Types of Pickleball Paddles

types of pickleball paddles

Have you been in the market for a new pickleball paddle lately? We always have our eyes peeled on what’s new in the world of pickleball paddles, from the latest technology in paddle design to the types of materials used. Let’s just say there are all types of pickleball paddles, and choosing the perfect one can be daunting. 

When you look at any paddle, the first details are almost always about the type of materials used and what the core is made of. After that, details like the paddle shape and weight come into play. We’ve created an easy-to-understand guide to help you decipher all the pickleball paddle terminology, learn about all the different paddle types, and ultimately find the paddle that will work best for you. 

Paddle Materials

When shopping for pickleball paddles, the paddle face or outer layer material is one of the most defining characteristics. Many say that the face material isn’t nearly as important as the core material, and they’re correct – to a degree. The core is very important, but the outer paddle materials significantly impact the weight of the paddle, its durability, and how it connects with the ball. 


The higher you go on the price scale when shopping for a pickleball paddle, the more graphite you’ll see. Graphite pickleball paddles are very popular among advanced and intermediate pickleball players

A graphite hitting surface naturally makes for a lighter paddle, no matter what the core material is made from. Graphite on its own is very light, and because graphite paddle surfaces are strong, you can get a lot of power behind each stroke. Generally, you need more weight for those types of power strokes, but graphite pickleball paddles combine the best of the best of power from their strength and control from their weight. 

When handling graphite pickleball paddles, you’ll find them to be light but rigid. There’s not a lot of giving to the paddle, which is what makes them so great for strong shots. If this sounds like a winner to you, plan on paying top dollar for the best graphite pickleball paddles. 

Carbon Fiber 

Carbon fiber is a good option if you want most of the characteristics of graphite but don’t want to pay the hefty price tag. Carbon fiber is a little lighter, making it more maneuverable and offering better control, but it lacks graphite’s power. Carbon fiber is a common hitting surface for mid-range pickleball paddles. 

Fiberglass/Composite Paddles 

Fiberglass paddles are among the most popular for more devoted pickleball players of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced. Fiberglass paddles are lightweight and fairly durable, plus you’re probably not going to break the bank by buying one. 

A fiberglass paddle is the poster child for the idea that lighter paddles are about control and heavy paddles are for power shots. Like graphite paddles, fiberglass is lightweight and offers great control and precision. It’s also a good surface material for people with wrist or elbow issues. Fiberglass shares some characteristics with graphite, but fiberglass isn’t going to offer the same power. 

We stuck composite paddles in this category because almost every composite paddle you find will be constructed primarily with fiberglass but with other materials in the mix. 


Hybrid pickleball paddles are the wild card of the group. They’re made with a combination of two or three of the hitting surface materials mentioned here. Before purchasing a hybrid paddle, you want to know what those materials are so that you have an idea of how it will handle on the pickleball court. Hybrid paddles will have characteristics of whatever materials they’re made with, but it’s hard to judge which traits will be the most prominent. 


The very first pickleball paddle was a wood paddle, and there was a time when wood paddles were really all you saw on the court. This isn’t the case any longer. Generally speaking, wooden paddles are usually only seen in the hands of new pickleball players, except for a few old-school holdouts. 

There isn’t anything inherently wrong with using wood paddles. In fact, they’re usually the most inexpensive pickleball paddle you can find. This makes it great for beginners who either don’t have a huge budget for a top-tier paddle or simply aren’t sure that they want to invest funds in a game that they’re just getting their toes wet in. 

Wooden paddles are also fairly durable and can take a few hard knocks. The downside is that once they do crack, they’re pretty much useless and degrade quickly after that point. Second, wood paddles are also quite heavy compared to other types of paddles. A heavier paddle is great for launching those power shots but lacks the control and finesse that a new player needs to build confidence in their game. 

Wood is good if you’re looking for the cheapest pickleball paddles, and you can often find them available in sets of four. If you’re a casual player that isn’t concerned with mastering every shot and just wants a durable paddle to play with, then wood is fine. Wood isn’t great for people with wrist or elbow issues or those wanting more control with each strike. 

Core Material

So, you’ve decided whether a composite or graphite paddle is the best choice, but now it’s time to look at core materials. In our opinion, the core material is one of the most important factors in choosing a pickleball paddle. 

The core affects how your paddle plays, whether it offers more control or power, how heavy the paddle feels in your hand, and even how the paddle sounds on the court. 


Polymer is one of the newest and, as a result, currently the most popular type of core material for many new pickleball paddles. Polymer is a type of plastic that is softer than the other types of core materials. 

One of the best advantages of polymer core paddles is that they’re quieter paddles. For pickleball players distracted by all the noise on the pickleball court or maybe have more sensitive hearing, a quiet paddle will make for a more enjoyable game. There’s also some strategic advice that says quiet paddles make it more difficult for your opponent to gauge the strength behind your shot. 

Polymer core paddles do offer a bit more ball control, but they’re not the best for power shots. The softer core of a polymer paddle absorbs some of the energy of the ball when it makes contact with the paddle, which is going to take some of the force out of your shot. 


