If you are a complete beginner or an experienced player who needs a guideline on which to choose as your first or additional paddle, check my best pickleball paddle guide. I want to make this guide straight and simple, so my readers will not get overwhelmed with lots of unnecessary information and too many paddle choices.
Believe it or not, there are lots of veteran players who still using the first paddle that they bought several years ago. The technology of the new paddles nowadays are excellent and they are getting better each year.
Manufacturers designing more pickleball paddles to cater specific types of players. This is a good news to all of us pickleball lovers. Although some paddles are still lagging on their physical appearance, that’s only a minor drawback.
Table of Contents
- Here’s how to Choose a pickleball paddle:
- 8 Best Pickleball Paddles 2018
- 1. Paddletek Tempest Wave – A paddle that has a great amount of power, control and touch
- 2. Gamma Voltage 2.0 – Another popular paddle among the pros
- 3. Paddletek Phoenix Pro – An affordable option but also a performer
- 4. Engage Encore Composite Pickleball Paddle
- 5. Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle – A legendary paddle from Onix
- 6. Selkirk 300A Graphite – One of the best aluminum paddles
- 7. Gamma Atomic 2.0 – Heavy and probably the most powerful paddle
- 8. Champion Graphite 2.0 Pickleball Paddle – Balanced paddle for beginners
- Bonus: for total beginners
- Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle – An affordable starter paddle
Top Choice: Paddletek Tempest Wave
Runner-up: Gamma Voltage 2.0
Budget Pick: Upstreet Graphite Paddles
Here’s how to Choose a pickleball paddle:
Are you a beginner, a power player or a soft game player? Luckily, there are paddles to suit your playstyle. You can read my recommendations above for different playstyles. If you want consistency, choose a paddle with a bigger sweet spot. If you’re a power player or a banger, choose an explosive and heavier paddle. Love dinking? Go for a lighter paddle with lots of control and responsive.
Not all lightweight paddles are better because it will still be based on your skill set in relation to your age and strength. Thus, considering it can affect swing speed and reaction time. Always take note of the overall components of a paddle since there are lightweight paddles that have enough power and more control, while there are massive paddles that are superior in strong shots but less control.
Find the right balance between power and control, determine your playstyle and you will surely have an easier time choosing what paddle is right for you.
Wood paddles are the least expensive, but I will not recommend them unless you are really short on budget. If that is the case, save more and get a graphite or composite pickleball paddle. They are not that expensive, their price usually starts at $50. For a total beginner, graphite or composite paddle is a much better choice.
Make sure that the length of the handle should be sufficient and the circumference is correct to ensure it fits your hand and the paddle will not slip. Slippage can cause injuries and may end your pickleball career early. You can use an over-grip to further enhance the grip of your paddle.
8 Best Pickleball Paddles 2018
1. Paddletek Tempest Wave – A paddle that has a great amount of power, control and touch
The Paddletek Tempest Wave is a very popular paddle. Whether it’s a casual game or a tournament, from beginners (1.0) to advanced (2.0 – 5.0) players, lots of pickleball players are using it and they loved it! Now, why this paddle is so popular? And, why this is the number one pickleball paddle on my list? Find out below!
In my opinion, the Paddletek Tempest Wave has a lot of features to offer that can help you win more games. First, the paddle has the power to put away winners. Thanks to its graphite face and being a middleweight (about 7.6 oz), you can be so aggressive and smash the ball with tremendous power and yet you can still maneuver the ball very easily. The paddle is also great for beginners. As a matter of fact, we also recommend the Tempest Wave in our beginner’s pickleball paddle guide.
You can be sure that every power shots are accurate, fast and really hard. Although the graphite face can give you enough spin, it doesn’t generate tons of spin like a fiberglass face is.
Second, if you are more of a “touch” or “soft” player, the Tempest Wave doesn’t disappoint. Love dinking? The Tempest Wave paddle is great at the net. It has a polymer core that gives great finesse and control. The polymer core also synergizes very well with the graphite face and the result? A paddle with great power for aggressive play, the finesse and control needed for the soft game on your very own hands. The Tempest Wave gives you the best of both worlds. A masterpiece indeed!
