We take a close look at 5 of the leading pickleball paddles and see which comes out on top.
Pickleball is a fun sport, similar to other racquet sports such as tennis, badminton and table tennis, and it has actually been around for a lot longer than you may think. In recent years it has become increasingly popular.
It doesn't matter if you have been playing the exciting and quirky sport of pickleball for a while or are a rank amateur, you have undoubtedly clicked through to this page because you are looking to invest in a pickleball paddle.
However, if you have taken some time out to look at the models available, you will know just how many different paddles are out there. You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of choice out there and that is understandable. You don't have to feel overwhelmed any more though, because we are here to help.
In the following post, we will highlight the 5 best pickleball paddles, and will also provide a buyer's guide that discusses the most important things you need to look for when choosing this essential accessory for getting the most out of this great game. As you start or continue to perfect and hone your skills, we are sure you will find the best pickleball paddle for you right here.
The Top Models Compared
See how the top pickleball paddles compare in the table below.
We review each in more detail in the next section.
OUR TOP PICK
PaddleTek Tempest Wave
- Extra-large playing surface
ONIX Graphite Z5
- Graphite carbon fiber face
Paddletek Bantam EX-L
- Advanced ProPolyCore2
- Honeycomb composite core
Amazing Aces Classic Graphite
- Graphite playing surface
The Best Pickleball Paddles
Read on to see why we believe each of these paddles deserves your attention.
PaddleTek Tempest Wave *** Our Top Pick ***
We thought it would be best to start with what is arguably the best pickleball paddle in the world of this fine sport. It doesn't matter where in the world you actually play the sport, you will see players using PaddleTek Tempest Wave paddles. And with good reason too.
The key to its popularity is the fact that this particular PaddleTek paddle has just about everything you need from a solid all-rounder of a bat. It offers superior ball control, touch, and power. It would even suit the most amateur players around, but the one drawback, if you are just starting in this sport, is the price.
Before you go looking elsewhere though, let's break down some of the fundamentals that make this paddle such a winner. When you look at the specification of the paddle you will notice that its core is made from polymer, its face from graphite and that it has a fairly average weight, length, and width of 7.6-ounces, 15 7/8-inches and 8-inches respectively.
This is all fairly standard in the world of pickleball paddles. The handle is slightly longer, granted, but that's nothing particularly important. However, looks are very deceptive and although it looks like any other paddle, it's what is underneath that counts. Because by all accounts and judging by the fact so many professional pickleball players use it, it's a beast just waiting to be unleashed.
Although the materials are all standard and even the weight, which is one of the most important factors affecting the effectiveness of a bat is average for a mid-weight paddle, it's the actual construction and standard of the materials used along with the precise weight that makes it a killer.
Precision is an important word because it just feels as if PaddleTek have synergized all the right materials, the right handle, and weight and constructed it to the highest standard possible to create this amazing paddle.
It has a solid feel, but it is not rigid because it allows for a great degree of both control and finesse. It is solid in the same way we used the all-rounder term earlier. While it's great for aggressive shots and playing styles, it's also ideal for play where you are up close and personal at the net.
The thing to note though about this great paddle is that if you are looking for the best pickleball paddle for spin, this is probably not it. While all paddles are great for adding spin to the ball, fiberglass paddles perform better in this department than graphite-faced paddles like this one.
Bottom Line: To summarize this particular review, it would be worth suggesting that you ask yourself how serious you are about pickleball. If you are incredibly serious about it and want to improve and become a top performer, this paddle will definitely help you. However, if you are just a casual player looking for something to hit the pickleball with, you may be best looking elsewhere.
ONIX Graphite Z5
The next pickleball paddle we have selected is the rather awesome Onix Z5 Graphite. Now, if you spend enough time around pickleball experts and read enough you will learn of some paddles that are well-known and popular and then you will hear about those stand-out, legendary-status ones like the above PaddleTek Tempest Wave.
The Onix X5 is grouped into that category too. This is actually one of the most widely available pickleball paddles, even with the sport still not being as big as players hope (and think) it should be, and it is even possible to find it in mainstream sports stores.
