5 Best Pickleball Paddles: Top Choices for 2023 Players

Pickleball is a fast-growing sport, combining elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It’s an enjoyable and social game that can be played by people of all ages and abilities. As the sport gains popularity, it’s essential to invest in the right equipment to improve performance and enhance the overall playing experience. One of the most critical pieces of gear is the pickleball paddle.

Pickleball paddles are available in a range of materials, shapes, and sizes, each designed to cater to different playing styles and preferences. The core of the paddle plays a significant role in its performance, with popular options including aluminum, polymer, and Nomex. The paddle’s surface material, such as graphite or composite, affects its weight, durability, and feel.

When choosing a pickleball paddle, it’s essential to consider critical factors such as the paddle’s weight, grip size, and shape. The right balance of these elements allows for greater control, increased power, and improved maneuverability during play. A paddle that feels comfortable and suits your playing style will enhance the overall enjoyment of the game.

We conducted extensive research and tested various pickleball paddles to identify the top five options that cater to different needs and preferences. Read on as we dive into our favorite picks and the unique qualities that make them stand out in the world of pickleball.

Best Pickleball Paddles

We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 pickleball paddles to enhance your game and make your time on the court even more enjoyable.

Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle

Onix Graphite Z5

We highly recommend the Onix Graphite Z5 for players seeking a well-balanced paddle with excellent touch and control.

Pros

  • Outstanding touch and ball control
  • Suitable for beginners through advanced players
  • Comfortable tennis-handle shape

Cons

  • Slightly noisy compared to some paddles
  • Grip may be too small for some players
  • Top left quadrant may lose responsiveness over time

After using the Onix Graphite Z5 pickleball paddle, we found that it strikes a perfect balance between power and speed, making it an excellent choice for players of all skill levels. The widebody shape provides a large sweet spot, and the graphite face and nomex core offer superior feel and control of the ball.

We particularly enjoyed the tennis-handle shape, which mimics a table tennis racket with a flared, wood handle. This design made the paddle very comfortable to hold, even during extended play sessions. Additionally, the Z5 is USAPA/USA Pickleball approved, making it suitable for official tournament play.

One downside we encountered was the slightly noisy nature of the paddle. While it doesn’t affect the performance, it may be noticeable to some players. Furthermore, the grip size might be too small for players with larger hands, but this can be easily solved by adding a thicker grip tape. Finally, some users have reported that the top left quadrant of the paddle may lose responsiveness over time. However, we haven’t encountered any issues with our paddle during our testing period.

Overall, the Onix Graphite Z5 is a fantastic pickleball paddle for players seeking excellent touch, control, and a comfortable handle. We’ve had a great experience with it on the court and believe you will too.

GAMMA Sports 5.0 Pickleball Paddle

GAMMA Sports 5.0 Pickleball Paddle

The GAMMA Sports 5.0 Pickleball Paddle is a fantastic, versatile choice for both beginners and experienced players alike.

Pros

  • Excellent blend of power and control
  • Comfortable honeycomb grip handle
  • Wide sweet spot for consistent shots

Cons

  • Might be too lightweight for some players
  • Design may not be everyone’s taste
  • Grip may wear over time

We recently had the chance to try the GAMMA Sports 5.0 Pickleball Paddle and were thoroughly impressed with its performance and design. The paddle offers a great mix of power, control, and accessibility, making it suitable for players of all skill levels.

One of the standout features of this paddle is its comfortable grip. The 4 1/8-inch GAMMA honeycomb-cushion grip handle has a tacky, firm surface that absorbs sweat and provides excellent traction for maximum control and comfort. This ensures a secure grip during those crucial moments on the court.

The GAMMA 5.0 features a 12-millimeter polypropylene core, which offers a wide sweet spot for consistent, responsive shots. Even when we didn’t hit the center of the paddle, the ball still had plenty of power and accuracy. The surface spin technology allows for added versatility, letting us control the game pace and change up our shots as needed.

