Is It Better To Have A Lighter Or Heavier Pickleball Paddle?


The right sporting equipment can make you feel like you’re a pro. When it comes to choosing the right pickleball paddle, weight matters almost more than anything else. But does this mean that a heavier pickleball paddle is better than a lighter one? Which one should you opt for?

Players who value control and quicker reaction times will want a lighter paddle, while players who have a strong, powerful hit will want to purchase a heavier paddle. Most players will want a medium-weight paddle to balance reaction time, control, and power.

The ideal weight of a pickleball paddle depends on the strengths and needs of the player and the game.

But, how do you know if you should prioritize power or control? What happens if you’re playing a doubles game as opposed to singles?  Read on to find out more about picking out the perfect pickleball paddle!

An image of a Boy Playing Pickleball.

What Paddles Do the Best Pickleball Players Use?

Top players generally recommend a medium-weight paddle between 7.5 and 8.4 ounces. The best pickleball players further use and recommend the paddle that feels most comfortable when playing, as determined by weight, swing, and the player’s strength.

Del Kauss, the 2018 Senior National Champion recommends finding a well-balanced paddle that is of medium weight.

Mark Renneson from Third Short Sports thinks that finding the right paddle depends on your body weight as much as the paddles. He believes that lighter paddles are best suited to people who are lighter on the scale. Additionally, he believes that people should choose a paddle based on how comfortable they feel playing with it.

Pro-Lite’s Neil Friedenberg says that it all depends on individual ability and experience. He acknowledges that different paddles have unique advantages and disadvantages. Something you may have not factored in experiences in other sports such as other racquet sports. This can affect which pickleball paddle you’re most comfortable using.

Pickleball players seem to use paddles that they feel comfortable using, but most of them lean towards medium-weight paddles. What is a medium-weight paddle? A pickleball paddle that weighs between 7.5 and 8.4 ounces may be considered medium weight.

How Much Should My Pickleball Paddle Weigh?

A medium-weight pickleball paddle that is between 7.4 and 9.5 ounces should be safest for most new players. An ounce is not very large so these weights of pickleball paddles do not differ greatly from each other, at least until a player is more experienced and ready to experiment with light versus heavy paddles.

If you’re not an experienced player, you may want to pick up different paddles to get a feel for the difference in weight.

There’s no right or wrong answer to the question “Should I get a lighter or heavier pickleball paddle?” It all depends on what you feel comfortable using at your level of experience.

  • Lighter pickleball paddles are a great choice for beginners and players who love to hit drop shots.
  • Heavier pickleball paddles are suited to more experienced players and people who are trying to work on generating more power.

As long as you’re not going to injure yourself, you should choose a pickleball paddle that you feel comfortable using.

  • The more lightweight pickleball paddles weigh under 7.4 ounces. Paddles that are too light may require you to overexert yourself. This could contribute to injuries.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the heaviest pickleball paddles can weigh anything from 8.5 to 9.5 ounces. Paddles that weigh over 9.5 ounces may be too heavy and could contribute to an injury.

In other words, go ahead and get a medium-weight paddle until you’re more experienced or ready to take on experimenting with light and heavy paddles. Then you’ll be able to consider light versus heavy, which we’ll now go into.

Should I Get a Lightweight Pickleball Paddle?

Lighter-weight pickleball paddles can weigh anything under 7.4 ounces. A lighter pickleball paddle offers more control over your movements. This is great for people who are new to the game and are focusing on the basics, like hitting the ball rather than focusing on power hits in a doubles game or if they have previous experience with other lightweight racquet sports.

Lightweight paddles can give you the opportunity to hone your skills and help you work on your swing and develop your stance. It is easier to hit dink and drop shots with a lightweight paddle as well as respond more quickly. This will help you keep your head in the game.

If you are familiar with related sports like ping pong, table tennis, or racquetball then you may have an easier time adjusting to a lightweight pickleball paddle.

This is a great way to ease yourself into the sport and transfer skills that you already have. Additionally, if you’re playing a doubles game you will need the control and maneuvering skills that a lightweight paddle has to offer.

The disadvantage of using a lightweight paddle is that you will have to exert more force and increase your swing speed to generate power. This can become tiresome in singles games. The constant pressure of having to be more forceful with the paddle can take a toll on your muscles. While muscle soreness isn’t the end of the world, it is incredibly annoying, especially when it can be avoided.

As with paddles that are too heavy, you are at risk of worsening joint injuries like tennis elbow. By having to exert more force, you then must overcome more vibration and stress each time you hit the ball. These vibrations and stress forces are absorbed by your elbow.

Is a Heavier Pickleball Paddle Better?

Heavier pickleball paddles can weigh anything over 8.5 ounces, but most are between 8.5 and 9.5 ounces. While heavier pickleball paddles are suited to more experienced players who are looking for power, some newer players may find heavy paddles easier to play with during a singles game.  

The heaviest pickleball paddles are rarely used and are usually made of wood.

Obviously, if you’re using a heavier pickleball paddle, you’re going to generate more force and the ball is going to go flying further and faster with every powerful smack. This is great for a deeper baseline and return of serves.

With a heavier paddle you will cut down on swing speed and the amount of force and energy you must exert. Heavier pickleball paddles also offer greater stability. This is perfect for off-center hits.

One of the downsides of using a heavier pickleball paddle is the limited degree of control when it comes to serving and maneuvering.

Another downside would be the fatigue that comes with playing with a heavier paddle for extended periods. This can exacerbate existing injuries like tennis elbow.

A heavier pickleball paddle is the better choice if you are competing in a singles game of pickleball. In these situations, having more power than your opponent is key. Fancy maneuvers aren’t the focus and greater power is more likely to get you a win.

Next Steps

Personally, I’m still borrowing paddles from friends for when I play. Borrowing paddles is a nice thing (when your friends trust you enough to let you try theirs, anyway!) because you get to try the various weights of paddles out.

So far, I’m loving the versatility of a medium-weight paddle the best. That way, I can get a strong hit in, but I’m not exhausting my forearm (I have had tennis elbow issues, though it stemmed from softball) and triggering that injury to flare up.

In any case, get out there and enjoy some pickleball. Or try some badminton or tennis. But first, go read my article: Let’s Compare: Badminton, Tennis, Table Tennis, and Pickleball. That way, you’ll be prepared for whichever racquet sport is on the table!

Resources

Learning from your own experiences is important, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as a family of sports nuts wannabes.

  • Jefferys, Steven. “How to Choose Your Pickleball Paddle.” Merchant of Tennis, 29 Jan. 2020, www.merchantoftennis.com/blogs/pickleball/how-to-choose-your-pickleball-paddle.
  • Keith. “What Pickleball Paddles Do The Pros Use? 4 Pros Share Their Secrets.” TheVolleyLlama.Com, 13 Feb. 2021, thevolleyllama.com/pickleball-paddles/#tab-con-14.
  • “Paddle Weight Guide.” Pickleball Depot, www.pickleballdepot.ca/pages/paddle-weight-guide. Accessed 16 Dec. 2021.
  • “Selecting a Pickleball Paddle Weight.” Pickleball Galaxy, www.pickleballgalaxy.com/selecting-a-pickleball-paddle-weight.html. Accessed 16 Dec. 2021.

And a huge thank-you to my pickleball league-playing friends who helped me fill in my knowledge gaps! I can’t wait for the neighborhood ladies’ beginner league to restart.

Image of Starr family children playing in the backyard.

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