For a long time, Nomex was the gold standard of pickleball core materials. Nomex is known for its strength, and if you like a paddle that makes a loud pop, this is definitely it! 

Nomex can best be described as a more rigid cardboard material that’s arranged in a honeycomb pattern. The Nomex is dipped in resin for additional structure and durability. A Nomex core pickleball paddle is going to hit hard, so it’s best for players who feel comfortable with their shots. Nomex definitely doesn’t make the quietest paddles, but they do offer strength and power. 


Aluminum is another popular choice for pickleball paddle core materials. Aluminum is relatively inexpensive, and it’s nice and light. Aluminum core paddles are the best for pickleball players that want a light paddle with more ball control. 

Because of its lighter weight, aluminum isn’t the best for power strokes. But it is a good choice when you’re a new player or have been playing pickleball for a while and are ready to upgrade your beginning paddle but are still at a point where you’re mastering control of your shots. 

Paddle Weight


To be classified as a lightweight paddle, a paddle should weigh somewhere in the range of 7 ounces up to 7.5 ounces. Lightweight pickleball paddles are easier to maneuver and feel almost airy in your hand. They’re great for boosting paddle speed and have the best maneuverability of all paddle weights. 

One of the main benefits of a lighter paddle is that they offer a higher degree of control. Light paddles are good for those who are learning pickleball or are working on mastering shots that require more finesse but less power. 

Anyone that wants to play pickleball but is worried about how it might affect their wrists or elbows will like how light paddles cause significantly less stress and hand fatigue while playing.  


The standard pickleball paddle falls within the mid-weight paddle category. These pickleball paddles range in size from 7.5 ounces to about 8.5 ounces at the very far end of the spectrum. Pickleball players like a medium-weight paddle because it offers the best of both worlds. It’s light enough to provide decent control but has a bit more heft to it, so you can make stronger shots. 


Heavyweight pickleball paddles are those that weigh more than 8.5-ounces. A heavier paddle offers significantly more power and stability for every shot. Heavyweight pickleball paddles are best for players who don’t have any wrist or arm issues and those who have mastered more delicate shots and have a good deal of confidence on the court. Beginning players may find that a heavy paddle has too much power for learning the game. 

Avoiding The Dreaded Tennis Elbow 

When choosing your pickleball paddle, you want one that feels comfortable and balanced when you hold it in your hand. This is impossible to do when you’re ordering from an online source, so if possible, head to a shop where you can at least feel a couple of different paddles to determine which weight feels the most comfortable in your hand. Some pickleball paddle companies will send sample paddles for you to test out for a week and return to them postage free. 

This is especially important if you’re prone to tennis elbow or wrist strain. Most people tend to think that heavier paddles are more stressful for your hand and elbow, but lightweight paddles can cause issues, too, since they vibrate more and are less stable than their heavier counterparts. 

When holding a paddle, the paddle weight should feel balanced in your hand, and you should be able to move it through the air with minimal effort. A bit of resistance can be a good thing, but keep in mind that you’re going to be holding this pickleball paddle for the duration of your games. It’s amazing how much difference a single ounce in either direction can make for hand fatigue and stress. 

Paddle Shape 

Standard Pickleball Paddle Shape 

The standard pickleball paddle shape is the most popular, and on average, it measures about 16-inches in length from the top of the paddle to the bottom of the handle and 8-inches in width across the paddle face. 

There’s a reason that this is the most popular shape for a pickleball racquet. It’s a comfortable shape for most players and offers a nice balance of features like control, maneuverability, and precision. 

Elongated Pickleball Paddle Shape 

For regulation purposes, a pickleball paddle can’t measure more than 24-inches when you combine its width and length. Elongated pickleball paddles sacrifice some width in favor of more ]addle length. These types of pickleball paddles are ideal when for reaching hard shots, and they offer a bit more spin. On the downside, their sweet spot is significantly smaller, so you have to be able to play with more precision. 

Wide Body Paddles 

In contrast to an elongated shape, a wide-body pickleball paddle has a shorter paddle length but offers more width. The advantage to wide pickleball paddles is that they offer a much larger sweet spot. The sweet spot is the point on your paddle where you can hit the ball with the most control and precision.

Players who don’t like to play with an edge guard because they feel it gets in their way will likely prefer a wide paddle. Edgeless paddles are fine, but they can also be slightly less durable. With a wide paddle, you get the same benefits of playing with edgeless pickleball paddles but with more durability. Wide body paddles are great for beginning players, but some advanced and professional players find oversized paddles to be too cumbersome. 

Choosing a Pickleball Paddle Should Be Easy! 

There are a lot of different types and styles of pickleball paddles, but the challenge of finding the right pickleball paddle should be one that you enjoy. There’s no singular definition of what’s the best pickleball paddle, and you don’t have to break the bank to find it. There are some very affordable paddles that are top-of-the-line in terms of quality. 

In addition to this guide, we have lots more advice to offer on pickleball gears, including everything from pickleball paddle grips to pickleball balls and more. 

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