How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle for Beginners

Quick and easy tips for beginners

Whether an experienced pickleball player or brand new to the sport, you cannot do anything without a paddle (well, the pickleball balls of course).

Let’s assume you either brand new to the game or just thinking about getting started playing pickleball, just the thought of searching online for a paddle or walking into a sporting good shop is absolutely overwhelming.

And quite honestly, your first paddle will not be you last – hate to tell you that!

Once you get into pickleball, play more often and with more experienced folks, and even on difference surfaces you may want to spend a bit more on a paddle(s) – the options are virtually endless.

But you need to get your first pickleball paddle to get started and you don’t want to spend, quite frankly, any more than you have to.

The aim of playing pickleball is to have fun and get exercise, socialize with other sportspeople, and enjoy the outdoors. It is essential to have access to the correct equipment, but don’t allow a couple of bucks to dissuade you from playing the game. It is far more fun to play with an inexpensive wooden paddle than not at all.

See more here: Do indoor and outdoor pickleball balls really make a difference?

How much should you pay for a pickleball paddle?

We figured this would be the first question, so we’ll address this first – but skimping on price in the very beginning may cost you more in the long run.

Like any products we buy, you get what you pay for. Everyone searches for inexpensive value and high-quality products. Naturally, it’s irrational to purchase an paddle at the top end of the spectrum for $150 when you play with friends in a casual fashion. Awesome-quality products at fantastic prices are available from as low as $50.

That said:

Novice and new pickleball players do not want to spend a lot of money on their paddle when they first start out. The skilled players play with paddles that range from $150 to $250 plus; new players can avoid paying this amount entirely.

There is a range of options for entry-level players, while still providing a durable paddle at affordable prices.

The best beginners pickleball paddles are in the range between $50 and $140 – don’t be oversold.

What factors should you consider before buying a pickleball paddle?

pickleball paddle factors

If you are a beginner, you may want to consider the following factors before starting the process.

The material of the pickleball paddle can affect the game in a number of ways. For example, a paddle made of a softer material may not have the same amount of power behind it as a paddle made of a harder material.

Additionally, the grip of the paddle can also affect how well a player is able to control the ball. A pickleball paddle with a rougher grip may be more difficult to control, while a paddle with a smoother grip may be easier to control.

There is another very important thing to consider before buying a pickleball paddle: weight. A heavier paddle will provide more power, while a lighter paddle will be easier to control. Ultimately, it is up to the player to decide what weight works best for them.

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

What weight pickleball paddle should I use?

Pickleball paddles weigh between 7 – 8.5 ounces. A paddle that is 7 – 7.6 ounces is considered a lightweight paddle, anything from 7.6 –  8.2 ounces is a midweight paddle, and anything heavier than 8.2 ounces is considered heavyweight.

The lighter the paddle, the simpler it is to control, which can offer you an advantage over your opponent. However, the drawback of a lighter paddle is that it requires more strength to swing it.

Pickleball paddles for women and men: is there really a difference?

Suggestions for getting your first pickleball paddle

Most folks will will rev up their search engine and type in:

“pickleball paddles”

Look at all the results – all 3 million of them!

It’s tough to figure out where to begin: what’s legit, where are the ads, what are top paddles for pickleball beginners, etc.?

It will, however, give you a great indication how popular pickleball is!

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Ask others what they use for a pickleball paddle

Ask your friends if they have a paddle that they love, ask them why. What do they like best/least about it and what would they do differently next time. Just like you would be hiring some for a job around the house, a word-of-mouth recommendation is most likely your best option. But be cautious – most people will have a very strong opinion on what they like and dislike.

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Pickleball pro shops

A bit more awkward is calling or visiting a pickleball club near you and asking what they would recommend for a beginner paddle.

They really are the experts is most likely this is all they do day and night. Just be waring as they may lead you down the path of a higher price paddle and/or highly “encourage” you to join their club.

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Touch and feel the paddles at a bricks-and-mortar store

Shopping for a pickleball paddle at a retail store may be the least satisfying if you are looking for advice or recommendations.

In all likelihood you will need to have someone paged to the sporting goods section, wait for a clerk to arrive then well, that’s pretty much it.

It’s not necessarily the place to get advice on the best paddle for pickleball beginners but is the the best place to get the look and feel of different paddles – though the breadth of selection may not be that overwhelming.

The prices for a beginner paddle here will range from $60 – $250.

Like many people nowadays, you may want to get a feel for what you want in the store then go online and get the best value.

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Shopping online for your first pickleball paddle

Shopping online for a pickleball paddle is the best place to begin your search for the right paddle. You can use a variety of search terms to see what comes up – pickleball paddle, pickleball paddles, etc.

Be sure to check out some of the online stores that specialize in pickleball paddles. Then look at the sections they offer, compare and contrast the prices, read customer reviews and make your choice. PickleballCentral does a great job of highlighting the best options for beginners.

Best news?

Just about all online sites offering pickleball paddles offer free returns along with all the details and specifics you should look for in a paddle.

Another great feature is the customer reviews. You will not find these from a pro shop or a sporting goods store. See what players say about their paddles and read the comments. Look at weight, grip size, length, material used and any other details you can find. Make your choice – buy it online and have it on your front steps in a day!

Conclusion, what we’ve learned

  • don’t overbuy/pay
  • ask others
  • read the reviews
  • shop around just a little
  • see the complete pickleball FAQ to answer more questions

  • don’t stress – it’s JUST a paddle!!

If you’re looking for your first paddle, you have a lot of options to choose from so you may not understand what you want to do yet. It’s best to start with a paddle that’s affordable but doesn’t prevent you from achieving your growth as a player.

Pickleball Paddle for Beginners – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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