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    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.

    1. Our Top Pick: PCKL Pro Series 13

    PCKL Pro Series 13 Pickleball Paddle

    We had a chance to test drive this latest release from PCKL, and we believe that it's an excellent paddle for players of all backgrounds looking for a new paddle that could take their game to the next level.

    Use code UNION at checkout for 15% off.

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

    We had a chance to test drive the PCKL Pro Series 13 before its release, and we absolutely love it for what it offers to intermediate players looking to take their game to the next level. The Pro Series 13 took everything we loved about the initial Pro Series paddle, and elevated it with the new raw carbon fiber face at the heart of its design.

    • The paddle’s face is composed of Toray T700 Raw Carbon Fiber technology, which optimizes spin and control.
    • You can buy the new Pro Series in both 13 mm and 16 mm options for thickness. 13 mm focuses on power, 16 mm on control.
    • The paddle face has pro-standard sizing (16.25″x7.5″), allowing for an ideal, large sweet spot.
    • The elongated handle at 5.5″ makes it incredibly comfortable for most 2-handed shots.

    This paddle is versatile in all the right ways, and the two size options allow it to work for both power and control players alike.

    2. Our “Price Is Right Pick”: Electrum Pro

    Price Is Right Pick
    Electrum Pro Paddle

    The Electrum Pro Pickleball Paddle is a fantastic option for both intermediate and pro players. Its strengths are found in both power and control thanks to a thin core and carbon fiber surface.

    When you buy through our links, you support independent pickleball journalism.
    12/03/2023 01:33 pm GMT

    The Electrum Pro is made for players who want a paddle that favors power for strong drives but can also effectively control the game at the kitchen line. The paddle is compact in form but feels vast in its performance.

    • The Pro’s 11mm polypropylene core optimizes its amount of pop and vastly increases the paddle’s sweet spot.
    • Electrum is known for revolutionizing the paddle surfacing game with its RAW Toray T700 Carbon Fiber technology. It grants the Pro an insane amount of grip while maintaining the power granted by the honeycomb polypropylene core.
    • In the paddle game, it’s hard to point to a more comfortable stock grip. Electrum uses genuine leather on its ergonomic grip, allowing for a highly breathable, comfortable play experience.
    • It’s small in size, measuring 15.5″ in length and 8.5″ in width, and has a grip length of just 4″. However, you can also opt for the elongated Pro II model, which has a longer paddle face and a 5.25″ long grip.

    3. Our Pro Player Pick: Volair Mach 1

    Volair Mach 1 Julian Arnold Signature Pickleball Paddle

    Having played 50+ hours with it, we've found that the Volair Mach 1 lives up to the hype. With a ton of control and plenty of power, you'll find that it meets your needs regardless of your playing style. Oh, and we love the soft oversized grip.

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

    Our top pro-model pick for intermediate players has to be the Volair Mach 1. We recently reviewed this paddle, and wow, is it a game-changer! Like other midweight carbon fiber paddles, it’s a monster in controlling the game’s pace at the kitchen line.

    • The Mach 1’s T700 carbon fiber surfacing adds immense grip for shot control, granting players more dwell time and spin.
    • Volair’s enhanced grip technology allows for ultimate comfort and shot stability.
    • It comes in both 14 mm and 16 mm options, allowing you options in terms of what you prefer: power or control.
    • The 5.5″ paddle grip length and 4.45″ grip circumference make this an incredibly easy paddle to handle.

    4. Selkirk SLK Evo Hybrid Max 2.0

    Budget Pick
    SLK Evo Hybrid Max

    This paddle is a great choice for both intermediate and recreational players. The 16mm core and fiberglass face allows for an incredibly balanced paddle.

    When you buy through our links, you support independent pickleball journalism.
    12/03/2023 01:47 pm GMT

    The SLK Evo Hybrid Max 2.0 is an excellent choice for intermediate players. 

    • The C6-Flex fiberglass face provides power and control from the paddle surface while enabling a quick game pace. 
    • The 16mm Polymer-Rev core offers a massive sweet spot for spin and controls noise and vibration.
    • This paddle features an ultra-comfortable, SLK non-slip grip with a grip circumference of 4.25″. 
    • It has a longer handle to improve reach at 5.25″. 
    • Plenty of color options to choose from.

    This is a well-rounded paddle with advanced maneuverability, suited to different playstyles offering solid performance in all key areas.

    All Selkirk paddles are approved for tournament use by the USAPA.

    5. CRBN 16 mm

    CRBN 16mm Pickleball Paddle

    The best feature is in the name: CRBN's carbon fiber face will allow for more dwell time and greater spin. It also features the industry-standard polypropylene honeycomb core at 16mm thick, granting a player maximum shot control.

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    12/03/2023 02:12 pm GMT

    CRBN pickleball paddles are often the go-to choice for intermediate and advanced players. The great thing about this paddle is it’s appropriate not only for intermediate players but for more advanced players too.

    • The CRBN¹ 16 mm has a paddle face of raw T700 carbon fiber, which offers an incredibly gritty textured surface enabling maximum spin on the ball
    • The 16mm polypropylene honeycomb core dampens vibration without sacrificing performance at the net.
    • This is also one of the best intermediate paddles for those who employ a two-handed backhand due to the long 5 1/2″ handle.
    • It is a heavier paddle at the desirable upper range of the mid-weight class and averages 8 ounces. 

    It has a standard grip size and is approved for tournament use by USAPA.

    Choosing an Intermediate Pickleball Paddle

    Two green pickleball paddles with a bucket of orange balls

    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.


    Depending on the brand, an intermediate-level paddle can cost anywhere from $80 to $200+. 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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    Grip Size and Style

    Two pickleball players on the court

    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.

    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

    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 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.

    Our Top Pick – Intermediate Pickleball Paddle

    PCKL Pro Series 13 Pickleball Paddle

    We had a chance to test drive this latest release from PCKL, and we believe that it's an excellent paddle for players of all backgrounds looking for a new paddle that could take their game to the next level.

    Use code UNION at checkout for 15% off.

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

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    christina pichler

    Christina was first introduced to Pickleball by her dad, who was looking for fun ways to stay active. As a lifelong lover of both tennis and ping pong, Christina was instantly drawn to the sport and found it was a great way to spend time with her family. Now a Pickleball enthusiast, Christina spends her days writing about Pickleball and her weekends playing in family tournaments.