While the GAMMA 5.0 is a fantastic paddle overall, it may not be suitable for everyone. Some players might find the 7.9-ounce weight too lightweight for their liking, and the design might not appeal to all. Additionally, the grip may begin to wear over time, especially with heavy use.

Despite these minor drawbacks, we highly recommend the GAMMA Sports 5.0 Pickleball Paddle to players of all skill levels. Its power, control, and comfortable grip make it a fantastic all-around paddle for both casual and competitive play, and it’s sure to be a valuable addition to your pickleball arsenal.

Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pickleball Paddle AURORA (Purple)

Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pickleball Paddle

We highly recommend the Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pickleball Paddle for its impressive power, control, and versatile performance.

Pros

  • Exceptional power and speed
  • Increased spin control
  • Comfortable handle size

Cons

  • Grip might be thin for some players
  • Limited assistance for spinning
  • Packaging could be improved

The Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pickleball Paddle is a lighter version of the popular EX-L. We were amazed by its powerful performance, balanced by increased speed, control, and maneuverability, making it an unmatched paddle in its weight class. The textured fiberglass epoxy hybrid surface contributes to better spin control, allowing us to stay ahead of our competitors during intense matches.

We found the Bantam’s Polycore to be extremely responsive, providing incredible power for our returns. The handle size was perfect and comfortable, enhancing gameplay. However, some players might find the grip thin, potentially causing discomfort or blisters. We recommend using additional grip tape or an overgrip to increase thickness if needed.

Although the paddle offers excellent touch for dinks, it might not be the best choice for those focused on spinning shots. However, its overall performance is fantastic, making it well suited for players seeking a mix of power and control. The packaging could use some improvement, but we received ours in perfect condition, and we’re delighted with our purchase. Overall, the Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pickleball Paddle has dramatically improved our game, and we believe it’s an excellent choice for professional players.

Onix Z5 Graphite Pickleball Paddle

Onix Z5 Graphite Pickleball Paddle

The Onix Z5 Graphite Pickleball Paddle is a fantastic all-around paddle with an ideal balance between control, power, and comfort, suited for many playing styles and skill levels.

Pros

  • Large sweet spot for improved performance
  • Textured graphite surface for excellent control and spin
  • Suitable for different skill levels and playing styles

Cons

  • Slightly noisier than expected
  • Handle wrap may come undone over time
  • Honeycomb core could break down with extended use

As we spent time playing with the Onix Z5 Graphite Pickleball Paddle, we noticed its solid, responsive feel and appreciated the well-balanced design. The textured graphite surface boosted our control and spin, while the relatively large sweet spot made our gameplay more forgiving.

The rigid core of the Onix Z5 paddle offers plenty of pop, and we found that it provides a useful feedback that is beneficial for both new and intermediate players. This high-quality paddle’s classic pickleball shape allowed us to maintain excellent control throughout our games.

However, we did notice that the paddle produced a bit more noise than expected. Additionally, some users have reported that the handle wrap tends to come undone after extended use, and the honeycomb core may break down over time. Despite these few concerns, we think that the Onix Z5 Graphite Pickleball Paddle is a solid, reliable choice for pickleball players of various skill levels looking to improve their game.

Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle

Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pro

In our experience, this paddle offers fantastic ball control and grip, making it an excellent choice for pickleball players of various skill levels.

Pros

  • Great ball control
  • Comfortable and durable grip
  • Lightweight for quick maneuverability

Cons

  • Possible dead spots after prolonged use
  • Technology may be slightly outdated for advanced players
  • May not generate as much power or spin as some competitors

We really enjoyed using the Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pro Composite Pickleball Paddle. The first thing we noticed was its lightweight design, which allowed for agile and precise movements during the game. For beginners and intermediate players, this paddle offers excellent control and a comfortable grip that definitely enhances their performance.

