6 Last Minute Pickleball Gifts Sure To Bring Joy

There are only a few days left before the holidays, but just because you don’t have time to spare for shipping doesn’t mean you can’t give a present to a pickleball lover.

The following all require zero time in transit so that you can provide them at the perfect moment. Better still, several of these options are experiential, so they’ll live forever in the recipient’s memories. Go ahead and choose a gift that will keep on giving!

1. Gift Certificates to PBC

Gift certificates get a bad rap as being uninspired and noncommittal, but many pickleball players are very selective about their gear and prefer freedom to find the right fit. Perhaps they mentioned a specific paddle they’re after, but unless you’re in close contact they may have already bought the item they wanted, so it’s safer to let them choose their own products. A gift card is always appreciated and lets the recipient select a present they’ll certainly use. Be sure to choose email delivery after adding the gift card to your cart so you won’t be waiting on snail mail.

2. Pickle Palooza – The Best Pickleball Festival of the Year

Pickle Palooza is an event that will run from Feb 21-23 (2020) in Phoenix, AZ. Hosted by senior pros Steve Dawson and Dave Pickle Palooza LogoFleming, it includes court exhibitions, paddle demos, pro interviews, skill instruction, open play and more. This is an ideal experience for a player you know who loves the sport but might not feel ready for competitive play, or even for a tournament-goer who’d enjoy downtime around the greats. Visitors have tons of opportunities to engage with the pickleball community at large in a fun, lively environment. The celebration takes place at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort and Spa, which offers plenty of its own entertainment with a spa, golf course, 5 pools and outstanding restaurants.

3. BOOST Pickleball Training Camps

Help take someone’s skills to the next level with an intensive BOOST training camp. Geared towards 3.0 – 4.0 rated players, these intermediate courses run for several days and are led by some of the world’s best pickleball players and instructors. The programs involve drills and clinics that improve technique and translate into fast improvement during competitive games. Participants spend over 12 hours with optional open play time working to strengthen their mechanics and strategies. The instructor to student ratio is 8 to 1 to allow for personal attention, and camps are offered in several locations throughout the U.S. including WA, CA, HI and AZ.

4. Buy a Brick at the Bainbridge Island Founders Courts

Pickleball originated on Bainbridge Island, WA when a group of families wanted to create a game to share with their kids. In honor of the threeBainbridge Island Pickleball founders’ contributions, six new courts are being built on the island at Battle Point Park. For $150 you can buy one of the bricks that will be used to build the walkways and areas between the courts and have the recipient’s name immortalized within the facility. It’s a great way to publicly show the giftee’s support and love for the sport. This is an especially meaningful gift for someone who inspired your pickleball journey—whether that’s the person who introduced you to the game or a club leader (larger bricks are available if you want to include a logo or other image in the design). Their contributions will be known to all in a soon-to-be historic location.

5. Make a Donation To a Pickleball-Related Cause

Similar to the suggestion above, there are other ways you can contribute to pickleball in honor of a friend or family member at your own price point. One organization is the PLS (Pickleball Legacy Scholarship) Foundation. This group uses funds to award scholarships to qualifying young athletes which can be used toward tuition at accredited educational institutes.

The USAPA (USA Pickleball Association) and Sid Williams Junior Pickleball Fund are both dedicated to increasing accessibility to the sport through the development of programs in schools, recreation centers and other locations (specifically focused on youth pickleball in the case of the Sid Williams Fund). Donations can easily be made online or by sending a check to the addresses listed via the link.

6. Sign Your Giftee Up as a Doubles Tournament Partner

Maybe you’re a pickleball player yourself and enjoy playing the game with your friend. If you know they enjoy competitive play and will have the time for a specific tournament date, you can take the initiative to sign them up (taking care of registration fees) as your doubles partner. Better still if you’re willing to cover their travel costs, especially if it’s to a dreamy destination like Kona at next year’s Hawaii Open (1/22 – 1/25). This event takes place directly after one of the aforementioned BOOST camps in Kona, so you can double down on the pickleball training for an extended stay.

