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Best Beginner Pickleball Paddles

Five of the best beginner pickleball paddles

Last updated on March 1st, 2024 at 11:07 pm

When starting out in pickleball, choosing the right paddle is essential for a positive playing experience. Beginner pickleball paddles come in a variety of materials, shapes, sizes, and weights, each offering unique characteristics that can impact your gameplay. In this article, we will highlight the best beginner pickleball paddles and discuss key factors to consider when choosing a paddle as a beginner.

Pickleball paddles are the primary tool used to hit the ball in the game. The paddle’s composition, weight, grip size, and dimensions can significantly affect your control, power, and maneuverability on the court. Selecting a paddle that suits your playing style and skill level is crucial for maximizing your performance and enjoyment of the game.

By choosing a paddle that aligns with your needs as a beginner, you can develop proper technique and improve your skills more effectively. It’s important to note that as a beginner, your playing style and preferences may evolve over time, and you may consider upgrading to a different paddle as you progress.

Do you need help picking out your first paddle? Check out our blog on How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle

Table of Contents

The Top Beginner-Friendly Pickleball Paddles of 2024

Our Top Pick: Bread & Butter Spear

Best All-Around: SLK Latitude 2.0

Best Beginner Power Paddle: ONIX Z5

Popular First Paddle: Head Radical Elite

Large Sweet Spot: Gearbox G2 Edgeless

Best for Smaller Hands: Joola Journey

Choosing Your First Pickleball Paddle: What to Know

As a beginner, selecting your first pickleball paddle might seem daunting. But worry not! We’ve got you covered. The key to a great pickleball experience lies in choosing a paddle that aligns with your needs, considering factors like weight, grip size, and materials. It’s all about finding the sweet spot between comfort and performance to ensure your pickleball journey starts on the right note.

A midweight paddle, typically weighing around 7.8 ounces, is a good example of a balanced choice suitable for all skill levels. The core material of the paddle deserves careful consideration due to its significant impact on power, control, and durability. Graphite pickleball paddles, for instance, offer exceptional performance and control. Don’t forget that opting for quality over cost can substantially affect your game progression.

Importance of Paddle Weight for Beginners

For beginners in pickleball, the paddle’s weight is a significant factor. The paddle’s weight directly influences its maneuverability and power, making it one of the key features to consider when choosing a paddle. A midweight paddle, weighing around 7.8 ounces, provides a comfortable balance between power and control. It creates a solid foundation for new players to develop their skills.

But be wary of the extremes. Heavier paddles might offer more power, but they demand precise control and can tire your arms quickly — not ideal for beginners. On the other hand, while lighter paddles are easier to move, they may strain your arm due to lack of shock absorption and compromise your form. Therefore, a midweight paddle is an ideal choice for beginners!

Are you interested in learning more? Please read our blog on How to Choose the Best Pickleball Paddle Weight

Decoding Grip Size for New Players

The grip size is another vital consideration when selecting a beginner pickleball paddle. Grip size is paramount for comfort and control. Too big and you could risk losing control; too small and you might tighten your grip, causing unnecessary arm strain.

Typically, grip sizes for beginner pickleball paddles range from 3.875” to 4.375”. If you’re unsure about the right grip size, starting with a slightly smaller grip is best. It gives you more control over your shots, making learning and improving your game easier.

Material Matters: Graphite vs. Composite vs. Polymer

A variety of materials are available for pickleball paddles. Each material offers unique benefits, and the best choice largely depends on your preferences and playing style. Some common materials for pickleball paddles include:

  • Graphite: Lightweight and offers excellent control, making it a popular choice among beginners.

  • Composite: Offers a good balance of power and control and is often used by intermediate players.

  • Wood: Provides a traditional feel and is often used by recreational players.

  • Aluminum: Durable and offers reasonable control, but may be heavier than other materials.

Consider trying different materials, such as flexible plastic, to find the one that suits you best.

