spent some time talking to Sarah and Ben Simons, Senior Business Manager at HEAD. A few defining features of these paddles are laid out below.

High Quality Design

Ben explains that the following features can be expected in all of their paddles:

    • Quality: You can’t take shortcuts to improve your game, and HEAD didn’t take shortcuts to put out their product. Ben explains, “We spent a lot of time in development and continue to ensure we’re making high quality paddles players can rely on. You should be able to walk onto the court knowing your equipment will play the same every time. This includes a well-defined weight, balance, grip size, feel and shape for each individual paddle.”
    • Extreme Control Shape: HEAD’s unique paddle shape contributes to fantastic reach, flexibility and control. The two variations within the Xtreme and Radical lines slightly alter the paddles’ balance to accommodate different play styles.
    • Stylish Graphics: “We wanted to make sure our paddles were attractive to a wide variety of players and demographics, not only in terms of play, but when it comes to appearance. Because of that, our cosmetics are bright and engaging. Fun is central to pickleball, after all!”
    • OTC Honeycomb Core: OTC stands for optimized tubular construction. “While polymer cores are used in many paddles, the truth is that there are countless variations when it comes to things like weight, cell size, shape, wall thickness and tube height. Based on our testing, we found the type we settled on resulted in optimized performance and quality.”

Sarah with Xtreme Tour Paddle

Sarah with the Xtreme Tour Paddle

Weight Ranges

All HEAD paddles weigh in at 7.6 – 8.1 ounces. HEAD explains that, through play testing, they discovered this range was the preferred average for most players.

Ben explains, “We learned that many players do not have the swing to play with an ultra-light paddle. They might think that’s what they need, but when they hit with a well balanced paddle that has a little more weight to help them drive through the shot, they find they play much better.”

After checking out the paddles ourselves, PickleballCentral has been impressed with HEAD’s ability to produce paddles at consistent weights.

Double the Options

Each Xtreme paddle has a Radical equivalent and vice versa, but the two lines have several key differences that make them best suited to certain types of players. We spoke with Sarah to determine the primary qualities of each:

Xtreme Paddles

The HEAD Xtreme Paddles

Xtreme –

  • Slightly thinner shape with corners shaved down. “This adds more speed and maneuverability to your game, particularly at the net. For racquetball players or those who tend the drag their paddles across the ground as they hit, this also prevents damage to the paddle.”
  • Lighter weight that creates an even balance.
  • Includes the Xtreme Tour, Xtreme Pro, Xtreme Pro L and Xtreme Elite
Radical Paddles

The HEAD Radical Paddles

Radical –

  • More powerful, head-heavy shape. A bit thicker design with more forgiveness when it comes to ball placement.
  • “Players will still enjoy great control, but these paddles possess more immediate ‘pop’ due to their weight.” Despite the additional heft, players often pick these up and think they’re lighter than they really are. In truth, the Radicals just have a better balance, so players get the benefits of extra weight without feeling it.
  • Includes the Radical Tour, Radical Pro, Radical Pro L and Radical Elite

Pro Performance

Sarah’s personal preference is for the Xtreme Tour Paddle.

“I told them I wanted a paddle with some power that also had good control. I love the way the paddle grabs the ball making it great when I need to block or add spin. The interesting shape feels much more maneuverable for me which helps me at the net when I need to be fast.


To see featured videos for each of the paddles, go to the HEAD product pages and click the “Videos” tab.

“One of my favorite parts of the paddle is actually the handle. They use a mold and spray foam to surround the handle, making it a solid piece which connects to the paddle as a whole. This creates a more solid feel and durable neck.”

The Xtreme Tour (and Radical Tour) are recommended for players coming from prior racquet sports due to their touch and texture, which more closely mimics the grip you can get from something like tennis strings. The graphite surface on both models provides excellent responsiveness as well.

For newer players, Sarah believes that the Xtreme Elite or Radical Elite paddle would be a good fit.

Sarah with HEAD Paddles

Sarah with HEAD Paddles

“The two Elites have the lowest price point in both lines. They actually have the same high quality core and surface materials as the other options, but they have harder grips and a smooth face. Either would make a great starter paddle that will also hold up to advanced play, but since the Pro and Pro L options are just a bit more expensive, if players wanted a more cushioned grip they could go that route as well.