Some pickleball paddles have weird-sounding descriptions. Take this one for instance, as it's a widebody, Nomex honeycomb. The widebody part is actually what makes this great for beginners, because, as long as each are proportionate to the other, the taller and wider a paddle is, the larger its sweet spot will be. With a larger sweet spot, as is the case with other racquets, the more forgiving it is to play with. Basically, it helps you hit the ball more often, which is what you need when you are trying to find the motivation to keep playing.
The Nomex honeycomb refers to the core and this is a material that is similar to cardboard, after it's been dipped in a resin, that is. It is therefore extremely hard, solid and stable, but because it has the honeycomb design, it is relatively lightweight. This gives you the power to smash balls at your opponent like you were on a path of destruction. When coupled with the Onix Z5's large sweet spot, it makes this paddle devastating to face off against.
Speaking of facing off, the face on the 5 is made from graphite. Similarly, to the above, graphite is used in the face, as a covering for the important core materials, because it’s robust and lightweight.
So, it offers a large sweet spot, lots of power and pop. Wait, what's that about pop? With the Z5 what we mean when we speak about pop is related to the amount of force it does or doesn't absorb. When a ball hits against a paddle, the materials that have been used in the construction either absorb a little or a lot of that force.
With the Z5 it is the former, which is why aggressive players looking for a lot of power opt for it. The ball almost bounces instantly back off it as soon as it makes contact. If you've ever played any racquet sports, you will know that ultimately when a paddle or bat has a lot of power, there is usually a tradeoff in terms of the amount of control it offers. That is what is the main problem with the Z5 paddle.
Bottom Line: While it is not quite as expensive as the PaddleTek Tempest Wave, it is still quite pricey. However, if you can handle the power and are looking to obliterate the opposition, it may be a good choice.
Recommended Next: Don't miss our guide to the leading pickleball shoes next!
Paddletek Bantam EX-L
The next paddle we are going to talk about is the rather cool PaddleTek Bantam EX-L Pickleball paddle. This is a paddle that has been designed for intermediate to advanced players who are capable of controlling the ball and their shots and want to take their playing to the next power level. Like others on our list, this has a bigger sweet spot, so it is very forgiving. One especially cool thing about it is the fact that the rather large P serves more than just the purpose of advertising the brand, but actually helps you to have a clear space in your mind where you need to aim for the ball to be struck.
Like all of the paddles in the Bantam series, this is made from a proprietary honeycomb, but should not be confused with the Nomex variety. It also features ProPolyCore2 which helps to reduce the number of vibrations and enhance the overall control you get from the paddle.
Anyone who has played pickleball will know that the sport can be ridiculously noisy, with that addictive popping noise. For players, the popping noise may not be annoying, but for your neighbors, if you are playing in a residential area, it might be a bit too much. So, this PaddleTek paddle could be what you need to avoid upsetting people.
Size-wise, this is a slightly bigger paddle than some of the others out there at 15.75-inches, which adds some weight to it which helps deliver more power, while enabling you to control it.
At just 7.7- to 8.3-ounces it is one of the lightest on the market and one of the lightest paddles on our list. It also benefits from a medium-sized grip that has additional padding to provide players with a more comfortable game.
This paddle will help you achieve a variety of shots to keep your play versatile and unpredictable, but if you are looking for a truly powerful paddle to smash that pickleball at the opposition, you may be best looking elsewhere.
Although it is pricey, you need to remember that this is a PaddleTek paddle and they have a reputation for designing and building some of the best paddles in the world of pickleball. It just depends if it has all the features you need and whether or not it is suited to your playing style.
Bottom Line: Thanks to the proprietary honeycomb polymer used in this bat, its extra-large size and the fact that it has a comfortable grip, we think this is a great choice. For experienced players, anyway. Beginners will find it hard to control and use this to their advantage.
Recommended Reading: We look at the two leading pickleball nets in our latest guide.
Wow, this is a very striking looking paddle from Niupipo. Striking to look at and striking to play with. It has been constructed with a graphite honeycomb to give a premium level of stiffness and strength and combines powerful hitting play with control. This paddle could help you make more accurate shots.
If you have been searching for a pickleball paddle for spin, then this might just be the best choice. Thanks to the two sheets of fiberglass and the polymer honeycomb it provides greater amounts of kinetic energy to spin those balls. As the surface grips the ball better, it means you can direct it better and achieve the shots you want when you need them most.
