Diadem Icon Pickleball Paddle Review
The Diadem Icon Pickleball Paddle is the best paddle you haven’t heard of … yet. If you are looking for a paddle that offers perhaps the best overall playability; comfort, control, power, and feel of any paddle out there, read on.
Update 3.22.23 – CJ and Jill are still playing the original Diadem Icon paddle discussed in this post. Diadem has recently released a new version of the Icon and they are testing the new Icon. The original version is on closeout at Diadem. If you order online, use VIPickleball at checkout for a discount. To use the code, simply order the paddle directly from Diadem here (copy this link in your browser if it does not automatically take you there: https://www.diadempickleball.com/)
Tony has started to play the Selkirk Air Invikta. Here’s a link to his review of that paddle and the reasons he made a change.
Who is Diadem Pickleball?
Diadem has made a place for itself in the tennis world with a small but loyal following. Diadem wanted to provide pickleball players the same quality they do to tennis players and so the company spent the past 2 years designing their pickleball paddles. Rather than rebranding existing paddle technology with their name, they designed a whole new paddle from the ground up. It definitely shows in the resulting Icon paddle.
Jill and I received our Miami-Vice styled (more on this below) Diadem Icon paddle to test drive about 2 months ago (why was the paddle under wraps for so long before we told you about it? Well, we wanted to give it a thorough test drive before sharing it with you).
The first thing we noticed after opening the paddle was that it looked different than any paddle we have played with or even seen. And we have played with and tested lots (and lots) of paddles.
In design, the Icon is both sleek and elegant. Its edges taper, but just a bit. Its sunken edge guard has a few details, but not too many. The paddle’s graphics are interesting without being overbearing.
The paddle has a matte face – not reflective like many paddles. Unlike any other paddle I have ever played with or seen, the Icon’s face is a rubber surface (proprietary polyurethane Spin RP technology to be precise). That makes the plastic balls we use in pickleball “stick” to the paddle more so than on other paddles.
So far so good. The paddle was well constructed (solid-looking, you could say) and the weight felt good in the hand. It even had the paddle balance written on its face. Diadem is the only paddle manufacturer to publish this information about its paddles. If you want to know about paddle balance and why it is so important, check out this video (copy https://youtu.be/s02Z6v9CQTI into your browser if the link does not work).
The key takeaway on the weight of this paddle is that it feels balanced in your hand. That is 70% of the paddle decision-making process right there.
So how did the Diadem Icon paddle perform once we got on court with it?
In one word: awesome.
The paddle’s carbon fiber face and thin polypropylene honeycomb core provides a nice blend of stiffness and comfort. Shots come off the paddle firm – but not too firm. You have control, without sacrificing power. The paddle flows effortlessly from shot to shot.
I have played with the paddle several times and have enjoyed it immensely. The paddle has a high degree of playability – as much or more than any other paddle I have played with. The only reason I am not playing with the paddle right now is that Jill (my wife for those of you who do not know) tried it and liked it enough to commandeer it.
Jill has been hitting with different paddles for the last year or so trying to find a paddle that provided the playability she was looking for and at the same time did not hurt her arm. The Diadem Icon has not disappointed. As I mentioned above, Jill liked it so much that it has moved from my bag to hers.🤨
A few highlights about the Diadem Icon paddle:
- Soft-touch – gives you the control you want out there without sacrificing much in the power department.
- Maneuverable at the net – easy to get the paddle around and in position to hit your next shot.
- Good shot feedback – you know what type of shot you hit as soon as the ball leaves the paddle.
- Comfortable on the arm – Jill doesn’t need to ice her arm after every time she plays.
- Grip to please different players – The Icon has worked great with Jill’s two-handed backhand. Grip length should not be an issue with this paddle. Both Jill and I, with our differing hand sizes, found the grip size to be comfortable.
What else should you know about the Diadem Icon?
Jill says she will likely take the next Diadem Icon coming our way – the white one. She is not as fond of the Miami Vice design on our paddle as I am. I did say there would be more about this. Diadem is based out of South Florida. Thus, in addition to their black and white Icon paddles, they offer it in an awesome art deco Miami Vice style with pink and all.
I also mentioned that we have had the paddle for a couple of months. This has allowed us to really play with the paddle. To toss it into our bags and head out to the courts. Play with it. And play with it again. Really test it out. We have not had an edge guard separate, corner crack, or other mishaps that some paddles exhibit. We have also noticed no drop in the playability of the paddle during these 2 months – key to our recommending the paddle.
