Staying in the pickleball loop just got easier

    Get the 5-minute newsletter over 55,000+ of your pickleball friends read every week.

    The best pickleball paddles for intermediate players include options that provide spin or power. For players looking to add spin, an intermediate paddle with a textured surface works best. Players who prefer more powerful shots should choose a heavier paddle with a thin core. 

    Our top picks showcase a balance of both spin and power – giving you options as you continue to improve your game.

    Our Top Pick
    Best for Control
    Best for Power
    • Toray T700 tech
    • Options of 13mm for power, 16mm for precision
    • Pro sizing
    • Elongated 5.5" handle
    • Toray 700K
    • Natural texture
    • Carbon Fusion Edge Technology
    • 14mm honeycomb core
    • Elongated shape
    • Carbon Friction Surface
    • 16mm Reactive Honeycomb Polymer core
    • Reinforced edge guard
    Our Top Pick
    • Toray T700 tech
    • Options of 13mm for power, 16mm for precision
    • Pro sizing
    • Elongated 5.5" handle
    Best for Control
    • Toray 700K
    • Natural texture
    • Carbon Fusion Edge Technology
    • 14mm honeycomb core
    Best for Power
    • Elongated shape
    • Carbon Friction Surface
    • 16mm Reactive Honeycomb Polymer core
    • Reinforced edge guard

    1. PCKL Pro Series 13 or 16

    Our Top Pick
    PCKL Pro Series 13 or 16
    • Toray T700 tech for top-tier spin control.
    • Options of 13mm for power, 16mm for precision.
    • Pro sizing for more consistent hits.
    • Elongated 5.5" handle perfect for two-handed shots.

    Use code UNION at checkout for 15% off.

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

    Got a sneak peek at the PCKL Pro Series 13 and, folks, it’s a game-changer for those ready to level up. This upgrade is not just a step up; it’s a leap forward, with its heart being a raw carbon fiber face that takes spin and control to new heights.

    The secret lies in the Toray T700 Raw Carbon Fiber technology, meticulously designed to enhance your game with optimized spin and pinpoint control. You have the choice between a 13 mm thickness for those power-packed plays and a 16 mm option for when you crave that extra control.

    With pro-standard sizing at 16.25″x7.5″, the paddle offers a generous sweet spot, making every hit feel just right. Plus, the elongated 5.5″ handle ensures comfort for those two-handed shots, making it a versatile pick for a variety of playing styles. Whether you lean towards power or precision, this paddle caters to both with equal finesse.

    Offering premium features at a budget-friendly price, this paddle is an excellent choice for players looking to elevate their game without emptying their wallet.

    2. Six Zero Double Black Diamond Control (14mm)

    Best for Control
    Six Zero Double Black Diamond Control
    • Toray 700K Carbon fiber surface enhances shot accuracy.
    • Natural texture for cutting and spinning shots.
    • Carbon Fusion Edge Technology expands the sweet spot.
    • 14mm honeycomb core for energetic shot returns.

    Use code PBUNION for 10% off at checkout!

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

    The Six Zero Double Black Diamond Control (14mm) is the secret weapon for players looking to ace both control and power in their game.

    Its Toray 700K Raw Carbon fiber surface isn’t just tough; it gives the ball a snug hug for extra dwell time, letting you slice or spin your shots with precision. Thanks to its Carbon Fusion Edge Technology, you get a paddle that feels crisp, minimizes those pesky vibrations, and has a sweet spot that forgives those not-so-perfect hits. And with its 14mm honeycomb core, your shots get an extra pop to zoom past opponents.

    The cherry on top? Its extended handle and overall length mean you can swing with more speed and less buzz, making this paddle a game-changer for those who want to command the court.

    3. JOOLA Ben Johns Perseus (16mm)

    Best for Power
    JOOLA Ben Johns Perseus
    • Elongated shape for extended leverage and power.
    • Carbon Friction Surface for precise ball control and spin.
    • 16mm Reactive Honeycomb Polymer core for precision and pop.
    • Reinforced edge guard for long-lasting performance.

    Use code PBUNION for 10% off at checkout!

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

    The Ben Johns Perseus CFS 16 is here and it’s a game-changer, blending power and control to elevate your play. This 8.0-ounce beast extends your reach and power thanks to its elongated shape and 16mm poppy core.