The weight of this paddle has been considered clearly by the makers as it is very lightweight and comfortable to use, no matter how long you are playing for.
Like many of the paddles on our list, this has a very large sweet spot, so it’s easy to make all manner of shots and can be very forgiving. Although not quite as expensive as the highest price paddle on our list, this still would be considered to be something of an investment. You have to weigh up though, not just the actual price, but whether you are getting high quality for that price.
We feel that if you are not looking to be the most powerful player on the court, and want to play with a great amount of finesse and spin, it will suit you. If you are more experienced, you may be reluctant to spend so little on a paddle, especially on a brand that is not nearly as popular as the others in our list.
Bottom Line: If you are not wanting to spend quite as much on a pickleball paddle for beginners, but still want one that is made to a high standard, this might for you.
Amazing Aces Classic Graphite
From Amazing Aces comes their classic graphite pickleball paddle. This is by far the cheapest paddle on our list, but don't let the incredibly low price put you off or entice you just yet. Not at least until we have discussed it in a bit more detail first. The first thing we need to say about this paddle is that it was designed to be a great performer at an affordable price.
Compared to others on our list and indeed on the market, this is quite a heavy paddle. 10.5-ounces might not sound like a lot to a beginner, but trust us, those extra ounces make all the difference. The great thing about the weight in this paddle is that it makes it much easier to hold and grip. The weight is distributed well through the whole paddle so it doesn't feel uneven when in use. You should be able to make those amazing spinners but will not feel fatigued from using it for a full match.
Amazing Aces, as the name suggests, have opted for a graphite face for this paddle, covering a honeycomb polymer.
Ideally, this paddle, unsurprisingly because of the price, would suit a beginner or a player who has recently improved to intermediate level. It gives you a sterling balance between control and power, which is what you really need when you are still trying to work out what kind of player you are.
We know the price is going to be the thing that attracts most beginners to this, and rightly so, because compared to the others on our list, there is a significantly larger investment involved with buying one of them.
If you are looking to just give pickleball a go and don’t want to waste too much money just yet, but equally don’t want a paddle that will fall apart after using it for one match, we think this is a great pick.
Bottom Line: When it comes to racquet-based sports, the price is always something that will dictate the quality of the paddle. So, if you buy this paddle, you should not expect it to perform as well as an Onix or PAddleTek. However, if you want something just to get started in the game, this is a brilliant choice.
Recommended Article: We compare the most popular pickleball balls to see which is worth your money.
Hopefully, now you have a better idea in your head what is available out there in the way of pickleball paddles. We really enjoyed putting this selection of reviews together for you, and hope you enjoyed reading it. What is clear is that the paddle you buy and the paddle that is right for you, should ultimately, just as is the case with any other sport, be dictated by your skill and experience level and playing style.
PaddleTek and Onix paddles are popular for a reason. Those companies are highly regarded in the world of pickleball for creating solid paddles that provide you with some of the best levels of control and speed of any on the market.
Throughout our pickleball paddles reviews, we have tried to be fair on each individual item. It's very hard not to be biased and just say you should choose the PaddleTek. That wouldn't be fair, as it might not suit your specific playing style.
By far, the least expensive on the list is the Amazing Aces Classic Graphite paddle. While you are never going to get the same quality for such a low price, we felt that this was a great investment for a beginner. It's sturdy enough, for the most part, that it will serve any newbie well in giving them a taste for the sport.
The paddle we would spend on though is the Onix Graphite Z5. That thing is just awesome. Whereas the best value for money paddle is probably the Amazing Aces one.
Recommended Article: Learn all about the history of pickleball next.
Although we have looked at our choice for the best 5 pickleball paddles available, you might not have enough information just yet to feel confident at buying a paddle. Particularly if you have never played before or have little to no experience. Don’t worry though, because we are here to help. In the following buyer’s guide, we will discuss some of the things you need to be aware of when selecting the right pickleball paddle for you.
We will look at things like paddle weight, paddle length, power versus control and even color, before giving you some handy tips for testing paddles.
Generally, you will find that pickleball paddles weigh between 6.8-ounces and 14-ounces. The major advantage of having a light paddle is that it is a lot easier to maneuver, particularly when you are up close to the net and aiming for a quick volley shot.
