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.
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.