Written by: Doc Savarese Cartoon by: Peter Copen
The paddle that you play with definitely affects your game. There are major deciding factors in choosing a paddle:
Weight: Paddle weight either gives you more control or more power. A light paddle allows maneuverability and easy swing. The heavy weight paddle is great for power and slamming the ball hard. Medium weight paddles are balanced between easy swing and power
• Lite Paddle: 7.5oz – 7.8oz
• Heavy Paddle: 7.9oz and over
Grip: Too small a grip is not very stable and doesn’t give much power. Too large a grip, while more stable, can make it hard to hold and places a strain on your joints. The standard grip size is around 4 3/8 inches. The easiest way to determine grip size, is to hold the paddle, slide your index finger between the heel of your grip and other fingers. It should be a snug fit. The standard handle length is around 5”.
Shape: The widebody (16.0” x 8.0”) is the most common type. Going beyond this, preference is a personal style choice, such as elongated which gives you extra reach with a smaller sweet spot.
Material: The major materials are graphite, carbon, and composite with a honeycomb or solid core. Graphite/carbon are popular because of their fast action and control while composite is more powerful with less control. Some paddles incorporate both materials for balance. Solid core (usually graphite) paddles are becoming more popular for their balance and large sweet spot.
There are now in excess of 50 pickleball manufacturers. I’ve chosen to feature the brand and models that have proven to be the most promising due to reliability, satisfaction, and performance.
Engage Encore Ex 6.0
The Encore Ex 6.0 has the same dimensions as the Poach model which provides an excellent balance of power, control and sweet spot. The paddle has a thicker core which provides a softer feel without sacrificing power and sweet spot along with a standard grip size. It has a shorter handle which provides an enhanced sweet-spot. It’s available in three different dimensions with the widebody (16”x8”) being the most popular. There are two weight choices (lite, heavy). The balance of control and power is due to the composite core and the carbon surface. It is also designed to pass the most stringent community noise requirements. The paddle retails for $149 with a 25% discount to club members.
Tempest Wave Pro
The Tempest Wave Pro is a finesse paddle with a large “consistent” sweet spot, with excellent balance between power and control ( graphic/composite core with a graphic surface). Its power rating is 8/10, control rating 9.5/10, and forgiveness rating 9.5/10, making this paddle an excellent choice for players at all levels. It comes in a weight from 7.6 – 8.0 oz. Grip size comes in standard or thin. The paddle retails for $169 with a 25% discount to club members.
The ProKennex is one of the newly designed solid core paddles using seven layers of “opti-cell carbon and composite materials. This design is advertised as having an enlarged sweet-spot for excellent control and power. There are no choices in dimension (15 6/7”x7.6”) or weight (7.7 to 8.0 range). There are many positive reports from advanced level club members who have chosen this paddle. The paddle retails for $119.
Selkirk Vanguard S2 Hybrid
Selkirk is a very popular paddle brand on the pro circuit, particularity the S2 model. The Vanguard S2 is the newly improved model with a widebody and standard grip size. Weight choices are medium or heavy. The larger surface area (due to a shorter handle) gives it an enlarged sweet spot and advertises to improve overall power and control. It has a honeycomb thick composite core with a carbon surface. This paddle is advertised for the beginner to pro level, but probably more suited for the hardcore player. The paddle retails for $200.
Note: All featured paddles available to club members for checkout demo.
New Player Orientation: Arrangements can be made by contacting Pauly Uhr at 984-4186 or Nancy Lande at 978-2998 to schedule a session. Demo loaner paddles are available to check out for a week by contacting Doc Savarese at 349-9065.