Are you a newcomer to the world of pickleball and in search of the best pickleball paddles for beginners to kickstart your journey? Firstly, welcome aboard! You're about to embark on an exciting sport.
When diving into the realm of pickleball, your gear selection becomes paramount. While everyone may desire top-notch pickleball accessories or even a fresh pair of pickleball shoes, nothing holds a candle to the significance of your pickleball paddle.
With the booming surge in pickleball's popularity, new paddles flood the market every month, leaving you pondering where to begin. In this article, we'll address all your queries regarding beginner pickleball paddles and unveil our top 13 picks for beginners in 2023.
When compiling our roster of the best beginner pickleball paddles, we aimed to provide absolute confidence in our selections. This is why every paddle featured in this list underwent meticulous testing by both myself and the Pickleheads team.
Explore our top recommendations below:
Best Pickleball Paddles For Beginners (Short List)
Best Pickleball Paddles For Beginners (Reviews Pros/Cons)
The PCKL Launch Series emerges as our top pick when it comes to the best pickleball paddles for beginners in 2023, and there are ample reasons to back this choice. We firmly believe it's the paddle of choice for those embarking on their pickleball journey.
Its broad-body design lends it incredible forgiveness, resulting in fewer mis-hits off its generous 8" wide face and a delightful 'pop' as you connect with the substantial sweet spot. This translates into reduced frustration for novice players and more room for skill development, enabling extended rallies and experimentation with shots like the 3rd shot drop.
The paddle's lightweight feel allows for swift maneuvering and enhanced reach, proving agile at the kitchen line. Whether handling powerful drives or offensive volleys, I was pleasantly surprised by the paddle's responsiveness, delivering substantial power with a robust and stable sensation.
I also noted good serving accuracy with the Launch paddle. With a hearty swing and ample spin generation, I consistently managed to land my serves and present a challenging return for my opponents.
While these paddles may not provide as much spin as advanced models, this detail is generally inconsequential to most beginners. What truly stands out is the paddle's comfortable grip, versatility in shot-making, and the extended rallies it facilitates.
For an in-depth review, don't hesitate to explore our comprehensive evaluation of the PCKL Launch Series pickleball paddle.
✔️ Exceptionally large sweet spot for heightened shot satisfaction
✔️ Lightweight and nimble, enabling quick reactions at the kitchen line
✔️ A well-rounded performer at an attractive price point
❌ May not generate as much spin as the JOOLA Essentials paddle
❌ Slightly weaker in the net game and may lack vigor in volleys
Pricing: At $64.99, this paddle offers remarkable value, outshining cheaper options on Amazon due to its superior performance.
OUR FINAL VERDICT:
The PCKL Launch Series stands as the optimal choice for one of the best pickleball paddles for beginners. This is for players seeking an affordable paddle that delivers impressive court performance and supports skill development.
In our assessment, the Head Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle stands out as the best value for your money on our roster. This paddle brings to the table premium attributes typically associated with pricier models. Moreover, it maintains its performance as you progress into the intermediate level.
The paddle employs what Head refers to as its 'Composite Hitting Surface' on the paddle face. This design is tailored to provide maximum power while also allowing sufficient flex to minimize vibrations and enhance ball control.
Underneath, the polypropylene core utilizes a unique tubular construction, resulting in an exceptionally large sweet spot and a satisfying 'pop' upon contact. Coupled with the ergonomic foam handle, this paddle offers exceptional feel and comfort. It's worth noting that this paddle leans towards the heavier side, emphasizing power shots over finesse play.
✔️ Premium features
✔️ Remarkably large sweet spot
✔️ Suitable for intermediate players as well
❌ The elongated handle may slightly limit maneuverability
Priced at $65, this paddle presents a highly reasonable investment considering the features it delivers.
OUR FINAL VERDICT:
The HEAD Radical Elite provides unparalleled value, boasting performance specifications that bridge the gap between intermediate and advanced levels, all at a cost only slightly higher than most entry-level beginner paddles. It offers an expansive sweet spot, ample power, and the capacity to evolve with you as you advance beyond the beginner stage.
The Niupipo Graphite Pickleball Paddles have earned their status as a bestseller on Amazon. They present a reliable choice for novice pickleball enthusiasts who wish to embark on their pickleball journey without denting their wallets. Despite their budget-friendly price tag, these paddles boast a contemporary, lightweight composite construction.
These paddles incorporate design elements akin to pricier models like the Vulcan V530, featuring a lightweight yet sturdy and responsive honeycomb core. Additionally, they come equipped with a cushioned, sweat-absorbing grip and a protective carry case for safeguarding them between games.
The low-profile edge guard serves to shield the paddle from impacts and scrapes during low shots without impeding gameplay. While superior paddles exist in the market, the Niupipo paddle offers all the essentials a beginner needs.
I personally began my pickleball journey with the Niupipo paddle years ago. Although there are now more favorable options for beginners, such as the PCKL Launch Series, the Niupipo remains a dependable budget choice for newcomers who want to dip their toes into pickleball without a substantial investment.