“For power players, the Radical series gets the edge due to the extra weight and fiberglass surface. There’s a lot of responsiveness that gives added pop for put-aways.”

HEAD’s Dedication to the Industry

Sarah concludes that, as an instructor, she wanted to feel confident recommending paddles to her students dependent on their individual strengths.

“Being able to choose a quality paddle that’s affordable but still uses the newest technology is important in the long haul. HEAD did a lot of play testing before putting out their final products, and not just with me. The engineer would have me answer about 20 questions, and almost as soon as I had sent a paddle back, I’d get another 20 questions! I loved that they really wanted to understand the sport.

“I believe HEAD got into pickleball to truly help the growth of this sport. In the near future we’ll continue to build the HEAD player team and ambassadors while trying to bring new players into the game. I hope everyone will enjoy the diversity their paddles are bringing to the industry.”


At PickleballCentral we carry over 100 models of paddles and often get approached by new companies attempting to break into the industry. We’re glad to be the official launch partner for HEAD paddles and hope our customers and readers will love the new products!

Co-Founder Anna Copley shared her perspective on the launch by saying: “We started collaborating with HEAD last spring at the 2017 US OPEN Pickleball Championships, and we put the new paddles through our lab and player testing all summer. We’ve found them to be exceptionally durable with fantastic performance. Visitors at our Pro-Shop and staff have enjoyed them, and HEAD has developed a great set of products that we are proud to share.”

Check out the HEAD paddles directly on our site, PickleballCentral.com!

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.

The Engage Elite Pro Pickleball Paddle Is Not Just For The Pros

Engage is a well-established manufacturer of pickleball paddles with a successful line-up including the popular Encore series. Recently Engage launched their new Engage Elite Pro pickleball paddle, which turned more than a few heads at the 2017 US OPEN, many of them belonging to pros.

Out of the 48 pro level medals won at the US OPEN, 21 were taken with Engage paddles.

The new Elite Pro was responsible for 9 of them. 

What makes the Engage Elite Pro different?

The Engage designers emphasize three key features that make the paddle unique: the paddle’s skin, shape and positioning of the sweet spot.

“Liquid Graphite” Skin

The Elite Pro was developed using their new “chemically bonded skin” (they call it “liquid graphite”), created to enhance playability, touch, power, control and spin.

This special composite fiberglass skin works well with all types of balls and court surfaces, whether playing outdoors with a Dura ball or indoors with a Jugs ball. With such performance and versatility, players enjoy a versatile paddle they can be used in any situation.

Longer Shape, Bigger Sweet Spot

The shape of the Engage Elite Pro is another distinguishing characteristic. The size of many previous Engage paddles was 15.5 x 8.25 inches. At 16 x 8 inches, the Elite Pro maximizes the USAPA size requirements, providing more length and a taller sweet spot.

The sweet spot was also moved higher on the paddle face, providing more power while still offering control. We’re hearing that this paddle provides a “feel” like no other.

Quiet Core

The Engage Elite Pro is constructed with a polymer core and engineered to create less vibration, helping to keep players healthy and minimize injuries such as tennis elbow. It is also designed to pass the most stringent community noise requirements. It has a 4.25 inch grip circumference, 5″ grip length and comes in a weight range of 7.8 to 8.3 ounces.

Created with input from top players, the initial idea for the Engage Elite Pro paddle began as the signature paddle for pros Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova. Matt and Lucy, along with pros Brian Staub, Ben Johns and many others, are using the Elite Pro with impressive results.

The Engage Elite Pro is currently available in red and white as well as the Lucy Kovalova edition (white with maroon fade) and the Matt Wright edition (navy with yellow fade).

Recreational players shouldn’t let the paddle’s name convince them they can’t use it. The Engage Elite Pro is designed for everyone–the touch player, the power player and those who just want to have fun with a high quality paddle.

Comment from our in-house pros at PickleballStation

“The Elite Pro is definitely a great paddle. It has a lot of power but still feels ‘soft,’ making it easy to control balls and counter slams.”

For more information about this innovative and versatile paddle, see the Engage Elite Pro technical specs.

ProLite’s New CRUSH Paddle Shows Where Pickleball Is Going

Some Paddles Are Designed For Looks, Some For Performance – ProLite’s CRUSH Powerspin Delivers Both

The market for pickleball paddles is diverse. Core and face materials, paddle shape, size, weight, grip and other factors all contribute to the diverse options available. With their launch of the ProLite CRUSH Powerspin, veteran paddle manufacturer ProLite has created a new paddle that is truly unique.