Hawaii Open

Another great upcoming tournament for those who can’t travel quite so far is the IIPC, the International Indoor Pickleball Championships in Centralia, WA. It’s one of the largest indoor tournaments in the world and runs from 3/30 – 4/5, making it a great option for those who might enjoy a side trip to Portland or Seattle in the early spring.

Lastly, there are two exciting pickleball tours coming up with tournament locations spread widely across the country. If you haven’t seen a nearby state listed yet, take a look at the APP (Association of Pickleball Professionals) and PPA (Professional Pickleball Association) lists to see if they’re hosting a competition in your neighborhood. These tournaments have strong prize money offerings and also lead to championship games with even greater stakes.

Electrum Brings Silicon Valley Standards to Pickleball with Innovative Features

If you haven’t heard of them yet, it’s worth your time to explore the Electrum Pickleball revolution. This up-and-coming manufacturer has been making waves with their flagship paddle, the Electrum, thanks to a series of unexpected innovations and highly consistent play. Popular among both intermediate players and pros, many have sought to develop a paddle that satisfies a broad segment of the pickleball population, but Electrum just might have done it.

Electrum Logo

Run by serial entrepreneurs Moheeth Alvi and Mike Kazley out of the always state-of-the-art Silicon Valley, it may be this duo’s first foray into the pickleball industry, but their seasoned business backgrounds and love for the game have already made a mark. Having found its way into the hands of countless players at local courts and on a broader competitive stage, the Electrum is here to stay for good reason.

We had the opportunity to speak with Moheeth to learn about the numerous features that make the Electrum unique and what went into their design process. Find out how Electrum is setting themselves apart by reading on:

Why did you decide to enter the pickleball industry and what area of the market are you looking to address?

I discovered pickleball through Electrum’s co-founder, Mike. We started playing in Rochester, NY. We really enjoyed the game and went on a fascinating journey that led us to making a great product. Our main audience is any player looking to improve their game, whether they want to go from intermediate to pro or are already a high level player wanting to improve even further.

We tend to skew toward players who are around a 3.5/4.0 rating, but the Electrum Pro has seen success on a wide spectrum. Shellton JeanBaptiste is the highest rated pro player (5.0) on our team right now. He plays in the 25+ category. He’s really helped with distributing the Electrum Pro and has fully converted to using the paddle himself.

Another influential 5.0 player we have on board is Coach Phil Dunmayer. He’s been teaching for a long time, is a national champion himself, has authored books on pickleball and is overall a member of the game’s “old guard.” He’s done a lot to spread the sport and advocate for us.

Co-founder Moheeth Alvi with Terran Distefano at the West Coast Classic Tournament in Santa Monica

Co-founder Moheeth Alvi with Terran Distefano at the West Coast Classic Tournament in Santa Monica

How did you come up with the Electrum Pro’s design?

When making a paddle, our goal was to find and use the best materials in the market. Even when it came to the grip, end cap and edge guard—we deeply considered all of these aspects. Another big ingredient was using data to find out what worked not only on paper, but in players’ hands. We analyzed hundreds of players to find out what parts of the face they used the most.

Our design is totally proprietary, and we’re based out of San Francisco. We felt positive about bringing the modern, uncompromising quality of the Silicon Valley tech industry to pickleball which has resulted in our current engineering.

Studying competitors was our starting point, so we made sure we were using something no one else was. People have a tendency to think graphite and carbon fiber are the same, but there is a difference. We have a good amount of manufacturing connections overseas that provided a solid supply backbone for the company and went through an iterative process of creating paddles with different features.

We had an edgeless version at one point, another that was only 7.2 oz in weight. As we continued to get feedback from players we arrived at our final design. Most companies have multiple SKUs; we just have the one. The reason is that once you’ve collected enough data, you can make a paddle that fits 80—90% of players’ needs. There are niche paddles out there with a head-heavy feel and so on, but we wanted to make something that would benefit the largest segment of players possible.

This doesn’t mean we won’t continue creating new products, but we were committed to making something with a broad appeal. We were at the West Regional Tournament and sold 100 paddles there to many different people: 3.0s, 4.0s, pros. The Electrum Pro has a wide face and so you might think that would limit its appeal, but no one has thought it’s unwieldy.

