In the world of pickleball, the graphite paddle is the most popular pickleball paddle among all skill levels. They’re lightweight, durable, and offer good precision and control. Most graphite pickleball paddles also fall into the mid-price range, making them accessible to players with all budgets. Are you considering adding this popular paddle to your pickleball arsenal? Here’s everything you need to know.
What’s Great About Graphite Pickleball Paddles?
Graphite paddles are made with the same inner core material types as other pickleball paddles. The inner core usually consists of a polymer core, an aluminum core, or a Nomex honeycomb core. The main difference with graphite is all in the material of the paddle face.
Graphite paddles have a thin layer of graphite skin that covers the core. Many pickleball players prefer paddles with graphite faces because they’re strong and lightweight and offer exceptional ball control. These factors combined make graphite a popular paddle among all pickleball players of all skill levels.
Graphite paddles provide an ideal balance of lightweight control and enough strength on the hitting surface to put some power behind your shots.
- What’s Great About Graphite Pickleball Paddles?
- Composite Vs. Graphite Pickleball Paddles
- Wood Vs. Graphite Pickleball Paddles
- Carbon Fiber Vs. Graphite Pickleball Paddles
- Best Graphite Pickleball Paddles
- The Best Graphite Pickleball Paddle Buying Guide
- Bottom Line on Graphite Paddles
A paddle with a graphite face is going to offer you more flexibility during your pickleball game, which is great for beginners who are just learning how to play different shots and strategies, as well as for more advanced players.
Although a graphite paddle face offers many advantages, pickleball players are often firmly in camps about which type of paddle face they prefer. If you’re new to pickleball or just trying to decide on which is the best type of pickleball paddle for how you play the game, here’s a comparison of graphite paddles to other types of pickleball paddle surfaces.
Composite Vs. Graphite Pickleball Paddles
Composite paddles have a paddle face that can be crafted from a variety of materials but often include fiberglass. Fiberglass paddles, at one point, were the most popular pickleball paddle on the market. Today, new technologies and designs have put other materials, including composite, at the top of the list.
Like graphite paddles, composite paddles can have a variety of paddle core materials, which is something that does make a difference in how the pickleball paddle feels and plays. Still, fiberglass or composite pickleball paddles have some distinct features that set them apart.
A composite paddle is going to be a bit heavier than a graphite paddle. The difference might be an ounce or less, but even that small amount of difference in paddle weight is something that many pickleball players can instantly feel. Since a composite paddle is a heavier paddle, you’re going to be able to put more force and “oomph” behind each shot.
Composite paddles tend to be great for power players who like to leverage their shot’s strength against the opposing team. A good number of professional pickleball players will choose composite paddles for that very reason. However, with a little extra paddle weight, you also lose a bit of control and finesse that you get with lighter paddles.
There’s also the issue that composite pickleball paddles tend to be a bit much for beginning pickleball players. A heavier paddle can be more difficult to control, which is essential to learning the game. Also, anyone that is prone to wrist or elbow injuries may want to consider a lightweight paddle, such as a composite paddle, simply because it will be less strain on them. We know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’re carrying and swinging around a pickleball paddle, that extra ounce of weight can make a difference.
Graphite and composite pickleball paddles both have something to offer, and if you’re someone who is invested in playing pickleball, a composite paddle is a good second paddle for varied gameplay and developing stronger strategies.
Wood Vs. Graphite Pickleball Paddles
Wooden paddles are often the first choice for beginning pickleball players. Wood paddles, in just about every case, cost less than other types of paddle face materials, which is great if you’re just starting out and aren’t sure how committed you’re going to be to the game of pickleball.
“Old school” pickleball players, referring to those who have been playing pickleball since the beginning of this relatively young sport, might remember a time when wooden paddles were the only option. The original pickleball racquets were all wood paddles, so you might also meet some more advanced players that still hold an affinity to classic wood paddles.
Compared to the technology of today’s graphite pickleball paddles, a wood paddle might feel somewhat primitive. The hitting surface and core are typically both made of wood, which really gives wood paddles some heft. Graphite makes for lighter-weight paddles, while wood definitely makes for a heavier paddle. There’s often a weight difference when looking at the different types of pickleball paddles, but wood paddles can weigh in at, or close to, 10 ounces. This is considerably heavier than what you’ll find a graphite paddle to be.
Wood is great for hitting power shots, and its construction makes them very durable. The durability is good for new players who might lose their grip on the racket. A wood paddle can take quite a few blows falling on the pickleball court before it any wear and tear become obvious. The durability also makes wood a good choice for kids with interest in pickleball.
That said, many pickleball players that start out with wood often look for a new paddle once they reach of level of comfort and skill with the game. It’s common at that point to make a move to lighter weight paddles, such as graphite, or choose a heavy or mid-weight paddle that’s designed with more up-to-date technology.
Carbon Fiber Vs. Graphite Pickleball Paddles
You might call carbon fiber-faced pickleball paddles the “beasts” among paddles. A carbon fiber face makes the paddle incredibly strong, and the level of stiffness you get compared to the weight is also significantly better than what other types of paddles offer. Typically, if you want that stiffness that allows for a great ball strike consistently, you’re going to sacrifice lightness and control. A carbon fiber-faced paddle is the closest you’ll find to having the best of both worlds.
