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The Ultimate Guide to the Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners

TUNDRA's Top Picks

July 12 2023

Getting started with a new sport is always exciting, and it's even better when that sport is the fastest growing in the country: pickleball. One of the first steps in your journey is choosing the right pickleball paddle. With all the options available, this choice might seem daunting, but we've got you covered. Let's take a look at the best pickleball paddles for beginners in terms of weight, grip size, material, and price.

Key Factors for the Best Pickleball Paddles:


The weight of the paddle significantly affects your play. Lighter paddles (around 6-7 ounces) are easier to control and are generally good for a finesse game, but they offer less driving power. Heavier paddles (around 8-9 ounces) can provide more power, but may tire your arm out faster and give you less control. Mid-weight paddles offer the perfect balance between power and control.


Made out of graphite, the Pursuit EX is a great lightweight pickleball paddle for a beginner. Photo Credit: Pickleball Central
Made out of graphite, the Pursuit EX is a great lightweight pickleball paddle for a beginner. Photo Credit: Pickleball Central

Grip Size

Getting the right grip size is important for comfort and control. Smaller grip sizes provide more wrist action and thus more control but may lead to more wrist strain. Larger grips offer more stability but less wrist movement. A general rule of thumb is to choose a grip size that allows you to fully wrap your fingers around the handle with just a little space between your fingers and palm.

The right grip size is essential for a beginner pickleball paddle. Photo Credit: Third Shot Drop
The right grip size is essential for a beginner pickleball paddle. Photo Credit: Third Shot Drop


Pickleball paddles can be made of wood, composite, or graphite. Wood paddles are the cheapest but are also heavier – composite and graphite paddles are lighter and offer better performance, but they're more expensive. Graphite paddles are the lightest and have the best responsiveness.

A custom Lionel Richie wood pickleball paddle. Photo Credit: Etsy
A custom Lionel Richie wood pickleball paddle. Photo Credit: Etsy

Paddle Shape and Size

Paddle shape affects your reach and hitting power. A longer paddle gives you a better reach and generally more power, but at the expense of a smaller sweet spot. A wider paddle is more forgiving with a larger hitting surface, but lacks the same reach and power.

Photo Credit: Pickleball Rookie
Photo Credit: Pickleball Rookie

Core Material

The paddle's core is critical to its performance. The most common core materials and types are nomex, aluminum, and polymer. Nomex cores are the hardest, making paddles powerful and loud. Aluminum cores provide a balance between control and power, and are quieter than nomex. Polymer cores are the softest and quietest, and are the most popular among many players.

Photo Credit: Third Shot Drop
Photo Credit: Third Shot Drop

Edge Guard

An edge guard protects the paddle from damage and can also affect your game. A larger edge guard offers more protection but can lead to more mishits. Without an edge guard, an "edgeless" paddle can reduce mishits but leaves you vulnerable to damage.

Photo Credit: Just Paddles
Photo Credit: Third Shot Drop


Obviously, your paddle budget has a huge influence on your paddle choice. While there are many more affordable paddle options on the market, investing in a higher-quality paddle pay dividends in the long run, especially if you plan on playing regularly.

USAPA Approval

If you plan on playing in tournaments, make sure your paddle is approved by the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA). Most manufacturers will specify if their paddles meet these standards.

Remember, the "perfect" paddle largely depends on the individual's preferences, playing style, and comfort. It's always a good idea to try different paddles before settling on one!

Photo Credit: USA Pickleball
Photo Credit: USA Pickleball

But What Are The Best Pickleball Paddles For A Beginner?

Now that we've outlined the basics, let's go over our top picks. And remember, paddles make great pickleball gifts!

1. Upstreet Pickleball Paddle


Upstreet Pickleball Paddle, the Graphite Pickleball Paddle (Leaf) Photo Credit: Upstreet Pickleball
Upstreet Pickleball Paddle, the Graphite Pickleball Paddle (Leaf) Photo Credit: Upstreet Pickleball

Kicking off our recommendations is the Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle (Leaf). Perfectly tailored to the needs of newcomers to the game, this paddle's unique blend of attributes positions it as a standout choice.

One of the paddle's most notable characteristics is its lightweight design. The paddle core's reduced weight enables easy handling and maneuvering, making it easier for beginners to control their shots and responses. This feature is particularly helpful for novices mastering their swing technique and shot accuracy, both critical for establishing a strong foundational skill set.

The Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle (Leaf) is also celebrated for its polypropylene honeycomb core, a top-tier feature usually found in more expensive wooden paddles. The honeycomb structure can absorb impact while maintaining excellent structural integrity. This combination contributes to a perfect fusion of control and power - an essential pairing for learning the game's basics. With this paddle, beginners can comfortably experiment with different shot power levels without sacrificing control, helping them understand and adjust their game strategies.

