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How to Add Pickleball Lead Tape to Your Paddle

Tools you need to put pickleball lead tape on your paddle.

Do you need more power from your pickleball paddle? Or need a larger sweet spot? Chances are your paddle needs more weight. Luckily, it’s a simple fix with lead tape.

Most coaches and pros will tell you to add as much weight as possible to your paddle. Although removing weight from most stock pickleball paddles is nearly impossible, adding weight with lead tape is relatively easy. 

Some pickleball players think they need a lightweight paddle to prevent arm or elbow injuries. However, it’s not usually the case that a heavier paddle causes injury. The leading causes of “pickleball elbow” are a tight grip, over-swinging, and using the wrong grip. Adding a heavier paddle to poor swing mechanics could undoubtedly increase your odds of injury. 

If you have proper swing mechanics and a healthy arm, the next step is adding more weight to your paddle.

Table of Contents

What are the Benefits of a Heavier Pickleball Paddle?

  • More power 
  • A larger sweet spot
  • Increased stability 
  • Better control 

One drawback to a heavier paddle is slower hand speed or reaction time. However, by adjusting paddle weights carefully, players can find the right balance between power and speed to suit their playing style. This can be fixed with correct swing mechanics and positioning. If you’re concerned about hand speed, make sure to have your hands in a ready position. Generally, this means having your hands high up by your chest when at the kitchen line.  

So now that we agree that we want the heaviest paddle possible, what’s the best way to add weight? The simplest and legal way to do it is with weighted tape, which allows for targeted adjustments to your paddle’s balance. Someone could do it for you, but I recommend learning to add lead tape yourself. With a few inexpensive items and the instructions below, you’ll add weight to your paddle in no time. 

Where To Add Lead Tape on Your Pickleball Paddle?

There are three distinct areas of the pickleball paddle where you can add weight: the top (head), the middle, and the bottom (throat). When you add weight, you gain advantages like more power or a larger sweet spot. However, you will also lose some advantages like slower hand speed. How do you find out where on the pickleball paddle you should add weight? The answer is it depends, and it requires experimentation. Here are some guidelines to get you started. 

Top of Paddle

Pros: Adding lead tape to the top or head of the paddle will increase power. A top-heavy paddle will enable you to swing harder through the ball. 

Cons: A top-heavy paddle will slow your hands at the kitchen line. The more weight you add to the head, the slower your hands will get as the swing weight increases. 

More Power!

Lead Tape Added to the Top of a Pickleball Paddle

Middle of Paddle

Pros: Adding lead tape to the middle or sides of the paddle will increase the sweet spot or twistweight and improve stability. This will also help reduce mishits and the vibrations from mishits. 

Cons: Adding weight to the sides will slow your hand speed at the kitchen line, but only slightly, compared to when added to the head of the paddle. 

Bigger Sweet Spot!

Bottom (Throat)

Pros: Adding lead tape near the handle or throat of the paddle will increase stability and sweet spot, but toned down compared to added weight on the sides. It can also help improve hand speed and balance on a top-heavy paddle. 

Cons: You may need to add more weight to the throat to get the desired outcome compared to adding weight to the sides. 

Better Stability!

Guide For Adding Lead Tape To Your Pickleball Paddle

Step 1. Get a scale

If you don’t know how much your paddle weighs, it’s tough to know how much to add. Many pickleball paddle manufacturers list a weight range vs a specific weight in their specs, so a scale is essential. If you don’t have one, you can get some decent options on Amazon for under $15. Either one of these scales should do the trick: 

Amazon Basics Digital Scale
$12.59

A kitchen scale equipped with digital features, featuring food-safe plastic components free from BPA. Its stainless steel platform hosts a wide LCD screen.

It can measure items ranging from 2 grams to approximately 5000 grams (up to 11 pounds), displaying results in pounds, ounces, grams, fluid ounces, and milliliters.

The scale includes a tare button to measure solely the food, excluding the weight of the container. It operates on battery power, coming with (2) AAA batteries included.

The product dimensions measure 8.3 x 7 x 1.3 inches (LxWxH).

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Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale
$13.99
  • Seamless Weighing Experience: Offers support for 5 measurement units (ounces, pounds:ounces, fluid ounces, grams, milliliters), a tare function, and comes complete with 2 AAA batteries for effortless usage.
  • Accuracy at Its Best: Precisely measures up to 5 kilograms or 11 pounds with increments as fine as 1 gram, ensuring precise results.
  • Simplicity in Design: This scale boasts a petite and stylish build, making it an ideal fit for most kitchens. It takes up minimal space and conveniently fits into cabinets for easy storage.
  • Effortless Maintenance: Simply wipe the 304 food-grade stainless steel surfaces to maintain cleanliness without any hassle.
  • Clear Display: Equipped with a backlit LCD screen featuring large fonts, ensuring easy readability.
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Step 2. Get the proper lead tape for your paddle

There are a lot of options when it comes to lead tape. There are different weights and thicknesses, along with different manufacturers. I recommend getting a lead tape roll and cutting your own strips. It’s easier to add a lot of weight that’s evenly distributed. 

The simplest method is to use pre-packaged lead tape strips. If you’re looking to add extra weight to your paddle, consider where on the paddle you place the tape as this will affect the paddle’s performance. These typically come in 2-inch strips that weigh 3 grams. These should fit along the edge of most paddles, and you don’t need a scale since you know the exact weight. 

