As the fastest growing sport in the US, pickleball has a lot going for it. Each day, an increasing number of people learn about pickleball and they become a part of the pickleball community. Part of the sport’s success can be accredited to paddle brands involved in it.
From manufacturing giants such as Gamma and Head to entry-level manufacturers such as Rally Sports and Amazing Aces, each of these companies is constantly competing with each other to provide the best products to pickleball players in various price segments.
|Top Pick|| Selkirk Amped Invikta||Intermediate/Advanced||7.3-8.4 oz||Check Price|
|Best Overall|| Engage Poach Advantage||Intermediate/Advanced||7.5-8.3 oz||Check Price|
|Best for the $$$|| Onix Z5 Graphite||Beginner to Advanced||7.5-8.02oz||Check Price|
| Kinetic Pro Speed by Kennex||Intermediate to Professionals||8oz||Check Price|
| Paddletek Tempest Wave||Intermediate/Advanced||8oz||Check Price|
| Gamma Neutron 2.0||Beginner/Intermediate||6.8-7.2oz||Check Price|
| Head Extreme Tour||Intermediate||7.6 oz||Check Price|
| Pro-Lite Supernova Black Diamond||Intermediate/Advanced||7.7-8.02 oz||Check Price|
| Paddletek Bantam EX-L||Beginner/Intermediate to Professionals||7.8-8.3oz||Check Price|
Hundreds of new pickleball paddles roll out each year. With every company trying to top their last offering, the competition is tense and extremely beneficial for the players. The only downside of this growth is that it leaves people spoilt for choices and thus causes a dilemma when choosing between these paddles.
If you’re one of the players, looking to start off or perhaps jump ship from one paddle to the other, this guide is definitely geared towards you. After hours of research and comparison, we’re here with our comprehensive list covering the best pickleball paddles of 2020.
In this guide, we’re covering everything about pickleball paddles, from their material to their weight and size. After sharing the selection process with you, I’ll be listing my favorite pickleball paddles based upon the price, paddle size, and construction, its material and core followed by weight.
How did we pick our best pickleball paddles?
Our choice of best pickleball paddles largely relies on five aspects –
Yes, there are other elements such as weight, grip size, pattern, etc which might extremely important to you. But these are the factors that are the most important in choosing the best pickleball paddle for you.
Pickleball paddles can range anywhere between $30 to $180-200. It goes without saying that the more you pay, the more you can expect. However, that bandwagon doesn’t apply to all the paddles.
I like to segregate different costs into different categories. Each paddle can fall into either of the five price brackets.
|Price Range of Pickleball Paddles|
|$15-30||Wooden paddles with higher weight Pretty much only good for beginners who want to get into the sport cheaply.|
|$30-45||Wooden/Graphite Paddles higher weight There can be some good paddles in this price range but you have to be careful|
|$46-80||Decent quality with balanced weight & grip Every pickleball paddle in this range is pretty good. Choose the best one based on your own opinion.|
|$81-$120||Great quality with balanced weight & grip|
|$121-$160||Premium quality with best features & comfort|
Here and there between these price ranges, you’ll find paddles from one brand which have the capabilities of outdoing the premium paddles from other brands. Thus, price is not a barrier in terms of overall qualities when it comes to paddles.
For instance, three years ago $60 would get you an entry-level composite paddle with no extra-edge to it. However, in 2019, for $60, you can get some of the best pickleball paddles which have the latest technology with respect to core, grip and overall construction.
What I want to say is that do not judge a pickleball paddle entirely based on its price. Yes, it’s the first thing most people look at. Yes, it can determine your decision. Yes, it can be painful buying an $80 pickleball paddle when you see hundreds retailing below $30.
However, knowing about the intricacies of paddles will help you become your own boss when choosing the best pickleball paddle. Our aim here is to provide you with information that can help you understand the difference between two paddles and what makes one paddle better than the other.
Getting the size right is as important as the price. Most pickleball paddles have 15” length and 8” width. These can increase to up to 16-18” in length and decrease to 6-7” in width with the newer and less used elongated paddles. Understanding the size of a paddle is important because the last thing you want to do is to start with a paddle of the wrong size.
