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15 Best Pickleball Paddles for 3.5 Players and Up

Looking for the best pickleball paddles? We tested over 20 popular paddles to give you reviews by real players.

Pickleball has taken the sports world by storm, and we see no signs of it slowing. We meet new players every week, and paddles are among the most popular topics of conversation you hear on the courts. Many paddle reviews are from pros, but we wanted to get a group of 3.5-4.0 players to see which paddle would be the fan favorite.

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This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: January 5, 2024

How to Pick a Pickleball Paddle – What to Look for

One of the best things about pickleball is that it’s easy to pick up! You can start playing games with friends, or if none of your friends play, by joining pick-up games. Since there are so many public courts, you only need a paddle and a ball.

You can buy cheap paddles online (which we don’t recommend. Here’s why), but you’ll want to upgrade if you play regularly. Paddles have various prices, but with anything I do, I prefer investing in something that I can get long-term use out of. Plus, many people have a few paddles, whether they play competitively or with friends. It’s always nice to have a few so you can introduce the game to your friends.

Here are some key performance features to keep in mind when selecting your ideal pickleball paddle

  • Core Material: The core material affects the performance of a paddle. Polymer cores are the most common and give you a balance of power and control. Nomex cores give you more power; aluminum cores are the most durable but least powerful.
  • Face Material: The face affects the feel and performance of a paddle. Composite faces are the most common and offer good durability and feel. Graphite is more durable but less forgiving.
  • Weight: Generally, paddles have three categories: lightweight, midweight, and heavyweight. Lightweight paddles give you the most control but the least power, while heavyweight paddles offer the opposite. A midweight paddle has a balance and is a good starting point for beginners, but consider your play style when choosing the weight.
  • Grip Size: The grip size of the paddle should be comfortable for your hand to maintain control and prevent fatigue during extended play. Find the right grip size by wrapping your hand around the paddle and measuring the distance between your index finger and the base of your palm. The measurement should be between 4 inches and 4.5 inches. Find a balance between a secure grip and maneuverability.
  • Surface Texture: The paddle’s surface texture affects spin. Paddles with a rough surface can generate more spin, an advantage in certain situations. Smooth surfaces, on the other hand, may offer better control.
  • Shape: The shape of paddles affects aerodynamics and performance. Most paddles are oval, but you can also find teardrop and wide-body paddles.
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How We Reviewed and Selected the Best Pickleball Paddle

There are some great resources for pickleball paddles that test RPMs, speed, swing weight, technical aspects, and more. We’ve read and watched many reviews but saw that it doesn’t always translate for the average player. This could be a difference in play style since pros or higher-level players often review them.

We decided to take a different approach. We had seven players between 3.0 and 4.0 try all the paddles by using a ball machine to feel how the strokes were and dinking with each other to get a feel for the control. After using the paddle, we rated power, spin, control, overall feel, and look. Then we averaged the scores. In addition, each player picked their favorite five paddles.

The goal was to give you paddle reviews from someone who plays at a similar level or has a similar play style. We’ve also profiled each player below so you can look at their specific ratings.

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The Paddle Reviewers

Below is a quick description of each player’s play style, rating, when they started playing, and current go-to paddle. Click through to the spreadsheet if you want to dive deeper into how each player rated the paddles.

JACOB

Play Style: Focused on control, ball placement, and defense. Can put away at angles but doesn’t focus on power.
Rating: 3.5+ Player
Started Playing for eight months in 2017, then restarted in May 2023
Current Paddle: Selkirk 006 or Six Zero Double Black Diamond (Played the most with SLK Halo 16mm)

GREG

Play Style: First time playing a paddle sport or any sport actually. Here to have fun, exercise, and do trick shots!
Rating: 2.69-3.0 Player trying 5.0 things
Started Playing: January 2023
Current Paddle: Head Radical Elite

TONY

Play Style: Focused on soft game (dinks, drops, resets) and powerful putaways and serves. Quick and athletic.
Rating: 3.5 Player
Started Playing: January 2023
Current Paddle: Vatic Pro Flash and V7 (mostly Flash)

JEREMY

Play Style: Prefer control over power, but focus on a well-rounded game.
Rating: 3.5+ Player
Started Playing in the summer of 2019 but more consistently for the past 2+ years.
Current Paddle: Vatic Pro Prism V7

