By: CJ Johnson | May 16, 2020 |

Ready for Your Next Pickleball Paddle?

Are you considering upgrading your current pickleball paddle, but you’re not sure what to get or how to choose the best one? You’re not alone!

Many of us likely purchased our first pickleball paddle based on price. After all, we didn’t know if we would like pickleball, and frankly, most of us probably wouldn’t have known how to pick a paddle to compliment our game.

Time has passed. We don’t just like this game; we’re addicted to it. And with that passage of time, our skills have improved, and we’ve thought about how a new paddle might enhance our play.

A few years ago, if you wanted a new pickleball paddle, there were a handful of major manufacturers from which to choose. The explosive growth of pickleball has changed everything and contributed to an influx of new paddle companies. This includes major players from the tennis industry, Head and Prince. The paddle core technology, shapes, grips, and prices have changed, creating a conundrum for players looking for an upgrade.

Given all of the choices, what’s the best way to choose a pickleball paddle suited to your game?

The short answer is a little help goes a long way!

Brandon Swanson recently joined me on a Better Pickleball Live Stream. You may not recognize his name, but he owns over 140 paddles, and he’s affectionately known as “The Paddle Geek.” He shared some practical advice to help you understand how to choose your next pickleball paddle.

I’ve taken all of the paddle info on the Better Pickleball Channel and put it into a
Free Pickleball Paddle Resource List. 

During the Livestream, Brent J. asked a common question, “my game has improved to a 4.0 level, and I’m looking for a more advanced pickleball paddle if that exists. My first upgrade was Head paddle two years ago, and I really like it. Now I’m looking for another upgrade. Any recommendations?”

It would depend on what you’re looking for. That’s always the best place to start. When you’re looking for a new paddle, begin by thinking about your current pickleball paddle. What do you like and what don’t you like? What are you looking for in a new paddle? Are you looking for more power? Are you looking for a little bit different feel, maybe some extra length? Those are some of the questions I would start by answering.

Your choice depends on what you want to get from that upgraded paddle because what you have is going to work fine. Start by asking yourself, what are you looking for?

Are there other considerations in upgrading your pickleball paddle?

I will say that something you can do is look at some of the modern trends. It seems to be, and not every company is doing it, but a modern trend seems to be towards slightly longer paddles. Paddles used to be more in the 15 1/2 inch range. Now you see some in the 16 1/4 to 16 1/2 inch length. The length of the paddle dramatically changes the way it plays.

A couple of examples of that would be, the Gearbox G6 line. It has a little bit longer handle and then a longer (overall) length as well.

Then the one I play with, which is the Players Pickleball Rouge 2. It has even more of a teardrop shape. I love to drive the ball with this paddle, and I like hitting hard volleys with it too. I would say these are a little bit trickier, but these might be what he’s considering an advanced pickleball paddle.

The length of the paddle moves the sweet spot farther away from your hand. You’ll lose a little bit of control, but you do gain power on serves, drives, and volleys.

One other one would be the TMPR Ascend. This is another one by TMPR that I really like. Its shape is similar to my Rogue 2; it’s sort of a teardrop shape. Pretty aerodynamic for swinging through.

Now that you’ve created your list, it’s time to try some paddles.

That prompted a question from our chat moderator and avid pickleball player, Dale K. She wanted to know, “What do you do when you have limited time to try a pickleball paddle? How do you pick the best one for you quickly?”

My recommendation would be, don’t try too hard to like a paddle. If you’re trying something out, first things first, grab the paddle. If you don’t like the grip on it, sometimes you can change the grip, but some paddles have more of a square-shaped grip. I don’t like that. I’ll grab the paddle, and it’s like, nope, nothing I can do about that, so it’s just out.

There are so many good paddles in terms of how they play at this point that you can be that picky. If you just hate the handle shape or something, just put it back. You don’t like something move on. Do you like the feel of it in your hand? Because that is your one point of contact with the paddle, and it means everything, so start there.

It’s if it feels right then start playing with it, but as I said, don’t try too hard to like it. I’m more of a proponent of you’ve got to fall in love at first feel, so to say. I don’t know that you necessarily need a super long window of time. If you like the feel of it. Then you like the feel of it. Either you do, or you don’t.

However, that doesn’t always apply when you try a longer paddle.

The one time that I think that it takes more time to transition is when you’re changing paddle length. If you want to try a longer paddle, that’s when you require a longer window to adjust.

With a standard shape on a 15 1/2 inch paddle, the sweet spot is closer to your hand.  When you switch to a longer paddle, you’re going to be hitting in the same place as you usually do, but that’s not where the longer paddle’s sweet spot is located.

Sometimes that can be worth the transition. I eventually decided that the transition for me from a shorter paddle, even though it’s more maneuverable, and maybe I have a tiny bit more control over blocking situations, the extra power that I got in other scenarios was worth it.

If you have a short window to try the paddle and there’s anything you don’t like, just write it off. Hate the feel of it in your hand, then it’s out. If you don’t like the noise the paddle makes, it’s out. Embrace your idiosyncrasies, just be you. There’s no wrong choice. All in all, think about “love at first feel.” I’ll sum it up with that little mantra.


There’s no right or wrong when it comes to paddle choice. When you’re looking to upgrade your paddle, it’s best to start asking yourself some questions about your current paddles’ strengths and weaknesses. Once you have a general idea of what you’d like in a new pickleball paddle, it’s time to try them. There are so many good paddles on the market if you pick one up, and it’s not “love at first feel,” just say NEXT.


CJ Johnson

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)