For instance, if you’re just starting out, you want to start with a more rectangular paddle than an elongated paddle. An elongated paddle is quite popular in the current scene due to its increased length.
However, as a beginner, your emphasis should be on buying a paddle with a bigger sweet spot and not length so you can easily connect with the ball.
The material that the paddle is constructed out of hugely affects the pricing of a paddle. Currently, pickleball paddles are made from one of four materials
- Composite (normally Graphite)
Wood, as we know, was the first material used to manufacture paddles. As newer technologies were introduced, Composite, Graphite, and Fiberglass paddles were added to the mix. These materials are used to increase the strength of the paddle while making it lighter. These materials allow you to hit the ball with more power and more spin by increasing the contact surface with the ball.
Typically cost increases as you use more advanced materials. Wood pickleball paddles are generally the cheapest. These are pretty much only good for sets or for cheapskates.
I love graphite pickleball paddles as some of the best entry-level pickleball paddles.
Paddles made from these materials are in high demand as compared to wooden paddles.
Wooden Paddles | Amazon.com
Wooden paddles are the heaviest and cheapest paddles whereas Graphite and fiberglass paddles are the lightest and the most expensive paddles. There’s no one material that can be declared as the best. Each one has its own fan base comprising of players wanting to play the sport in a certain way. Some prefer to spin, some like power shots whereas the other seek overall balance.
Which paddle material should you begin with?
As a beginner, you shouldn’t start with wooden paddles. In fact, you should avoid using wooden paddles at all costs because they are nowhere near the other three materials in terms of quality. Generally, a composite pickleball paddle will be your best choice as a beginner. Graphite and Fiberglass paddles tend to increase in cost to $60+. Some of the best composite pickleball paddles (which we’ll go into below), can be had for $35 to $40. With that said, you shouldn’t buy Graphite or Fibre Glass if you’re just starting out.
Composite Paddles | Amazon.com
One technical yet simple aspect of a paddle is its core. The core of all pickleball paddles is made of either of the three materials – Nomex, Aluminium or Polymer. Still, in a marketing sense, you’ll see the paddle manufacturers rely heavily on these terms and make it look like they’re the make and break technology in every paddle. Not really.
Every core does have a specific role in a paddle. For instance, Polymer core has noise dampening properties which can help you play pickleball without disturbing others in Eco-zones. That’s just one of the examples. Based upon any paddle that you choose; you’ll get an edge in one area and will miss out on the other. That’s the truth with not just paddles but with most equipment in sports.
Here’s a table that acts as an example of how we chose our desired paddle with respect to noise.
|Nomex||Popping Sound (the dink!)||Durability, power shots|
|Aluminum||Noise Dampening||Great for control|
|Polymer Core||No Sound Disturbance||For players who like a mix of speed and power|
Let’s learn more about these core properties, so you can form a table of your own when deciding upon the core.
Aluminum Core – Great for players who like overall control over the game. Extremely lightweight construction enables substantial control. Way less noisy than Nomex paddles.
Nomex Core – Great for players who like that popping sound with every shot they hit. One of the most preferred cores, Nomex is known for its overall durability and power shots.
Polymer Core–Great for players who like to play with speed and power. Quietest paddle core in the market which makes it perfect for recreational centers, shared gym and noise-controlled areas.
Regardless of your level in pickleball, weight is an important factor in determining the overall construction quality of a paddle. As a player who loves to have control over his shots, I prefer middleweight paddles weighing between 7.8-8.2oz. However, if you want to achieve more spin, you should opt for a lighter paddle which is under 7.4oz.
|Lightweight Paddle||Under 7.3oz|
|Heavyweight Paddle||8.05oz and above|
Having understood the technical aspects, it’s time for the meaty part. Here’s our list for the best pickleball paddles in the market based upon price, practicality and their overall application.
Best Pickleball Paddles of 2019
Selkirk unveiled the AMPED paddle line a couple of years ago. Since then, they’ve released numerous paddles boasting their new line of technology called the X5. The unibody core of X5 is noticeably thicker when compared to the standard paddles, which gives it a unique feel. Since its arrival, the Amped Series has received great responses from the pickleball community by and large. For me personally, among all the paddles, Selkirk’s Amped Invikta stands out the most.