UNCLE ROGER

Play Style: Banger, defense/blocks, shot placement.
Rating: 2.5 Player
Started Playing: January 2023
Current Paddle: Franklin Centre

PONO

Play Style: Wanting to be more controlled but can put it away if needed.
Rating: 3.0-3.5 Player
Started Playing: July 2023
Current Paddle: Six Zero Double Black Diamond Infinity

RYAN

Play Style: Defensive/soft. Prioritize resets and dinking over aggression.
Rating: 3.0-3.5 Player
Started Playing: December 2022
Current Paddle: Volair Mach 1 Forza

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Which Paddles Did We Review

Here is a comprehensive list of paddles we reviewed. If you’d like us to add any paddles to the list or test them out, let me know in the comments!

Paddle Coupon Codes: If you want coupon codes, click to skip to them here.

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Best Overall Pickleball Paddles – Best Pickleball Paddles 2023

Let’s start by looking at the best overall paddles. This considers all aspects of the paddle, including power, spin, control, feel, and look. You can see the top performers below if you prefer to focus on power or control.

1. Six Zero Double Black Diamond Infinity ($220) →

Overall Rating: 4.43/5
Power Rating: 4.11/5
Control Rating: 4.54/5

Spin Rating: 4.11/5
Look Rating: 4.43/5
Favorited: By 5 Players

This Six Zero paddle performed well in all aspects. This wasn’t originally on our list of paddles to test, but Pono brought his, so we decided to test it, too. We were all impressed with it! It made the top of our list for best pickleball paddles for intermediate players (and players of all levels).

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Smooth and easy to play.” – Jacob
  • “Great control, feel, spin, power, good combination of everything.” – Tony
  • “Great paddle. Overall good control and spin with power.” – Jeremy

Coupon Codes: LOCALADVENTURER10 for 10% off

2. Selkirk Luxx ($250) →

Overall Rating: 4.07/5
Power Rating: 3.21/5
Control Rating: 4.21/5

Spin Rating: 3.79/5
Look Rating: 4.32/5
Favorited: By 5 Players

The Selkirk Luxx is a beautiful paddle that plays well out of the box. It’s smooth as butter but lacks power. Overall, it’s still ranked as the best Selkirk pickleball paddle.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Need to generate own power but so cushy” – Jacob
  • “Great control, just enough power, looks slick” – Tony
  • “Good control paddle, very forgiving, paddle for soft players” – Jeremy
  • “Great control, spin, resets, dinks, just not enough power for me for putaways.” – Pono

Coupon Codes: ADV-JACOBF to receive a gift card for future purchases

3. Six Zero Double Black Diamond 16 ($180) →

Overall Rating: 4.04/5
Power Rating: 3.82/5
Control Rating: 4.29/5

Spin Rating: 3.86/5
Look Rating: 3.71/5
Favorited: By 7 Players

When I first played with this Six Zero pickleball paddle, I was surprised at how well I played with it. It took very little adjustment time. This carbon fiber pickleball paddle earned a heart from everyone and is the most favorited paddle from this review.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Don’t love the standard grip (too skinny), but that’s easy to change.” – Jacob
  • “Light, good control, wish had little more power” – Tony
  • “Have already bought a 3rd one for personal use” – Pono

Coupon Codes: LOCALADVENTURER10 for 10% off

4. Bread & Butter Filth ($165) →

Overall Rating: 4.04/5
Power Rating: 3.93/5
Control Rating: 3.93/5

Spin Rating: 3.86/5
Look Rating: 4/5
Favorited: By 5 Players

The Bread and Butter pickleball paddle was the underdog that surprised all of us. We didn’t expect to like it as much as we did! It’s a great all-around paddle, and the brand embraces fun.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Surprised how easy it played. A bit of vibration on hard hits.” – Jacob
  • “Liked the handle length, even though paddle was large I felt I had good control, adequate power, a little heavy looked cool” – Tony
  • “Great paddle, overall good control and spin with power” – Jeremy
  • “Feels good in the hands. Good swing weight for me. Poppy with good control and spin” – Pono

Bread & Butter Coupon Code: LocalAdventurer for 15% off

5. Selkirk Project 006 ($333) →

Overall Rating: 3.92/5
Power Rating: 3.89/5
Control Rating: 4.1/5

Spin Rating: 3.93/5
Look Rating: 4.11/5
Favorited: By 3 Players

The Project 006 is the most expensive paddle on the list. Most of us commented that it’s a great paddle but too pricey. There are other comparable paddles for much less.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Gotta get used to shape but plays well and is expensive.” – Jacob
  • “Great control and spin, wish had more power” – Tony
  • “Great all-around paddle.” – Pono

