So, you want to start playing pickleball? Excellent, pickleball is such a great sport! It keeps you fit, it’s fun, and it helps you make new friends! However, do you find that when you start shopping around for a paddle, the sheer number of options is overwhelming for you, and you don’t know which weight to go for?
That’s where I come in. I’ve put together a guide on the best paddle weights for pickleball in today’s guide. Unfortunately, there are many pickleball paddles out there of different weights, which can make it confusing where to start if you’re looking to purchase one.
A Brief History of Pickleball
Like many of the world’s great inventions, pickleball accidentally came about. Former congressman and lieutenant governor Joel Pritchard invented the game with his friends Bill Bell and Barney McCallum one afternoon at Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA.
The group wanted to play badminton but could not find the shuttlecock. So they improvised. Finding a perforated plastic ball instead, they lowered the net to ground level and fashioned some impromptu paddles from leftover plywood.
In other words, they created the game by stitching together elements from several different games: hard paddles like ping-pong, played on a badminton court with a tennis-style net using a Wiffle ball. This Frankenstein approach gave the sport its name.
According to Joel Pritchard’s wife (Joan), she started calling the game pickleball because “the combination of different sports reminded me of the pickle boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.”
This earliest version of the game had no actual rules and simply provided a means to hit a ball back and forth over the net. Little by little, the activity gained structure, eventually establishing rules that cobbled together tennis and ping pong elements with a few minor tweaks.
From those humble beginnings, the sport has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, gaining the most popularity in the US and Canada. Barney McCallum founded the first official pickleball company Pickle-Ball, Inc., in 1972, fashioning the first wooden paddles using a bandsaw in his basement.
By 1976, the sport had gained nationwide popularity in the US, with Tennis magazine publishing an article called “America’s newest racquet sport.” The first tournament took place that year in Washington, and it has only grown from there.
In 1984 the first official Pickleball association was formed with the express intent to organize and grow the game. Today the sport is not just a hobby but a staple of physical education curricula across North America. Courts have begun to crop up in Europe and Asia as well.
Are you looking for more information on what pickleball is? Then, check out our guide, What Is Pickleball?
The Best Paddle Weights for Pickleball
Lightweight Pickleball Paddles
Light weight pickleball paddles allow players more control and are perfect for players that like to hit dinks and drop shots. Light weight pickleball paddles also have an advantage that isn’t really discussed a lot. That advantage would be its quick response time. A quick response time is crucial for when you are at the net and have the ball coming right at you.
If you’re just starting to play pickleball and are coming from a sport like racquetball or ping pong, a lightweight paddle is a great fit! This is because of the wrist action you use when swinging. One drawback to lighter paddles is that they have more vibration and cause more stress on your elbow. A lightweight paddle is probably not the best option for you if you are prone to tennis elbow.
- These kinds of paddles are suitable for doubles
- Lightweight paddles minimize fatigue
- They’re easier to hold
- You can make the paddle heavier with lead tape
- Produces less power than other paddles, meaning you need to use more effort to achieve powerful drives
- Can aggravate tennis elbow
- Lightweight paddles are not ideal for windy conditions
Midweight Pickleball Paddles
One of the best paddle weights for pickleball. Midweight pickleball paddles are an excellent combination of control and power. These paddles are good for hitting serves and returns with power without needing a fast swing. Midweight pickleball paddles are also a good fit for those who suffer from tennis elbow. This is because lightweight pickleball paddles have to overcome the weight of the ball and heavyweight pickleball paddles have to overcome the ball weight more. In addition, midweight paddles don’t use as much wrist action as other paddles do. If you’re coming from tennis, I would recommend you go with a midweight pickleball paddle because tennis players tend to use less wrist action to generate power.
- These paddles are ideal for outdoor play and single matches
- Midweight paddles are good for blocking because they have more mass
- The best options for tennis elbow
- Usually doesn’t allow for specialized play technique or style
Heavyweight Pickleball Paddles
This kind of pickleball paddle is usually used by players who prefer to have more power than control. Heavyweight pickleball paddles usually weigh around 8.5 to 9.5 ounces. If you see a paddle that weighs over 9.5 ounces, it’s most likely made of wood and is probably never really used. Heavyweight pickleball paddles are a great option for older players that have a slower swing speed. This is because heavier paddles help generate more pop on the ball.
However, heavyweight paddles do have a drawback. Since they’re heavier, the weight of them can fatigue your arm faster. This also means it can make tennis elbow worse. On the other hand, if you play pickleball singles, a heavier paddle may also be right for you because a singles game is played more like singles in tennis. In pickleball singles, drop shots and dinks aren’t a large part of the game like they are in a doubles game.
- Requires less effort for hitting hard shots
- Great for windy conditions
- Very stable
- Good for singles games
- Decreases the amount of control you have
- May cause fatigue in the shoulder, arm, and wrist
Choose a Paddle by Comfort
When selecting the right paddle weight for you, it really all should come down to what’s most comfortable for you. The best paddle weights for pickleball are just a guideline. The best paddle for you should be the one that is most comfortable. Do you have a heavier paddle, and it’s hurting your arm? Try a midweight or lightweight one. If you don’t know which weight to start with, you can try the following:
- Choose based on your previous sport’s paddle/racquet weight
- Go with a lightweight paddle; they’re always a safe bet.