Co-founder Mike Kazley

Co-founder Mike Kazley

Would you explain a bit more about how you analyzed those data points to create a well-balanced paddle?

Yes, we ended up finding that most players really enjoy a paddle that has an evenly distributed weight. Essentially, every part of the face should feel like you’re playing from the center so you don’t skew a certain direction or lose out on power due to a less than perfect shot.

Even if you’re hitting close to the edge with the Electrum Pro, it offers great pop. You can take any paddle and find where the middle is, set it on your finger and check whether it leans toward the handle or the head. With the Electrum Pro, you’ll find it stays at an even 180 degrees. It’s a very balanced paddle which makes it easy to maneuver.

Out of all the paddles on the market, what makes this paddle unique? 

Toray T700 – The carbon fiber we use is Japanese made. It’s the best you can source and uses a special molding technology that gives it a nice, grainy texture. It’s right up against the USAPA’s roughness limit (which has to be within 40 micrometers), so you really feel the fibers. This texture produces very accurate shots with great touch, which results in a lot of control.

While we were iterating we didn’t explicitly mention this to players, but people noticed the paddle’s great handling and started calling this perk the “Electrum Spin.” We were happy to run with that! The carbon fiber also creates a look that stands out on the court. The simple, sleek design comes across quality-centric rather than needing to blatantly promote our brand. We figured: Produce a high quality paddle and it’ll sell itself.

Full Cell Core – At first we tried using Nomex for our core, and it is a stronger material than polypropylene, but you don’t get as much absorption to soften impact and it makes a lot of noise. We were willing to sacrifice a little bit of power for more touch and a reduction of the noise factor. The Electrum Pro still has plenty of pop because the cells are so strong, and in fact we only use full cells in the honeycomb.

With a lot of companies you’ll find there’s very little material near the edge guard, creating a weaker and less responsive feel when you don’t hit right in the center. With the Electrum, you get the benefit of whole cells near the edge and the guard is wrapped all the way around to create a consistent feel. We’ve basically created an “edge-to-edge” sweet spot. We don’t have images of our paddle with certain areas circled showing where players are supposed to hit, because we believe if you’re buying a premium paddle the entire face should be playable.

Carbon Fiber Handle – While the Electrum’s edge guard is plastic, our handle is also made out of carbon fiber like the face. This offers a high level of durability and much better feel as opposed to using lower quality materials. The handle has an ergonomic design with a grip somewhat similar to those produced by GAMMA, but the one we use was fully designed by us. It’s made using 100% leather so it won’t sweat in your hand easily, feels comfortable and takes longer to wear unlike synthetic materials. The 4-1/4” circumference makes it suitable for most hand sizes since it’s a good medium ground.

What should a player expect when using the Electrum?

This weight and responsiveness is such that you don’t have to put in as much work to get the power you want. Less is more. It only takes a couple rallies to get used to the Electrum Pro since it has such a great balance. The paddle feels light, responsive and intuitive.

Shellton JeanBaptiste reviews the Electrum Pro


We appreciate Electrum taking the time to share their knowledge and contributions with the pickleball community. To hear more from Moheeth, check out this interview from Golden Boy Pickleball. Moheeth summed up by saying:

“We want our customers’ end-to-end experience to be amazing; we know people will be satisfied with the Electrum Pro and want as many players to benefit as possible.

Our mission at Electrum is to be an asset to the pickleball community firstly through the creation of great products and then by making pickleball more accessible on a global scale. We’re looking forward to playing a part in the continued growth of the game and hope our current customers and new fans alike will help us share their love for this inclusive, exciting and versatile sport.”

The New Generation of Paddletek

Since 2010, Paddletek has been one of pickleball’s industry leaders thanks to their breakthrough product innovation, high quality designs, versatile offerings and lifetime performance guarantee. You can find Paddletek in the hands of pro players in tournaments around the world.