Coupon Codes: ADV-JACOBF to receive a gift card for future purchases

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6. SLK Halo 16 and Halo 13 ($140) →

Overall Rating: 3.86/5 3.61/5
Power Rating: 3.5/5 3.68/5
Control Rating: 3.93/5 3.5/5

Spin Rating: 3.54/5 3.39/5
Look Rating: 3.68/5 3.68/5
Favorited: By 1 Player By 1 Player

The SLK Halo 16mm was my go-to paddle until recently. It’s a great paddle for the price and one of the best pickleball paddles for beginners. If you prefer a little more pop, the 13mm is a great choice, too.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Good overall paddle, wish there was more power” – Tony
  • “Overall great paddle, good choice for any skill level” – Jeremy
  • “Has decent control. Would play with if the looks were nicer, Lol.” – Pono

The SLK Halo 13 placed 12th overall, so I will include some of the notes here as well:

  • “Overall good, but I like the 16 better” – Jacob
  • “Surprisingly good.” – Pono

Coupon Codes: ADV-JACOBF to receive a gift card for future purchases

7. Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy ($149.99) and Pro Line Energy S ($169.99) →

Overall Rating: 3.82/5 3.79/5
Power Rating: 4/5 3.93/5
Control Rating: 3.57/5 3.36/5

Spin Rating: 3.79/5 3.86/5
Look Rating: 3.71/5 3.79/5
Favorited: By 1 Player By 1 Player

Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy and Pro Line Energy S held back-to-back spots. It all comes down to preference on paddle shape. The Pro Line Energy S is better if you primarily play doubles. If you like a long handle or more reach, the Pro Line Energy is one of the best elongated pickleball paddles.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Nice power, but lots of vibration and little touch” – Jacob
  • “Liked the handle length, not as much power as I’d hoped, like the look of the kevlar, a little heavy, had good spin” – Tony
  • “Overall good paddle, long handle for players who like two-handed backhands.” – Jeremy
  • “Great pop, control, spin, speed, power. Would use it if given one.” – Pono
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8. Ronbus R1 Nova ($180) →

Overall Rating: 3.76/5
Power Rating: 3.75/5
Control Rating: 3.61/5

Spin Rating: 3.71/5
Look Rating: 3.36/5
Favorited: By 1 Player

This Ronbus pickleball paddle is a popular thermoformed paddle. It didn’t stand out from other paddles, but it also didn’t raise many complaints. It’s an excellent all-around paddle to consider.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Not bad. Standard Carbon but easy to play with.” – Jacob
  • “Feels good in hand, great control and power.” – Tony
  • “Plays well. Has a soft touch but also has some put away power when needed.” – Pono

9. Vatic Prism Flash ($99) →

Overall Rating: 3.7/5
Power Rating: 3.79/5
Control Rating: 3.68/5

Spin Rating: 3.54/5
Look Rating: 3.43/5
Favorited: By 1 Player

Vatic is a popular brand for pickleball paddles. We have a bunch of friends who use the Vatic. This is another great paddle if you like carbon paddles and are for something under $100.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Easy to play with and good sweet spot.” – Jacob
  • “Easy to swing” – Greg
  • “Good feel in hand, control, lightweight, lacking power” – Tony
  • “Very forgiving, light paddle for faster hands, good control and spin” – Jeremy
  • “Very poppy. Could not keep a drive in to save my life.” – Pono

Coupon Codes: LOCALADVENTURER for $10 off

10. Vatic V7 ($139.99) →

Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Power Rating: 3.89/5
Control Rating: 3.5/5

Spin Rating: 3.71/5
Look Rating: 3.43/5
Favorited: By 2 Players

The V7 is another great all-around paddle from Vatic. It didn’t perform quite as well as the Prism Flash, but we know players who prefer this paddle to the Prism Flash.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Too top heavy” – Jacob
  • “Good power, not much control” – Tony
  • “For the quality of the paddle, pretty budget friendly” – Jeremy
  • “One of the better paddles out there for the price. Handles decently well but lacking in some areas that are covered by the Ronbus or DBd.” – Pono

Coupon Codes: LOCALADVENTURER for $10 off

11. Selkirk Vanguard 2.0 ($160) →

Overall Rating: 3.36/5
Power Rating: 2.93/5
Control Rating: 3.57/5

Spin Rating: 3.14/5
Look Rating: 3.43/5
Favorited: By 2 Players

There are better paddles for this price range, including the Halo, which costs less. It never hurts to try it out, though, if it fits your game!