The downside to carbon fiber-faced paddles is that the carbon fiber itself is costly to produce, which of course, gets passed on to you in terms of how much you’re going to pay. Carbon fiber paddles are among the most expensive paddles you’ll find on the market. If you’re an avid pickleball player, a paddle with a carbon fiber face is a great investment. However, the price tag puts them in the range of two to three times what the average beginning or intermediate players are willing to spend.
Best Graphite Pickleball Paddles
Because graphite pickleball paddles are so popular, there are a ton of them on the market. When you’re playing pickleball, it doesn’t take long to realize that not all pickleball paddles are created equal – even when comparing those that are made with the same materials, such as graphite.
We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to play with a lot of different pickleball paddles, but we also know that what’s the best pickleball paddle for one player will be different from the next. Keeping this in mind, we’ve come up with a short list of what we feel are the best graphite pickleball paddles that are currently on the market.
Champion Graphite Pickleball Paddles
The Champion Eclipse Graphite Pickleball Paddle is one of the best pickleball paddles out there for the money. This is an extremely light graphite paddle, weighing in at about 7.5 ounces. The lighter weight and surface graphite layer offer precise control while being gentle on wrists and elbows.
The Champion Eclipse Graphite Paddle is constructed with a honeycomb poly core, an edge guard for extra durability, and a slightly elongated grip that offers comfort and control for a range of hand sizes. We also like that this graphite paddle is reasonably priced. The standard list price is a little over $60, but you can usually find a deal that puts this in the category of pickleball paddles for under $50.
- Lightweight, offering precision control
- Universal-sized paddle face
- Reasonably priced
- Durable honeycomb polymer core material
- Comfortable for most players
- The 4-inch hand grip may be too small for players with large hands
- Such a lightweight paddle isn’t going to pack a lot of power behind shots
Rally PX Graphite Pickleball Paddle
The Rally PX Graphite Pickleball Paddle is a great choice for intermediate or advanced players who are really looking to level up the performance of their pickleball paddle. It’s worth noting that we also like this as a pickleball paddle for beginners, but it is a little pricier than what some beginning players will want to spend.
There are a few specific details that we really like about the Rally PX Graphite pickleball paddle. First, it offers a lightly textured surface, which is ideal for improving control and precision for beginning players and also adding spin to the ball for more advanced players. It’s important to note that this is a very lightly textured surface. There are very strict rules about having a textured paddle face, but this one is USAPA-approved.
This graphite pickleball paddle also features a composite honeycomb core material and edge guards. This paddle has more of a wide-body shape with a wider paddle face, which offers a larger sweet spot and prevents edge guard hits.
- The light composite paddle weighs between 7.5-8.0 ounces
- Wide paddle face for more control
- A comfortable cushioned grip that fits most hands
- USAPA-approved lightly textured surface
- Multiple colors available
- With a list price of $89, this paddle is a bit pricy for new players
- The hand grip may be too small for players with larger hands
- A wide paddle face may seem “clunky” to experienced players
Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle
Onix is a huge name with a great reputation in the world of pickleball paddles, so it would feel a bit remiss to leave them out of our choices for the best graphite paddles. The Onix Graphite Z5 is considered a beginners paddle, but we would strongly argue that it’s a high-quality pickleball paddle for all skill levels.
This paddle features a Nomex core and a strong but light graphite surface layer. The frame is made from carbon fiber, which makes it extra durable, and the graphite face is lightly textured for putting a little spin on the ball to challenge your opponents.
The Onix paddle is just a tad heavier than most graphite paddles, but it still offers excellent control. Plus, you get a bit more power behind each shot. This paddle features a wide-body shape that is popular among new and advancing players and offers a generous sweet spot.
- Constructed of durable materials, including a Nomex paddle core
- Wide paddle width provides a larger sweet spot
- Good weight for control and power
- Comfortable hand grip
- A bit in the upper mid-range for price at nearly $90
- Customer reviews say the paddle grip is weak
The Best Graphite Pickleball Paddle Buying Guide
When deciding on the best graphite pickleball paddles for your game, there are a handful of details you want to consider. Even in the category of graphite paddles, there are details and features that set each paddle apart from the rest. In our opinion, the best way to decide between a couple of different pickleball paddles is to hold them and get a feel for how they feel in your hand or how they swing through the air. However, this isn’t always possible, so we have this handy guide that will help.
Size & Paddle Shape
While most pickleball paddles look similar, there is quite a range in shape and size that’s available on the market. When you combine a paddle’s width and height (at the widest and longest points), the total size can’t exceed 24-inches. Most pickleball paddles are in the ballpark of 15-inches long and about 7-8 inches wide, but you’ll find all sorts of length and width combinations that equal 24 inches or less.
