5 Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners

So, you’ve been bitten by the pickleball bug and now you’re excited about buying your very first paddle. Yet when you start shopping around for the very best pickleball paddles for beginners, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming.

That’s where we come in.

For today’s guide, our pickleball pros have reviewed and considered no less than 45 of this year’s best-selling paddles until we found the top 5 models perfectly suited for those new to this fast-paced, exciting game. 

Our absolute favorite is the Uteeqe Pickleball Paddles Set, and when you dive into our review, you’ll soon see why. A premium mid-weight paddle, it delivers the perfect balance of power and control while the durable graphite material means it’s guaranteed to last for countless games.

If that’s not the right one for you, don’t worry, we’ve also included paddles of different weights and materials to help you find the one best suited to your style of play.

While whittling down our 45 test products to find our top 5, we considered not just what makes the best pickleball paddles in general, but also what makes the perfect paddle for first-timers or novice players.

Weight and grip size were the most important factors for us as these will directly influence the way you play, as will the type of material used. To a lesser extent, we also considered price range and aesthetic appeal because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want a cool-looking paddle?

Below, we’ve outlined how these factors influenced our choices in detailed reviews of our top 5 picks, but if you don’t have time to read those right now, you can check out the table below for our quick side-by-side comparison. 

Finally, at the end of this guide, you’ll also find a buyer’s guide and FAQ to help you find the right paddle for you.

1. Editor’s Choice – Uteeqe Pickleball Paddles 

Editor's Choice
Pickleball Paddles Graphite Set - by Uteeqe
$55.99

We chose the Uteeqe Pickleball Paddle because it's an all-round excellent paddle. Perfectly combines a solid mid-weight design, highly durable material, and damage-resistant edge guard into one attractive, affordable package.


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06/23/2021 02:37 am GMT

Specifications: 

  • Weight: 7.8 oz
  • Grip size: 4.25″
  • Dimensions: 15.7″ x 7.8 x 1.5″

The fact that the Uteeqe Pickleball Paddles Set contains 2 paddles, 4 balls, and an attractive carry case is a bonus. Even if it had none of those things, it would still be our favorite because it scores top marks in all of the categories that are important when it comes to choosing a great novice-friendly pickleball paddle. 

Weighing a solid 7.8 oz, this mid-range paddle is light enough to help newcomers master control of the ball while still weighty enough to land a sizable punch. 

Meanwhile, the grip measures just 4.25″ and is made from a highly durable, sweat-absorbing cushioning to provide ample comfort.

Speaking of durability, it’s not uncommon for newcomers to drop their paddle from time to time, which is why we love the inclusion of a low-profile edge guard to prevent damage no matter how many times that paddle crashes to the ground. 

Finally, the combination of polymer honeycomb core and premium graphite face provides a strength and toughness that guarantees this one will continue to serve you well long after you’ve ceased being a beginner. 

What We Like: 

  • Ergonomic grip 
  • Large sweet spot with rough surface improves the way you hit the ball
  • Comes with an extra paddle, balls, and case so that you can invite friends to practice with.

What We Don’t Like:

  • While an excellent beginner pickleball paddle, you’ll eventually need to upgrade to play in competitions and tournaments.

2. Best Transition Paddle – HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle

Best Transition Paddle
HEAD Fiberglass Pickleball Paddle - Radical Elite Paddle w/ Honeycomb Polymer Core & Comfort Grip
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Specifications: 

  • Weight: 8.01 oz
  • Grip size: 4.25″
  • Dimensions: 16″ x 7.8 x 1″

It’s no secret that many first-time pickleball players tend to be tennis players who discovered the sport while out on the courts.

So, if you’re making the transition from tennis to pickleball, doesn’t it make sense to use a paddle made by a brand who really understands tennis players and the kind of challenges you’ll face while adapting to a new sport?

We certainly think so, which is why we rate the HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle as the best transition paddle on the market.

Head have been one of the biggest names in tennis for decades, so it’s no surprise their pickleball range is a big hit with cross-over players. 

Though they do have some models that are better suited for more experienced players, the Radical Elite is the perfect choice for beginners, being heavy and sturdy enough to help tennis players get used to the smaller paddle while light enough to offer exemplary control. 

The combination of polypropylene honeycomb core and ribbed, ergonomic grip encourages improved striking with minimal vibration, while the overall design is in keeping with Head’s reputation for creating some of the best-looking paddles and racquets on the court.

What We Like:

  • Small, 4.5″ inch grip ensures improved control
  • fiberglass hitting surface ensures a great combination of power and comfortable feel
  • Damage-resistant edge grip keeps the paddle in good condition.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Lacks a paddle cover.