On the other hand, composite paddles provide a balance of power and control, making them an excellent option for new players trying to get the hang of the game. And let’s not forget the polymer cores. These paddles are known for their durability and flexibility, offering a nice mix of power and control – a great combination for new players.

Being familiar with the essential aspects, let’s explore the best pickleball paddles for beginners in 2024! From versatile to durable and lightweight, we’ve got you covered. These paddles are designed to cater to different needs, ensuring that every beginner finds a paddle that aligns with their playing style and preferences.

The Most Versatile Paddle for Newbies

In the realm of pickleball, a versatile paddle is a multi-purpose tool. It offers a balance of power, control, and comfort, making it suitable for various playing styles. For beginners, this versatility can be a game-changer. It allows you to experiment with different shots and techniques without feeling limited by your equipment.

You may wonder why comfort is so important. A comfortable paddle makes the game more enjoyable and impacts how your shots feel and their power. It also influences the sweet spot’s location on the paddle, where you get the best response when you hit the ball.

Furthermore, paddles with a graphite face, like the Gearbox G2 Edgeless, offer excellent control, making them a fantastic choice for beginners.

The Best Durable Paddle for Long-Term Play

For sustained play, durability is of utmost importance. The best durable paddles, including carbon paddles, are made of tough materials like carbon fiber, graphite, and composite, designed to withstand wear and tear without compromising performance. For instance, the HEAD Radical Elite and the Bread & Butter Sprear paddles are known for their durability.

Beyond selecting a sturdy paddle, maintaining it well is also essential. Proper storage, avoiding extreme conditions, and regular cleaning after use can significantly extend your paddle’s lifespan. 

The Lighter Paddle for Quick Learning

Beginners find lightweight paddles incredibly beneficial. They’re easy to maneuver and offer excellent control, perfect for quick learning. The HEAD Radical Elite and the Bread & Butter Spear are some of the top-rated lighter paddles for beginners in 2024.

But what makes lighter paddles great for quick learning? The easy maneuverability allows beginners to react quickly and focus on improving their swing techniques and stance. Lighter paddles also have features that help control the ball, enabling precise dink shots and quick exchanges at the net – crucial for beginners.

Our Top Pick: Bread & Butter Spear

Bread & Butter: Surge Spear

The Bread & Butter Surge Spear is perfect for a beginner looking for a high-performance paddle. Unlike most beginner paddles, the Surge Spear has a T700 carbon fiber face and unibody design. This means a more durable paddle with better control.

At $80 (save 15% with SIMPLYPB), it's slightly above average compared to other beginner paddles, but you get a lot for your money.

Learn more and see other designs: Bread & Butter Pickleball Paddles


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Key Specifications:

  • Face Material: T700 Carbon Fiber (Uni-Body Design)

    Thickness: 13mm, High-Density Polypropylene Core

    Weight: 7.6 oz

    Paddle Length: 15.94″

    Paddle Width: 7.87″

    Grip Length: 5″

    USAPA Approved

Great for power, control, and spin

Lightweight

Great value

Durable

None

Best All-Around: Selkirk SLK Latitude 2.0

Selkirk SLK Latitude 2.0 Graphite Pickleball Paddle
$69.99

Introducing the SLK Latitude 2.0 pickleball paddle from Selkirk Sport, designed for players embarking on their pickleball journey. This graphite paddle features a revolutionary redesign with a thicker Rev-Core+ core and SpinFlex surface, resulting in exceptional performance, an enlarged sweet spot, increased spin, and superior control. It's the ultimate graphite paddle crafted to elevate your gameplay.

Key Features:

- Innovative SpinFlex Textured Surface enhances spin and ball control, catering to the next generation of pickleball players.

- The G4 graphite face provides ultimate control and precise feel, combining cutting-edge technology with years of craftsmanship.

- Thicker Polymer Rev-Core+ technology, in synergy with the G4 Graphite face, ensures consistent hits and improved shot quality.