Photo Credit: Upstreet Pickleball
Photo Credit: Upstreet Pickleball


Additionally, comfort has been given due priority in this paddle's design. It comes with a cushioned grip, which significantly reduces the risk of wrist strain. Long practice sessions can become tedious if your paddle grip is hard and unwieldy, but this cushioned option ensures that discomfort doesn't come in the way of your learning.

A big upside of the Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle is its affordability. Priced at $29.99, it presents an entry-level cost that is perfect for beginners not wanting to invest heavily while still learning. Despite its budget-friendly price, the paddle doesn't compromise on quality or performance, providing excellent value for money.

The paddle's appealing leaf design makes it a stylish choice as well. Its aesthetics combined with functional benefits make it a formidable competitor in the world of beginner pickleball paddles. Whether you're just testing the waters of using graphite pickleball paddles or are committed to improving your game, the Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle is a smart choice.

2. Paddletek Phoenix Lite

Phoenix G6 – Paddletek Pickleball
Phoenix G6 – Paddletek Pickleball

As you embark on your pickleball journey is an exhilarating experience, the Paddletek Phoenix Lite is an exemplary paddle to accompany you on this adventure. Its characteristics are specifically designed to meet the needs of novices, ensuring a smooth and rewarding learning process.

One of the key features of the Paddletek Phoenix Lite is its lightweight design. This makes the paddle easier to handle, allowing beginners to react quickly and effectively to incoming shots, and providing the player with superior control.

At the heart of this paddle is its polymer honeycomb core, a feature that contributes significantly to the paddle's performance. This specific design has a good deal of 'give', which helps absorb the impact of the ball and results in less recoil. It offers an outstanding balance of finesse and power, enabling players to execute both delicate dinks at the net and powerful slams from the baseline, a fundamental balance for beginners who are still figuring out their style of play.

Photo Credit: Paddletek Pickleball
Photo Credit: Paddletek Pickleball

One of the standout features of the Paddletek Phoenix Lite is its fiberglass paddle face. Fiberglass is a popular choice for paddle surfaces due to its excellent response and touch. This allows beginners to feel the impact more clearly, which aids in developing a better understanding of the game's dynamics.

Its inclusive grip size is another great feature. The grip is designed to accommodate a wide range of hand sizes and grip circumference, making it a suitable choice for many players. This thoughtful feature ensures a comfortable playing experience, which is essential in maintaining focus during the game.

Lastly, the Paddletek Phoenix Lite doesn't compromise on aesthetics. The stylish design, combined with its impressive performance features, make it a worthy contender in the lineup of beginner-friendly pickleball paddles. With a slightly higher price tag of $69.99, this lightweight paddle ensures that even as you're learning, you're doing so with top-notch equipment in hand.

3. Rally Tyro 2 Pro

Photo Credit: Pickleball Paul
Photo Credit: Pickleball Paul

The Rally Tyro 2 Pro is indeed a beginner's dream, perfectly tailored to meet the needs of those new to the exciting world of the sport. Crafted with precision and with careful consideration of the challenges faced by novice players, this paddle boasts features that aid in mastering the game's fundamentals.

Firstly, the Rally Tyro 2 Pro is made from a high-quality polymer composite. This choice of material contributes significantly to the paddle's durability, allowing it to withstand extensive use without suffering from performance degradation. This is a crucial feature, especially for beginners who may mis-hit or accidentally strike the paddle against hard surfaces as they get accustomed to the game.

The paddle's lightweight nature makes it more maneuverable, a key factor for beginners still developing their hand-eye coordination and reaction time. The lighter paddle allows for quicker responses, easier swing motion, and improved control over the direction of shots. It can also help reduce arm fatigue, allowing for longer, more enjoyable practice sessions.

Photo Credit: Pickleball Central
Photo Credit: Pickleball Central

A standout feature of this paddle is its slightly larger surface area. For beginners who are still honing their precision, this expanded hitting area can be incredibly beneficial. It increases the chances of making successful contact with the ball, offering a more forgiving and encouraging playing experience. This can significantly help build a player's newfound confidence.

Considering its superior quality and beginner-friendly features, the Rally Tyro 2 Pro is a worthwhile investment for anyone new to pickleball at $59.99. It's a paddle that can see a player through their novice stages and well into their intermediate level, proving its value over time.

Furthermore, the Rally Tyro 2 Pro exhibits a sleek and modern design, making it not just a functional piece of sports equipment, but also an attractive accessory on the court. It certainly stands as proof that beginners need not compromise on either style or substance when starting their pickleball journey.

4. Gamma New 2.0 Pickleball Paddles

GAMMA Fusion 2.0 Plus Pickleball Paddle, image 1 of 7 slides
GAMMA Fusion 2.0 Plus Pickleball Paddle. Photo Credit: Gamma

The Gamma New 2.0 Pickleball Paddles are indeed a remarkable fusion of power, control, and durability, a trio of attributes that any beginner would value highly. The power helps learners make impactful shots even if their technique isn't perfect yet. Control, on the other hand, allows for a greater understanding and handling of the game dynamics, including shot placement and direction. And durability ensures the paddles can withstand the rough handling and frequent play that often come with the learning phase.

