Best Beginner Pickleball Paddles: Top Picks for the Weekend Warrior

don’t overbuy

Dipping your toes into the vibrant world of pickleball? You don’t need to break the bank on your first paddle. While splurging on top-tier equipment might be tempting, it’s more crucial for beginners to grasp the basics of paddle selection. By understanding the essentials, you can make a smart and economical choice, ensuring you get great value without overbuying or misstepping in your first purchase.

Quick Tip: Pickleball has tons of gear and equipment options. Beginners should not spend extravagantly. It’s not about the price; it’s about the paddle’s fit for you.

Top Paddle Picks for the Rookie

We know what you’re thinking…

Do you really need to know what the paddle is made of or what it weighs? Or how long its handle is.

Yes, sort of. While it’s not exactly like buying a house or a car, the pickleball paddle decision for beginners should have you thinking about some of these items. For example, you head out to the high school’s brand new courts with your paddle you grabbed off the shelf during your last trip to Wal-Mart – sort of last minute impulse purchase. Halfway through your very first game your arm is aching and the pain runs up to your shoulder. Chances are your shiny new paddle is too heavy for you.

Worst yet? This foul experience may taint your view of pickleball and keep you off the courts – what a shame!

So, yes, you should know the basics of a beginner’s pickleball paddle but you won’t need a masters degree, trust us.

Understanding the Importance of Paddle Core

The core of a pickleball paddle, often referred to as the paddle core, is the heart of the equipment. It plays a pivotal role in determining the paddle’s performance, weight, and sound. The most common core material nowadays is polymer. Not only does it offer a superb balance of power and control, but it also ensures durability.

To further grasp the intricacies of paddle cores and how they impact your game, you might want to read our comprehensive guide on pickleball paddle cores.

Paddle Weight: A Crucial Consideration for New Players

When pickleball rookies first venture into the world of pickleball, the weight of the paddle can either be a boon or a bane. A paddle’s weight influences the player’s ability to maneuver it, the power behind each shot, and even the fatigue level during extended play.

Select a mid-weight pickleball paddle between 7 ounces and 8.5 ounces if you’re unsure about which weight to choose. Take another look at this: the differences between these two ranges is only 1.5 ounces – not great, but it can make a difference.

Understanding the nuances of paddle weight and how it impacts your gameplay is essential. Dive deeper into this topic with our article about pickleball paddles tailored for different genders.

Choosing the Right Handle Length

The handle, sometimes referred to as the shaft length or stick size, comes in various lengths.

Here’s how to choose:

  • Short Handle: Provides better maneuverability and is often preferred by those who play doubles or are accustomed to playing table tennis.
  • Medium Handle: Offers a balanced feel, allowing for both power and control – best for beginners.
  • Long Handle: Great for singles as it gives extra reach, akin to a tennis racket.

But, why does handle length matter so much? A longer handle can give players the feel of a tennis racket, providing a more familiar experience for those transitioning from tennis to pickleball. On the flip side, a shorter handle offers more surface area for hitting, essential for those nail-biting close rallies.

For an in-depth look at how handle length can affect your game, especially if you’re a beginner, our guide on pickleball paddles for beginners is a must-read.

Grip Circumference: Getting a Handle on Things

We’ll talk bout this if you insist… but a pickleball paddle circumference is really a conversation for more advanced players. You should know this at a high level but not have it drive you crazy as you select your first paddle.

When we talk about the grip size or grip width, we’re referring to the circumference of the paddle’s handle.

  • Small Grip: Suitable for players with smaller hands or those transitioning from badminton.
  • Medium Grip: A universally comfortable size for many players.
  • Large Grip: Ideal for players with larger hands or those used to tennis rackets.

An ill-fitting grip can lead to poor racket control, reduced shot accuracy, and even wrist strain. Most beginners are quite content with a medium grip.

And if you’re still wondering about the difference in grip size preferences between genders, our detailed analysis on pickleball paddles for men vs. women will shed some light on the subject.

