Here is our review of the best pickleball paddles for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players, including Gen 1 and Gen 2 carbon fiber, graphite, composite and wood pickleball paddles.
We have compared paddle composition, surface size, weight, grip size and comfort, paddle weight, sweet spots, surface type for creating topspin and backspin, and more.
Paddles are sorted by the following categories:
- Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners
- Best Carbon Fiber Paddles
- Best Graphite Paddles
- Best Composite Paddles
- Best Paddles for Tennis (Pickleball) Elbow
Pickleball paddles can range in price from $12 to $300 so there’s a paddle for everyone’s budget.
How To Choose The Best Pickleball Paddle For You
Best Raw Carbon Fiber Faced Pickleball Paddles
Carbon fiber is more stiff and durable than graphite faced paddles and these paddles will tend to cost more than graphite, composite, and fiberglass paddles.
Carbon fiber paddles are best for power as well as control because of the way they absorb the energy of the ball when it hits the paddle face, creating a larger sweet spot.
Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle Comparison – Which One Is The Best?
Best Gen 2 carbon fiber pickleball paddles:
- Six Zero Black Diamond Series
- Vatic Pro Series – (Prism Flash and V7 Review)
- PCKL Pro Series
- Joola Perseus – More info here on our pro page about the Joola paddles.
- Electrum Model E Elite
- ProKennex Black Ace – Great carbon paddle choice for those with pickleball/tennis elbow.
Best Value Carbon Fiber Paddles
The below video goes into more detail about why and how carbon fiber paddles may differ based on the type of carbon used.
T700 and T800 carbon fiber and other top-tier carbon manufacturers vs cheaper sourced carbon fiber and subsequent decreased durability.
Also, Gen 1 Carbon Paddles (CRBN1, Electrum) lack some of the technological advances of Gen 2 Carbon Paddles such as thermoforming and more capacity for power.
Best Value Carbon Paddle Picks:
Vatic Pro Prism Flash – High-end Carbon Paddle under $100! Even comes with a cover!
Use code PICKLEBLISS for 10% off which will bring it down to $89!
PCKL Pro Series 14mm and 16mm – Elongated Power and Control Paddles.
PCKL has designed a great paddle, the Pro Series, at a reasonable price especially for all its features:
Ronbus Carbon Paddle – Another great value control paddle with power that comes in 3 shapes.
Best Graphite Pickleball Paddle (Without Carbon Fiber Face)
If you are looking to upgrade your wood or plastic pickleball paddle, the next step up is graphite.
There are graphite paddles with carbon fiber faces, but not like the 100% raw carbon surfaces as discussed above.
The combination of the honeycomb core (polypropelyne, nomex, and aluminum) and graphite composition makes them not only strong and durable, but also provides much better control than wood paddles for all kinds of shots, especially precision dinks at the net.
There are several great graphite pickleball paddles from several brands:
- Gamma 505
- ProKennex Pro Flight – great graphite paddle choice for those with pickleball/tennis elbow.
- Head Radical Elite and
- Paddletek Tempest Wave
We also like the ONIX Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle because of its wide body shape which provides a large sweet spot, the Nomex honeycomb core and graphite face for excellent control, power and speed, and its medium weight feel at around 8 ounces.
“Originally I bought a $20 set of wood paddles and cheap balls. They work fine but this paddle feels like a glove in my hand. A larger hitting and sweet spot surface, great texture and a super hand grip. I highly recommend.” -Doug
Best Advanced Composite Pickleball Paddle
Composite paddles are some of the best you can buy for a great combination of control and power without spending as much on a carbon fiber paddle.
Their fiberglass faces and polymer honeycomb cores provide a great lightweight feel with grippy surfaces and large sweet spots.
Fiberglass paddles are typically heavier than graphite paddles, which provides more power.
Among our other favorite composite pickleball paddles are the Onix Evoke Premier (developed by pros Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova), Joola Solaire CFS 14 (developed by pro Ben Johns) which has a composite fiberglass face with Carbon Friction Surface (CFS) texturing, and the Engage Poach Infinity.
We also like the Gamma Compass Composite Fiberglass Pickleball Paddle for its elongated shape, enlarged honeycomb cells and 7.75 oz balanced weight for enhanced responsiveness and large sweet spot.
“Been playing for 7 years. Bought this paddle a couple months ago just for a change from my Tempest Wave. Felt and performed great right from the get go. Additional reach was noticeable immediately. Great touch at the kitchen line and big power on overheads. The balance of this paddle seems to draw the ball to the center of the face like a magnet.” -Babsey
The main difference between graphite and carbon fiber is that graphite breaks apart easily while carbon fiber is strong.
This difference explains why graphite works well in a pencil and carbon fiber works well in sports equipment, airplanes, and the space shuttle. (And, of course, pickleball paddles.)-Picklrz
Best Pickleball Paddle For Tennis Elbow (Not Wood!)
If you are prone to tennis elbow, I would stay away from the wood paddles.
In another post, we discuss some options for the best pickleball paddle for tennis elbow and how to relieve pain.
Best Pickleball Paddles For Beginners
You don’t have to spend a lot on a paddle as a beginner.