The textured carbon fiber-glass face of the Gamma New 2.0 paddles is one of its standout features. Fiberglass, known for its superior ball response and touch, offers an excellent playing surface. When coupled with the added texture, it significantly enhances ball control, which is essential for beginners learning to guide their shots accurately. The texture grips the ball slightly upon impact, allowing for increased spin and more controlled shots. This gives beginners a significant advantage as they develop their understanding of different shot types and strategies.

Photo Credit: Gamma
Photo Credit: Gamma

But these paddles aren't just about functionality – they're also built to last. Their construction uses high-quality materials designed to endure intense play and withstand the wear and tear that comes with frequent use. This durability is a boon for beginners who need a reliable, durable paddle that will see them through countless hours of practice and match play.

What makes the Gammas even more appealing is their affordability. Despite being packed with features often found in more expensive paddles, the Gamma New 2.0 range manages to keep costs down, starting at $39.99, perfect if you're a beginner trying to avoid burning a hole in your pocket.

5. Selkirk Latitude Widebody Paddle

Selkirk SLK Graphite Latitude Widebody Pickleball Paddle product image
Selkirk SLK Graphite Latitude Widebody Pickleball Paddle. Photo Credit: Selkirk

Known for their commitment to quality and performance, Selkirk brings forth the Latitude Widebody paddle, meticulously designed to cater to beginners.

The Latitude Widebody sports a broad face, an advantageous feature for players still refining their aim. The larger surface area provides a bigger 'sweet spot', increasing the chance of successful ball contact. This can be particularly forgiving for newbies, as they can more easily connect with the ball, encouraging more consistent play. As players work on their accuracy and precision, this widebody paddle can offer them the comfort of knowing that even off-center hits can still lead to decent shots.

At the core of this paddle lies high-quality polymer, a material renowned for its unique ability to balance power and control. The polymer core behaves brilliantly on impact, ensuring the paddle provides a consistent, predictable response. This consistency can aid beginners in understanding and adapting to different types of shots. Power shots, delicate dinks, or quick volleys during fast-paced exchanges all become more manageable when your paddle response is more predictable.

Photo Credit: Pickleball Reviews

This blend of power and control is an essential characteristic for any beginner paddle. As learners navigate through the game's intricacies, a paddle that doesn't lean too heavily towards power or control, but instead provides a balanced performance, is instrumental in building a well-rounded skill set.

In addition to its performance features, the Latitude Widebody also showcases the Selkirk commitment to durability and style. Its robust construction ensures that it can withstand the rigors of frequent play, while its sleek design ensures you'll look good while playing.

Coming in at $59.99, the Selkirk Latitude Widebody paddle serves as an excellent tool for beginners, thoughtfully designed to aid in mastering the game, and a testament to Selkirk's dedication to quality and performance.

6. Onix Z5 Graphite Paddle


Onix Z5 Graphite Paddle
Onix Z5 Graphite Paddle. Photo Credit: Onix

While the Onix Z5 Graphite Paddle might be a substantial investment compared to other beginner paddles, it's worth every penny. This $89.99 high-quality paddle brings together a number of advanced features that beginners, particularly those dedicated to mastering the sport, will immediately benefit from.

One of the standout features of the Onix Z5 Graphite Paddle is its combination of touch and power. The graphite face of the paddle provides a responsive surface that players love. It offers an excellent 'feel', which can be particularly beneficial for beginners who are still learning the ropes and need to understand the intricacies of ball contact and response. The paddle also excels in power, thanks to its robust graphite paddle face material and sturdy core, enabling forceful shots that can lend an edge to your game.

The Onix Z5 also boasts a smaller grip size. A smaller grip can offer beginners more wrist movement, which directly translates to greater control over shots. Enhanced wrist action can be a game-changer, enabling a wider range of shots, including delicate spins and tactical placements.

Photo Credit: Purely Pickleball
Photo Credit: Purely Pickleball

What sets the Onix Z5 Graphite Paddle apart is its potential longevity of use. While it is designed with features that beginners will love, it also has the qualities that will remain relevant as they advance in their skills. This paddle is not just for the initial stages of learning; it's designed to see players through to their intermediate stages and possibly beyond.

The Onix Z5 doesn't compromise on aesthetics, either. It features a sleek and modern design, aligning with its advanced features and positioning in the market.

While the Onix Z5 Graphite Paddle may be on the pricier side for beginners, it is an investment in quality, performance, and durability. It's an ideal paddle for beginners who are serious about the sport, anticipate playing frequently, and envision a long-term commitment to a life of dinking.

Final Thoughts on Best Pickleball Paddles

Choosing the best pickleball paddle is crucial for enjoying and excelling in pickleball. However, it's important to remember that these recommendations are only a starting point, and the "perfect" paddle varies from person to person. Don't be afraid to experiment with different types and brands, until you find the paddle that feels like a natural extension of your own mind, body, and soul. Happy pickling!



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