When choosing a pickleball set, you'll need to decide based on the type of paddle and the number of paddles in the set, as well as whether you need a net or net. Most starter sets come with a fiberglass or graphite face. Both are excellent options for beginners and more experienced players.
What’s Included in a Pickleball Set?
Most pickleball starter sets include the same core pieces of pickleball equipment. These are:
- Pickleball paddles (usually either two or four)
- Pickleball balls (between three and eight, depending on size)
- A carry bag/carrying case
As well as these core items, pickleball sets can incorporate various extra components.
- Extra grip tape to replace your grips
- Cooling towels
- A portable pickleball net (only included in bigger, more expensive sets)
What to Consider When Buying a Pickleball Set
Why buy a set rather than individual equipment?
Buying equipment individually gives you the option to fine-tune each piece of equipment to your needs. For example, you might want four paddles but a smaller ball set. Buying individual pieces of equipment can also be cheaper, as you can search around for the best deals.
However, for most pickleball players—especially beginners—a complete set is the most convenient way to get started. A good starter set will allow you to begin playing quickly, easily, and stress-free.
What material are the paddles made of?
Polymer honeycomb is the most common core component used in pickleball paddles, and are recommended for most players. They demonstrate good versatility, allowing both powerful shots and dinks. The majority of starter sets provided by retailers have polymer cores.
Fiberglass faces are the most common pickleball paddle surface material, providing a good mixture of power and precision and a large sweet spot. They also offer the most textured surface for spin production. Fiberglass is the recommended surface for your starter set, but make note that paddles made from this material can be less durable.
Graphite pickleball paddles are slightly harder to add spin to but offer more durability and power than fiberglass.
Carbon fiber pickleball paddles are the strongest and most durable. They have a soft feel and the least amount of texture, providing less spin and power. However, this makes them excellent options for the pickleball player looking for more control.
Sets with wood pickleball paddles are also available. These are best for beach play, or for outdoor pickleball where the set will get knocked around a lot. Wooden pickleball paddles are heavier, louder, and aren’t recommended as a first choice.
How big a set do I need?
The smallest pickleball sets tend to have two pickleball paddles and three balls, while the bigger sets have four paddles and up to eight balls.
Here are some things to consider:
- Are you playing singles or doubles? If you’re playing singles, two paddles will be fine. If you want to start playing as a group of four, a bigger set is the better option.
- Where will you be playing? Bigger sets come with both indoor and outdoor balls (outdoor balls are heavier and less affected by wind). Consider a set with outdoor balls if you’ll mainly play outdoor pickleball.
- Do you need a net? The bigger sets come with a portable net system, allowing pickleball players to set up their own pickleball courts. This is excellent for those wishing to run a pickleball game in their driveway or backyard.
What brands make the best pickleball sets?
As with any sport, there are plenty of brands making equipment. Some of the biggest are:
- Niupipo: Niupipo are the best-selling pickleball brand on Amazon. They are mainly aimed at beginner and intermediate players, but have recently branched out into professional play as well.
- Selkirk Sports: Selkirk are a specialist pickleball retailer with the slogan: ‘We are Pickleball.’ They make equipment for all kinds of players, and have a strong focus on growing the game.
- Franklin Sports: Franklin Sports are a large, multi-sport manufacturer. This makes them a trusted and competent retailer, but also means they have less of a specific focus on pickleball.
- Onix: Onix are one of the older brands on the scene and sponsor a huge number of professional pickleball players. They offer a very simple starter set for beginner players.
- Amazin’ Aces: Amazin’ Aces make cheap and cheerful pickleball paddle sets for beginners. They are a great option if you’re looking to spend a little less.
How to Pick a Pickleball Set for your Skill Level
The most important choice for beginners is the number of paddles you want in your pickleball set and the materials used for the paddles and balls. This will most likely be determined by the amount of players you have, whether you are looking to play indoor or outdoor pickleball, and whether you need a portable net system.
As a beginner, try not to stress too much about the pickleball paddle set you end up picking up. Focus on getting started and learning the game.
You can always upgrade your equipment down the line!
For intermediate players/experts
Intermediate and expert players are less likely to buy pickleball starter sets. They’ll usually have the base equipment already and are looking to fine-tune their gear.
For more advanced players who do end up picking up a set, it must fit the USA Pickleball (USAPA) rules. If you want to play in tournaments, having a USAPA approved set is vital.
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