Related:What is Spec Tennis: A Simple Game Guide 

3. Best for Competitive Play – ONIX Graphite Z5 Graphite Pickleball Paddle 

Best for Competitive Play
ONIX Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle
$89.99
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06/21/2021 07:37 am GMT

Specifications: 

Weight: 7.5 – 8.2 oz

Grip size: 4.25″

Dimensions: 15.5″ x 8.3″ x 1.5″

You’re new to the sport and need a good pickleball paddle for beginners to help you develop your skills, but you’re also so hooked on the sport that you already know you’ll want to start playing in leagues, tournaments and competitions as soon as you’re ready.

Rather than buying one paddle to start with and then upgrading it when you’re ready to up your game, the ONIX Graphite Z5 Graphite Pickleball Paddle offers the best of both worlds. 

A mid-weight paddle of superior quality, the ONIX Graphite Z5 has a nice, widebody design with a large surface area that helps to ensure you make every one of your shots even if you’ve barely played before. Meanwhile, the large sweet spot gives a satisfying pop when you strike with just the right amount of force.

Once you start to improve, the exceptional grip, rough surface texture, and balanced weight will help you perform at the same level as the very best in your league.

What We Like:

  • Large sweet spot
  • Durable, damage-resistant edge guard
  • Graphite face and honeycomb core ensure excellent durability.

What We Don’t Like:

  • Expensive price

4. Best Budget Option – Amazin’ Aces Signature Pickleball Paddle

Best Budget Option
Amazin' Aces Signature Pickleball Paddle
$37.99
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06/23/2021 01:07 pm GMT

Specifications: 

  • Weight: 8.3 oz
  • Grip size: 4.1″
  • Dimensions: 15.7″ x 8 x 1.5″

Our pick of the best budget-friendly option, the Amazin’ Aces Signature Pickleball Paddle‘s combination of good quality design and entry-level pricing makes it a great pick if you’re still on the fence about whether pickleball is for you.

Rather than spending a fortune on a paddle that you may not use very much, the Amazin’ Aces Signature line lets you get a good feel for the sport before deciding whether or not you want to upgrade.

Make no mistake about it, when we call this budget-friendly, we don’t mean cheap. There are certainly less-expensive paddles out there, but most of them are made from wood, making them difficult to control and prone to damage. 

This one, however, is made from a high-performance honeycomb polymer core and superior graphite face with a small, comfortable, hand-stitched grip. All told, this provides all the precision and control you’ll need as a novice player, meaning you’ll really get to enjoy a first-rate experience out on the court.

What We Like:

  • High-quality design at an affordable price
  • USAPA-Approved
  • Come with free cover.

What We Don’t Like:

  • At 8.03″, it’s heavier than most mid-weight options.

5. Best Grip – Gamma Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle

Best Grip Pick
GAMMA Sports 2.0 Fusion Pickleball Paddles: Mens and Womens Textured Fiberglass Face
$60.54
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06/17/2021 01:52 pm GMT

Specifications:

  • Weight: 8.0 oz
  • Grip size: 4″
  • Dimensions: 16.2″ x 8.2″ x 1.5″

As any seasoned pickleball player will tell you, the grip is one of the most important components of a quality paddle. Providing it’s big enough for your hand, a small grip will provide better control, while the more comfortable that grip is, the longer you’ll be able to maintain that control throughout your game.

Naturally, when you’re first learning how to play pickleball, you’ll spend plenty of time learning how to master control of the ball, which is the main reason why we love the Gamma Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle so much.

It’s 4″ grip is the ideal size for most players, while the honeycomb cushion surrounding provides a soft, comfortable padding that is also highly sweat absorbant, all of which will make perfecting your technique that much easier. 

What’s more, the 8’oz weight puts this one at the top-end of the mid-weight paddle range, meaning you’ll still be able to pack plenty of power behind those drives. 

What We Like:

  • USDA-approved which is a great indicator of the paddle’s high quality
  • Wide-bodied paddle makes it easier for newcomers to connect with the ball 
  • Textured fiberglass face improves accuracy 

What We Don’t Like: 

  • Being on the heavier side of the mid-weight range, it can be a little too heavy for some players. 

Pickleball Paddles for Beginners: Your Complete Buyer’s Guide

At the start of this guide, we told you that price, weight, material, and grip size all played an important role in determining how we chose our top 5 paddles from the 45 models we originally tested. 

Below, we’ll explain exactly how these factors – along with that all-important sweet spot- influenced our decision, and how they may influence yours as you set to choose the best beginner’s pickleball paddle for you. 

