Sometimes equipment makes the player. I wouldn’t personally blame my paddle for my misses, but the right gear can increase your confidence and improve your game.
There are only a few rules about pickleball paddles: size matters and the surface must be smooth. A paddle can be any shape, thickness or weight, but the length plus the width may not exceed 24 inches. Count the edge guard and any cap at the end of the handle when you are measuring.
Want a longer paddle? You must give up some width to keep it legal.
Paddles can be made from any firm (non-compressible) material. Most common are graphite, composite resins, steel, and wood. There can be no holes on the surface, no indentations, no texture, and no reflective materials.
When shopping for a paddle, the more important features to look for are grip size and weight. A grip that is too large or too small can cause hand cramps during extended play. And a paddle that is too heavy can pull your paddle downward and cause forearm injury over time.
There are a lot of paddle reps out there who would be more than happy to let you try before you buy. No one in your area promoting paddles? Pickleball Central has a demo paddle program.
Love your paddle, but it’s getting worn out? A paddle can break if you slap it against your thigh one too many times, or slam a hard surface with it. If you treat it well, it should last a long time. You can put new grips on a pickleball paddle just like a tennis racquet. Loose edge guards can be re-glued to the paddle with a touch of superglue. And, you can keep your paddle free of oils and dirt by wiping clean periodically with water and Dawn dish detergent. Dry thoroughly.
Do you know how to pick the best pickleball paddle for you?
Bev writes a weekly email blast for our pickleball club. She delivers the rules with clarity and a sense of humor. If you have a rules question post it in the comments below.
Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)