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.
Choosing a Beginner Pickleball Paddle
Choosing your first paddle as a beginner can be a daunting task.
You should consider several attributes before choosing your paddle: overall price, materials, paddle dimensions, USAPA approval, weight, and grip size.
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.
Beginners who aren’t sure if they will continue to play the game or are just trying it out for the first time should consider a lower-cost option. Those who have played a bit and are interested in continuing to improve their game should consider spending a bit more.
The higher price tag often means better control on the pickleball court.
Paddles can come in a variety of materials. Typical materials are aluminum, Nomex, or polymer. The core materials and construction determine the size, shape, and weight of the paddle.
A Nomex core is a popular material seen in beginner paddles because it offers control, but gameplay will be loud. Polymer cores are meant more for power, but have less control. Aluminum offers stellar control but less power.
Most mid-range beginner paddles are composite paddles with a honeycomb pattern core and have either graphite, carbon fiber, or a fiberglass face.
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 falling specifications according to the USAPA rulebook.
Overall Max Size (combined length, width, butt cap, and edge guard): 24 inches or 60.96cm
Maximum Length: 17″ or 43.18cm
Maximum Width: 8.25” or 20.96cm
Standard Pickleball Paddle Dimensions: 16″ long by 8″ wide
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).
Qualities to Consider
The following list will break down the key characteristics of pickleball paddles so you can decide on the perfect paddle for you.
Fiberglass vs Graphite Pickleball Paddles
The “face” refers to the surface of the paddle.
A fiberglass face is the most common type and offers the most power during play.
A graphite face is more durable than fiberglass. While less forceful, it offers better control.
Carbon fiber is sometimes seen in beginner paddles, usually in a higher price range. It is highly durable and offers both power and control.
Thick or Thin Cores
The thicker the core, the more control you have. The thinner the core, the more power you wield.
If you have an aggressive play style, you’ll enjoy using a thinner polymer core.
If you’re more conservative and want optimal control, you’ll prefer a thicker (16mm) core.
As a beginner, your best bet is to choose a paddle with a mid-range thickness, at least until you’ve developed your preferred playing style. Medium-range thickness is around 14mm thick.
Choosing a Grip Size
Choosing a comfortable grip is one of the most factors in picking a pickleball paddle.
You generally need a larger grip circumference if you have large hands.
Height is often used as a guide to help determine which size grip is most appropriate.
- 5’2″ and below should consider using a small 4″ grip.
- 5’2″ to 5’8″ should use a medium-sized 4.25″ grip.
- 5’9″ and taller should use a large 4.5″ grip.
If your hand size is smaller than average or larger, you’ll need to adjust the specification to suit your body size.
If the paddle comes with a cushioned grip, it’s important to determine how much “give” it has. This ensures it’s comfortable to hold and wield with and without compression.
Settling on a Paddle Weight
Paddle weight has a significant impact on your performance and gameplay.
There are three main weight classes: lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight. Each comes with advantages.
- Typically weigh 6.7 to 7 ounces
- The easiest to wield and maneuver
- Harder to find but usually cost less due to fewer materials used in construction
- Typically weigh around 7.5 ounces
- By far the most popular weight class for beginners
- Offers excellent control and power balance
- Most people believe this weight is the most comfortable
- Typically weigh 8.3 to 8.5 ounces
- Heavy paddles offer more power
- They can be harder to swing in a fast-paced game
- They require extra conditioning to control
- Unusual for beginners to use a heavy paddle
5 Pickleball Paddles for Beginners
These are some of the best pickleball paddles for beginner players on the market and can be purchased at Amazon or direct from manufacturers.
1. Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddle
The AMPED Epic X5 is known for its unique X5 polypropylene polymer honeycomb core, which gives you optimal power at a reasonable weight. The FiberFlex fiberglass face is great for both power and optimizing the paddle's sweet spot.
The Selkirk Amped Pickleball paddle is a quality paddle that is well-balanced for new players. It has a Fiberflex Fiberglass face along with a 9/16″ polypropylene honeycomb X5 Core, enabling ball cushioning and generating spin effortlessly.
- The long, elegant handle and large surface area make this great for beginners, allowing for a larger sweet spot.
- This paddle has a large grip that is great for players who use two-handed swings.
- This paddle weighs 7.5 ounces and has a handle length of 5.25″ with a grip circumference of 4.25″.
All Selkirk brand paddles are tested and approved by the United States of America Pickleball Association or USAPA.
2. ONIX Graphite Z5
The Onix Graphite Z5 is a great paddle that delivers a solid, wide-body paddle shape.
- This paddle features a graphite face and an 11mm Nomex honeycomb core.
- It was built to be mid-weight (7.5 to 8.2 ounces) and versatile, perfect for beginning players.
- The grip size is similar to a tennis racquet at four and a quarter inches, allowing for a comfortable grip for most players.
The Onix Graphite Z5 is one of the most cost-effective options available and is approved for use in pickleball tournaments for USAPA.
3. A11N HyperFeather Paddle
This is the perfect starting pack of paddles for players just getting into the game! The A11N HyperFeather SE paddles are USAP-Approved, allowing you to use them at any level of play.
The A11N HyperFeather Paddle comes in a pickleball paddle set of two or four, which is perfect for Doubles players.
- It offers a textured graphite face that is broad for a large sweet spot.
- Low-profile edge guard which helps prevent the paddle from being damaged over time.
- It has a medium size grip, and a polymer honeycomb core.
- The paddle weighs 8 ounces and is one of the heavier paddles out there which allows for more powerful shots.
These paddles are USAPA approved for casual and tournament play. It’s also approved for use in noise-restricted neighborhoods.
4. Rally Tyro 2
The Rally Tyro 2 Pro offers tons of value to players who want high level performance with a user-friendly shape. The thick polymer core negates vibration and evenly disperses energy across the paddle.
The Rally Tyro 2 offers excellent ball strike performance feedback and is a popular beginner paddle.
- It offers a half-inch polypropylene honeycomb core with a velvet texture polycarbonate facing which helps control the ball.
- It features a moisture-wicking handle grip measuring 4.25″ and clocks in at 7.6 to 8.0 ounces.
The Rally Tyro 2 is approved by both IFP and USAPA for tournament play.
5. Head Radical Elite
The Head Radical Elite pickleball paddle is a fantastic option for both new and experienced pickleball players. It has a fiberglass composite surface and thick polymer honeycomb core that make for a lighter paddle while also giving your swing a lot of power. Head uses a highly ergonomic foam handle for a more comfortable grip.
The Head Radical Elite is a medium-weight paddle weighing 8.1 ounces, that is easy to maneuver for beginners but also appropriate for intermediate players.
- It features a fiberglass finish along with a 13mm polypropylene honeycomb core for excellent control with minimal vibration.
- The medium-size ergonomic grip and grip length of 5 inches will help players from getting tennis elbow.
Expert vs Beginner Pickleball Paddles
The best beginner paddles should have the following features.
- Wide-body with a large surface area that offers the best chance of hitting the ball
- Textured surface for better control
- Mid-weight range to explore a variety of swings
- Standard playing size pickleball paddle
- A comfortable grip
- May or may not be tournament approved
- Advanced players require a high-quality hitting surface
- Typically will have an edge guard to protect the (more expensive) paddle
- Offers optimal maneuverability and ball control tailored to the preferred style of play
- Likely to be a heavier weight paddle
- Size is optimized for the individual player
- Tournament approved
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.
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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