Check Price on Amazon
07/18/2024 03:40 pm GMT

Specifications:

  • Weight range: 7.8-8.2 ounces
  • Thickness: 13mm
  • Dimensions: 15.5″ length x 8.25″ width
  • Grip circumference: 4.25″ with SLK Ultra-Comfort Grip
  • Handle length: 5.25″
  • Core: Thicker Rev-Core+ Polymer
  • Offers an ideal blend of control, maneuverability, and reduced fatigue during play.
  • Experience a new level of pickleball with the SLK Latitude 2.0, designed to enhance your performance and gameplay at an affordable price.

Large sweet spot

Lightweight

Increased spin with SpinFlex surface

Great for beginner and intermediate players

For $25-$50 more you can get a higher-end carbon fiber paddle.

Not a power paddle (better for spin and control)

Power Paddle: ONIX Z5 Graphite Paddle

ONIX Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle
$89.99

The ONIX Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle is a popular choice in the world of pickleball, brought to you by the leading manufacturer, ONIX. It is designed to cater to players of all levels, from beginners to advanced, offering exceptional touch and control.

This paddle features a tennis handle shape for comfort and enhanced spin and control during play, mimicking the feel of a tennis racket. The Z5 ONIX pickleball paddle is approved by USAPA and USA Pickleball and meets all official tournament play requirements. It's ideal for pickleball players looking for a versatile and approved paddle.

This was my second paddle, which worked well as an advanced beginner player. I upgraded when I had developed skills to better utilize spin and more control in my game.

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07/18/2024 03:40 pm GMT

Key Specifications:

  • Paddle Length: 15.5″
  • Face Width: 8.125″
  • Handle Length: 5″
  • Weight: 7.5-8.2 oz
  • Face: Graphite
  • Core: Nomex
  • Paddle Shape: Wide Body
  • Edge Guard: Yes

USAPA Approved: Yes

Good Power and Pop

Durable

Lightweight

Many color options

Lacking spin

Graphite face is louder than other materials like carbon fiber

HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle
$89.99

The HEAD Radical Elite pickleball paddle is designed for beginners and intermediate players. It is suitable for beginners and intermediate players. It combines an optimized core, composite hitting surface, and ergonomic grip for a balanced playing experience. This paddle is intended for adult players.

Check Price on Amazon
07/18/2024 03:41 pm GMT

Key Specifications:

  • Weight: 8.1 oz
  • Paddle Length: 16 in
  • Paddle Width: 7 7/8 in
  • Handle Length: 5 in
  • Grip Size: 4 1/8 in
  • Surface Material: Fiberglass
  • Core: Polypropylene Honeycomb

Large sweet spot

Power paddle

Good value

Suitable for advanced beginners

Heavier than most other beginner paddles

Not suitable for intermediate players that want better control and spin

Large Sweet Spot: Gearbox G2 Beginner Pickleball Paddle

Gearbox G2 Quad Edgeless Pickleball Paddle
$99.99 $95.00

The Gearbox G2 Pickleball Paddle, sized as "Large," is designed for players of all skill levels. It features a 4-inch grip and is constructed using premium materials, including carbon fiber and glass fiber. This blend of materials provides the paddle with a high-quality feel and exceptional performance.

Advanced single-piece molded construction: The G2 is manufactured using advanced cavity molded techniques, combining UD carbon fiber and glass fiber. This process creates a durable, seamless, single-piece paddle known for its reliability on the court.

Aerodynamic edgeless design: The G2 features an edgeless design without a plastic bumper guard, enhancing maneuverability while preventing undesired rebounds. Additional carbon fiber layers reinforce the paddle's perimeter for durability and increase sweet spot size, improving overall performance.

Textured paddle face for spin: The G2 paddle has a textured surface that enhances spin by increasing friction between the ball and the paddle face, allowing for exceptional ball bite and better control over power shots.