If you’ve used an average to heavier weight racquet in Tennis, you probably will be most comfortable with a Midweight Pickleball paddle. On the other hand, if you prefer a lighter racquet for tennis, you probably will find that a Lightweight Pickleball paddle is better for you.
Table Tennis Players
Most people who go from table tennis to pickleball gravitate to Lightweight pickleball paddles. This is because they cater to the fast style of most Pickleball players.
If you prefer an average to lighter weight racquet, you will probably like a Lightweight Pickleball paddle the most. However, if you’ve used a heavier-than-average racquet in the past, then go with a Midweight paddle in Pickleball.
Frequently Asked Questions
When looking for the best pickleball paddle, you may have a few questions. More than just the best paddle weights for pickleball. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or have some pickleball experience. You should learn as much as you can about paddles.
Here are some common paddle questions.
How Long Do Paddles Last?
The lifespan of a paddle depends on the materials and construction. For example, if the paddle’s interior is thin and the exterior is too smooth, your paddle may not be suitable for long-term use. However, it can be good to get you started.
You should also consider that the area between the paddle and the handle is crucial. That can be a weak spot on a lot of paddles, and that can cause your paddle to break even when the surface is still usable.
If possible, feel the paddle and inspect the edges and the handle. Then, you can determine if it’s durable enough to last through many games.
What Paddles Give You More Power?
Heavier paddles have the most power. While lightweight paddles can be easier to hold and maneuver, they won’t be as strong.
You can also look for super-heavy-weight paddles for even more power. But if you just need an average amount of that, you can get a medium-weight paddle.
What Paddles Offer More Control?
While a larger paddle is more powerful, you may sacrifice control. Smaller and lighter paddles are better for players who need to respond quickly in a game.
You should look for a lightweight or medium-weight paddle for more control. A smaller head can help reduce the overall weight so that you can have more control over your shots.
Can a Good Paddle Help a Beginner?
Many things can help beginner pickleball players, and the right gear is essential. You don’t need the most expensive paddle, but you do need a good-quality one that won’t break the first time you use it.
As a beginner, you may want to start with a lighter paddle. While it won’t be as powerful, it won’t strain your wrist. Once you start playing more, you can decide if you want a heavier, more powerful paddle.
How Should You Hold Your Paddle?
While playing, try to keep your paddle near your chest. That will help improve your reaction time to make more shots early on.
You should also consider stretching before you play. Many pickleball injuries are preventable by warming up. Start by walking or jogging around the court, then stretch out your wrists and arms to help avoid fatigue.
Make sure your paddle feels comfortable and secure in your hand. If the handle feels too short, you may not have the best pickleball paddle for you. On the other hand, it shouldn’t feel like you have to strain to hold the paddle securely.
Are Expensive Paddles Better?
While many expensive paddles are excellent quality, they aren’t always the best. Therefore, you should consider your current paddleball experience and your needs.
Sometimes, paddles are more expensive because they’re thicker and heavier. So if you want something lighter, you may prefer a more affordable option.
Now that you know about the best paddle weights for pickleball, hopefully, any questions you have are answered, and you’re now closer to figuring out what kind of pickleball paddle is right for you.
When it comes down to it, whether the paddle is graphite, composite, or wood is not the most critical factor in picking out your paddle. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, and there are other factors that you also need to take into consideration.
The bottom line? Buy whatever paddle that feels right in your hands. That includes the weight; I understand if you already have a specific model or brand in mind; it all comes down to a paddle that feels right for you and your skill level.
It’s crucial for you to be comfortable with your paddle; this is because the game is going to be much more enjoyable this way. Pickleball is quickly becoming the most popular sport in the country, and it’s a fun activity to pass the time or even grow to play professionally! Take your time and ask questions when picking out your paddle to be sure you get it right!
Looking for more? Here are some other articles I put together:
- The Best Pro Pickleball Paddles
- Indoor vs. Outdoor Pickleball Paddles
- The Best Pickleball Paddles for Women
- Composite vs. Graphite Pickleball Paddles
- Can You Play Pickleball on a Tennis Court?
- Best Pickleball Paddle for Beginners
- Pickleball Strategy – Advanced
- What Is the 2 Bounce Rule in Pickleball?
- What is the Double Bounce Rule in Pickleball?
- Pickleball vs. Tennis, What is the Difference?
- The Best Women’s Pickleball Shoes
- The Best HEAD Pickleball Paddles
- Pickleball Serving Rules, Techniques, & Strategies
- Pickleball Volley Rules
- What is a Fault in Pickleball?
- Best Pickleball Paddle in 2021
- Men’s Pickleball Shorts
- Engage Pickleball vs. Onix Pickleball
- The Best Pickleball Shoes for Men
- Onix Pickleball