As the sport has grown, so have they, and the company has now unveiled their new era of innovation. Paddletek has completely rebranded their offerings which not only include visual changes but material upgrades to their incredible line.

Paddletek Pros

We had a chance to interview Noah Kaplan, Paddletek’s VP of Sales & Marketing, and he shared some of the reasoning behind this new look and lineup of Paddletek’s products:

“To us, it’s more than just creating a new logo or developing a new paddle. This is about creating a strong brand identity that aligns with our core mission and values and will ultimately give our consumers the confidence they need to take their game to the next level.”

A Fresh Look

To start, you’ll notice every paddle has received a complete visual overhaul. All of Paddletek’s equipment now looks more uniform with clean black backgrounds intersected by eye-catching neon colors. Their appearance feels sleek and modern, expressing dedication to the game but with an energetic edge.

Paddletek’s Product Lines

Before this launch of Paddletek’s new lineup, they offered over 15 different paddle models spread out over a large number of different sub-brands.  As the company exploded in growth since their initial introduction in 2010, they created paddles for every type of player need. After almost 10 years of product innovation, the company decided it was time to reset the product line in a way that helped make it easier for players to select the best paddle for their needs.

The result? Every Paddletek paddle is now sorted into three corresponding product lines that address these areas and then offer further variation.

Catherine Parenteau with the new Tempest Wave Pro

Catherine Parenteau with the Tempest Wave Pro

The Tempest series improves accuracy and provides better control. Noah says this series “utilizes a specialized graphite core to absorb more energy from the ball, giving players more control.” There are two offerings in this line, the Tempest Wave II, and the Tempest Wave Pro.

The Bantam series is made to support power and performance. Paddletek believes these paddles “allow the ball to keep more if its own energy during a return, giving the player more put away options.” This line includes both Standard and Pro models of the famous TS-5 and Bantam EX-L, plus the Bantam Sabre.

The Phoenix series is the most user-friendly for all levels and offers a balance between control and power. Noah feels that the Phoenix line “represents the ‘just right’ category, where [Paddletek] starts from a design perspective and uses adaptations of earlier models that changed the sport.”

How to Choose Which Model Is Right For You?

When it came to organizing their equipment, Paddletek knew players can find it difficult to determine which piece of gear matches up with their needs. To help accommodate this process they’ve rated their paddles in three different categories based on user feedback: control, power and forgiveness.

Control relates to “touch” and allows you to better manipulate ball placement.

Power refers to how much strength the paddle adds to your shots and makes it easier to drive balls with more speed.

Forgiveness is connected to a paddle’s sweet spot, meaning you don’t have to hit dead center on the face to get the ball over the net.

If you’d like to see a full table breaking down the paddles within each of these lines for quick comparison, visit our Paddletek product page.

Scott More with the Bantam Sabre Pro

Scott More with the Bantam Sabre Pro

Visionary Design

In addition to making their paddles more simple to categorize, Paddletek has continued to boost their products’ performance at top level play.

All Pro models include Smart Response Technology (SRT) in their 9/16″ cores which increase the consistency of the sweet spot by evenly distributing the energy from the ball.

Noah says they have “introduced TVC (torsional vibration control) in several paddles, which means the paddle is less likely to twist in the player’s hand when the ball strikes off center. Our vibration dampening technology also reduces vibration and adds comfort at impact when force enters the player’s hand, arm and elbow.”

Leigh Waters with the Phoenix Genesis

Leigh Waters with the Phoenix Genesis

New Product Offerings

Updated appearance of the Tempest Wave II

Updated appearance of the Tempest Wave II

One much-beloved paddle that has been entirely done is the Tempest Wave, now known as the Tempest Wave II. The previous core has been upgraded and it now includes the aforementioned TVC tech so that players experience less interruption to their game.

The Phoenix line is also an entirely new series of paddles from the company as opposed to the updated iterations of their classic models. The Phoenix paddles are perfectly balanced when it comes to power and control, making them a great option for players who don’t want to focus on a single attribute and instead have the flexibility to adapt their play style as needed.