Pickleball Paddle Pricing 

Whether you’re buying a brand new dartboard for your dartboard games room or a ladder ball set for those summer get-togethers, your budget is always going to make a difference to the product you buy.

When it comes to choosing a great pickleball paddle for beginners, however, budget is more important than ever. 

If you’re only testing the waters, having only recently started learning how to play pickleball, and haven’t yet decided whether you’re going to go all in with the game, then you may not want to spend a great deal on your first paddle. It’s perhaps better to play it safe with an entry-level model. You can always upgrade to a higher-priced, higher-quality option if you later decide you love the game as much as we do.

Keep in mind though, that the cheapest pickleball paddles are just that; cheap.

Often, they’re made from wood or other low-quality materials that can be heavy, cumbersome and generally make it difficult to control, ultimately ruining the fun of playing. This is why we love our budget pick, the Amazin’ Aces Signature Pickleball Paddle. It doesn’t cost much more than your standard wooden panel yet it’s still made from the same durable, high-quality materials as others in our guide. 

Pickleball Paddle Weight

Pickleball paddles generally come in three weight categories:

  • Lightweight: – Under 7.3 oz
  • Mid-weight: 7.3 – 8.4 oz
  • Heavy:  8.5 oz and up

Lightweight paddles offer the best level of control while heavy paddles offer a stronger, more powerful hit. 

As you can imagine, mid-weight paddles offer the best of both worlds; all the control you need to learn the game as a new player with enough power to really nail those harder drives. 

It’s for this reason that all of our top 5 picks fall somewhere in the mid-weight category. 

Pickleball Paddle Grip Size

Though it’s often overlooked by newcomers, pickleball paddle grip size plays an important role in determining how well you play. 

If the paddle grip is too big, it could easily slip out of your hand as you go to connect with the ball, causing you to miss your shot or drop the paddle altogether. In some cases, it could even cause elbow injuries and long-term soreness.

For the best results, you want a grip that is as small as you can get it while still being comfortable enough. 

Pickleball Paddle Sweet Spot 

From traditional outdoor games like golf and tennis to more innovative games like Four Square and crossnet, the concept of a ‘sweet spot’ is familiar to many sports.

In pickleball, it generally refers to the point on the paddle which, when struck by the ball, gives the most powerful and accurate spot.

Though there’s no exact science to determining a sweet spot, it’s generally found in the middle of the paddle and, as a general rule, the larger the surface area, the larger the sweet spot. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Pickleball Paddles 

How Long Should a Pickleball Paddle Last?

A good quality pickleball used several times a week by an average player should last up to 5 years before it needs replacing.

However, if you’re a more serious player and tend to use that paddle almost every day, you may find it starts to wear out after 2-3 years.

Does the Type of Pickleball Paddle You Use Really Matter?

Absolutely. If you’re just getting started, then you’ll want a mid-weight paddle as heavier paddles can be difficult to control properly while lightweight paddles may not give enough power to really get a satisfying drive. 

As we’ve discussed throughout this guide, other factors such as weight and grip size will also affect the way you play, so if you are serious about getting good, then it definitely pays to invest in a superior quality paddle.

Is there a Difference Between Indoor and Outdoor Pickleball Paddles?

No. A pickleball paddle will work just the same in any environment, whether indoors or outdoors. That said, there is a difference between indoor and outdoor pickleball balls, with the latter tending to be heavier to make up for wind resistance and other factors.

Are Men’s and Women’s Pickleball Paddles Different?

No. Though the aesthetic design of some paddles may appeal more to women than men (and vice versa), a pickleball paddle is a pickleball paddle no matter who uses it.

That said, since women do tend to have smaller hands than men, a paddle with a smaller grip may work better.

Final Thought: What’s the Best Pickleball Paddle for Beginners?

So, which is the absolute best pickleball paddle available in 2020? 

If you’ve read our reviews and buyers guide, you may well agree with us that few models can top the all-round excellence of the Uteeqe Pickleball Paddles Set which so perfectly combines a solid mid-weight design, highly durable material, and damage-resistant edge guard into one attractive, affordable package. 


Then again, if your needs are different to ours, maybe you have a different favorite. If you’re making the move over from playing tennis, you may prefer the HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle, a premium-quality paddle that offers all the features tennis experts could ask for while transitioning to paddle ball. Alternatively, if keeping an eye on your wallet is your top priority, you’ll likely prefer our budget-friendly pick, the Amazin’ Aces Signature Pickleball Paddle.

Whichever one you choose, any of the top five paddles above will ensure you’ll have no problem getting to grips with this tremendously fun game.