But whilst you could technically play with any paddle, choosing the most appropriate one for your needs and abilities is important.
That’s because factors like weight, size, shape, and grip size can directly impact your gameplay and affect your performance.
To help narrow down your options, I’ve put together this guide to the 9 best pickleball paddles on the market right now and the reasons I recommend them.
But before we get to my favorite models, let’s take a look at the factors to consider when choosing the perfect paddle to help improve your game.
The 9 Best Pickleball Paddles in 2023
What to Look for in a Pickleball Paddle
The first thing to think about is the shape of the paddle.
This influences the size of the surface area for hitting the ball, known as the ‘sweet spot‘.
The best pickleball paddles are generally square or rectangular in shape – a design offering a generous sweet spot that’s ideal for beginners.
More advanced players might prefer an oval or teardrop-shaped paddle.
While these have smaller sweet spots, they tend to be more aerodynamic and maneuverable, offering extended reach and additional spin.
Other things to think about include:
Pickleball paddles tend to weigh anywhere from 6 ounces to more than 10 ounces.
If you’re a beginner, I’d recommend opting for a mid-range model of between 7 to 9 ounces as this will provide the perfect balance of power and control.
As you become more accustomed to the game, you can then decide if you’d like to go for a more lightweight option – ideal for speedier play and extra control – or a heavyweight paddle – the best choice for power shots.
#2: Grip Circumference
Since this affects your ball control, accuracy, and comfort, getting it right is important!
An average grip size of between four and five inches will be ideal for most players, but if you have particularly small or large hands you may need to look for an appropriately sized grip.
In the specifications for each of the best pickleball paddles below I’ve included a measurement of core thickness.
The best thickness for beginners is 16mm – a size that usually provides a better sweet spot and gives you more control.
Thinner cores of 13mm or less provide more power.
This is because the thinner size absorbs less energy when struck by the ball, meaning the ball comes off more quickly.
The cores of the best pickleball paddles are usually made from aluminum, polymer, or Nomex.
I recommend an aluminum core if you’re a beginner, a Nomex core if you want more power and speed, or a polymer core if control is your priority.
Pickleball paddles tend to be made from graphite, wood, or a combination of materials like fiberglass, carbon fiber, and polymer.
A composite paddle may be the best choice if you’re a beginner, as it is durable and offers a nice balance of power and control.
If you’re a more advanced player looking for a fast-paced game, you’ll probably prefer a graphite paddle as they are lightweight enough to accommodate rapid and responsive shots.
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The 9 best Pickleball Paddles
Weight: 8.4 oz, Dimensions: 17.24″L x 10.08″W , Handle Length: 5.5″, Grip Circumference: 4.25″, Core Thickness: 16mm
|Excellent combination of power and control||Expensive|
|Curved head for less drag||Feels a bit heavy|
|Carbon friction surface to maximize spin||The grip quickly gets dirty|
Designed and once used competitively by champion pickleball player Ben Johns, this top-quality paddle features an elongated carbon-forged handle for maneuverability, with a perforated anti-slip ridge grip for comfort and excellent shock absorption.
The honeycomb polymer core is specifically designed for advanced gameplay, while the hyper foam edge wall adds weight and stability, enhancing the sweet spot from edge to edge.
The weight won’t suit everyone, though, and the head-heavy feel can be tiring to play with, especially if you’re new to the game.
Weight: 7.6 oz, Dimensions: 15.75″L x 8″W, Handle Length: 5.25″, Grip Circumference: 4.13″, Core Thickness: 14.3mm
|Resilient carbon fiber surface||Lacking in power|
|Cushioned, high-tack grip for traction and comfort|
|Available in multiple colors|
A solid choice for intermediate players but slightly more affordable than the offerings from JOOLA, the Tempest Wave Pro has a thin grip ideal for anyone with smaller hands, but comes in a standard-sized grip, too.
It’s made from a high-grade carbon fiber polymer composite, with a large sweet spot and balanced weight to help you maneuver it quickly and easily.
Designed for control rather than power, it also features a rough, textured surface that increases the friction on the ball so you can deliver consistently accurate shots.
Weight: 10.7-11 oz, Dimensions: 16″L x 7.75″W, Handle Length: 6″, Grip Circumference: 4.5″, Core Thickness: 8mm
|Durable edge guard||Heavy|
With a dual-plated aluminum surface and aluminum core, this is a great paddle for beginners at a price that allows you to try your hand at the game without spending a fortune!
It’s definitely on the heavy side but has a nice, sturdy feel to give you confidence as you learn.
It also has a very comfortable, non-slip handle padded with EVA plastic.