The Phoenix G6 is the entry level selection in the line, having vibration dampening properties and a standard polymer core. The Phoenix Genesis Pro is the next step up with both vibration dampening and TVC tech in addition to a high grade poly core. And finally, the Phoenix Genesis Pro has all of the previous qualities as well as Smart Response Technology and Paddletek’s most advanced core.

Anna Leigh with the Bantam TS-5

Anna Leigh with the Bantam TS-5

The Paddletek You Know, Even Better

For players who have been long-time Paddletek fans, this is your opportunity to show off what you can really do with skills forged in the competition and excellent equipment. For newcomers who are just now discovering them, there’s no better time to take advantage of PickleballCentral’s test drive policy to find your perfect match in the Paddletek family worry-free.

Irina Tereschenko with the Bantam EX-L

Irina Tereschenko with the Bantam EX-L

Check out Paddletek’s updated table of products and find new ways to transform your game, just like Paddletek has transformed their offerings.

Dave Weinbach with the Tempest Wave Pro

Dave Weinbach with the Tempest Wave Pro

Why You Should Try a Heavy Paddle Even If You’ve Dismissed Them Before

Heavy pickleball paddles are often presumed to fall under the sole domain of power players. You have more heft in your hand, so you can slam, smash and drive kill shots down the court all day.

This scenario is a reality for some players, but to shoehorn heavy paddles into such a niche role is a disservice to their versatility. You may even be missing out on the excellent benefits these paddles can provide if you’ve been presuming their weight is too much to handle.

Hilary Marold is one example of a pro player who bucks the stereotype of heavy paddles only being suitable for big and bulky athletes. She even believes that heavy paddles are particularly helpful to senior players, a demographic which is often advised to steer clear of anything that could strain their joints.

Hilary is known as the “Queen of the Courts” due to her extensive high-profile background in racquet sports. This includes multiple gold medals and hall of fame inductions within tennis, platform tennis, badminton, racquetball, pickleball and more, so it’s worth hearing her out!

In the video below you can listen to Hilary explain why she enjoys using the Paddletek Phoenix Ultra II, which weighs in at 10 – 10.5 oz.

Hilary explains that paradoxically, heavy paddles often stress the body less than lightweight options. Their larger mass provides more speed and pop with less work from the player.

In an extreme example, think of whether it would be easier to return a ball with a banana leaf or a baseball bat. While the leaf is obviously faster and easier to wield, the bat adds far more of its own power during acceleration rather than relying on a player to throw all of their strength behind it.

She notes that heavier paddles provide better defense since their weight defuses the power behind slams. The paddle won’t vibrate or churn as much in the hand, allowing for an easier response.

For those who play outdoors, a heavy paddle will also offer more support when counteracting wind during a difficult serve or return.

If you experience sore wrists or arms during play, we believe it’s at least worth trying a heavier option to see if it can alleviate some of the tension that can result from using a light paddle. You might be surprised by the results! (Remember our 30-day test drive policy allows you to try equipment worry-free.)

If you’ve tried heavy paddles before to no avail, be aware that a paddle’s weight distribution greatly effects how it feels in the hand. Paddles that are head-heavy, those which focus most of their weight near the top of the face, often feel right at home in the hands of former (and current) tennis players. However, they might feel draining and awkward to someone who doesn’t want to battle against gravity during games.

Thankfully, there are options on both ends of the spectrum whether you want to try a paddle with a balanced weight distribution or something more specialized. If you love your current paddle but think there might be something to the weight debate, you can also give lead tape a shot and cheaply add more strength to equipment you already own.

For those wanting to test something new, the following are great options in the heavy paddle category:

Paddles with a Balanced Feel

Phoenix Ultra II – Up to 10.6 oz
Z5 Composite – Up to 9.2 oz
Vertex – Up to 8.9 oz
Phoenix Pro PTK – Up to 8.8 oz
Bantam EX-L – Up to 8.8 oz
Bantam EX-L Pro – Up to 8.8 oz
Wilson Tour Pro – Up to 8.7 oz

Paddles with a Head-Heavy Feel

Maverick (Standard) – Up to 8.3 oz
Saber Pro – Up to 8.4 oz
Invikta X5 – Up to 8.4 oz
Engage Poach Extreme – Up to 8.3 oz
Head Radical XL (Red) – Up to 8.3 oz

Paddles that Allow You to Choose a Heavy Weight

Prince Pro Series – Up to 8.3 oz standard weight
Selkirk Amped Series – Up to 8.4 oz standard weight

What are your thoughts on heavier paddles, and do you feel they’ve helped improve your game? Which heavy paddle do you think has the best feel?

