The importance of forgiveness in a pickleball paddle: exploring sweet spots

why you gotta be so mean?

When it comes to choosing a pickleball paddle, there are several key attributes to consider, including power, touch, and forgiveness.

Let’s delve into the concept of forgiveness in a pickleball paddle, explore the significance of the sweet spot, and shed light on the hybrid options available in the market.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced pickler looking to enhance your game, understanding these aspects will help you make an informed decision when selecting your next pickleball paddle – and there are tons of options.

How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle for Beginners

What is forgiveness in a pickleball paddle?

First off, forgiveness as a paddle attribute, refers to the ability of a paddle to compensate for mishits or off-center shots. Or said differently: it’s the paddle’s capacity to help players in executing shots effectively, even when they don’t hit the ball with the paddle’s sweet spot.

The forgiveness of a paddle can make a significant difference in gameplay, especially for beginners who are still working on their skill set.

Here’s exactly why forgiveness of a pickleball paddle can have an impact in gameplay.

Reduced Mishits: As you start in pickleball it can be challenging to consistently hit the ball with the paddle’s sweet spot. Throw in a little eye-hand coordination challenges and it really can be frustrating.

A mishit occurs when the pickleball makes contact with the area(s) outside the sweet spot. This leads to less controlled shots. A forgiving paddle helps mitigate (i.e., forgive) hits by providing a larger margin of error – or surface area. Beginners will have more of a chance to achieve decent shots.

Enhanced Confidence: When beginning in pickleball, it’s common for beginners to feel uncertain and lack confidence in their shots. For more experienced players, it must look quite comical to see newbies on the court. But, to them it’s not that funny and it is maddening at times. A pickleball paddle with forgiveness helps with confidence by minimizing the consequences of mishits. Beginners can swing more freely, knowing that the paddle will help them recover from imperfect shots. And they can take their mind off where they are hitting the ball on the paddle.

Learning and Skill Development: Forgiving paddles aid in the learning process and skill development of beginners – and it’s not just beginners. These paddles provide instant feedback and allow players to adjust their swings/hits gradually. Beginners can focus on proper form and improving their swing. As players progress, they can gradually transition to paddles with less forgiveness.

Consistency and Stability: Forgiving pickleball paddles offer better consistency and stability on the courts. Forgiveness helps maintain shot quality even when players are fatigued or playing in challenging situations. Think sunset where more difficult to see or a light (heavy)?) rain. It reduces the chances of shots going awry due to slight errors in timing or footwork. They’ll get into a more of a rhythm.

Enjoyment and Progression: Playing with a forgiving paddle enhances the enjoyment of the game for beginners. And that alone should be the number one benefit of these paddles. It allows them to experience successful shots and rallies, making the learning process more enjoyable. Most people try pickleball for fun and not because they will be national tournament professionals.

Keep this in mind…

Forgiveness is not limited to beginners. Even experienced players can benefit from a forgiving paddle when experimenting with new shots or facing challenging opponents.

What is a sweet spot on a pickleball paddle?

The sweet spot on a pickleball paddle is the area of the paddle’s surface that provides optimal power, control, and accuracy when striking the ball. Hitting the ball with (on?) the sweet spot will give you a clean shot that will maximize power and minimizes mishits.

The sweet spot is typically located near the center of the paddle, but its size and location can vary based on the paddle’s shape, composition, and design. Each manufacture may have their own definition as well.

The sweet spot is the sweetest point of contact between the paddle and the ball, where the player can achieve the best possible shot.

For the most part, the sweet spot is located near the center of the paddle face.

This is important…

Its size and location can vary depending on many factors such as the paddle’s shape, composition, and design. Pickleball paddle manufacturers want to maximize the size of this area to provide players with a larger margin for error and forgiveness.

In addition to the central sweet spot, some paddles have an extended sweet spot.

These paddles may have unique core materials or slightly modified shapes, which increase the effective hitting area. An extended sweet spot provides players with even more forgiveness and consistency. But be aware of how these are marketed – manufacturers may charge a not-so-sweet price for these models.