Another great feature of the paddle is its longer grip. The paddle’s handle length is 5 ¼”. Its length is great for tennis or former tennis players. Additionally, you can further customize the handle and the weight of your paddle according to your liking.
Now, let’s talk about its sweet spot. It has a BIG and forgiving sweet spot, that is why I even recommend this paddle as your very first paddle if you have the budget for it of course.
All in all, the paddle can give you great power, control and finesse that can level up your game by miles. You will definitely love playing with it. I can recommend this for beginners, intermediates, and pro players. The Paddletek Tempest Wave is definitely worth every penny you will shell out of your pocket or your wife’s.
- Power, control and finesse all in one package
- Longer handle
- Solid feel
- Great for all types of players
- Bland physical appearance (but who cares?!)
2. Gamma Voltage 2.0 – Another popular paddle among the pros
Beginners can also use it as their first or second paddle. It can teach them the needed techniques earlier and the paddle can grow with you as you progress. The rough textured surface really provides great spin shots. The paddle also offers more power so your shots are sharper.
With its 7.6 oz weight, dinking is consistent but some players may take some time to get used to it. The paddle has a big sweet spot and offers more power so your shots are sharper.
The Gamma Voltage 2.0 has a great balance of power, touch and control. No doubt it is one of the best paddles regardless of your game type. It can take your game further.
- The grip is excellent. It is tacky and comfortable
- Power, touch and control in one package
- Also suitable for beginners
- Short life-span
3. Paddletek Phoenix Pro – An affordable option but also a performer
Weighing at 8.5 oz this paddle has enough weight to generate power without losing so much control. It has a soft honeycomb polymer core that offers a large sweet spot. The paddle is quieter than others and the surface has a very solid feel.
The Paddletek Phoenix Pro is aimed at experienced players but beginners can also use it. Have a slower arm swing? Then this paddle might be perfect for you. It also has a comfortable and smaller grip size so you can move the paddle quickly.
If you love to dink then this paddle is much better choice than the Gamma Voltage. The balance of the Phoenix Pro is nice, it is great for net play and provides spin on groundstrokes this paddle will help you to improve your game.
If you’re looking for a paddle that has a big sweet spot, balanced and has an outstanding grip then the Paddletek Phoenix Pro is for you.
- Balanced paddle
- Beginner friendly
- Excellent grip
- Doesn’t have the same feeling of control when playing with indoor balls
4. Engage Encore Composite Pickleball Paddle
Looking for a paddle that has a tremendous amount of spin? Then the Engage Encore Pickleball Paddle is what you might be looking for. The combination of honeycomb polymer core and a fiberglass skin is really deadly. It gives the paddle extra power, accuracy and a top-notch spin.
Paddles with fiberglass skin or face provide excellent ball control that is why the Engage Encore is the top choice if spin is a huge part of your game. You can control the ball extremely well and confuse your opponents. It offers more control than the Onix Z5 but the Z5 has more pop on it.
Overall, the Engage Encore is an all-around paddle that is more suitable for experienced players that are looking for more spin on their shots. For more pickleball paddles for spin, please visit this article.
- Great combination of power and spin
- Has a nice response for defensive shots
- Amazing look
- Not as steady as the Engage Encore Pro
5. Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle – A legendary paddle from Onix
Other than that, one of the best features of this pickleball paddle is its handle as it mimics a tennis handle, thus giving so much comfort for any beginners who can play tennis but are new to this game. The handle is long and many players loved it.
Although it is not as powerful as the Gamma Atomic, the Onix Graphite Z5 can also provide power to put shots past your opponents when needed. It has a good pop, dinks decently and quick at the net. The Nomex core is known for consistency and power.
- Suited for players who like more power
- Good for beginners as well as experienced players
- Comfortable to use
- Can be hard to control
6. Selkirk 300A Graphite – One of the best aluminum paddles
The graphite-hitting surface offers enough power when needed. Another great feature of the Selkirk 300A is its vinyl laminated surface to protect it from UV radiation and to help keep the paddle’s classy and sleek appearance.
A great paddle for control not just in the baseline but also in the kitchen. The paddle is great if you want to control your opponents and put it exactly where you want it. Another great option for more experienced players.