New players may find that a wider paddle with a large paddle face is easier to play with. A wider paddle face equals a larger sweet spot and makes it easier to hit the ball with more precision. The sweet spot on a paddle is the point, typical in the center of the paddle face, that offers a combination of control and power when you strike the ball. As players advance in their skills and confidence, they find it easier to move onto slimmer paddles with a smaller sweet spot.
In addition to paddle width and the sweet spot, paddle length is another consideration. Elongated paddles are making up a bigger portion of pickleball paddle sales, but they’re not a great fit for every player. A longer face paddle length offers the player more reach, but they require more precision since a larger sweet spot is sacrificed in gaining the extra length.
Seasoned players all have their preferences on the best weight for a pickleball paddle. A lightweight paddle is great for maintaining control, but a heavier paddle puts more force behind each shot. Beginning players often find that lightweight paddles are more comfortable and easier to learn the game with. Heavier paddles are more often preferred by intermediate and advanced players that have mastered control of the ball and want to shift their focus to more powerful strokes.
There’s also the impact of the weight that you should take into consideration. Players who are prone to wrist or elbow injuries might do better with a lighter to mid-weight paddle rather than a heavy one. The typical pickleball paddle weighs in the range of 7-10 ounces, although there are outliers on each side of the spectrum. A 7-7.5 ounce paddle is generally considered lightweight, while the mid-weight range is 7.5-8.5 ounces (although some might consider 8.5 ounces to be a heavy paddle).
For those with injuries, a nice mid-weight paddle can provide both smooth, non-jarring movement but also be heavy enough to offer stability and control. Many graphite pickleball paddles fall within the mid-weight range.
Paddle Core Material
The thin layer of graphite on your pickleball paddle is just one part of its construction that determines how it plays. Inside of each paddle is a thicker core, and what that core is made of matters in terms of handling and performance.
A paddle with a polymer core is a popular choice among today’s players. Polymer is a type of plastic, and when you think of all the various qualities of plastic, it becomes easier to see why a polymer core is often preferred. Polymer is reasonably strong without being excessively heavy. It’s lightweight enough to offer control and precision but still heavy and flexible enough to send the ball over the net with some force. Many players also like that a graphite paddle with a polymer core is quieter than other core materials.
When it comes to strength and force, power players prefer their graphite paddle to have a Nomex Core. Nomex is a manufactured material that was developed decades ago, long before pickleball was even a thing. Nomex was used in the first composite paddles to hit the market, and there’s definitely a following for Nomex cores among power players.
Another type of core material you’ll find in graphite paddles is aluminum. Aluminum is a great choice if you’re looking for a super lightweight paddle that offers great control and precision. Keep in mind that aluminum is so light that it’s going to be difficult to really put much force behind the ball. Aluminum also tends to be a bit noisy on the court.
Edge guards are basically a border of plastic that sits on the edges of your graphite pickleball paddle face. The edge guard is there to protect your paddle and prevent breakage. For the most part, an edge guard is a great thing, but there are also times a player might prefer an edgeless paddle.
The edge guard can interfere with the shot if you hit the ball on the edge guard. Edgeless pickleball paddles offer a larger playing surface, and there’s no concern about throwing the ball off course by clipping it with the guard.
Price is a huge consideration, especially for new pickleball players who aren’t yet entirely committed to the game. The graphite pickleball paddles we mentioned here run in the range of $50 to $90, which is pretty standard for a graphite face. There are some graphite paddles that cost more but not nearly as much as a high-end carbon fiber paddle.
While you don’t have to blow the bank to get a quality pickleball paddle, you should approach super cheap paddles with caution. These paddles typically have poor construction and lack both control and power. They’re really only best for players that want to try the game while investing minimum spend, or if you just want a couple of cheap paddles to have on hand in case friends want to join you.
Is a graphite pickleball paddle better?
Graphite paddles are great for players looking for a lighter paddle that offers great control and precision on the pickleball court without blowing the bank. Whether they’re better than other types of materials, such as composite paddles or carbon fiber paddles, depends on the player and their preferences and goals in the game.
Which is a better pickleball paddle – composite or graphite?
Graphite paddles are lighter in weight and are going to give you more control on the pickleball court. Composite paddles, in contrast, are heavier but offer more power for players that use a strong gameplay strategy. Which is better depends on what type of strategy you want to use and where your strength and weaknesses are. For most new players, graphite pickleball paddles are easier to use.
Is graphite or carbon fiber better for a pickleball paddle?
Carbon fiber pickleball paddles are relatively new to the market, but their strength and durability are catching on fast in the pickleball industry. A carbon fiber-faced paddle will be heavier than graphite and also cost more, but they do offer a great balance of being both lightweight and powerful.
What material is best for a pickleball paddle?
Each type of pickleball paddle material has its pros and cons. Many players have a strong preference for graphite because graphite paddles tend to be lightweight, durable, flexible, easy to use, and reasonably priced.
Bottom Line on Graphite Paddles
Due to their lighter weight and durability, graphite paddles are a popular choice among new and intermediate players in the world of pickleball. Is graphite the right paddle for you? Possibly, but there are other options that might be better suited to your needs, especially if you like to make strong power shots. Still, for finesse, control, durability, and price, graphite can’t be beaten.