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Why is Carbon Fiber Used to Make Pickleball Paddles?

Two PCKL carbon fiber pickleball paddles lying on a pickleball court

Can a new pickleball paddle make you a better player? The answer is probably no, but it depends…are you playing with a carbon fiber paddle yet?

As the market for pickleball paddles heats up, there is increasing confusion and controversy surrounding carbon fiber. Every manufacturer wants to slap a “carbon fiber” label on their pickleball paddles, but are they worth it? Are all carbon fiber paddles created equal? Is all carbon created equal?

Before we dig into everything you ever wanted to know about carbon fiber, let’s look at how pickleball paddles are made and why carbon fiber is a top choice.

How are pickleball paddles constructed?

Initially, most pickleball paddles were built using a sandwich design. The core was made from Nomex, aluminum, or polymer, surrounded by composite material layers. The new higher-end paddles favor a honeycomb polypropylene core, which is more springy and generates more power.

Fiberglass, carbon fiber, or other materials bonded with a strong adhesive or resin covering the core. The resin helps give the paddle bounce and control, protecting the carbon fiber cloth from the elements. It also helps smooth out the surface of pickleball paddles, which have a “roughness standard.” Players will have an easier spinning on the ball if a paddle has too much roughness or bite. Because of this, pickleball paddle roughness is regulated by the USAPA to ensure paddles can’t produce too much spin.

OK, so a pickleball paddle has a core, a face, and something to bond those two things together and smooth it out. Sounds pretty straightforward? Well, it’s not…and hundreds of paddle manufacturers are battling it to find the perfect and most profitable combination of materials. And the common denominator is (you guessed it) carbon fiber. This is the critical paddle ingredient for most players – especially the pros. It’s also the most expensive part of the paddle – that is… if it’s high-quality carbon fiber.

Some paddle companies may pass off low-quality carbon fiber for the good stuff and charge a premium. Maybe…read on.

Why is carbon fiber used in pickleball paddles?

Carbon fiber is the optimal choice for pickleball paddle material. Not only does it produce a ton of spin, but it also provides a massive sweet spot that produces a perfect balance of power and control. When a ball contacts the paddle, the carbon fiber absorbs its energy and evenly distributes it across the face.

Carbon fiber pickleball paddles deliver exceptional precision and control on the court. The inherent stiffness of carbon fiber ensures a consistent and reliable response, offering players immediate feedback. This immediate feedback allows players to refine their shots with precision and make nuanced adjustments to their technique, which results in better performance on the pickleball court.

Carbon fiber pickleball paddles also have a very lightweight construction. These paddles are much lighter than paddles made from other materials, and their lighter weight allows players to swing the paddle faster, resulting in more power and speed. A more lightweight paddle also reduces the strain on a player’s arm and shoulder, making it a popular choice for players who suffer from tennis elbow or other arm injuries. 

However, carbon fiber pickleball paddles have some drawbacks. First, small fragments from the pickleball can get stuck in the woven carbon fiber fabric. Secondly, the carbon fiber coating can get crushed down or smoothed out after repeated use. Both these cause the paddle to lose significant spin. Some Pros will replace their paddle daily (or even more often) during tournament play.

What is carbon fiber?

Carbon fiber is a lightweight, stiff, and durable material composed of thin, strong crystalline filaments of carbon. The carbon fibers are extremely thin, with a diameter of up to 10 micrometers or 0.000039 inches (smaller than a strand of hair).

Carbon fibers have a high strength-to-weight ratio, making them strong and lightweight. This makes carbon fiber ideal for industries where weight reduction and strength are crucial, such as automotive, aerospace, and sports equipment manufacturing like Pickleball!

Is all carbon fiber created equal?

The answer is a resounding no. The most commonly used carbon fiber for pickleball paddles is called T700 (93% carbon). T800 (96% carbon) is also sometimes used, which refers to the grade and elemental composition of the carbon fibers. The higher the T rating, the higher the percentage of carbon. The higher the rate of carbon, the stronger the carbon. Unfortunately, for pickleball paddles, more carbon makes them more brittle and susceptible to breaking. The key to manufacturing the perfect pickleball paddle is to find the right balance between strength and flexibility. This will ensure the durability of a paddle’s surface.

As mentioned, most carbon fiber pickleball paddle manufacturers use T700 carbon fiber. There are different carbon fiber manufacturers – low to high-end. The brand name that leads the pack for pickleball paddles is Toray. Any paddle manufacturer using high-end carbon fiber will use it as a selling point and generally call it out by name in their marketing. However, quite a few of the premium brands don’t list their carbon fiber source, which leads some to speculate they are using inferior and cheaper-grade carbon fiber.

How long does a carbon fiber pickleball paddle last?

Now this is where we’ll tie it all together. Carbon fiber should last a very long time, but pickleball paddles don’t seem to last that long – especially compared to equipment in other sports like tennis or golf. A well-constructed pickleball paddle with high-grade T700 carbon fiber should last 3-6 months with frequent use. You can extend your paddle’s lifespan by cleaning it regularly.

Unfortunately, some players find their $200+ carbon fiber paddles losing their spin and power relatively quickly. This could be caused by the coating, paddle design, or possibly by their choice of carbon fiber. This leads many to think that some high-end paddle manufacturers may use cheap, low-grade carbon fiber to cut costs, improve profits, and deliver an inferior pickleball paddle.

What is “raw” carbon fiber?

Raw carbon fiber refers to pickleball paddles that don’t have an epoxy resin, granule paint mix, or similar coating on top of the carbon fiber. The assumption is that raw carbon fiber may produce more spin than paddles with a coating. However, plenty of non-raw carbon fiber paddles make a ton of spin and handle as good, if not better, than many raw carbon fiber paddles. A great example is one we recently got to test –The Spartus Ballista, which has a ton of spin and a massive sweet spot.

How do you choose between carbon fiber vs. fiberglass pickleball paddles?

Most beginner pickleball players don’t necessarily realize they’re “choosing” a fiberglass pickleball paddle. If they’re like me, they found something cheap and highly rated on Amazon, which turned out to be fiberglass. Once you start improving, you’ll realize you need more control, precision, and responsiveness from your pickleball paddle. This will almost always be a carbon fiber paddle. 

Carbon fiber paddles are generally more expensive than fiberglass pickleball paddles. They can go as high as $350, but you certainly don’t need to pay that much for a high-end paddle. Here are some great options for under $150. 

How to care for your raw carbon fiber pickleball paddle?

A drawback to carbon fiber pickleball paddles is that they need frequent cleaning. The carbon fiber face leaves the grooves more exposed, which becomes a trap for ball residue, dirt, and other loose impediments. Left uncleaned, the spin will most certainly diminish. 

Click here for our guide on how to clean your carbon fiber paddle. It includes the supplies needed and step-by-step instructions. 


There is a lot going on regarding the materials used to make pickleball paddles. The hottest trend today is raw carbon fiber, but the industry is moving fast, and that may change. When the time comes to research and buy a paddle, make sure to do your homework. Or check out Simply Pickleball and we’ll do the research for you!

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