Lifespan of a Pickleball Paddle: What to Expect

Every piece of sports equipment has a lifespan, and the pickleball paddle is no different (wow, shocker). Factors like the type of paddle core, the frequency of play, and the care you provide all determine how long your paddle will “serve” you well on the courts.

Your brand-new pickleball paddle, perfect for your newfound sport, should suffice while you’re still a beginner. In other words, as your skills progress, you’ll likely outgrow this paddle. As you play more and improve, you’ll find yourself in search of a more advanced paddle.

But in case you want to know… here are factors influencing the lifespan of your pickleball paddle.

  • Polymer Core Paddles: Known for their durability, these paddles often last longer, making them an excellent choice for beginners who might not be as gentle with their gear.
  • Regular Play: If you’re hitting the courts just a couple of times a month, a good quality paddle can easily last a few years.
  • Care and Maintenance: Like any other sports gear, regular cleaning and storing your paddle in a protective case can extend its life.

For a more comprehensive understanding of how long you can expect your paddle to last, and tips to extend its life, don’t miss our article on pickleball paddle lifespan.

Our Recommendations for Beginner Pickleball Paddles

We consider ourselves experts in our own opinion, but in this case, we’ve set our egos aside. Our top choices are based on reviews, value for money, return policies, and product quality. We particularly value the opinions of other beginners.

recommended paddles

The Onix Graphite Z5: The Ultimate Beginner’s Paddle

Have you ever wondered which pickleball paddle is best suited for beginners? The world of pickleball paddles is vast and varied, with myriad options available for every skill level. However, for those just dipping their toes into the sport, finding the ideal paddle can be a daunting task. Enter the Onix Graphite Z5, a game-changer in the realm of beginner paddles. Let’s dive deep into what makes this paddle a top choice.

Features of the Onix Graphite Z5

  • Graphite Face: Designed to provide both power and finesse.
  • Weight: A lightweight paddle, ranging between 7.5oz and 8.2oz.
  • Sweet Spot: Generously wide, accommodating those imperfect shots.
  • User Level: Perfect for beginners but also suitable for advanced players.

Note: The sweet spot is a term used in sports to describe the point on the paddle (or racket) where the shot feels best. With a wide sweet spot, the Z5 ensures players get a solid hit more frequently.

The Pros and Cons

To give you a clearer understanding of the Onix Graphite Z5’s strengths and potential areas for improvement, we’ve compiled a handy table:


  • Graphite face offers a blend of power and control
  • Lightweight design ensures easy maneuverability
  • Wide sweet spot boosts confidence in shots
  • Suitable for a wide range of skill levels


  • Might be too light for some advanced players
  • Graphite surface may show wear over time

The Onix Graphite Z5 stands tall as a top contender for those new to pickleball. Its unique combination of features ensures that players can focus on improving their game, rather than struggling with their equipment. Whether you’re a newbie looking for your first paddle or an advanced player seeking a reliable backup, the Z5 might just be the perfect fit.

Selkirk SLK Halo Max: The Ultimate Beginner’s Pickleball Paddle

Pickleball is an exhilarating sport, rapidly gaining traction among all age groups. Choosing the right paddle is crucial for every player, but especially for those just starting out. Enter the Selkirk SLK Halo, a paddle that combines power and control in perfect harmony, making it an ideal choice for newbies. Here’s an in-depth look at what makes this paddle stand out.

Features of the Selkirk SLK Halo

“The best tool in a player’s arsenal is their paddle. It’s the bridge between intent and action.”

  • Weight Range: One of the first things players notice is the weight of their paddle. The Selkirk SLK Halo boasts an average weight ranging between 7.4oz and 7.8oz. This balance ensures that players can deliver powerful shots without compromising on swift movements.
  • FiberFlex Fiberglass Surface: This innovative surface ensures a broader sweet spot. As a result, players find it easier to strike accurate shots, even if they don’t hit the ball dead center every time.
  • Polymer Core: A core made of polymer not only reduces vibrations, making each shot feel smooth but also offers a comfortable grip. This means players can play longer without fatigue setting in.
  • Durability: Pickleball can be intense, and your paddle should be able to withstand that intensity. The Selkirk SLK Halo promises longevity, ensuring that players don’t need to replace their paddles frequently.

