There are easily over 100 pickleball paddles from several paddle manufacturers, so how do you tell which one is the right one for your style of play?
The first step is to try as many paddles as you can, from friends to other players and from the various vendors and representatives.
It’s fairly common to ask for and get a demo paddle or two but how do you determine the style of play with the variations in paddles?
First you want to understand why there are variations and what do they mean. Three most common factors to consider when trying and buying a new paddle are Weight, Price and Handle (or grip size).Weight is the most important consideration and often dictates price as the material used for paddle construction dictate price more than anything. Weight variations range from 6 ounces to 14 ounces with the wood paddles being heaviest and graphite or composite paddles being lightest. This range includes wood paddles so if we remove that type of paddle then weight ranges are more along the lines of 6-9 ounces.
Weight influences your game dramatically as lighter paddles tend to feature more ball control attributes and heaver paddles tend to be favorable with power hitters. Even a one or two ounce weight change can make a difference in paddles of choice.
Graphite paddles are lighter, but they also tend to be more expensive, generally speaking, than composite paddles. Generally you want to have a paddle that weighs no more than 8.5 ounces.
For a balance of power and control look for weights in the 7.3 to 7.8 ounces and for pure power go for a weight above 7.8 ounces.
For beginners, it is best to start in the mid weight range, and as you learn the game and your style of play move to a paddle more suited to your game.
If you don't have a lot of strength in your serve or volley you may want to go to a slightly heavier paddle as it has more mass and will help in distance.
When we speak of the composite, we are usually speaking of the surface of the paddle, although people tend to think graphite is more durable, there is little to show that they last significantly longer than composite paddles.
Another variant are the new edgeless paddles that are in the market. Edgeless paddles seem to be a fad more than a practical option. Edgeless paddles can get scratched and scuffed more easily, so players are putting a layer of electrical tape around the edge.
The last major variant is grip size, and this is dependent on your own hand size. The best advice here is to find a paddle with a slightly smaller grip than you want and then build up the grip with over grip tape or gauze (purchased in the tennis sections of sporting goods stores). I prefer gauze as my hand sweats a lot and I can replace it as needed without the grip deteriorating from sweat or body oils.
Another solution to sweaty hands, use deodorant on the palm of your hand. It works the best.