- Great for touch and soft game
- Great control with decent power
- Classy design
- The sweet spot is smaller than the other paddles in its class. If you want a bigger sweet spot you might get the Selkirk 300A XL version.
7. Gamma Atomic 2.0 – Heavy and probably the most powerful paddle
The Nomex core integrated into the frame also helps the paddle to eliminate dead spots and adding durability onto it. A fiberglass hitting surface to ensure that it gives extreme power to its users. Because of its weight (8 ounces), the Gamma Atomic 2.0 is not a great choice for quick at the net plays. Dinking with can be really frustrating.
Generally speaking, single or double players, 4.0 and above use lighter paddles with good touch and is quick at the net. You might beat lower level opponents with the Atomic by pure power but you will have a hard time against more advanced players.
So, if you want this paddle, I suggest that this should not be the only paddle in your arsenal due to its limitations.
- Extremely powerful paddle
- Suitable for beginners that can’t generate their own power
- Stable and solid feel
- Hard to control
8. Champion Graphite 2.0 Pickleball Paddle – Balanced paddle for beginners
This pickleball paddle is considered one of the best choices for beginners and for those who plays a lot of pickleball games including amateurs as it provides a perfect blend of strength, grip, and control. It allows you to play with control due to its average weight feature that can snap a ball with excellent response.
The Champion Graphite 2.0 is also good for your kids. The large hitting surface is great for hitting the ball with ease thus encouraging them to play the sport more often. Control is another great feature of this paddle. Once you get used to it, you will experience a great amount of control that you can use for light dinks.
- Balanced paddle
- Great option as your first pickleball paddle
- It does a lot of things but there are better options
Bonus: for total beginners
Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle – An affordable starter paddle
The Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle is a great choice if you’re upgrading from a wood paddle. Regardless of your current skill set, you can surely go for this paddle. It is soft-edged that guarantees performance consistency because its surface is resilient.
Although the paddle is a bit heavy, it is still lighter than wood paddles. Many players loved the grip of this paddle. It is really soft and comfortable. The paddle’s polypropylene honeycomb core provides great mechanical performance, so players have an edge when playing.
- Great for beginners and casual players
- Some dead spots and has a smaller sweet spot
What is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a popular game in the US since it began to become widespread around the 1960s. This game has been a favorite family fun game since then. Over time, this has become a professional sport that is played by many sports enthusiasts.
Pickleball is a game derived from the mechanics of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It is such a fun game that a lot of people are enticed to play it. The notable element of this game is its combined features of the three sports with slight modifications. The net and rules are similar to that of a tennis game. In contrast, the layout and dimension of this game are similar to that of a badminton game.
The Future of the sport?
Pickleball is gaining more popularity throughout the years. Manufactures keep on improving their paddle lineup, there are a lot of courts being made, tournaments being held here and there and many tennis players are slowly transitioning from Tennis to Pickleball.
Before, Pickleball is only popular for older players but now, I see a lot of young men and women who plays it too. The future is certainly bright!
I will pick my first ever paddle. What is the best?
A composite or graphite paddle with a classic paddle shape is a great first paddle. Depending on your preference, you can choose a lighweight or heavier paddle. You can also purchase a wood paddle if you want to, but it is much heavier and you will progress slower.
How to choose durable paddles?
Unfortunately, purchasing a pickleball paddle is not a lifetime purchase as it can get worn out over time. It can get scrapes as you play. Graphite or composite is the best choice for players who wants great playability and durability.
Is the color, sound or design of a paddle important?
Believe it or not, the color and design of your paddle has a effect on the court. Knowing that you have a great looking paddle with a quiet or nice sound may boost your confidence while playing. Additionally, the color and design of your paddle, although not that much, may distract your opponent, so it makes as a good and simple strategy. You can also choose a color to match your every outfit!
Playing pickleball as a beginner or not is not so much of a big deal for as long as you know the deals when buying a pickleball paddle that can suit your skill set. One paddle can go wrong with one person, and that basically depends on the skills and strengths.
Take into account all the things you need to consider when buying your first ever pickleball paddle, and try to ace your first game with the help of the pickleball paddle you can find!