✔️ Strikes a good balance between power and control
✔️ Designed for comfort with a perforated, sweat-absorbing cushioned grip
✔️ Includes a protective case
❌ The relatively short handle may not suit players with larger hands
As the most budget-friendly paddle on our list, typically priced around $50, its specifications make it a compelling choice. Additionally, it comes with a complimentary paddle cover.
While there are now superior entry-level options available, the Niupipo Graphite paddle remains a sound selection for absolute beginners who want to keep their initial investment under $50. It has received positive reviews, offers commendable performance for beginners, and serves as a solid starting point for those entering the game.
How To Select The Best Pickleball Paddles For Beginners
When it comes to choosing the perfect paddle to embark on your pickleball journey, several crucial factors come into play:
The general rule of thumb is that lightweight paddles are the go-to choice for beginners as they offer superior control. Heavier paddles, on the other hand, demand more strength but deliver increased power.
Lighter paddles enable you to swiftly acquire the essential skills and techniques required before delving into maximizing shot power. Pickleball paddles can be roughly categorized into three weight classes:
- Lightweight: 7.6 oz and under
- Midweight: 7.6 - 8.2 oz
- Heavyweight: 8.2 oz and over
It's worth noting that our list primarily highlights paddles falling within the lightweight and midweight categories, as these are the most suitable options for beginners.
2. **Grip Circumference**
After considering weight, the next crucial aspect is grip circumference. The appropriate grip size is determined by a combination of your hand size and personal preference.
A quick method to determine your approximate grip size is as follows:
- Open your paddle hand with the palm facing upward and locate the three creases in your palm.
- Utilize a ruler to measure from the tip of your ring finger straight down to the middle crease. This measurement represents the circumference of your pickleball grip, typically falling between 4 and 5 inches.
Once you've obtained this measurement, try a grip size within this range. Additionally, experiment with a quarter-inch variation on either side of the measurement to discover the most comfortable fit for your playing style.
Pickleball paddle handles come in varying lengths, typically ranging from approximately 4.5 to 5.5 inches. If you have larger hands or come to pickleball from a tennis background, you might find a longer handle more comfortable.
A longer handle can offer increased leverage and, consequently, more power. However, it can also be somewhat more challenging to maneuver, especially for beginners. Nonetheless, if you tend to employ two-handed backhands, the added length can prove highly advantageous.
Materials Used in Paddle Construction:
Contemporary paddle construction incorporates a range of cutting-edge materials. The technical descriptions, including variations in core materials and neck reinforcements, can appear intricate. However, as a beginner, you can confidently rely on the manufacturer's expertise.
Almost all modern paddles employ a honeycomb-shaped core design, typically encased in a frame. These cores are usually crafted from various plastic composites, often incorporating elements like fiberglass, carbon fiber, and graphite.
These materials are favored for their lightweight properties and exceptional strength. Further elaboration on the best face material will be explored in the next section.
When selecting your first pickleball paddle, durability is paramount. You'll want a paddle that can withstand the rigors of extensive practice.
Poorly manufactured paddles or those constructed with subpar materials can quickly deteriorate, sometimes within a matter of months.
While all the paddles on our list have garnered favorable ratings for durability, it's advisable to peruse reviews for any instances of paddles experiencing premature wear and tear.
Lastly, opt for a paddle that appeals to your aesthetic preferences and complements your style of play. The market offers a plethora of color choices and visually striking graphics, such as the Vulcan V530 paddle. Pickleball embraces vibrant and quirky designs, so feel free to explore and express your unique style without restraint!
Do expensive pickleball paddles have a significant impact?
As a novice, there's no necessity to splurge on a high-priced pickleball paddle. Numerous budget-friendly, high-quality paddle choices are available that can fulfill all your needs and more.
When you progress to an intermediate or advanced level, you can contemplate investing in a more elaborate paddle. However, for now, the priority should be honing your skills through practice.
Similar to other sports, equipment does matter, but the player's skill remains the most influential factor.
What sets fiberglass and graphite pickleball paddles apart?
Since the transition from wooden paddles to ultra-light contemporary materials, most paddle manufacturers opt for either fiberglass or graphite for their paddle faces. Each material comes with its own advantages and drawbacks, making it challenging to determine which one performs better on the courts.
Fiberglass, occasionally labeled as 'composite,' stands as the more economical of the two materials. It also boasts greater flexibility, meaning that upon ball impact, there's a slight give on the paddle face. This grants enhanced ball 'feel,' and the flex imparts a touch more 'pop' and power to your shots compared to a graphite paddle.
Graphite, being lighter than fiberglass, is the pricier alternative. On a paddle face, a thin layer of graphite is sufficient to create an exceptionally rigid surface. This stiffness results in more of a ricochet effect than fiberglass, translating to enhanced accuracy in shot direction and ball placement.
How do pickleball paddles influence your gameplay?
As a beginner, you might question whether your paddle truly affects your performance on the pickleball court. The succinct answer is yes.
To effectively progress your game and nurture your skills, it's essential to wield a sturdy, lightweight paddle that delivers on-court performance. This doesn't necessitate breaking the bank—all the paddles featured on our list meet these criteria.
As mentioned earlier, the paddle complements the player, and no matter how sophisticated it may be, it can't substitute for ample practice and court experience.