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    When you're choosing the best pickleball paddle for beginners, look for options that are well-balanced, comfortable to hold and wield, and that offer control over power and spin. 

    Most beginners prefer to start with midweight paddles that have a wide surface area and medium-range thickness.

    Our Top Pick
    All Skill Levels
    Best for Control
    4.5
    4.3
    4.2
    • T700 Raw Carbon
    • 16 mm Core
    • Optimal spin
    • Large sweet spot
    • Long handle
    • Raw Carbon Fiber Face
    • 15mm Core
    • Extended handle
    • Midweight balance
    • Ideal for all skill levels
    • Carbon Fiber Face
    • 16mm Core
    • Extended sweet spot
    • Torsional rigidity
    • PUR-Cell Edge Foam for comfort
    Our Top Pick
    4.5
    • T700 Raw Carbon
    • 16 mm Core
    • Optimal spin
    • Large sweet spot
    • Long handle
    All Skill Levels
    4.3
    • Raw Carbon Fiber Face
    • 15mm Core
    • Extended handle
    • Midweight balance
    • Ideal for all skill levels
    Best for Control
    4.2
    • Carbon Fiber Face
    • 16mm Core
    • Extended sweet spot
    • Torsional rigidity
    • PUR-Cell Edge Foam for comfort

    The 5 Best Paddles for Beginners

    Starting your pickleball journey with the right paddle can make a significant difference in how quickly you progress from a beginner to an intermediate player. That’s why we’ve carefully selected paddles that are not only perfect for those just stepping onto the court but also capable of supporting your growth in the game.

    Our guide focuses on paddles that offer a balance of control, comfort, and durability, ensuring they serve you well as your skills develop.

    1. Selkirk SLK Halo (Control) XL

    Selkirk SLK Halo (Control) XL – 16mm
    • Face Material: carbon fiber face.
    • Core Type:16mm thick polymer control core.
    • Handle Features: 5.75-inch handle.
    • Weight Range: 7.6 to 8.2 ounces.
    • Grip Size: 4.35-inch grip.
    • Price Point: Priced at $140.

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    When you buy through our links, you support independent pickleball journalism.

    Meet the Selkirk SLK Halo (Control) XL – 16mm paddle, a top pick for beginner pickleball players who want serious spin and control.

    It features a sleek T700 Raw Carbon face for that extra zip on your shots and an elongated shape that boosts handle length for more power. The 16 mm Rev-Core Control Polymer Core maximizes the sweet spot, making every shot feel just right.

    Plus, the cushioned SLK faux leather grip not only feels great in your hand but also adds a touch of class to your game.

    Read our full review of the Selkirk SLK Halo (Control) XL paddle.

    2. VERSIX® RAW 6C+ Standard

    VERSIX® RAW 6C+ Standard
    • Enhanced Spin Control: Raw carbon fiber surface improves spin on every shot.
    • Balanced Play: 15mm polypropylene core offers a perfect blend of power and control.
    • Comfort Grip: Perforated handle wrap ensures a comfortable, secure grip during play.
    • Wide Sweet Spot: Traditional shape provides a forgiving and broad hitting area.

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    When you buy through our links, you support independent pickleball journalism.

    The VERSIX RAW 6+ Standard paddle is a versatile beast that suits more aggressive players. This paddle is a favorite for those looking to sharpen their competitive edge, featuring a 5.75″ extended handle for really good control and maneuverability, ideal for those who enjoy a longer grip or have larger hands.

    Weighing in at a balanced 7.9oz, it offers the perfect blend of power and finesse, making it your go-to for both driving shots and subtle net play.

    Its 15mm core delivers exceptional responsiveness and shock absorption, ensuring a comfortable game every time.

    Read our full review of the VERSIX RAW 6+ Standard paddle.

    3. PIKKL Vantage Pro 16mm

    PIKKL Vantage Pro 16mm
    • Material: Carbon Fiber Face.
    • Core: 16mm Polypropylene Honeycomb Core.
    • Weight: Average weight of 7.9 oz.
    • Grip Size: 4 1/4 inches.
    • Sweet Spot: Larger.

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    Designed for control enthusiasts, this paddle features a thick 16mm Hex-Core polypropylene core, encased in Thermoformed Unibody construction for superior rigidity and a stable feel. Every strike is smooth and controlled, letting you place your shots with pinpoint accuracy that’ll drive your opponents wild.

    The 10.9″ long and 7.5″ wide raw carbon fiber multiweave surface grips the ball for slicing serves and topspin drives, ensuring your play stays sharp and your drops devious.

    With a comfortable 5.35″ handle and an optimal 8.3 oz weight, this paddle feels like an extension of your arm, enhancing your connection with every shot.

    Read our full review of the PIKKL Vantage Pro 16mm paddle.