Though on the heavier side of the spectrum. It still manages to offer considerable control along with the burst of power. Invikta simply ticks all the right boxes and thus undeniably is my favorite pickleball paddle of 2019. Designed in conjunction with Tyson McGuffin, National pickleball champion, we can see why it’s the player’s paddle. Invikta though an elongated paddle has a sizeable handle length which adds to overall comfort and maneuverability.
With regards to specification, the Selkirk Amped Invikta comes with a medium grip which is 5-1/4” long. It weighs between 7.3-7.8oz which puts it in the right lightweight category. However, it’s also available in a medium weight size of 7.9-8.04oz. Overall, it’s a well-balanced paddle capable of hitting any kind of shots whilst helping to maintain your control.
|Skill Level||Advanced to Professionals|
|Paddle Length||16 1/2 in|
|Grip Design||Perforated Cushion|
|Core||X5 Polymer Honeycomb|
Going head to head with Selkirk’s premium offering is Engage’s Poach Advantage, which is equally impressive. The Poach Advantage is the first paddle in pickleball to feature 6 layers of the face. At most, pickleball paddles tend to have 2-3 layers. As shocking as it sounds, with “Variable Release”, Engage managed to build this terrific 6-layer paddle capable of offering amazing ball responsiveness and power whilst offering a soft feel upon connection. Poach’s texture helps achieve great spin. Whether you want to use backspin or topspin, Engage’s Poach Advantage is a great paddle.
It’s not just the texture or the surface which amazes me, but its core as well. With Variable Release Technology, you can add or reduce the spin and decide whether you want your paddle to act as a power paddle or a control paddle. Now, this in terms of technology and construction is simply mind-boggling. And they’re not just claiming that! You can actually see the poly core propylene backing their statement!
With regards to specification, similar to Selkirk’s Invikta, you can choose between two weight categories – Lite i.e. Lightweight or Standard i.e. middleweight. Poach Lite weighs between 7.5 to 7.8oz whereas Poach Standard weighs between 7.9oz to 8.3oz. If you’d like to enjoy between balance and speed, you can choose the standard. However, if you prefer to spin, go for Lite. Apart from the weight, its 5” handle length and a medium grip make it a great fit in the hands. Add to the fact a generous surface area and that makes it a perfect premium paddle even for beginners.
|Skill Level||Advanced to Professionals|
|Grip Design||Perforated Cushion|
|Core||Polymer Composite Honeycomb|
With Onix Z5 Graphite, you really do get the best of both worlds. A classic Onix face with a legendary Gamma grip. With its amazing quality construction boasting the traditional wide-body paddle shape, you can achieve a sweet connection whilst maintaining overall control over your shots. The only reason why this paddle’s not in the top two is that Onix announced that they’ll be rolling out paddles with their own grip. Now, I’m not a demotivator but with regards to grip, you simply can’t top Gamma.
Due to its lightweight construction, the Onix Z5 graphite helps you control the game. Its Nomex honeycomb core helps you get a pop every time you make a fine connection with your paddle. In comparison to other wide-body graphite paddles, Onix Z5 is the most balanced paddle in the market.
Its construction prowess can be effectively seen in its well-balanced design. Weighing between 7.5-8.02oz, it’s the perfect middleweight paddle to offer you great balance and control. Add its 8 1/8” face to the mix, and you get a large sweet spot capable of hitting some powerful shots. The best part about the Onix Z5 is that it’s available in multiple weight categories and is affordable as compared to the other two options mentioned above.
|Skill Level||Beginner to Advanced|
|Grip Design||Perforated Cushion|
The Kinetic Pro Speed is the first paddle that has been designed to keep player safety in mind. It’s designed to prevent tennis elbow or as it’s known in pickleball: pickleball elbow! In pickleball players often face conditions such as tennis elbow. With its tungsten-filled chambers within the core, Kinetic Pro Speed successfully distributes the weight of impact whilst minimizing the vibrations.