The disadvantage, on the other hand, is that you will feel more of the vibration and impact in your elbow and arm as there is not enough mass in the paddle to counter the force of the ball when it strikes. Though you will find, if you have ever played tennis, that the level of vibration is not quite as high or intense, when you are working on the finer points of your game as you progress, it can make a world of difference.
Heavier paddles enable you to add more oomph to your harder shots and those all-out smashes. You need to be careful though that the weight is balanced because although you can have a very powerful paddle, you might lose out when it comes to controlling the ball.
The regulations surrounding a pickleball paddle dimensions are based on the length by widest part of the overall width. Generally, manufacturers add length to a paddle face by actually shortening the handle, so that the actual total length is exactly the same and keeping within the rules. You will find this is the case with oversized and widebody paddles. However, there are some exceptions to this, that you will see if you ever spectate or get involved in tournaments, where the face is narrower to allow for an extra inch or more in length.
The main two advantages of having a longer paddle are that a) it gives you better reach for volleying balls and b) it gives you a bit more speed because of the extra distance from the rotation center when you strike the ball.
Conversely, this additional distance can make the paddle feel less easy to maneuver when you are at the net and give the paddle a heavier feel that might be comfortable.
Control Versus Power
There are many, fiberglass-faced, cork-centered and graphite, for instance, paddles around that give your greater amounts of pop or power without much effort. This is a good thing when you need to hit the ball so that it gets over the net from the back of the court with little to no effort. It is also ideal when you are aiming for a half-volley drop shot when you are approaching the net. However, the major downside to a paddle that supplies lots of pop is that it’s not quite as easy to control the direction of the ball.
In contrast to those attributes that can help you to make the ball fly over the net from the baseline at the back of the court, this will work against you when you are close to the net. For instance, if you are looking to just dink a ball over, a paddle with too much pop will make it go much deeper or even higher than you intended.
One great thing of the added speed though is that it can be hard for opponents, depending on their playing style and ability, to return fast volleys.
Ultimately, there are a lot of people who will say that color does not really matter. Those in the know, however, know that color can make a big difference. The regulation color of a pickleball ball is yellow, so having a paddle that has a yellow face, gives you a distinct advantage over your opponents as they will have a harder time trying to track where the ball is bouncing from your paddle.
Many players, in the beginning, choose the color based on their own personal taste, and some even choose it to go with their pickleball clothes. Don’t be that guy or girl though. As pickleball is a highly technical game, and as the USAPA has not ruled out the use of yellow paddles, it is a great way to give yourself one up over your opponents.
This is especially true when you are still trying to finesse and finetune your playing style and skills. Just be sure that you can spot the ball when it comes your way and that you know where it is going to hit your paddle.
Tips for Testing Pickleball Paddles Out
Further to the above, we thought it might be useful, especially if you are going to have the opportunity to test some paddles out, to give you some tips for doing so.
Position yourself at the no-volley line on the court and get someone to hit a hard ball at you. Now try to slow the ball down by holding your paddle firmly and aiming to make it drop over the net. Make a mental note of how many shots fall past, or into, the kitchen.
Pop (Off a Lob)
Spend time practicing overheads, paying close attention to the power provided by the paddle or the lack of power it provides to the shot.
Pop (off the Half-Volley)
Get someone to hit a ball overhead towards you, while you are at the baseline. Now, stick the paddle out in front of you to block the ball as it reaches you from the bounce and pay attention to the regularity with which the ball is returned over the net and when it falls short.
Maneuverability is obviously very important in pickleball, so it's important to ensure the paddle you choose gives you enough. You can test this by volleying the ball back and forth with an opponent over the net, switching from forehand shots to backhand shots. Practice moving your paddle back into the ready position after every single shot. You should be able to see how easy or hard it is to maneuver the paddle, noting any strain this movement causes in your shoulder, forearm or wrist.
We realize that you might not be able to test out paddles in that way, but if the opportunity presents itself, you will find that it helps you make a wiser decision.
We really hope you have found our brief guide and reviews helpful and that you find the best pickleball paddle that will enable you to enjoy this fun and exhilarating sport, while maybe even helping you to improve your ability and skill.