Weight: 7.7-8.1 oz, Dimensions: 16.5″L x 7.375″W, Handle Length: 5.25″, Grip Circumference: 4.25″, Core Thickness: 13mm
|Textured surface for maximum spin||Expensive|
|Designed to reduce air resistance||Only for intermediate to advanced players|
This premium-quality paddle features an innovative ‘air dynamic throat‘ design to encourage a faster swing speed, plus a FlexFoam edge perimeter for durability.
It’s pretty lightweight for a paddle focused on power, but that open throat and edgeless design make it really easy to apply plenty of force without needing a ton of weight behind each shot.
You’ll also love the textured, durable surface, designed to generate maximum spin and unmatched consistency.
Weight: 7.62-8 oz, Dimensions: 15.67″L x 7.80″W, Handle Length: 4.8″, Grip Circumference: 4.25″, Core Thickness: Not Stated
|Very affordable||Handle may be too short for some|
|Comes with spare grip tape||Grip surface can get slippery|
This set is fantastic value for money, comprising 2 paddles, 4 balls (2 indoor and 2 outdoor), and a storage bag (something you don’t even get with paddles that sell for twice the price!).
Designed for beginner to intermediate players by one of the most popular pickleball manufacturers in the US, it features a polymer honeycomb core to help cut down on noise, plus a fiberglass face to help you improve your accuracy.
The mid-range weight is perfect if you’re just getting started, allowing you to practice consistently without fatigue, and the cushioning on the handle is comfortable for extended use.
Weight: 8-8.4 oz, Dimensions: 16″L x 8″W, Handle Length: 5″, Grip Circumference: 4.38″, Core Thickness: 15.8mm
|Soft core for excellent control||Pricey|
|Large sweet spot||Lacking in power|
|Paddle of choice for pros Dekel Bar and Jesse Ervine|
Available in both ‘Standard’ and ‘Lite’ versions, this is the paddle for you if precision is your goal, the soft core and textured face combining to give you ultimate control.
What’s more, the rough texture is the actual skin of the paddle rather than an overlay, which means it won’t wear off over time.
The shape is designed to provide a large yet maneuverable sweet spot, but if you’re looking for a longer handle and reach, be sure to check out the MX version, too.
Weight: 7.8-8 oz, Dimensions: 15.7″L x 7.75″W, Handle Length: 5″, Grip Circumference: 4.25″, Core Thickness: 13mm
|Good value for money||Not ideal for advanced players|
|Easy to maneuver|
|Vegan leather handle|
If you want to play well and look good doing it, check out this cool design from the Nettie Pickleball Company, inspired by the big bay windows and colorful rainbows lining the streets of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco.
Designed for recreational rather than competitive use by players from entry level upwards (although still USA Pickleball approved for tournaments), it’s a great all-rounder, delivering just the right balance of power and control.
The handle is comfortably cushioned with an anti-slip grip, while the edge guard and polymer honeycomb core add durability to keep you playing for longer.
Weight: 7.5-8.2 oz, Dimensions: 15.5″L x 8.3″W, Handle Length: 5″, Grip Circumference: 4.25″, Core Thickness: Not Stated
|Lightweight graphite face||Grip could use more cushioning|
|Extra wide shape|
|Lots of ‘pop’ on contact with the ball|
Onix’s most popular pickleball paddle, the Z5 features a Nomex core that provides plenty of power and durability.
Suitable for anyone from beginners to more advanced players, it also has a rough-textured graphite carbon fiber face for better control and a comfortable mid-range weight that’s easy to maneuver.
Best of all is its wide body design that gives you a very welcome larger-than-average sweet spot that can help build your confidence if you’re new to the game!
Weight: 7.8 oz, Dimensions: 16.5″L x 7.5″W, Handle Length: 5.5″, Grip Circumference: 4.125″, Core Thickness: 14mm
Superb power and control
|Unsuitable for beginners|
|Optimized shape for a large sweet spot||Expensive|
|Feel-Tec Pure Grip absorbs sweat||Doesn’t generate much spin|
Another excellent offering from JOOLA, the Perseus is a must-have paddle for anyone serious about their pickleball game.
It’s essentially an upgrade to the Hyperion CFS 16, meaning it weighs less and isn’t so ‘head-heavy’.
While this certainly makes it easier to swing and maneuver, that doesn’t translate to any compromise on power, especially with the enhanced surface layer designed to provide extra pop!
What’s more, it is now fully encased in carbon for added strength and stability.
The 9 best Pickleball Paddles: Key Takeaways
Whether you’re a beginner or a pickleball pro – and no matter your budget – there’s a great paddle out there for you!
I hope this guide has helped you identify the best one for your needs and that it provides you with the power and accuracy you need to up your pickleball game!