Their technology has been put to test at MIT and has highlighted the impressive aspects of this paddle. It really does reduce vibration and energy transfer making it ideal for players involved in-game which lasts for long hours. We were excited about 6-layer coating, this paddle does even better as it features a 7-layer coating comprising of both composite and graphite material which allows a powerful hit with an extra spin.
Weighing between 7.9-8.02oz, the ProKennex Kinetic Pro is a middleweight paddle with a durable Polymer honeycomb core. It has a wonderful feel to it and produces a quiet sound which makes it a preferred choice when playing in noise-controlled areas. Given it’s unusual 7 5/8”, the paddle has a shorter grip than most players would expect. Nonetheless, it still fits perfectly in most players’ hands and helps play powerful shots effortlessly. The Kinetic Pro is available in three colors – Blue, Yellow, and Raspberry.
|Skill Level||Intermediate to Professionals|
|Paddle Length||15 3/8”|
|Grip Design||Ribbed, Perforated Cushion|
|Core||Polypropylene with Tungsten inlays|
You’ll see pickleball players at all levels holding this little beast. Paddletek’sgroundbreaking technology has made it a household name in the pickleball world with popular players such as Dave Weinbach, Aspen Kern and Daniel Moore using this paddle. This paddle launched in 2017, and was so ahead of its time that it was named as the US Open Pickleball Championships official paddle in 2017. It’s surprising how Paddletek managed to nail the Graphite paddles with just their first attempt.
The Paddletek Tempest Wave is extremely responsive and offers a quick pop upon proper connection resulting in quicker back and forth. Its polymer core ensures that the connection isn’t too noisy and yet each touch makes a difference. Most of the pickleball players love this paddle because of their ability to offer quality groundstrokes.
Tempest Wave weighs slightly under 8oz and still is 1-4oz heavier than the general Paddletek pickleball paddles which weigh between 7.5oz to 7.9oz. It features Paddletek’s homebred Advanced ProPolyCore technology which helps dampen vibration. Keeping the community in mind, these paddles are designed in a way to minimize the noise level which makes it perfect for a green zone. With 4.25 grip circumference, it has a large sweet spot along with a traditional body shape with 5” handle and 16”x 8” paddle face.
|Paddle Length||15 7/8”|
|Grip Design||Ribbed, Perforated Cushion|
The best from Gamma makes it to this list of best pickleball paddles. The Neutron 2.0 is Gamma’s lightest paddle which also makes it the fastest paddle in the 2.0 range. It’s ideal for players who like to feel and control their paddles while placing their shots. By far, the Gamma Neutron has one of the most exquisite maneuvering capabilities which allows you to play dink shots conveniently. Its graphite surface gives you added ball bite which adds a great amount of spin to your shots.
With its Live Periphery Frame, there are no dead spots and edges are reinforced. What excites me the most about this paddle is its Unibody along with its honey grip. Any pickleball player who’s serious about the sport will tell you how great Gamma’s grips are. In this particular paddle, they are perforated stitched to add comfort whilst absorbing moisture so they can offer a better grip.
Weighing at 7oz, the Gamma Neutron 2.0 is an ultralight paddle designed to control the net. It’s also known as the best Junior Pickleball paddle owing to its tiny grip size of 4”. What’s not so tiny is the shot execution. With its textured graphite surface, you get a fine grade sandpaper feeling when you run your hands across the surface. However, that works to its advantage as it helps achieve tremendous spin.
|Skill Level||Beginner to Intermediate/Adanced|
|Paddle Length||15 3/8”|
|Grip Design||Ribbed, Perforated, Stitched|
The Head Extreme Tour is one of the most affordable yet technologically advanced paddles in the market. With its reactive and unique design, Extreme Tour allows players to handle quick back and forth with quite an ease. Its unique shape isn’t just for aesthetic appeal but it also serves a unique purpose of generating power.