So, what are we getting at here?

Yes, a large sweet spot is desirable, but players should always strive to hit the ball as close to the center as possible with any type of paddle. Hitting the ball off-center can result in mishits or less controlled shots. A forgiving paddle simply comes in handy when picklers make contact outside of this ideal hitting zone. Period.

Understanding the Hybrid Options:

Hybrid pickleball paddles are gaining popularity in recent years due to their unique construction and the advantages they offer – 2023 will be no different.

These paddles combine different materials to provide a blend of attributes, such as power, control, and forgiveness. The specific construction can vary between manufacturers and models, but here are some common materials and core designs used in their production:

  • Composite Materials: Many hybrid pickleball paddles feature a composite construction. This involves layering different materials together. Common composite materials include carbon fiber, fiberglass, and polymer blends.
  • Polypropylene Core: Some hybrid paddles have a polypropylene core. Sometimes this is combined with other materials. Polypropylene cores offer a soft and responsive feel, which may improve touch and precision on the court.
  • Polymer Honeycomb Core: Another core design used in hybrid paddles is the polymer honeycomb core. This stinging feature has a honeycomb structure made from a polymer material such as Nomex or aluminum. Polymer honeycomb are gaining popularity rapidly as they offer a good balance of power, control, and durability.
  • Aluminum Core: Guess what? Aluminum core paddles have an aluminum core! These, too, are very popular and known for their exceptional power and solid feel. Aluminum cores generate significant ball speed.
  • Foam Core: Some hybrid pickleball paddles feature a foam core which is made of EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam. Foam cores offer a softer feel and increased control. Players who prefer a foam core have more of a touch-oriented gameplay style.

Choosing the Right Pickleball Paddle:

Now that we have explored forgiveness and the sweet spot, let’s discuss some tips for choosing the right pickleball paddle:

Do your homework on paddle options in 2023

category header paddle
  • Playing Style: Consider whether you prioritize power, control, or a balance between the two. This will help you narrow down your paddle options based on the attributes that align with your playing style.
  • Test Different Paddles: Trying out various paddle models is critical to finding the one that feels comfortable and suits your needs. Many brick-and-mortar stores or pickleball facilities offer paddle demo programs.
  • Paddle Weight: Paddle weight plays a vital role in determining power and maneuverability. Lightweight paddles offer quick maneuvering and control, while heavier paddles provide more power and stability. Pickleball paddles for women and men: is there really a difference?
  • Read Product Reviews: This is huge – we’re big into reviews! Look at reputable online sources and customer reviews to get some insights into the performance, durability, and overall quality of different pickleball paddles.

Paddletek Tempest Wave II

Known for its excellent touch and power attributes, this paddle offers a generous sweet spot and exceptional forgiveness. It’s an ideal choice for players looking to improve their game.


  • excellent touch and power
  • generous sweet spot
  • exceptional forgiveness
  • high-quality construction


  • relatively higher price point
  • may not be suitable for players seeking an ultra-lightweight paddle

Selkirk AMPED Invikta

With its hybrid core construction, this paddle combines power and control seamlessly. It provides a comfortable grip and an extended sweet spot, making it suitable for players seeking a versatile paddle.


  • hybrid core construction
  • balanced power and control
  • comfortable grip
  • extended sweet spot
  • versatile performance


  • slightly higher price range
  • may not provide the same level of power as some other models

Onix Graphite Z5

A popular paddle known for its affordability and forgiveness, the Onix Graphite Z5 is suitable for both beginners and intermediate players.


  • very affordable option
  • good forgiveness
  • suitable for beginners and intermediate players
  • lightweight for maneuverability


  • less power compared to some high-end paddles
  • smaller sweet spot

Conclusion – Your Takeaways

  • beginner or experienced, learn a little about the sweet spot
  • forgiveness paddles are worth the expense
  • see the complete pickleball FAQ to answer more questions

Paddle Forgiveness and Sweet Spot – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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