TYPES OF PADDLES
PADDLE MATERIALS GUIDE
The material that a pickleball paddle is made from has a dramatic impact on the paddle’s weight and deflection. The following materials are commonly used to make pickleball paddles:
Pickleball Paddle Core
The technology used to make pickleball paddles has certainly advanced in the past few years. Paddles have come a long way since the first pickleball paddles were created from scrap wood that was destined for the bin! Most high-quality pickleball paddles now have an inner core that is often made up of a different material to the paddle face. This inner core changes the properties of the paddle, usually making it stronger, lighter, and/or denser. Most pickleball paddle cores are a honeycomb design, because it is super strong and light. The three most common pickleball paddle core materials are Aluminum, Nomex, and Polypropylene.
Pickle Paddle Edge Guard
Most pickleball paddles have rubber or plastic edge guard on the edges of the paddle face. This is usually added to protect the paddle from damage if it is dropped. This edging can add some weight and mass to the paddle.
In the past few years, edge-less graphite and composite paddles have become more common. They offer players a very wide hitting surface, which is particularly helpful for players new to the game. These paddles are sometimes referred to as ‘edgeless’ paddles. They usually have some form of tape along the edge of the paddle. The downside of using an edge-less paddle is that it is more vulnerable to chips.
Pickleball Paddle Deflection
To be officially sanctioned, a pickleball paddle must have a rigid hitting surface. The USAPA tests paddles by placing a weight on the face of the paddle and testing how far it bends. This test is performed to make sure pickleball paddles do not have a ‘trampolining’ effect like tennis rackets have.
A paddle that has a higher deflection has more ‘spring’ in it compared to a low deflection paddle. Having higher deflection means you can hit the ball with less effort — however you have less control over where the ball goes. When you are receiving a fast pickleball shot with a high deflection paddle, it may overshoot your target or go out of bounds. Controlling dinks can also be more difficult with a high deflection paddle.
Lower deflection paddles are easier to control. The downside is players have to use more force to hit the ball back to their opponents. That means more muscle use during the game.
Pickleball Paddle Sound
Yes, even the sound that the pickleball paddle makes is an important consideration! Some pickleball courts have had to ban certain types of paddles because they were too loud. The popping sound that a pickleball makes can be quite loud, particularly with paddles made from certain materials.
Pickleball Paddle Color
Hardcore pickleball players will go to any lengths to gain an advantage over their competitors. One way to do so is by wearing brightly colored clothing or finding a paddle with a bright pattern. It can distract your opponents and make it more difficult for them to focus on the fast-moving pickleball.
Pickleball Paddle Price
The final consideration is price! Pickleball paddles can vary greatly in price, ranging from $20 for a cheap timber paddle through to hundreds of dollars for professional paddles made from advanced materials. If you are passionate about pickleball, it may be worth investing a little bit more and obtaining a paddle that really improves your gameplay.
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