Pickleball is a sport that is able to cross numerous boundaries that most other sports cannot. There are few sports that allow the old, young, under weight, and over weight to all play together with the same relative potential like pickleball does. The sport is aggressive but allows players the ability to take a less aggressive stance without having others having to change their method play. The sport also allows for a great deal of modification that can make the game more comfortable for the average player.
One of many modifications that can be made to the game is through paddle choice.
Understanding the different types of paddles
In pickleball the variety of paddles is only limited by the imagination of the creator. It doesn't take a great deal of skill to create a pickleball paddle which is why there are so many different types of materials used during the fabrication process. This variety in materials has led to the creation of a variety of different paddles to fit the needs and style of virtually anyone that is looking to play the game. This variety has also given different strategy to the game as different paddles produce different results.
Probably the most common types of paddles are the wooden, composite, and graphite paddles. These paddles may be manufactured slightly different from one company to the next but for the most part they operate in the same general manner. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each type of paddle will help to make paddle selection a little bit easier.
The wooden paddle is the more traditional paddle. This is often the standard paddle used for beginners and the typical paddle that is seen in most school systems that play pickleball. The main reason for the use of wooden paddles is often times the cost. The wooden paddle is considerably less expensive than the other types of paddles. Even the most expensive paddles are still typically cheaper than the lowest cost graphite or composite paddles. The economy of the paddle is probably the single reason why someone would choose the wooden paddle over other types of materials.
Wooden paddles are normally heavier than other paddles. There is normally a pretty significant weight difference between the wooden paddle and other lighter materials. The wooden paddle also can make a louder sound when the ball hits it than other types of paddles would make.
One major drawback to the wooden paddle is that it doesn't produce as much bounce as the composite and graphic paddles do. This means that the ball is going to require the user to hit it harder to produce the same results of someone using other paddle types. It also isn't going to hold up quite as well as the other types of paddles. This is because wood has the potential to warp over time. It is also impacted by the introduction of water. If a wooden paddle is exposed to water for an extended period of time it can become virtually worthless and difficult to use.
Another major drawback is that most wooden paddles are made by pressing together several types of wood in order to create a better bounce. This pressing together of wood means that the paddle has a greater potential to break apart. This can aided with an edge guard but often times impact can still force the wood to separate which causes an obvious change in the effectiveness of the paddle.
Composite and Graphite Paddles
Both composite and graphite paddles operate in a relatively similar manner. They are normally quite a bit more expensive than their wooden counterparts, but often hold up considerably longer. Since the materials used in these paddles are water proof, water typically isn't an issue with the paddle although it probably isn't a good idea to leave them exposed. Edges are less likely to break apart on the composite and graphite paddles as well making them a much more durable paddle overall.
Probably the best thing about these types of paddle is their bounce rate. Since they are made with harder materials that are more consistent laid it possible to hit the ball much harder with less effort than with a wooden paddle. They are great for use by someone that isn't quite as strong because they offer power without as much action. The paddle is also much lighter than the wooden paddle as well.
Selecting a Paddle
The main reason for selecting one paddle over another is going to be cost for most people. The wooden paddle is going to be more than adequate for those looking to save money. The major reason for using the graphite or composite paddle is to allow for a harder shot with a little less effort. Since the paddle is also lighter in weight it is easier to get the paddle around quickly, but for some people this could also be a drawback.
If balls are often times being hit too early a lighter paddle would only make this problem worse. If the ball is being hit late then a lighter paddle will make the difference. By knowing whether your hit is early or late it can help make deciding on a paddle much easier.
Another reason for choosing a paddle is the bounce rate. If you consistently hit the ball too far then a graphite or composite paddle is only going to make this problem worse as the ball is going to move further with less effort. However, it is important to know if the reason it is going to far is simply because the ball is being hit at the wrong time. In this instance a lighter paddle may ensure the ball is hit properly. For those that have issues with not hitting the ball quite hard enough it is a good idea to use the bounce of the composite and graphite paddle. This will give extra distance to a hit making it go further with less effort.
The next consideration is the width of the paddle. There are two widths on a padde, the oversized and the standard. With the oversized there is a slightly bigger sweet spot. This is good for people that are notorious for hitting the ball with the edge of the paddle. If this isn't a problem then it really doesn't matter.
Finally, the last consideration is the grip. Some grips are short and some are long. Those with bigger hands should probably use the bigger grip as it is going to allow them to grab the paddle a little easier. It will also make changing hands a much easier process. Those with smaller hands will obviously have an easier time with a smaller handle.
And that's it. That's really all there is to choosing a pickleball paddle. Sure there are slight mechanics that can be brought up, but for the most part it is all about those basics mentioned above.