    With an 11″ by 7.5″ Carbon Friction Surface and a 5.5″ handle, you get leverage for more power and a surface that lets you control the ball with precision and spin. Plus, its two-hander-friendly handle with JOOLA’s tacky Sure Grip ensures you can swing faster and hit harder.

    At its core (literally), the 16mm Reactive Honeycomb Polymer core gives you the ultimate control and the power you need. It’s designed for precision dinks, controlled passes, and deep court returns, all while keeping vibrations low and the sweet spot large. And, with a durable edge guard, this paddle’s ready to last you through the seasons.

    If you’re a fan of Joola and ready for their latest tech, the Perseus is a must-have.

    4. Selkirk LUXX Control Air Invikta

    Best for Precision
    Selkirk LUXX Control Air Invikta
    • 20mm "Thikset" core for unmatched accuracy.
    • Nearly edge-to-edge consistency.
    • ProSpin+ NextGen Texturing for superior spin.
    • Aero-DuraEdge technology for controlled power.

    Use code PBUNION for 10% off at checkout!

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

    Selkirk has taken the beloved elongated Invikta shape and added a thick core for unmatched control that stands out in a sea of power-focused paddles. The combo of the 20mm “Thikset” Honeycomb core and Flex Foam around the edges stretches the sweet spot across nearly the entire paddle, ensuring consistent hits and a cushioned feel.

    What really brings it all together is the 360-degree Proto Molding technology, paired with a highly textured Florek Carbon Fiber surface. This setup not only gives you control but adds a nice touch of power for those topspin drives and overhead smashes. The ProSpin+ NextGen Texturing on the face ensures your spins keep the competition guessing.

    If the idea of an elongated control paddle excites you, especially if you’re into precisely dropping shots over the net, the Selkirk LUXX Control Air Invikta is calling your name.

    As for the experience? It’s a control dream. It’s like Selkirk took everything great about the Invikta shape and supercharged it for precision play. Even former tennis pro Jack Sock is on board.

    5. CRBN-1X Power Series (14 or 16mm)

    Best for Consistency
    CRBN-1X Power Series Carbon Fiber
    • Ideal mix of power and control.
    • Lightweight and streamlined design.
    • Superior surface texture for spin control.
    • Thick core and foam edges minimize shock.

    Use code PBUNION for 10% off at checkout!

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

    Whether you pick the 14mm or 16mm core, you’re in for a treat with the CRBN-1X that seriously level up your game. They might be part of the “Power Series,” but these beauties shine with control, striking a sweet spot between powering through and playing it smart on the court.

    Thanks to their sleek unibody carbon fiber build and snappy 16.5″ x 7.5″ size, you’ll be swinging fast and hitting hard with crisp contact every time. Want to spin the ball like a pro? The surface texture and Toray carbon fiber face have got you covered for those tricky spins and low dinks.

    And for all the power players out there, no need to worry about the shock to your arm. The CRBN-1X has a thick honeycomb core and foam edges to keep those vibrations at bay, ensuring your play is as smooth as it is powerful.

    Prefer a bit more oomph? The 14mm’s your go-to. And for the tacticians, the 16mm offers control that doesn’t quit.

    Choosing an Intermediate Pickleball Paddle

    Aside from basics like price and whether a paddle has USAPA approval, it is vital to understand the construction materials used in crafting the paddles and how these materials affect gameplay. 

    Paddle dimensions are important for advanced players, and paddle weight should be carefully factored into the decision because weight plays a huge role in helping players achieve their gameplay goals.

    1. Price

    Depending on the brand, an intermediate-level paddle can cost anywhere from $100 to $230+. Knowing the price point that you’re comfortable with will help narrow down the options you’re considering.

    Just because a paddle costs more doesn’t mean it’s better. Some brands have market recognition that allows them to sell at a higher price point, but the quality of their paddle isn’t necessarily better.

    Also, price shouldn’t be the main factor. It’s more important that you find a paddle designed for your play style.

    2. Paddle Dimensions and USAPA Approval

    Tournament-approved paddles must meet the guidelines outlined in the USAPA rulebook. If a paddle has USAPA approval, it fits the guidelines. If a paddle does not have this approval, you won’t be able to use it in a tournament.