Pros and Cons of the Selkirk SLK Halo


  • FiberFlex fiberglass surface enhances accuracy
  • Comfortable grip reduces hand fatigue
  • Durable build ensures long-term use
  • Ideal weight range provides a balance of power and agility


  • Might be on the heavier side for players used to lightweight paddles
  • Beginners might take some time to adjust to the larger sweet spot

Final Thoughts

For those weekend warriors or individuals dipping their toes into the world of pickleball, the Selkirk SLK Halo is a trusty companion. It ticks all the boxes in terms of performance, comfort, and durability. If you’re a beginner looking to invest in a reliable paddle without breaking the bank, this might be the perfect pick for you.

Engage Encore Pro: The Ultimate Beginner’s Pickleball Paddle

The world of pickleball, a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, is ever-evolving. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a complete newbie, choosing the right paddle is crucial. Enter the Engage Encore Pro, a paddle that’s been making waves in the community. Let’s dive deep into its features, pros, and cons.

Key Features

The Engage Encore Pro is not just another paddle; it’s a statement for beginners stepping into the exhilarating world of pickleball. Here are its standout features:

  • Polymer Core: This material reduces vibration, ensuring a comfortable and firm grip every time you swing.
  • Carbon Fiber Face: Known for its durability and strength, carbon fiber gives this paddle a competitive edge with added pop.
  • Generous Sweet Spot: A larger sweet spot means it’s more forgiving on mis-hits, which is especially valuable for those just starting out.
  • Weight Range: This paddle sits in the 7.9oz. – 8.3oz. range, striking a balance between power and control.
  • Value for Money: A premium experience without the premium price tag. The Encore Pro provides great value, especially for beginners.

“Choosing the right paddle can elevate your game, and the Engage Encore Pro seems to tick all the right boxes.”

Pros and Cons of Engage Encore Pro

Every product has its strengths and areas for improvement. Let’s break down the pros and cons of this paddle:


  • Power & Control Balance: The weight distribution offers a blend of power and precision
  • Comfortable Grip: Thanks to the polymer core, players can enjoy extended sessions without discomfort
  • Durable Construction: The carbon fiber face ensures longevity and consistent play
  • Perfect for Beginners: The large sweet spot and the price point make it an attractive choice for newcomers


  • Weight Variance: The slight weight variance might be a concern for those looking for a specific weight
  • Might Lack Advanced Features: As it’s catered more towards beginners, professionals might seek more advanced features


If you’re just stepping into the world of pickleball, the Engage Encore Pro is a paddle worth considering. While it may not cater to the advanced needs of professional players, its combination of features and price point make it a top contender in the beginner’s category.

Interested in exploring more about pickleball? Check out our guide to pickleball rules or discover other top-rated paddles on the market.

Remember, the paddle is an extension of you on the court. Choose wisely, play passionately.

Wrapping It Up: Choose Wisely

Pickleball, often referred to as a blend of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, is a sport that captivates many. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a seasoned pro, your paddle is your most trusted ally on the court. For beginners, especially, picking the right paddle can make the journey from rookie to seasoned player smoother.


  • Don’t break the bank: You can find quality paddles at reasonable prices.
  • Your paddle should fit you: From weight to grip size, ensure your paddle complements your playstyle and physique.
  • Stay informed: Knowledge about paddle cores, weight, and other features will empower you to make an informed decision.

In the world of pickleball, it’s not just about playing the game—it’s about playing it right. And a significant part of that is ensuring you’re armed with the best equipment that suits your needs. So, take your time, do your research, and may your paddle always land the ball right where you want it!

I hope this comprehensive guide helps you find the perfect pickleball paddle for your needs. Happy playing!

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