Pickleball paddles come in several materials for different styles of play. The best options for the paddle surface material are carbon fiber, graphite, or composite. The best options for the pickleball core material are polymer or Nomex.
Best Material for Pickleball Paddles
Pickleball paddles are a composite of two materials: the paddle surface material, and the paddle core material.
There are a number of options for both the paddle surface and the paddle core. The best pickleball paddles are spread relatively evenly across a number of these options.
Paddle surface material options are typically:
- Carbon fiber
- Composite paddle faces
Paddle core material options are:
- Aluminum cores
- Nomex cores
- Polymer cores
The right pickleball paddle for your style of play depends on a few factors. New players can find this overwhelming, but don’t fear: we’re going to break the options down below.
Best Material for Pickleball Paddle Surfaces
Wooden Paddle Faces
Wooden pickleball paddles are a throwback to the past and are not recommended for modern pickleball players.
They are a cheap, easy-to-source option that can be great for a casual game at the beach or on a makeshift pickleball court. However, wood paddles are heavy, offer less power and finesse, and are not as effective to use as modern material paddles.
If you are a finesse player, graphite paddles might be for you. Graphite face paddles have a lighter paddle weight, meaning they are great for players who like maximum control over their dinks.
The lightweight nature of graphite pickleball paddles also means they are a good option for older players or those who struggle with the heft of heavier paddles. Graphite paddles are also great for those who struggle with injuries such as tennis elbow, as their smaller mass puts less strain on the ligaments.
Composite pickleball paddles are probably the best all-around paddle surface material. Almost every pickleball player could use a composite paddle and find something to love. They provide a good balance between power and finesse and have a gritty surface area providing maximum amounts of spin.
Most composite pickleball paddles fall into the ‘midweight’ range – not the lightest, but also not the heaviest too, providing a great middle-ground for new players who aren’t sure what they prefer yet.
Pickleball paddles with a carbon fiber face are some of the most durable on the market. The carbon fiber hitting area is strong, making it a great option for those who are a little more hard on their paddles. The firm nature of the face also provides a lot of power. Carbon fiber’s weight-to-strength ratio is excellent, potentially providing the most power available in a lightweight or midweight paddle.
If you want to hit the ball hard but don’t want a heavyweight paddle, carbon fiber is for you.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet on which surface material to use based on your preferred style of play:
- Graphite is the best paddle face material for those who want a lightweight paddle or those with a finesse-based style of play.
- Composite paddles are the best all-rounders and suit those without a specific style or who are yet to work out what they like the best.
- Carbon fiber pickleball paddles are the best options for those who want durability and power.
Best Material for Pickleball Cores
The most common core material for pickleball paddles is polymer.
A large percentage of pickleball paddles on the market will come with polymer cores. This is for a number of reasons:
- Polypropylene provides a responsive feeling that offers tight control over the pickleball ball.
- It also creates a quiet sound. This might seem like a minor consideration, but one of the downsides of pickleball is that the ball to paddle contact noise can be loud! If you’re playing in a public area with non-players around, a quiet polypropylene racket can save everyone a lot of earache!
Nomex cores are made from a harder, almost cardboard-like material with a honeycomb design, which is then dipped in resin.
Due to the extra firmness Nomex cores provide, they offer more power than polymer cores, but at a cost: noise. Though you might get faster ball speed out of a Nomex core, you are also likely to get a much louder contact sound!
However, for some players, the performance of this honeycomb core is more than worth the noise, especially if your game is built around power. The harder-hitting surface provides slightly less control, but if you’re smashing the ball past your opponent regularly, you can afford to lose a little bit of finesse.
Pickleball paddles with aluminum cores are the most lightweight options on the market. They are often good for new players, as they are cheap and easy to hold.
If you only play casually or need something super light, aluminum cores are worth looking into. However, serious players are better off with Nomex or polypropylene.
- Polymer cores are the right option for those looking for soft touch and quiet sound off the paddle.
- Nomex cores are the best option for pickleball players who want the most power and aren’t worried about a loud noise upon contact with the paddle.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?