The Great Debate: Paddle Selection | National Pickleball

Choosing a pickleball paddle is much like choosing a car. Most people will start with a budget, then look at options within that budget. From there, it is natural to prioritize what specs mean the most to you. That sounds easy enough, but the options are endless when it comes to pickleball paddles.

In 2023 alone, the USAPA approved 925 new paddles from 411 different manufacturers. In total, there are approximately 2885 paddles on the market to choose from. Given the number of options, it is easy to get lost in a decision.

Before making a purchase, you first need to know what you are wanting out of your paddle (and asking the paddle to make you an instant Pro is not on the list unfortunately).

First you need to decide if you are looking for a paddle to give you more power or more control. All paddles will advertise they provide both, but realistically each design is geared either towards creating more power or softening each touch. As a coach, I would always suggest beginners start with a paddle that has a larger “sweet spot” (the center of the paddle where you ideally should be hitting the ball is considered the “sweet spot”) the which helps control the ball. Beginner to intermediate players are still learning strategy (some are still trying to learn how to say the score, honestly) so a paddle that gives them more control, helps them implement skills as they learn them. As you advance, speeding the ball up appropriately is a skill that is key in mastering. A paddle face that is more dense will pop the ball off of the surface, as opposed to absorbing the ball, but will also create more power.

The next detail to consider is the handle of the paddle. Some players prefer a longer handle for additional reach. Some players prefer a shorter handle for more control. How you grip your paddle becomes relevant as you advance, so choose first what is comfortable to you naturally.

Lastly, the weight and shape of the paddle. Paddle faces come in a few different shapes, such as elongated. There is no advantage or disadvantage to the shape of the paddle – it’s about preference. However, the weight of a paddle can make a vast difference! You often hear players talk about getting “tennis elbow” – typically, the first thing to adjust is the weight of your paddle to resolve that issue. A paddle that is too light creates more effort on your body to strike the ball. You will have to put more energy into hitting the ball for power. A paddle that is too heavy can slow you down at the net. For beginners, a 8.0 paddle weight is usually the best place to start, as it is a good midweight. Remember, you can always add metal weight to the sides. It is better to start lighter and add weight.

Before you choose a paddle, it is encouraged you play with a “demo” paddle for a few weeks. One match cannot really show you the pros and cons of any paddle. It takes time to really adjust to the benefits some paddles have to offer. If you are just starting out, you do not need the most expensive paddle on the market- it will most likely be too much of a paddle for you to handle while learning the game. To start, go with the “middle of the road” options that have a split of power and control.

As you grow in the sport of Pickleball, you will start to find what works for you and what does not. The good news is, there are no wrong answers (contrary to what paddle companies believe) – there is only preference….and that preference will evolve as your skills evolve.


Kimberly McGuire, an astute businesswoman who has thrived during her 22-year tenure in Corporate America. Bachrouche’s five-year journey as a 4.5-5.0 pickleball player has solidified her status as an influential figure in the pickleball community. With a remarkable ability to merge her sporting fervor with entrepreneurial acumen, McGuire has been instrumental in propelling multiple pickleball enterprises nationwide.  In addition, McGuire is a PPR Certified Coach, and has been coaching for the past four-years.  Lastly, McGuire has served the last two years as a Played Agent, and is currently managing several Professional Pickleball Players.