    4. Engage Omega Evolution Max

    Engage Omega Evolution Max
    • Carbon Fiber Face: Provides a stable hitting surface.
    • Polymer Core: Excellent vibration dampening.
    • Balanced Weight Distribution: Easy handling.
    • Beginner-Friendly Design: Great for new players.
    • Aesthetic Appeal: Looks as good as it performs.
    • Affordable Price: Great value for beginners.

    Use code PBUNION for 10% off at checkout!

    When you buy through our links, you support independent pickleball journalism.

    The Engage Omega Evolution Max paddle is a standout in the mid-market range for its genuine carbon fiber surface—not just an overlay.

    This paddle is engineered for those who demand more from their gear, offering maximum texture for enhanced control and a unique ability to grip the ball.

    Featuring the HoldTEK 1/2 inch polymer core, it delivers consistent compression and release for exceptional feel and pinpoint control. With its classic 16″ x 8″ shape, the Evolution Max provides the perfect balance of reach, width, and sweet spot, making it ideal for players looking to improve their game in all areas without breaking the bank.

    Read our full review of the Engage Omega Evolution Max paddle.

    5. Onix Z5

    Onix Z5
    • Graphite Face: Offers quick and responsive shots.
    • Nomex Honeycomb Core: Provides excellent power.
    • Widebody Shape: Maximizes the sweet spot.
    • Heavy-weight Design: Ensures strong slams.
    • Tennis Handle: Mimics the feel of a tennis racket handle for familiar grip and control.

    Use code PBUNION for 10% off at checkout!

    When you buy through our links, you support independent pickleball journalism.

    This popular paddle is celebrated for its solid feel and classic design, making it a favorite on the courts. It boasts a wide 8-1/8” face, ensuring a large sweet spot for that perfect hit, every time. Weighing in between 7.5 and 8.2 ounces, it offers a balanced blend of power and agility that suits a wide range of playing styles.

    What really sets the Z5 apart is its striking design, featuring a bold Z emblazoned across a honeycomb-patterned graphite face.

    Whether you’re just starting out or refining your competitive edge, the Z5 delivers pretty good control and touch with its graphite face and nomex core.

    What Factors Are Important When Choosing A Paddle for Beginners?

    1. Price

    Affordable wooden paddles can cost less than $30. High-end beginner paddles can go for $150 or more.

    What makes such a difference in price? The construction and materials. Of course, well-known brand names also tend to drive up the price because of their reputation.

    For beginners uncertain about their long-term commitment to pickleball or those trying it for the first time, opting for a more affordable paddle is advisable. These lower-cost options are typically made from wood, which, while heavier and offering less control than more expensive materials, provide a solid introduction to the game without a significant financial investment.

    On the other hand, players who have had some experience and are keen on improving their skills might find it worthwhile to invest in a higher-priced paddle. These paddles often feature advanced materials such as graphite or composite, which are lighter and offer better control and power on the court. 

    In summary, the higher price tag often means better control on the pickleball court.

    2. Paddle Materials

    Paddles can come in a variety of materials. Typical materials are Nomex, polymer or aluminum The core materials and construction determine the size, shape, and weight of the paddle. 

    Here’s a table with a summary of the most popular materials and their respective pros and cons.

    Core MaterialDescriptionProsCons
    NomexHardened nylon in a honeycomb pattern, commonly used in beginner paddles.Excellent control and responsiveness, aiding skill development.Produces a louder sound upon impact, which may be disruptive for some players.
    PolymerPlastic-based material, known for its power and soft impact.Provides significant power and a softer feel on impact.May sacrifice some control, depending on playing style.
    AluminumOffers exceptional control and touch for precise shot placement.Superior control and finesse, beneficial for quick hand movements.Less power compared to Nomex or polymer, potentially affecting durability.

    3. Paddle Face Construction

    Most mid-range beginner paddles are composite paddles with a honeycomb pattern core and have either graphite, carbon fiber, or a fiberglass face.

    • Graphite Face: Paddles with a graphite face are lightweight and provide a good balance of control and power. They are known for their responsiveness, allowing for precise shots.
    • Carbon Fiber Face: Similar to graphite, carbon fiber offers a high level of stiffness and strength, leading to powerful shots without sacrificing control. It’s also lightweight, contributing to ease of movement.
    • Fiberglass Face: Fiberglass, or composite, faces are known for enhancing the paddle’s power due to their flexibility. They tend to offer more ‘pop’ on the ball but might not provide the same level of control as graphite or carbon fiber.

    4. Paddle Dimensions

    Some pickleball paddles have a longer length for extra reach, while some are wider and shorter, giving a large sweet spot to hit the ball.

    All pickleball paddles approved for tournament play must fall into the following specifications according to the USAPA rulebook:

    AspectSize
    Overall Max Size24″ or 60.96cm
    Maximum Length17″ or 43.18cm
    Maximum Width8.25” or 20.96cm
    Standard Pickleball Paddle Dimensions16″ long by 8″ wide
    Size of USAPA-approved pickleball paddles

    If you ever plan to play in a tournament, it is important that the paddle you purchase has USA Pickleball approval (or IFP approval if playing in an International tournament).