Large sweet spot for forgiveness: The aerodynamic design and perimeter weight distribution result in a large sweet spot for the G2, offering an excellent feel, touch, and forgiveness during play.

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07/18/2024 03:42 pm GMT

Key Specifications:

  • Material: Carbon fiber, glass fiber, epoxy resins
  • Core: PPE core
  • Weight: 8 oz
  • Thickness: 14mm
  • Paddle Length: 15 7/8″
  • Paddle Width: 8″
  • Handle Length: 4 3/4″
  • Grip size: 4″
  • USAPA Approved

No edge guard for larger sweet spot

Textured surface for better spin

Good balance of power and control

Suitable as intermediate paddle beginners

Small 4″ grip (may need over-grip)

High price point for beginner paddle

Best for Smaller Hands: Joola Journey

JOOLA Journey Pickleball Paddle
$69.95 $65.54

The JOOLA Journeyy Pickleball Paddle is the perfect beginner paddle. It's made by the reputable brand JOOLA and features a fiberglass construction for a blend of strength and performance.

JOOLA, known for its 70+ years in table tennis, collaborates with the world's #1 pickleball player, Ben Johns, to introduce an innovative pickleball equipment line. The paddle's fiberglass graphite surface adds power, making it great for those refining their power and control. Inside, a response polymer core reduces vibration and enhances control with a honeycomb structure for feel and durability.

The Black Feel-Tec Pure Grip provides an improved grip with shock absorption, reducing fatigue. Suitable for adults and kids, the JOOLA Journey pickleball paddle, inspired by JOOLA's professional line, is lightweight for quick swings and offers a smaller grip circumference for better control.

Check Price on Amazon
07/18/2024 03:43 pm GMT

Key Specifications:

  • Material: Fiberglass
  • Core: Response Honeycomb
  • Weight: 7.8 oz
  • Thickness: 10mm (thin)
  • Paddle Length: 15.8″
  • Paddle Width: 7.8″
  • Handle Length: 5″
  • Grip Circumference: 4″

Great Value

Lightweight

Good power and pop

Enough touch and control to get used to hitting dinks and drops

Small grip

Intermediate players will need to upgrade to a paddle with better control (carbon fiber)

Finding the Perfect Paddle Shape and Surface

The shape and surface of your paddle can significantly influence the game. While the classic shape is a reliable choice for beginners, the surface type also plays a key role. Each surface type offers unique benefits, whether fiberglass for power or graphite for control.

The classic paddle shape in pickleball is akin to a reliable old friend. It offers a large sweet spot, minimizing mishits and ensuring a more consistent game. This reliability makes it an excellent choice for beginners. But that’s not all. The surface type also plays a significant role in the game. Fiberglass surfaces pack a punch, adding serious power to your shots, while graphite surfaces are all about control and finesse.

Classic Paddle Shape: A Reliable Choice

Ah, the classic paddle shape! Long and thin, akin to a blade, it is the most common and arguably the most reliable choice for beginners. The large sweet spot means you have more area to hit the ball, resulting in more accurate shots with a quality paddle. It also means fewer mishits, which is a boon for beginners.

But the classic shape does have its drawbacks. It may not give you as much reach and power as the elongated paddles. However, its ease of movement and control makes it a worthy trade-off, especially for beginners.

Paddle Surface Types and Their Impact on Play

The surface of the paddle plays a crucial role in the game. Fiberglass, graphite, and carbon fiber are the most commonly used materials for pickleball paddle surfaces. These materials are popular for their lightweight and durable properties. Fiberglass paddles, while slightly heavier, are more flexible, allowing for powerful shots.

On the other hand, graphite paddles, like the graphite paddle surfaces, offer several advantages:

  • They are lighter, allowing for quick action off the paddle.

  • They are durable and able to withstand frequent use.

  • They dampen vibrations, providing a more comfortable playing experience.