While playing with the Bantam TS-5 Pro, we were able to effortlessly maneuver the paddle thanks to its lightweight construction. This, combined with the comfortable grip, really helped us achieve better performance on the court. As our skill level increased, we did notice that the technology might be a bit outdated for generating as much spin or power as some of the newer paddles on the market. However, it’s still an excellent choice for those looking to hone their skills and grow as a player.

One concern some users have reported is the development of dead spots on the paddle over time. We haven’t experienced this issue firsthand, but it’s worth keeping in mind before purchasing. Despite this potential drawback, we believe the Paddletek Bantam TS-5 Pro is a strong contender among the best pickleball paddles available, offering great ball control, a comfortable grip, and a lightweight design that makes it enjoyable to use for players of any skill level.

Buying Guide

When it comes to choosing the best pickleball paddle, there are several factors we need to consider. These factors play a crucial role in our overall gameplay and comfort.

Materials: Pickleball paddles are made from three main materials – wood, composite, and graphite. Each material offers specific benefits. Wooden paddles are the cheapest and provide more weight, which can improve our power game. Composite paddles are a combination of wood and fiberglass or carbon fiber, and they offer a good balance of power and control. Graphite paddles are the lightest and provide excellent control and maneuverability.

Weight: The weight of the paddle is an essential factor to consider. Lighter paddles (6-8 ounces) provide better control and maneuverability, making them ideal for our finesse game. Heavier paddles (8-12 ounces) generate more power, allowing us to hit the ball harder. We should select a paddle within our comfort zone.

Grip Size: Picking the right grip size is crucial for both comfort and control. Generally, grip sizes range from 4 to 4 ½ inches. A smaller grip size allows for better wrist action and improved control, while larger grips provide better stability and reduce the strain on our wrist.

Core Type: Paddle cores are usually made of three types of materials – aluminum, Nomex, and polymer. Aluminum cores provide a lighter feel and softer touch. Nomex cores give us a harder hitting surface, leading to more power. Polymer cores are somewhere in-between, offering a balance of power and control.

To sum it up, selecting the best pickleball paddle will depend on our individual preferences and playing style. We should consider factors like materials, weight, grip size, and core type while making our decision. It’s essential to test multiple paddles to find the one that feels right in our hands and complements our gameplay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Top paddles for beginner players?

For beginner players, we recommend paddles with a larger sweet spot, lightweight, and a well-balanced design. Some great options include the Gamma NeuCore 2.0, Selkirk Latitude, and the Paddletek Element. These paddles offer excellent control and a good feel, which will help new players learn the fundamentals of the game more quickly.

Great intermediate paddles?

As you progress in your pickleball journey, you’ll want a paddle that provides a good blend of power and control. Some fantastic options for intermediate players are the Selkirk Amped S2, Engage Encore Pro, and the Onix Z5. These paddles offer a slightly smaller sweet spot, allowing for greater precision, and are constructed with high-quality materials to enhance your overall performance.

Best advanced paddles?

For advanced players seeking top performance, we suggest considering paddles with a smaller sweet spot, offering more control and precision. Some of the best options in this category include the ProKennex Pro Speed II, Selkirk Vanguard Hybrid, and the Electrum Pro. These paddles are designed with innovative technologies and premium materials to maximize your gameplay.

Affordable paddles under $100?

If you’re on a budget, there are still plenty of great paddles available for under $100. We recommend the GAMMA Mirage, the Paddletek Tempest Wave Lite, and the Head Extreme Tour. These paddles provide a good balance of power and control, and though they may not have all the bells and whistles of higher-priced options, they still offer excellent value for your money.

Top paddles for women?

While there are no specific paddles designed exclusively for women, we suggest considering lightweight and well-balanced options. Some popular choices among female players include the Selkirk Latitude, the ENGAGE Encore MX 6.0, and the ProLite Supernova. These paddles offer a comfortable grip, excellent maneuverability, and a blend of power and control that can cater to a wide range of playing styles.

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