Option 1: Lead tape strips

All you have to do is open the package, peel off the back, and stick it on the paddle’s edge. These lead strips are specifically designed to be easy to apply and adjust, allowing for precise customization of your paddle’s balance and weight.

Pros: Each strip is 2 inches long and weighs 3 grams, so there’s no need for a scale. Moving them around to test where you want the weight is also easy. 

Cons: The adhesive is suitable for getting them in place but isn’t a permanent solution. You’ll need to wrap a layer of electrical tape to hold them in place. Also, since they’re pre-cut to 3 grams, cutting them into smaller sizes is challenging. 

Summary: I use lead tape strips to test where I want to add weight to my paddle. Once I determine the right place, I use lead tape instead of the strips since they’re thinner and have better weight distribution. 

Lead Tape for Pickleball Paddles
$17.99 ($1.80 / Count)
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Option 2: Adding weight to thicker paddles (14mm & 16mm) with an edge guard

Get the denser 1/2 inch wide (2 grams per inch) lead tape. Measuring and cutting strips from a roll of adhesive lead tape takes more work, but it’s worth it. 

Example: Let’s say you want to add .5 oz to your paddle. First you need to convert ounces into grams. Use the free gram to ounces converter, and you’ll see that .5 oz is about 14 grams. At 2 grams per inch, you’ll need to put 3.5 inches of lead tape on each side of your paddle. 

Disclaimer: Be careful touching lead tape. It contains chemicals that shouldn’t be in direct contact with your skin. Wearing rubber gloves is advised. Some lead tape kits come with rubber gloves. 

 

Option 3: Adding weight to thinner paddles (13mm) without edge guard

Get the 1/4 inch, denser (.5 grams per inch) lead tape. There is also a .25 gram per inch option, but you’ll need to add twice as much, and there’s little room on a thin paddle edge. 

Example: Let’s say you want to add .25 oz to your paddle; pull up your free gram-to-ounces converter, and you’ll see that .25 oz is about 7 grams. At .5 grams per inch, you must put 14 total inches of lead tape on your paddle. Or 7 inches per side. Use scissors to cut two equal pieces of 7-inch lead tape.   

Disclaimer: Be careful touching lead tape. It contains chemicals that shouldn’t be in direct contact with your skin. Wearing rubber gloves is advised. Some tape kits come with rubber gloves. 

Step 3. Cover the lead tape with electrical tape

Lead tape comes with an adhesive that will stick to your pickleball paddle. However, I’ve found it’s not very strong, and the adhesive can come off during play. I recommend 3/4 inch electrical tape to cover 1/2 inch lead tape. Use 1/2 inch electrical tape to cover 1/4 inch lead tape. Electrical tape comes in many colors – have some fun with it! 

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Once the lead tape is firmly covered with electrical tape, you’re ready to hit the court!  Remember, you’ll probably need to test adding weight to different paddle areas until you get it right. 

Pickleball Lead Tape: FAQs

Is it Legal to Put Lead Tape on a Pickleball Paddle?

Yes, it is legal to add lead tape to your pickleball paddle.

USA Pickleball rules allow players to add lead tape to a pickleball paddle. There are two pickleball rules which relate to permitted alterations of paddles, including lead tape, edge tape, and grip.

Rules and Regulations about adding lead tape to pickleball paddles:

2.E.5 Alterations. Altered paddles must meet all specifications.
2.E.5.a The only alterations or additions that may be made to a commercially made paddle are edge guard tape, lead tape, changes to the grip size or grip wrap, and name decals and/or other identification markings on the paddle face.
2.E.5.b Decals and tape can extend no farther than 1.0 inch (2.54 cm) above the top of the grip nor more than 0.5 inch (1.27 cm) inside the outer edge of a paddle or, if an edge guard is in place, 0.5 inch inside the edge guard.

What does "static weight" mean?

Static weight is the weight of the paddle. When you weigh your paddle on a scale, that’s the static weight. 

What is swing weight? Why is it important?

Swing weight is how heavy a paddle feels when you’re swinging it. When more weight is added to the head, it will feel heavier. When weight is added near the handle or throat, it will feel lighter compared with the same amount added to the head. 

What is twistweight?

Twistweight is the resistance of rotating around the axis through the middle of the paddle to the tip. The higher the twistweight, the more resistance the paddle has to rotate on off-center hits. This measurement is closely related to the paddle’s sweet spot size. A higher twistweight indicates a more prominent sweet spot.

Is it dangerous to touch lead tape with your bare hands?

Dangerous is a strong word, but it’s not a good idea. If possible, protect your hands with gloves when handling lead tape. 

Who should not consider adding weight to their pickleball paddle?

  • Players with weak wrists or arms
  • Players who have difficulty swinging a heavier paddle
  • Players who a medical professional has told not to use a heavy pickleball paddle
To learn more, please check out our blog on How to Choose the Right Pickleball Paddle Weight

Summary

Don’t give up on your new paddle until you’ve played around with the weight. I’ve heard many stories of people finding their perfect pickleball paddle after adding weight to the correct spot. For more detailed tutorials and advice on customizing your equipment, visit our pickleball studio blog for expert insights and recommendations.

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