Anyone familiar with tennis elbow cringes at the thought of the burning pain shooting down their arm. Unfortunately, elbow pain is common among those who play racquet sports, but playing with one of the best pickleball paddles for tennis elbow can help minimize the risk of injury and pain.
We’ve researched to find the best paddles for pickleball players prone to tennis elbow. Each player is different, so we’ve included a wide variety to cover all your pickleball playing needs.
How Pickleball Causes Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow, or pickleball elbow, is caused by repetitive injury to the forearm muscles that run from your wrist to your elbow and the ligaments and tendons that hold it all together.
Microtears, and repetitive stress that weakens the tendon are the main causes of shooting pain and chronic achiness that runs down your arm from your elbow.
The medical term for this type of injury is lateral epicondylitis, and it affects millions of people. Primarily those between the ages of 35-65.
Racquet sports, like pickleball, require repetitive motions. There’s also repetitive strain from the vibration of the paddle making contact with the ball, which are the main causes – hence, the name tennis elbow.
When playing pickleball, a lot of repetitive movement occurs at your elbow and wrist. That alone can cause pickleball elbow to flare up, but add in jarring movements and the shock your arm absorbs each time your paddle hits the ball, and you’ve got the recipe for throbbing arm pain.
There are ways you can change your playing technique to minimize injury, but the equipment you use matters too.
The weight of your pickleball paddle is key. A lightweight paddle will cause more vibrations to shoot up your arm, while a heavy paddle strains your arm just from the added weight of each repetitive movement.
For most pickleball players, a midweight paddle is the best pickleball paddle for reducing stress and vibration, but this isn’t the case across the board. Each player handles their paddle differently, and their specific paddles might offer additional features, like shock-absorbing cores and handle grips.
How to Prevent Tennis Elbow in Pickleball
Tennis elbow sufferers can’t even hear someone talk about it without instantly feeling that sharp “twang” in their arm. It’s a feeling you don’t easily forget, and once you’ve had tennis elbow, you’ll do whatever you can to avoid having it flare up ever again.
The reality of the situation is if your tennis elbow gets bad enough, you may have to take some time off from playing pickleball to rest and recover. The good news is that several steps you can take will greatly reduce the chances of a flare-up and help you avoid pickleball elbow altogether.
Use an Elbow and Wrist Brace
Step one is to add a tennis elbow brace to your list of pickleball gear. Having both an elbow brace and wrist brace is a good idea if you can’t find one you like that covers both.
Braces are great because they minimize shock and vibration effects and limit movement, especially in the wrist area.
Limit Wrist Movements
Flexing your wrist during play puts a lot of stress on the tendons that run along your arm. When swinging your paddle, try to swing with your entire arm and not just from your wrist or elbow. In fact, the more you can minimize wrist movement, the better. This is why a brace that helps to keep your wrist in place is such a good idea.
Choose the Right Paddle Weight
Choosing the right paddle can make all the difference, even if you’re already prone to tennis elbow. You want a grip size that fits your hand properly and a weight that feels good and comfortable in your hand.
You should be able to swing it smoothly using your entire arm without jarring movements or feeling fatigued.
Some naturally gravitate toward a lightweight paddle because they blame the extra heft of a heavier one for their pain, but this isn’t always the best route. A paddle that is too light will shoot vibrations straight up your arm.
The difference between a heavy and light paddle isn’t more than a couple of ounces, but it makes a huge difference in the stress on your arm.
Still, what one player might consider lightweight will be heavy to another, and vice versa. The important thing is to find the paddle that feels right to you.
In our list of the best paddles for tennis elbow, we’ve focused mostly on mid-weight paddles because, generally speaking, these are the easiest on you.
But, we have included options at both the lower and higher ends of the mid-weight range so that you can choose the pickleball paddle that feels the most comfortable and will also help you crush the competition.
5 Best Pickleball Paddles for Tennis Elbow
Onix Graphite Z5 – Overall Best Pickleball Paddle for Tennis Elbow
The Graphite Z5 is the most popular pickleball paddle in the Onix line, and it’s one we’ve recommended more than once.
This is just a great all-around paddle, and it has all the important features that make it one of the best pickleball paddles for players with tennis elbow.
At 7.5 – 8.2 ounces, this paddle is the perfect weight if you’re prone to pickleball elbow. The shape mimics a tennis racquet and has a wider face and larger sweet spot.
This means you don’t have to extend yourself, risking injury, to grab some of those tough shots your opponents through your way.
Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle Specs
- Nomex Core for greater control and less jarring
- One of the most well-loved graphite pickleball paddles on the market
- Great for all skill levels
- Large sweet spot
- Tennis handle shape is easier for many new pickleball players to adjust to.
- Weight: 7.5-8.2 ounces
- Overall size: 15.5 inches x 8.125 inches
Head Radical Elite – Best Budget-Friendly Pickleball Paddle for Tennis Elbow
This budget-friendly pickleball paddle by Head is one of the most comfortable paddles we’ve tried.
It features an ergonomic comfort grip that doesn’t send shockwaves through your hand with each hit, and it has a nice thick core for additional shock absorption.
The Head Radical Elite features Head’s fiberglass Composite Hitting Surface, which is designed for power but also for enhanced comfort on the follow-through of those strong power shots.
This is a good paddle for those stepping out of the beginner range and wanting to get more serious about the game by perfecting their power shots.
This Head fiberglass pickleball paddle is more economical than other composite pickleball paddles, comfortable, and doesn’t disappoint.
Head Radical Elite Specs
- Thick, OTC Honeycomb Core
- Smooth fiberglass composite hitting surface
- The nice sweet spot for beginners
- Good midweight paddle at 8.1 ounces
- Overall size: 16 inches X 7.8 inches
- Great for beginning competitive play
Rockne Curve Classic Pickleball Paddle – Best for Improved Control
Rockne Curve Classic Pickleball Paddle is one of our favorites for really zeroing in on improved ball control without sacrificing comfort, as is the case frequently with lightweight paddles that are best known for offering more control vs. powers.
Aside from more control, this pickleball paddle by Rockne features 5.5 inches contoured and cushioned handle, which fits in hand just perfectly.
This is a good pickleball paddle if you’re prone to lots of wrist movement.
Rockne Curve Classic Pickleball Paddle Specs
- Suitable for a range of players from beginner to advanced
- A lightly textured fiberglass face is good for spin
- USAPA approved for tournament play
- The perfectly sized grip fits all sizes of hands
- Overall size: 16.5 inches x 17.5 inches
- Thick 13mm core
- Weight: 8.0 ounces
Niupipo Pickleball Paddle – Best Lighter Paddle
Some pickleball players just really like playing with a lightweight pickleball paddle. They enjoy the control it offers, not to mention the way it just floats through the air.
The only problem with lighter paddles is that the constant vibration can lead to elbow pain.
For pickleball players that like something a little lighter, we think Niupipo offers the best pickleball paddle in a lighter-weight category.
This is a composite paddle with a honeycomb core, so it’s smooth, hitting with some shock absorption.
It also registers as weighing just about 7.6 ounces, which isn’t the lightest of midweight paddles, but this one just feels nice and airy in your hand.
Niupipo Pickleball Paddle Specs
- USAPA approved
- Polymer Honeycomb Core
- Decent sweet spot
- On the light end of mid-weight paddles at 7.6 ounces
- Ultra comfort cushion grip that fits most pickleball players
NewFit Blur Set- Best Set for Beginners
Many beginners start with a set of pickleball paddles. This makes perfect sense, considering these sets are often an economical choice, they come with pickleball balls, and you have a few extra paddles for when you talk your friends into playing!
The problem is that pickleball paddle sets often sacrifice the quality of the materials for affordability to attract new players to the game.
This might be fine for some, but for those prone to tennis elbow, it won’t be long until you start to feel the pain.
This is why we love this NewFit Blur set. This is a good midweight paddle, averaging between 7.3 – 8.0 ounces. It features a premium ergonomically designed grip that’s designed to cushion vibrations and relieve hand fatigue. I
In addition, this set comes with pickleball paddles, four pickleball balls, and paddle covers.
NewFit Blur Pickleball Paddle Specs
- USAPA approved for tournament play
- It offers both power and more ball control
- 4.25-inch hand grip for comfort
- Midweight paddle at 7.3-8.0 ounces
- Overall size is 15.9 inches X 7.75 inches
- Carbon fiber graphite paddle frame
3 Runner Up Pickleball Paddles That Are Gentle on Tennis Elbow
Head Extreme Elite Fiberglass Paddle
Another Head pickleball makes it onto our list as one of the best for tennis elbow. The Head Extreme Elite Fiberglass paddles are great for intermediate play, offering a nice balance of power, control, and comfort.
This model by Head is one of the most popular composite pickleball paddles.