Balancing Power and Control: Thicker Core vs. Thinner Core

The power and control of a paddle are greatly influenced by its core thickness. A thicker core offers more control, while a thinner core provides more power. For beginners, a thicker core is often recommended as it allows for better control and minimizes pop-ups, those annoying high shots often resulting from a lack of control.

Remember, the goal is to find a balance that suits your playing style. So, while experimenting with different paddles, don’t forget to test out different core thicknesses.

Essential Accessories for Your Pickleball Journey

In addition to the paddle, certain accessories are essential for a comfortable and enjoyable pickleball experience. These include paddle covers, cases for protection, and overgrips or sweatbands for improving grip.

Paddle covers and cases shield your paddle from the elements and unexpected accidents, ensuring it stays in top condition for your next game. On the other hand, overgrips and sweatbands can amp up your grip game, making playing more comfortable and reducing strain on your hand during long games.

Protecting Your Paddle: Covers and Cases

Protecting your paddle from wear and tear is essential for its longevity. Paddle covers and cases are designed to shield your paddle from damage during transport or storage. Look for covers made of neoprene or polyester. While neoprene offers solid protection, polyester is lighter but not as tough.

Proper care and storage can significantly extend your paddle’s lifespan. So, investing in a good cover or case is as important as choosing the right paddle. 

Improving Grip: Overgrips and Sweatbands

An overgrip can dramatically improve your playing experience. It absorbs sweat, widens the grip, and adds some cushioning for comfort and vibration reduction. The Tourna Original Dry Feel Grip and the Gamma Sports ‘Tac’ Overgrip are recommended for their grip and moisture absorption abilities.

Similarly, sweatbands can help keep your hands dry, improve your grip on the paddle, and reduce the chance of the paddle slipping. They also prevent sweat from entering your eyes, maintaining clear vision during the game. Try out the Super Fly Good Wristbands for excellent sweat absorption.

Adjusting to the Game: Tips for Beginner Players

Getting used to the game may require time for beginners, but there’s no need to worry! We’ve got some tips to help you along the way. Practice is vital to mastering pickleball, especially the soft game’, which is crucial for keeping up with more experienced players. Try drop-shot practice, paddle-up drills, and straight-ahead dinks to improve your skills.

And remember, everyone makes mistakes when they’re starting. From hanging out in no man’s land to smashing too early, newbies often have much to learn. But with consistent training and practice, you’ll see a significant boost in your skills in a few months to a year.

Summary

In summary, choosing the right beginner pickleball paddle involves carefully considering various factors, including weight, grip size, materials, and core thickness. From versatile to durable and lightweight options, there’s a perfect paddle for every beginner. Protect your investment with a cover or case, and consider overgrips or sweatbands for improved grip. Most importantly, practice consistently focuses on mastering ‘the soft game,’ Don’t stop experimenting with different paddles and accessories. Your pickleball journey is just beginning, so have fun and enjoy the ride!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know what beginner pickleball paddle to use?

Choose a pickleball paddle based on your skill level and playing style: midweight paddles are best for beginners, lightweight paddles are for control, and heavy paddles are for power.

Is there really a difference between pickleball paddles?

Yes, there is a significant difference between pickleball paddles due to various factors like materials, weight, shape, craftsmanship, and sourcing. These attributes create significant distinctions among paddles.

How do I know what size pickleball grip I need?

To determine the size of the pickleball paddle you need, measure the length between the tip of your ring finger and the bottom lateral palm crease, which should be between 4 to 5 inches. This will help you find the right grip size for your paddle.

What is the basic equipment needed to play pickleball?

You will need a court, net, paddle, and pickleball to play pickleball. Additionally, there are specific rules, such as the double-bounce rule and the requirement for the first hit by the serving team to bounce before being returned.

Why is the weight of the paddle important for beginners?

The paddle’s weight is essential for beginners because it affects maneuverability and power. A midweight paddle is a good choice for balancing the two factors.

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