Onix Evoke Premier Provides High Power at a Low Weight, Reduces Impact Vibration

Manufacturers are always coming up with new ways to innovate with their offerings, but they typically do this by altering a single aspect of a paddle design. That’s why we were particularly excited when Zach Scheller of Escalade Sports told us that the Onix Evoke Premier hadn’t only improved one aspect of their paddles’ traits, but “almost every component [had] been redesigned—handle, edge guard, shape, etc.”

Onix Evoke Premier

Onix Evoke Premier, currently $149.99

Of course, quantity of change doesn’t always equate to quality, but Onix ensured the Evoke Premier would satisfy even the most talented of players by creating it in conjunction with pickleball national champions Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova. These two pros were looking for both put-away power during attacks and stability for volleys and defense.

To accomplish this, Onix developed a paddle that disperses shock and increases swing speed. The Evoke Premier improves power without leaving the medium weight range and uses its 16″ length to comfortably increase reach.

Zach gave us some insight into the specific design decisions that went into the Evoke Premier and why it’s a fantastic offering for players who want power, speed and touch:

“We did a lot of prototyping with Matt and Lucy, some of which had outside-the-box concepts. We also used some machine tests, such as a tennis swing weight machine, to find its swing weight (or power).

“Out of all the paddles we tested, no paddle had as much swing weight as the Evoke Premier did, which was basically a full ounce higher than its actual weight. This means an 8 ounce Premier would have the momentum and power of a traditional 9 ounce paddle.”

Capturing the strength of a heavy paddle at a standard weight is impressive enough, but Onix has included even more beneficial features in the Evoke Premier’s design. One example is the DF (density finish) face which inverts the finishing layer with a graphic.

“Most paddles have the graphic and then a finishing coat over it, which means the differences in color can make peaks and valleys from the graphic. The DF composite face not only creates a more consistent feel across the entire paddle, but it also decrease the amount of paint/coatings on the paddle face, itself.”

ONIX DF Composite Face

We were also interested in the Evoke Premier’s Atomic13 edge guard which is said to disperse shock and increase power. This was done by using a unique material (most paddles use PVC) and essentially shrinking the walls of the edge guard and increasing its weight. This led to a decrease in vibration from the walls of the guard while improving its strength.

Zach adds that it’s “almost like having lead tape around the perimeter of the paddle.”

ONIX Atomic 13 Edge Guard

When asked what type of player is best suited for the Evoke Premier, Zach responded:

“While this paddle has a pretty broad following, we definitely see players who play a faster, more powerful game gravitate towards it the most. However, we’ve even had some players who like the control game love the play at the net, especially on volleys.

“[Compared to the rest of our line] it’s obviously the most similar to the Evoke Pro, but players enjoy the Premier due to its higher put-away power and solid feel. Contrasted with our extreme control or touch paddles, like the Outbreak or Voyager Pro, it definitely has a different style and performance.”

If you’re after a paddle that will adapt to offensive and defensive plays, has a flexible shape and will perform at the highest levels of competition, the Onix Evoke Premier may be the paddle you’ve been waiting for. Check out the Evoke Premier at PickleballCentral to experience how much power you can get from this paddle despite its trim weight.

How Did Thick Core Paddles Become One of the Hottest Pickleball Trends?

Over the past several years paddles with thick cores have risen in popularity and versatility. With major manufacturers such as Selkirk, Paddletek, Prince, Onix and GAMMA all offering thick core options, there’s a reason players have turned to this style of paddle and found it improved their game.