The fiberglass composite paddle face allows you to hit stronger, harder shots with more comfort and greater control. In addition, the paddle core features Head’s polypropylene honeycomb material for improved shock absorption.
To add to the beauty, the Head Extreme Elite Fiberglass pickleball paddle costs under $80.
Wilson Juice Pickleball Paddle
Honestly, Wilson paddles don’t get enough love in the pickleball world. We really like the Wilson Juice Pickleball Paddle. It’s budget-friendly and includes PolyCore-features and a shock-dampening bumper edge guard, which help to absorb shock and reduce vibrations.
It’s strong but still reasonably lightweight and offers good control, so you can reduce unnecessary strain with each stroke.
This paddle offers a large sweet spot, so you’re not overextending your reach to hit those tough shots.
Gamma Micron 2.0
Gamma makes all-around good pickleball paddles that don’t cause you to break the bank when you’re ready to level up. Their Micron 2.0 pickleball paddle is a good mid-weight option for anyone playing pickleball that also contends with tennis elbow.
The flow of this pickleball paddle cuts through the air without excess jarring, and it does a good job of absorbing shock when you hit the ball. All of this, plus you can usually score the Gamma Micron 2.0 for under $60.
Remedies for Tennis or Pickleball Elbow
Having the best pickleball paddle for your playing style is one of the best ways to prevent pickleball elbow. But if you’re playing pickleball regularly, sometimes tennis elbow is inevitable. So acting fast to treat pickleball elbow is the best thing you can do to ensure you’ll still be able to play pickleball without pain.
For mild tennis elbow:
Rest – don’t push it and make the injury worse.
Ice – in 15-minute increments up to four times per day
OTC Pain Relievers – can help reduce swelling and lessen pain
Technique – work on developing the proper technique to avoid tennis elbow in the future.
Make sure to see your doctor if the tennis elbow persists.
Buying Guide for Choosing a Pickleball Paddle for Tennis Elbow
It would be great if we could point out and say these are the best pickleball paddles for everyone, but that’s not the case. Playing style and physical features are different among all of us pickleball lovers, so we all need different paddles These are the main features to consider, especially if this is your first paddle.
Your Hand Size Vs. Grip Size
Every pickleball paddle has a grip on the handle. Most are of a general size that should fit most pickleball players’ hands, but knowing your proper pickleball paddle grip size can help prevent injury if you’re prone to tennis elbow.
To measure your grip size, take a ruler and place one end in the center of your palm. Next, place your fingers together and measure to the tip of your ring finger. If your ring and index finger are the same lengths, you could use either. The measurement is your ideal grip circumference.
Hand Grip Quality
The quality of your paddle grip is just as important as the size. You want one that cushions your hand and feels comfortable. Moisture wicking is great so that you’re not clenching your hand extra tight to hang on when your hand gets sweaty. Look for shock-absorbent materials to minimize vibrations.
The Best Pickleball Paddle Weight for Tennis Elbow
A midweight paddle is the best for many players with tennis elbows. Lightweight paddles offer control, but you’re going to feel more vibration. A heavier pickleball paddle offers more power when you hit the ball, but the paddle’s weight may demand more wrist action.
A good mid-weight paddle will weigh somewhere between 7.5 -8.5 ounces.
You want to consider how you play when choosing a paddle length. Some players, especially those new to the sport, prefer a pickleball paddle that’s a bit shorter and wider, with a large sweet spot. If you have a tendency to put stress on your arm by reaching for hard-to-get shots, a longer paddle length may cause less injury.
Is a heavier paddle better for tennis elbow?
Heavy paddles aren’t necessarily better for tennis elbow. A mid-weight paddle is often best, but what you really want is a paddle that’s lighter than the heaviest on the market but has shock-absorbing features at the core and the handle.
How do you prevent tennis elbow in pickleball?
The best way to prevent tennis elbow is to use a paddle that doesn’t put excess strain on your elbow and wrist. This should be a paddle with a grip that fits your hand and isn’t too light or heavy for how you play pickleball.
Shock absorbent features are also a plus. Additionally, remember to warm up first and uses an arm brace if you’re prone to flare-ups.
There’s a perfect paddle for every pickleball player, and it’s one that’s also easy on your elbow and wrist joints. If you’re in the market for a new paddle that will leave you feeling pain-free, all the paddles on our list are great suggestions.
Preventing pickleball elbow all starts with the best pickleball paddle and all the right gear. We’re here to help you find what you need to play pickleball. Check out all of our other content on pickleball gear, from traditional paddles to the most innovative technologies and more.