Crush PowerSpin Paddles
ProLite has a long and well established history producing innovative paddles. They were the first company to use aerospace composite honeycomb materials in the construction of paddles. Originally founded in the Seattle area, ProLite’s founders experimented with interesting materials that revolutionized paddle design and are used in most paddles on the market today.

Decades later, ProLite continues to innovate. With the CRUSH Powerspin, their innovations incorporate new materials as well as leading edge graphic design. The CRUSH is built on ProLite’s most successful paddle shape – the Magnum. However, unlike the Magnum, which has a graphite face and nomex core, the CRUSH interior is constructed of QuadCore™ Power Polymer honeycomb, covered with ProLite’s new SPINtac™ fiberglass panels.

The result is a highly durable and quiet paddle with an oversized face that provides plenty of power, great control, and spin when you want it. To top that off, the CRUSH is made in three colorful great-looking graphic styles (called Skate, Snow and Surf) appealing to players with style who like to play hard and look good while they’re at it. Each design is truly unique, with a coordinated brightly colored No-Slip Thin Grip.

We recently spoke with ProLite’s President Neil Friedenberg and Vice-President Lisa Wehr about the CRUSH. We thought our readers would like to hear what Neil and Lisa had to say about this exciting new paddle.

PBC: “We know you designed the new CRUSH Paddle with an eye to serving the younger players, or simply players who are young at heart. What can you tell us about the type of player you are trying to serve with the new Crush Paddle?”

ProLite: “The CRUSH is geared toward a player who values relative proportion in the important aspects of their paddle – balance, power, touch, spin – versus dominance of a particular aspect. This one has plenty of all four. This, along with a sense of style as well.”

PBC: “There are over 100 models of paddles in the marketplace, what makes the Crush truly unique?”

ProLite: “A couple of things. First, the new process for applying graphics to the face has allowed us to enhance ball spin capabilities without exceeding USAPA specs – we’ve named this new surface SPINtac(TM). Next, we opted to create three different designs incorporating stylish colored grips rather than different colors of the same design. All three skew toward a younger (mindset) player with a little bit of attitude included.”

PBC: “The visual design and colors of the new CRUSH models are striking. Are you trying to appeal to a specific type of player with the graphic design of the paddle?”

ProLite: “ProLite recognized the homogenous look of paddles several years ago. Because of the large surface area we have to work with versus other sports like tennis and racquetball, we feel an obligation to create a way for players to express themselves – break out – stand out. It may not improve the performance of the equipment but maybe it lends a little something to the player ego. After all, we’re playing a sport and athletes enjoy distinction. You’ll notice that in all of our paddle graphics.”

PBC: “As you went through the process to select the core and face materials for this paddle, what was your thought process?”

ProLite: “The Magnum shape has been our most popular shape and top performer for many years. It’s always been Nomex and graphite so we felt compelled to utilize popular materials such as polymer and fiberglass to appeal to a different style of player using this highly preferred shape. The Polymer core is a quiet, strong, durable choice. It holds up and adds absorption contributing to touch. The new SPINtac fiberglass surface is cutting edge and to our knowledge, has not been used before on paddles.”

PBC: “For players who are used to playing with the Magnum, what kind of differences would they notice if they pick up the Crush and use it?”

ProLite: “Players will notice a difference. Because the CRUSH is made of 1/2 inch polymer core, it’s thicker. It’s also Green Zone approved for quiet communities where the Magnum’s Nomex/graphite combination is not.”

PBC: “You shared that you thought this paddle served a number of distinct player types including Juniors and Women players. What makes this paddle well suited for various player types?”

ProLite: “The Crush is well suited for any player who is looking for a balance of the four performance elements we discussed earlier. It has the Magnum’s smaller grip size, it’s lightweight and edgy looking. And because of the balance, it should help younger players develop a solid, well-rounded game. For the same reasons, we think women looking for a smaller grip paddle will love the CRUSH’s performance, and the holographic look of the Snow design will likely appeal to more women – the design and color palette.”

For players looking for a paddle that combines an ideal balance of performance features with a healthy dose of color and style, the CRUSH delivers it all. To get all of the details on this hot new paddle, see the CRUSH Powerspin technical specs.

Learn More About CRUSH PowerSpin paddles