If you are looking for a paddle with unmatched playability, the Diadem Icon paddle is definitely worth a serious look. If you are having any sort of arm, wrist, or hand pain from playing pickleball, the balance and softness of this paddle may just be what the doctor ordered.
A couple of final notes on the Diadem Icon.
The fact that we are reviewing the Icon is, in itself, evidence that we believe in the paddle. We are solicited all the time to review or endorse products. We only endorse products that we, ourselves, use or would use. The Diadem Icon paddle is a perfect example: it is the paddle Jill plays with and my paddle (to replace the one I “lost” to Jill) is on its way.
As we mentioned above, you can use the code VIPickleball to get our discounted price at checkout by visiting Diadem here (copy this link in your browser if it does not automatically take you there: https://www.diadempickleball.com/). We receive a small commission when you purchase with the link. The commission allows us to continue bringing you this information as well as the videos, podcasts, and other materials we publish on a regular basis.
Last, but certainly not least, here are the specifications for the Diadem Icon Lite and Mid weights. The only difference is 0.3 oz in total weight. Given the good weight balance of the paddle, I cannot see there is a difference between the two in action. You can always add weight with lead tape in any event. If you are not sure how to do it, send me an email at Tony@Better Pickleball.com and I will send you a link to our paddle customization guide.
|Length||16 in||16 in|
|Width||7.6 in||7.6 in|
|Thickness||0.45 in||0.45 in|
|Balance||237 mm||237 mm|
|Honeycomb Density||8mm PP||8mm PP|
|Handle Length||5 inch||5 inch|
|Grip Size||4 1/8″||4 1/8″|
We reviewed the Diadem Icon paddle. However, we have not played with the Wave paddle and express no opinion about it here.
If you’ve tried the Diadem Icon, we’d love to know what you think of it? Please put it in the comments below.
Hola. Hello. Konichiwa. After 40 years playing tennis, I am now a full-time pickleball player and professional. As a 5.0 rated Senior Pro Pickleball Player and an IPTPA-certified Master Teaching Professional, my focus is on helping players like you learn to play their best pickleball. In 2016, shortly after starting to play pickleball, my friend Tom and I jumped into the highest division at the first US Open in Naples, Florida. That morning it became clear just how much there is to learn in this seemingly simple sport – a lifetime of learning if you so choose. Since 2018, I have been on a mission to share my knowledge of pickleball so other players can enjoy the game at a higher level and attain their pickleball objectives. When not studying or playing pickleball, I like to travel with my other half, Jill.
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Great article! Spot on! I absolutely love my diadem icon!!
Glad to hear you’re loving it. Do you have the Miami Vice graphic?
I’ve been trying to purchase the Icon Lite in white for over 3 months an it has been out of stock. Have you guys heard when it may be in stock again? I’ve also emailed Viadem but have not heard back from them.
Hi Carol, our contact at Diadem said that they should be back in stock in the next few weeks. It looks like your email may have slipped through the cracks. We’d recommend giving them a call, they are generally pretty responsive.
i was playing with the paddletek EX-L. i recently
switched to the ICON mid. i seem to get alot more mishits with this paddle than i did with my old paddle. especially on pop ups and overhead shots. any advice would be much appreciated.
Hi Paula. It is not unusual for a new paddle to have a different interaction with the ball (hence your shots). It may be that your prior paddle did not have as much pop – this happens when a paddle has been used for a while as the honeycomb core compacts and also the face loses some of its adhesion.
Love to try Stan Phoenix
I believe that Pickleball Central carries the paddle and is part of their try it program. However the VIP discount only applies to paddles ordered direct from Diadem.
Can it be used for tournament play?? Where is it made?
Unfortunately this paddle is made in China. Don’t understand why a good domestic manufacturer could not be used.
Do you know of any paddles that are not made in China? I’ve heard that even paddles supposedly made in the US aren’t really made here but rather assembled here.
I don’t want to support China. Especially considering they have a Texas and first responders version–made in China.
Has it been approved by the USA Pickleball ? I play a lot of Tournaments.
Yes it has
Is this paddle better suited for more advanced players rather than beginners?
No. This paddle is suited for any level player. Prior racket-sports experience, the physical size of the player (ability to handle weight in the paddle), whether the player favors power or control, two-handed backhands, and similar characteristics may determine whether one paddle is better than another. But the level of play is generally not a determinant of paddle suitability.
It was great to see your review on the Diadem Icon. I am a 4.0 player who purchased the Icon a couple months ago. I have purchased a lot of paddles and can usually decide whether or not I like the paddle fairly quickly. My friend first ordered the Icon. When he let me try it I was amazed by how much it fit my game. It had plenty of power and yet great feel on my drop shots and dinks. Love the ability to spin a d slice my shots. Love the paddle!