    Overall Max Size (includes the length, width, butt cap, edge guard)24 inches or 60.96cm
    Max Allowable Length17″ or 43.18cm
    Max Allowable Width8.25″ or 20.96cm
    Standard Paddle Dimensions16″ long by 8″ wide

    3. Surface Materials

    Fiberglass: Fiberglass is a face material popular for players who enjoy quick pacing during play. It is a surface material that offers power but tends to have a smaller sweet spot. This surface tends to be more smooth than other surface materials.

    Carbon Fiber: Thanks to consumer demand, carbon fiber is quickly gaining traction among pickleball paddle companies. Carbon fiber is a popular surface material because it’s rough, which helps intermediate and advanced players spin the ball more easily.

    Carbon fiber paddles tend to be combined with thicker cores to allow for a large sweet spot and to maximize control. A drawback is that carbon fiber paddles tend to be heavier.

    Graphite: Textured graphite surfaces are another popular choice for intermediate and advanced paddles. Graphite is found in most major brands and can help enhance the skills of more advanced players.

    Graphite texture can be further enhanced by adding grit for players who want to maximize surface texture.

    4. Thick vs. Thin Cores

    Thin cores provide extra power because they don’t dampen the ball much. Thicker cores keep the ball on the surface of the paddle longer and don’t transfer as much energy so they allow for greater control.

    Whether you choose a thick or thin core will depend on your style of play:

    • Aggressive players who enjoy hard hits will likely enjoy a thinner core
    • Players who enjoy manipulating the ball and opting for dinks and spin will likely prefer a thicker core.

    A thin core is around 11mm, and a thick core is 16mm.

    5. Grip Size and Style

    A comfortable grip is essential, particularly when trying to learn advanced skills.

    Height is a good guideline for choosing a grip circumference.

    • Those with a height of less than 5’2″ should opt for a small grip.
    • Those with a height between 5’2″ and 5’8″ should opt for a standard grip.
    • Those with a greater than 5’9″ should opt for an oversized grip.

    If your hand size differs from your height, or a particular size doesn’t feel comfortable, choose one that feels right.

    Many intermediate paddles come with a few choices of grip. Some models may only offer a standard grip, but you can add a pickleball overgrip after-market to make it comfortable.

    Remember that the sleeker the grip surface, it is easier to change your grip for particular shots. However, you don’t want to choose a material that doesn’t offer a moisture-wicking surface. Slick hands will lead to missed shots.

    6. Paddle Weight

    The weight of a paddle will have an impact on gameplay performance. It is important to choose a paddle that is comfortable to hold and will help you develop the skills you want to master.

    Lightweight PaddlesMidweight PaddlesHeavyweight paddles
    Weigh 6.7 to 7 ounces7.5 to 8.0 ounces8.3 to 8.5 ounces
    Easy to hold and versatileA popular weight class for intermediate-level paddlesThe heavier a paddle, the more power it has
    Tend to use less expensive materialsIntermediate paddles tend to clock in at the upper end of the weight rangeIt can be harder to swing in a fast-paced game
    Few intermediate paddles fall into this weight classOffer exceptional control with a good power balanceMost intermediate players will find the weight difficult to wield
    USAPA-approved paddle dimensions

    Upgrading Pickleball Equipment Over Time

    It’s crucial to upgrade your pickleball paddles as your skill level progresses over time. If you don’t, it can be detrimental to your game. 

    The frequency of upgrading or replacing your pickleball paddle can vary based on several factors including how often you play, the level of wear and tear your paddle endures, and advancements in paddle technology that might suit your evolving game style. Here’s a general guideline:

    1. Regular Players (3-5 times a week): Consider evaluating your paddle for possible replacement or upgrade every 1 to 2 years. Regular play can lead to the paddle wearing down, affecting its performance.
    2. Casual Players (1-2 times a week): Casual or beginner players might find their paddles last longer, potentially 2 to 3 years, before noticing significant performance issues or wear.
    3. Wear and Tear: If your paddle shows clear signs of deterioration—such as cracks, dead spots (areas that feel flat upon impact), or a significant loss in grip or surface texture—it’s time to consider getting a new one.

    The good news is that many great paddles for intermediate players can also be used at advanced skill levels as long as they aren’t worn out.

    You can also check out our selection of paddles for pro players.

    How useful was this post?

    Click on a star to rate it!

    We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

    Let us improve this post!

    Tell us how we can improve this post?

    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.