The first pickleball paddles used back in 1965 were made from plywood.
Wood paddles do have power, however they have limited control and touch for dinks and resets.
There are cheap polymer plastic paddles as well, which are lighter, but they aren’t as reliable performance wise as wood paddles, so I would suggest spending more for a graphite paddle as the next step up.
Best Wood Pickleball Paddle
If you don’t want to spend the money as a beginner for a graphite paddle, and as aforementioned, polymer plastic paddles, although lighter than wood, aren’t as good performance-wise as wood, then try out this wood pickleball paddle.
Wood paddles can weigh anywhere from 9 oz up to 16+ oz whereas a graphite or composite paddle will weigh more in the 7-8 ounce range.
We like this wood pickleball paddle set from Amazing Aces which includes 2 paddles and 4 balls with a mesh carry bag. It has nearly two thousand 4.5 star out of 5 ratings from users.
Most cheap wood paddles don’t last that long, but what we like about his set, even with a low price, the 7-plywood construction is pretty durable and most players say that even after continuous months of play, they still show little wear.
On a side note, one of the best players in our neighborhood plays with a wood paddle.
This demonstrates that just because someone switches to a $300 paddle, it won’t automatically make them a better player. 😉
“This set is worthy of its price. After 3 months of use everything is still holding up fine. It is not just an entry level quality. We have looked into plastic paddles and different materials, the feel and quality of these paddles is a lot better than other same priced paddles.” -RJ
Best Pickleball Paddle for Beginners – Graphite or Composite
If you want a step above a wood paddle and can pay a little more, which I recommend, then any of these paddles would be a good place to start according to your budget:
Niupipo Graphite Paddle (<$50)
Head Radical Elite Composite (<$70)
Onix Z5 Graphite/Carbon Fiber (<$100)
How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle For A Beginner
As aforementioned, you don’t want to spend a lot on your first pickleball paddle until you play enough to decide what type of paddle will best suit your game.
The best thing to do would be to try out several paddles through a dealer.
Try paddles that have different thicknesses (12mm vs 16mm), shapes (round vs elongated), different handle lengths and grip circumferences, etc.. until you find one that makes you feel like…
“Yes! I love how this paddle feels! This is the one for me!”
Pickleball Paddle FAQs
Who makes Pickleball Paddles?
There are many brands of pickleball paddles. Some of the main companies that make them inlcude Selkirk, Joola, CRBN, Electrum, Vulcan, Engage, Electrum, Paddletek, Babolot, Gamma, Franklin, ProKennex, Head, and Onix.
What are the different types of Pickleball Paddles?
The main four different types of pickleball paddles are made from wood, polymer plastic, graphite, composite paddles, carbon fiber, and hybrid paddles. Wood paddles are great for beginners and more durable than the plastic paddles. Graphite and composite paddles are very durable and have great touch.
What is a Pickleball Paddle?
A pickleball paddle is made from either wood, plastic, graphite, or a composite and is larger than a ping pong paddle, smaller than a tennis racket, and stypically haped more squarely than a platform tennis or beach paddleball paddle. The first pickleball paddle was made from plywood back in 1965.
I started out playing pickleball with a relatively cheap paddle for about $25 in a pickelball set combo package – 2 paddles, covers, and balls.
It was a lightweight graphite paddle with a honeycomb core and actually worked out pretty well before I decided to upgrade.
By using a cheaper paddle at first, it allowed me to discover what kind of game I like to play and what weight I ultimately wanted to play with (middleweight).
If I just chose an expensive paddle without even playing first, I’m not sure if I would have ended up with a paddle I really liked.
Just something to consider if you are a beginner and unsure you want to spend a lot of money upfront.
I played with that cheaper paddle for a few months before deciding to get a Head Extreme Tour Pickleball Paddle.
At the time, I liked the unique head shape, the midweight feel, handle length, and the power from the 13mm core.
Most recently, I switched to using a Electrum Model E pickleball paddle which has a thicker core for better touch and control, elongated face for more power and reach, and a durable carbon fiber surface for added spin.
Keep in mind that you can choose paddles based on weigh preference – lightweight, midweight, heavyweight as well thick or thin cores for touch or power, as well as choose different handle lengths and grip thickness/circumference sizes.
How Many Pickleball Paddles Are Approved by USA Pickleball?
There are currently nearly 1,800 paddles that are USAP Approved!
Just last year, there were over 500 paddles that were submitted for approval.
Obviously, nearly every company wants to get in on the pickleball paddle market.
With that many choices, you most likely can find the right combination of surface, core, weight, and paddle and handle measurements that will best suit your playing style.
Pickleball Paddle Delamination
Delamination Paddlegate 2.0 happened when some pickleball paddles that the pros were using would have a separation between the inner core and the outer surface of the paddle because the glue fails to keep the layers adhered.
This separation causes a trampoline effect, giving the paddle much more power when the ball hits the surface.
The podcast by Briones Pickleball goes into more detail about it if you’re interested.
Also talks about how even though there are over 500 brands of paddles, with a few exceptions, most are made by just a few manufacturers.
If you have any questions about paddles, ask by commenting below!