How do you like it Marcia?
Been demo’ing for a couple of weeks, and now have played in some small local RR’s. Learned about it from a friend here who is sponsored by them. I wasn’t too interested in trying it because most of my past paddles (2 big companies and 1 smaller one) have been great paddles and also gifts!
But after trying this one out, I was amazed at how it played. Like you said, I felt like I had extra grip on the ball, and I noticed it most when I do my forehand topspin drop from the BL. It felt like it “stuck” to my paddle a bit longer so I could be a lot more confident in my drop with the top spin.
Also it felt so maneuverable at the NVZL that I felt I was winning more hand battles.
I was a bit concerned of the thinned initially, like when hitting volleys from hard drives, or low volleys at my feet in the TZ when coming up and they drive it at me. But it handled it all without deflecting back! Felt solid without feeling heavy or sluggish.
Impressed with the edge guard; had past paddles where the edge guard came loose and then I felt and heard dead spots near the loose section. So will be interesting to see how this edge guard holds up. (I did have once instance where I had to lunge to my right to get a shot, and I put my paddle down to balance myself from falling over, and when brought it back up, the screw at the very top of the paddle 12’o clock was a little bit raised up so I pushed it back in and it went back down. May need to contact them about that.)
Other than that, love the play of it and hope it brings me to a golden ticket at West Regionals this week!
Ernie Medina, JR
Loma Linda, CA
I am in Love with my new Diadem Warrior, have you had a chance to try it as well as the ICON?
Hello Musashi. I have played with the Warrior. It seems like a fine thick-core paddle but did not dethrone the Icon as our preferred paddle. Glad you are having success with it.
Tony & CJ,
I enjoy the instructional content that you put together and have incorporated a number of your techniques/strategies into my game. It’s helped a bunch. I especially enjoyed The Pickleball Summit and the great topics and speakers.
I currently switch between a Prince Response Pro and Selkirk Vanguard Hybrid Invikta. I find the Prince adds a little more pop to my shots while the Selkirk feels softer and has more ‘feel’ over the Prince. I read your article a few weeks ago on the Diadem Icon paddle and decide to give one a try. It’s a home run! For me, it combines the pop of the Prince, with ‘feel’ of the Selkirk. Thanks for the Icon review and recommendation. Please keep producing great instructional and informative content and stay well.
Reference was made about the face of the paddle in 2 different paragraphs. First it was identified as” Unlike any other paddle I have ever played with or seen, the Icon’s face is a rubber surface (proprietary polyurethane Spin RP technology to be precise)” next it’s stated” The paddle’s carbon fiber face and thin polypropylene honeycomb core ” so I’m confused as to face construction. Thanks for the review though i play the engage pursuit but would like to test drive the icon
Hello Rusty. Paddle faces generally have several layers. The “rubber” layer is the outermost layer. The carbon fiber would be under it. Hope this helps. It is an amazing paddle.
Best paddle I’ve ever played with!
It has a rubbery surface which makes the soft game so easy…dinks, softening a hard volley, third ball drops.
Yet it has the power to punch back that hard volley, smash a lob for a put away, serve and return serve deep…yes, a soft paddle with power, hard to believe, but very true.
I’m a 4.5 player, and somewhat of a paddle geek…have tried a multitude of paddles from most manufacturers…buy and sell, buy and sell…this one isn’t going anywhere, in fact, I’ve bought a second.
The 8 oz. is the perfect weight for me, I like how thin it is, and the traditional shape is what i was looking for.
In my opinion, it’s the perfect paddle.
Thanks for the comment Bob. Appreciate hearing your thoughts about the paddle.
Tried to use the code for a discount…didn’t work, is there a new code I could use?
Let me check on that. I will email you from Tony@Better Pickleball.com in the next day or so.
How is the rubberized surface holding up? Does it get dirtier than a traditional paddle? And how does it compare to the thin ProKennex models?
Hello David. The only problem we have had with the rubber face is you play with a wet paddle (I did that once but I mean wet wet paddle face – long story). Otherwise, it seems to hold up well. A small amount of discoloration from the ball is normal. It is not dissimilar to the Pro Kennex (I have not played with the new one, played with the earlier model and I thought the paddle was a fine paddle). Hope this helps.
What weight does Jill prefer, or do you think I should try? I am recovering from tennis elbow and would Iike to try the Icon. I’m a beginner senior woman playing recreational pickleball. Thank you for your informative review and awesome lessons.
Hi Laura, I playing the lite and I believe she is too. In general, we order the paddle lighter and add lead tape if we want to change the swing weight. The thinner face transmitts less energy into the body than a thicker paddle. Don’t forget to stretch the elbow too!