Many of those reasons are explained on our Thick Core Paddle guide where you can hear from a number of paddle manufacturers regarding why they’ve ventured into the world of thick core paddles and how their construction has changed over time. This is definitely a style that’s here to stay and players of all levels should give them a test if they’re looking for something highly controlled and stable under pressure.

One of the first thick core paddles to hit the market was the Selkirk Amped Omni, which was created in conjunction with pro player Glen Peterson. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Glen about his initial thought process behind the design and what he believes this style’s greatest strengths are. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of thick core paddles, Glen explains them clearly:

“The idea of a thicker core appealed to my desire for a more stable paddle that generates more consistent shots across the surface. I hoped that a thicker paddle would be less likely to twist in my hand when the ball struck near the edge. Theoretically this made sense to me as a thicker core could have a lower modulus of elasticity. Practically, it just seemed the right direction the same way larger frame structures in other racquet sports improve performance.

“I cut a paddle out of a piece of 2 inch foam just to see what the thicker template felt like in my hands, and it felt great even though I couldn’t hit a ball. I then took two half inch cores and glued them together to create a usable paddle but with no edge guard. This 1 inch thick paddle was a breakthrough for me. Brian Ashworth hit with it and agreed. The challenge was creating a thicker paddle without dramatically increasing weight. Selkirk took on this challenge and made the Omni paddle with 5/8 inch thick core.  While an 1/8” thick seems small, it is a 25% increase in thickness.

“The key advantage is more consistent ball performance coming off a larger portion of the paddle surface. While it might seem a thicker core would generate more power or ball speed, the opposite seems true. I get more control, touch and consistency even when I miss-hit the ball. And I get all the power I need. Players like Ty McGuffin are able to generate amazing power even with the thicker core. Players who want tons of power with shorter strokes might prefer thinner paddles with smaller but dramatic sweet spots.

“Perhaps the only unexpected drawback to this type of paddle is that it’s harder to pick up a ball lying on the ground with the edge of the paddle since it’s thicker!

“I see paddles becoming even thicker with innovative core materials and improved paddle science. Additionally, I see ball development as being an important factor in paddle improvements. If balls become softer and less brittle, the paddles will change accordingly. Current top paddles are optimized for the Dura Fast 40 Ball which is preferred by most top players.”

Glen’s predictions have proven true so far, with manufacturer Prince introducing two new paddles featuring 9/16″ thick cores in 2018. The Prince Spectrum Pro and Response Pro have both proven popular and feature a unique oval-shaped design. The thick core makes these paddles very rigid and transfers energy evenly along the sides, top and bottom of the design. This effectively expands the sweet spot and lets players make use of space that would be “dead” in other paddles nearer to the edge guard.

Onix released their .625″ thick paddle, the Outbreak, in 2018 as well. It uses a carbon fiber face to create a soft feel that reduces vibration from impact, increasing stability and letting players maintain control over their shots. Paddletek’s Pro Series with 9/16″ cores was released later that year and included the Tempest Pro, which uses a graphite face. This combo is thought to create one of the best feeling paddles available, allowing players to hit against any area of their paddle’s surface without experiencing decreased responsiveness.

GAMMA was another major manufacturer which saw the strengths of thick cores and expanded the market in 2019. The Compass, Shard and Legend added more shape and weight variety to the mix and have shown the sweet spot can be broadened with this technology no matter the paddle’s shape or weight. With many top players enjoying these options and variety, there’s something that will satisfy everyone looking to try thick core paddles.

One of the only potential downsides players may want to be aware of when looking at these paddles is the fact that their handles tend to be more square-shaped and boxy due to the thicker construction. While several of the paddles mentioned above do come in small grip circumferences (4-1/8″), they generally have more of a structured feel to them.

Many players have found that they’re able to easily adapt to this shape after a few games with a thick core paddle, but this is something to be aware of when considering the various choices. Another option is to add an overgrip to these paddles for the purpose of softening up the more defined edges of the handle.

There are currently nineteen different paddles from six manufacturers collected on our Thick Core Paddles page, and with the way development is going, we expect this number will continue to grow. Learn more about all of these paddles here.

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