    You can check if a pickleball paddle has the USA Pickleball approval here; for IPF approvals, click here.

    How to Choose the Best Pickleball Paddle for You

    Selecting the ideal pickleball paddle can significantly enhance your performance. This guide will help you navigate the key features of pickleball paddles:

    Fiberglass vs. Graphite vs. Carbon Fiber Paddles

    • Fiberglass Faces: Commonly used, fiberglass paddles are known for their power-enhancing properties, making them a favorite among players looking to add some extra force to their shots.
    • Graphite Faces: Graphite paddles are celebrated for their durability and control. They provide a balanced performance with a slight edge in precision over power.
    • Carbon Fiber: A premium option found in some beginner paddles, carbon fiber offers a superb blend of durability, power, and control but usually comes at a higher cost.

    Core Thickness: Thick vs. Thin

    • Thick Cores: A thicker core, such as 16mm, is ideal for players seeking maximum control over their shots, suitable for a more strategic, placement-focused game.
    • Thin Cores: Thinner cores provide increased power, perfect for an aggressive play style. A thinner polymer core paddle is a go-to for players looking to dominate with force.
    • Mid-Range Thickness: For beginners, a paddle with a mid-range thickness of around 14mm is advisable, offering a balanced performance to explore and develop your playing style.

    Grip Size Matters

    Selecting a comfortable grip size is crucial for control and comfort.

    • Small Hands (5’2″ and below): Opt for a small 4″ grip for a comfortable hold.
    • Medium Hands (5’2″ to 5’8″): A medium-sized 4.25″ grip is generally suitable.
    • Large Hands (5’9″ and taller): Consider a large 4.5″ grip for the best fit.

    Adjust according to your hand size for the perfect grip. Also, consider the cushioning of the grip to ensure it remains comfortable throughout your play.

    Picking the Right Weight

    The weight of your paddle profoundly influences your gameplay.

    • Lightweight Paddles (6.7 to 7 ounces): These paddles are easy to maneuver, making them ideal for players valuing speed and agility.
    • Midweight Paddles (~7.5 ounces): The preferred choice for beginners due to their balanced control and power. This weight class is often considered the most comfortable and versatile.
    • Heavyweight Paddles (8.3 to 8.5 ounces): Best suited for players seeking more power behind their shots. Heavy paddles require more strength to handle effectively, making them less common among beginners.

    Beginner Vs. Expert Pickleball Paddles

    expert vs beginner pickleball paddle

    The primary difference between expert and beginner pickleball paddles lies in their design and features tailored to the player’s skill level.

    Beginner paddles often have a wide-body design with a large surface area and textured surface for better control, and are typically mid-weight to facilitate a variety of swings. They may not always be tournament approved.

    Expert paddles, on the other hand, are crafted with high-quality materials for optimal maneuverability and ball control, tailored to the player’s preferred style of play. They are usually heavier, optimized in size for individual needs, always tournament-approved, and often feature an edge guard to protect the investment in a more expensive paddle.

    FeatureBeginner PaddlesExpert Paddles
    Surface AreaWide-body with a large surface area for better ball contact.High-quality hitting surface optimized for advanced play.
    Surface TextureTextured for improved control.Tailored for optimal maneuverability and control.
    WeightMid-weight to accommodate a variety of swings.Likely to be heavier for precision and power.
    SizeStandard playing size.Optimized for the individual player’s needs.
    GripDesigned for comfort.May vary, focusing on the player’s specific requirements.
    Tournament ApprovalMay or may not be approved.Always tournament approved.
    Edge GuardNot specified.Typically includes an edge guard to protect the more expensive paddle.
    Beginner vs. expert pickleball paddle

    Upgrading Pickleball Equipment Over Time

    Can your beginner pickleball paddle hold you back from improving your game? Is it necessary to upgrade your pickleball paddle once you’ve gained more experience? The answer to both questions is yes. 

    However, some beginner composite pickleball paddles can serve you well for a long time, even as your skill level increases.

    If you’re confident you’ll continue playing pickleball for a long time, invest in a paddle that’s meant for use by beginners and intermediate players.

    Make sure also to check our guide on how to maintain and store pickleball paddles.

    Always check whether the paddle you’re thinking of purchasing comes with a warranty, particularly if you’re choosing a more expensive paddle.

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    Christina Pichler

    Christina is a former tennis player who has been a pickleball enthusiast since her first open-play session in 2020. She’s played pickleball in family tournaments from sunny California all the way to Austria. She’s made it her mission to introduce as many people to her favorite sport as possible and joined the Pickleball Union team in 2022 to spread the word that pickleball is for everyone.