Written by: Doc Savarese Cartoon by: Peter Copen
Choosing A Paddle
A lot has happened since I last wrote about selecting a paddle. Pickleball Magazine reports that there are 3.5 million players with over 50 approved paddle manufacturers who produce high quality and technologically advanced paddle improvements.
The selection of a paddle, according to experts, is best determined by the one you play the best with and feel the most confident. Your player personality is an excellent consideration where an aggressive characteristic typically leans towards a paddle having some weight (8 oz), pop, and blocking. A less aggressive player most probably would prefer a lighter and softer paddle (7 oz) for better control. The most common made paddles have either a fiberglass (polymer) or graphite surface with a honey combed core. Fiberglass offers greater “pop” while graphite is known for its light weight and control. Consequently the weight of a paddle is an important consideration, where heavier paddles offer more power and lighter paddles more control, especially with dinking and a soft game. It is best to experiment with play/demo tests to determine what gives you the best balance. Loaners are readily available from many retail outlets such as Pickleball Central or you can contact Connie Mederios to borrow one of the club demos. Remember, if your serves and returns are landing short, try a more powerful paddle. If you’re popping up your dinks, try a model made for more control.
You’ll notice that paddles come in various shapes. Most paddles utilize the conventional shape of around 8” wide and 5.75” long. Narrow paddles are chosen to help cover more of the court, reach more volleys at the net, provide extra power, and better suited for singles play. A narrow paddle means a smaller sweet spot which can be tricky particularly on a windy day.
The grip is a very important piece of a paddle since your hand is the only connection. When gripping the paddle, the space between your fingertips and thumb pad is recommended to be ¼” to ½”. Too large or small a grip circumference can lead to hindered play and even injury such as tennis elbow.