I am one of those people who kept searching for the perfect paddle. Although I’ve only been playing for about 5 months and have no previous racquet sports experience, I already owned 3 paddles! With the recommendation of the Diadem Icon from CJ and Tony, and being signed up for a Better Pickleball camp, I figured I’d give the Icon a try. I had my doubts because none of my favorite pro players play with Diadem. I’m so glad I gave it a try. No need to buy another paddle! I love the feel of the Icon, the way it performs, and it has improved my game, even if slightly. Even my friends noticed I’m playing better. It gives me the extra power (or ooompf!) I needed. Now it’s just a matter of improving my skills. I can’t recommend this paddle enough!
Hi Alex, glad to hear that you like it. Looking forward to seeing you at camp soon!
Great paddle! I am a petite woman with small hands. I was having arm and shoulder issues with my other paddles and after reading about Tony’s wife not having to ice after play, I decided to try the Icon and I love it. The balance and weight (I bought the lighter weight) have made a positive difference on my arm and shoulder pain after I play.
I am going to purchase another one, just waiting to see if there will be a new design soon!
Hi Tracy, I play with Miami-Vice style. (Boy, I thought those two were hot! lol!)
Just bought the Icon. Only played two different times and already completely comfortable with the paddle. Excellent combination of power and touch. I did have to add two overgrips to get a comfortable, for me, grip size.
Hey Joe, we feel the same way about the Icon. It’s a nice combo of power and touch.
Nice write up guys!
I was fortunate enough to swing one of these things around while drilling the other day. I’ve never felt anything like that….almost made me think that it wasn’t legal. Sure enough….there was the USAPA stamp of approval. So I went on a hunt for more information about approved surfaces. Found the following:
Prohibited surface features and mechanical features
2.6.1. Anti-skid paint or any paint textured with sand, rubber particles, or any material that causes additional spin.
2.6.2. Rubber and synthetic rubber.
It is interesting that this is still allowed by the USAPA even though it does seem like a synthetic material….albeit NOT RUBBER.
Thus – I’m shocked more paddle manufacturers are NOT using this on the paddle surface.
okay – So the one I welded around for about 5 minutes gave me more freedom and confidence to hit with a tremendous amount of spin. I also have to say, the grip is ideal for me. I’m (was) a tennis player so having 8 indexes on the handle was great for changing from forehand to backhand drives.
They are OUT OF STOCK everywhere now but I WANT ONE SO BAD!!!
I tried this paddle while I was in Tampa in January for Tony and CJ’S camp. I really liked the feel and play of the paddle. When I got back I ordered it and started playing with it right away. I love the feel of the paddle and the way the ball plays off it. I have used it exclusively since then and have recommended it to several players. Thanks to Tony for the recommendation, I’ll bring it with me to my next We are Pickleball camp.
P.S. order the Diadem pickleball shorts too. They have deep pockets for holding pickleballs.
My wife and I have just started trying pickleball outdoors on a hard surface and have been using the paddles provided the club. Because we unsure if we are suited for pickleball we wanted to ask your opinion on whether we should purchase the Diadem Hero Starter Kit or purchase the Diadem Lite or Mid models mentioned on your website. The cost for two paddles with two balls included is $74.95 and the cost for the two Diadem Icon paddle would be $179.91. Of course we would also need the covers for the two paddles $33.90
Lastly, what brand ball do you recommend for outdoor play?
Thanks for the help for the two newbies.
Kathy & Ed
Hi Ed and Kathy welcome to pickleball! The Icon is an excellent paddle and if that’s your choice we recommend the lite. The hero is a great way to get started and see if you like the game but if you do, you will probably be looking for a paddle upgrade in 6 months or so. As far as balls we like the Franklin X for outdoor play. Make sure you take advantage of our free starter course to help new players get off on the right foot. If you haven’t already seen it click on the link betterpickleball.com/beginners
Good morning CJ: Thanks for your advice and encouragement. All the best! Kathy & Ed
I’d like to get the icon paddle also but can’t get the discount code to work. Any suggestions?
Hi Kathleen, it might be because the Icon is currently on closeout and already on sale so the additional 10% doesn’t apply. If you have questions I’d reach out to Diadem directly.
I had a problem with the Icon less than 30 days after I bought it online at Diadem website. The end of the handle edge cracked significantly and it took almost 2 months for them to honor the warranty and send a replacement paddle. I’m hoping not to have a problem with the replacement. My nephew has been playing with same paddle for a year and I noticed his handle edge has developed a small crack.