With the Head Extreme Tour, you can hit groundstrokes with absolute ease. This lightweight paddle with tampered edges and carbon graphite face help add power. Moreover, its inlaid EVA grip makes it comfortable in hands and dampens the vibration in a quick exchange. Head Extreme Tour is one of the premium paddles which features one-piece construction. This technology-induced paddle is easy to hold and hit quality power shots whilst achieving considerable spin.
Weighing between 7.5 to 7.7oz, the Extreme Tour Graphite is a lightweight paddle that allows quicker movements. It’s 5” handle length ensures that you get a better reach. Overall, this the best budget-friendly option in this list alongside Gamma Neutron 2.0. The lower portion of this paddle has a neon-yellow color with a bright neon HEAD logo in between set against black and grey background.
|Paddle Length||16 in|
|Width||7 7/8 in|
|Grip Design||HydroSorb Pro|
Pro-Lite Supernova Pro Paddle is a result of feedback from National Champion Simone Jardim. The Supernova Pro carries all the best qualities from Titan Pro which makes it the perfect paddle for power hitters as well as for players who prefer balance. This paddle offers an unparalleled balance and allows players to hit backhand effectively thanks to its large and responsive sweet spot. It’s not just about the powerplay but also about the spin as its glossy surface helps place shots apart from hitting powerful ones from time to time.
An aspect that makes the ProLite SuperNova Pro a unique paddle is its design which has a similar feel to a tennis racquet. Thus, for players who are crossing over from tennis to pickleball, this is one of the best choices available in the market today. Additionally, its slightly heavier weight makes it a well-balanced paddle capable of hitting power shots and achieving spin.
Weighing between 7.7-8.03oz, it’s a great middleweight paddle capable of hitting the winners. SuperNova Pro combines the tennis racquet capabilities into pickleball paddle to offer versatility and consistent performance. With its 5 ¼” No-Slip Grip, you get a bigger grip than usual with much better control.
|Skill Level||Intermediate to Advanced|
|Paddle Length||15 1/4 in|
|Grip Design||Premium Cushioned Comfort|
The second Paddletek paddle to make it on our list is the Bantam EX-L. It’s sheer technological brilliance and advanced construction is what makes it a champion’s paddle. With Bantam EX-L, it’s hard to fall short on expectations when it comes to delivering results on the big stage.
Bantam EX-L is designed to offer raw power. Thus, if you love to smash hit, this paddle is absolutely meant for you. With its ProPolyCore 2 technology at heart, the Bantam EX-L dampens the vibration thereby helping you to play for a longer period without worrying about conditions such as Tennis Elbow.
Its Polycarbonate face is what makes it a unique paddle capable of hitting power shots and achieving considerable spin when required. Daniel Moore, a National pickleball champion prefers Bantam EX-L over other paddles in singles competition and we can see why as with its 7-7/8” face, you get decent room to hit all kinds of shots. Its regular-sized face is backed up with a long handle of 5-1/8” which helps prevent overextension when trying to increase the reach.
In terms of design, the Bantam EX-L features a geometric vinyl decal with a high-tech fiberglass face. Now, that’s different from what we’ve seen above. At its heart, the polymer core provides a sturdy paddle. Whether you’re an intermediate or you’re a professional, Bantam EX-L simply ticks all the right boxes which make it stand apart from the other premium paddles.
|Skill Level||Beginner/Intermediate to Professionals|
|Paddle Length||15 5/8”|
|Grip Design||Ribbed, Perforated Cushion|
In this comprehensive review, we’ve covered paddles from different range boasting different cores, grip technology, and face materials. We’ve seen graphite, fiberglass and carbon fiber paddles. We’ve seen affordable paddles priced less than $100, between $100-150 and even $150+. It’s hard to compare these paddles unless you experience them personally.
For me, price alone is never a deciding factor based on which I buy my paddles. I consider different factors such as size, ideally less than 16”, weight between 7.8 to 8.3oz and grip of 4.5” or more since I have huge hands. Considering all these factors, Selkirk’s Invikta feels as if it was personally designed for me. Sounds funny, I know. But that’s exactly how your paddle should make you feel.
More than the price and the specifications, it’s important that you’re able to feel your paddle. Once you learn to feel it, you can easily choose between what’s right for you and what isn’t.