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Do not like, too soft/mushy” – Tony
  • “Really liked this one” – Roger
  • “Good as an entry-level paddle” – Ryan

Coupon Codes: ADV-JACOBF to receive a gift card for future purchases

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12. PCKL Pro 16 and Pro 13 ($159.99) →

Overall Rating: 3.36/5 3.25/5
Power Rating: 3.39/5 3.5/5
Control Rating: 3.43/5 3.14/5

Spin Rating: 3.43/5 3.5/5
Look Rating: 3.07/5 2.93/5
Favorited: By 0 Players By 0 Players

The Pro 13 and 16 are the performance paddles from PCKL. Like the Halo, it gives you two options depending on your play style. In general, the 16 performed better than the 13, but you should try both if you’re considering them.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Sweet spot is small” – Jacob
  • “Felt similar to 16, felt more nimble in hand though” – Tony
  • “Small sweet spot. Lots of vibration outside the sweet spot” – Pono

Coupon Codes: PBFRIENDS for 15% off

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13. Selkirk Power Air Invikta & Epic ($250) →

Overall Rating: 3.04/5 2.89/5
Power Rating: 3.21/5 3.07/5
Control Rating: 2.64/5 2.57/5

Spin Rating: 3.14/5 3/5
Look Rating: 3.29/5 3/5
Favorited: By 0 Players By 0 Players

For the price point, I’m always surprised by how many Selkirk Power Airs I see on the courts. It’s a great paddle if you lack power, but you need to be a higher-level player to learn to control it and play with touch. It’s among the most popular pickleball paddles for advanced players. The Invikta shape performed way better than the Epic, and I see more of them out in the wild.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Hard to control unless you’re better” – Jacob
  • “Not a good paddle for beginners” – Jeremy
  • “Love the lightweight and power. A bit of vibration outside the sweet spot.” – Pono
  • “I hate wood-feeling paddles. Too much feedback.” – Ryan

Coupon Codes: ADV-JACOBF to receive a gift card for future purchases

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14. PCKL Pro ($109.99) →

Overall Rating: 2.96/5
Power Rating: 3/5
Control Rating: 2.79/5

Spin Rating: 2.93/5
Look Rating: 2.5/5
Favorited: By 0 Players

The PCKL Pro is a good paddle if you want something more affordable. You’ll likely change paddles as you improve, but it’s an excellent place to start.

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Top heavy but decent control” – Jacob
  • “Decent power, didn’t care for large paddle face” – Tony
  • “Light in the hands. Better sweet spot” – Pono
  • “Plush, way better feel” – Ryan

Coupon Codes: PBFRIENDS for 15% off

15. ProXR Zane Navratil Signature ($209.99) →

Overall Rating: 2.82/5
Power Rating: 2.93/5
Control Rating: 2.71/5

Spin Rating: 3.21/5
Look Rating: 2.86/5
Favorited: By 0 Players

Zane Navratil is a pro player known for his quickness and agility on the court and has won multiple MLP championships. He’s one of the best single players out there. We all wanted to like his paddle but struggled to play with it. Maybe we’re not good enough?

Here are some comments from the players:

  • “Small head and small sweet spot” – Jacob
  • “Great control, nice spin, not enough power for me” – Tony
  • “For advanced players, hard to control, not very forgiving” – Jeremy
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Detailed Ratings

See our details ratings here or in the chart below.

Best Pickleball Paddles for Control

These are our ranking of the best pickleball paddles for control.

  1. Six Zero Double Black Diamond Infinity
  2. Six Zero Double Black Diamond 16
  3. Selkirk Luxx
  4. Selkirk Project 006
  5. Bread & Butter Filth
  6. SLK Halo 16
  7. Vatic Prism Flash

Best Budget Pickleball Paddles

If you’re new to pickleball, you’ll likely be tempted to purchase a cheap paddle on Amazon. You can get sets of paddles or a couple of paddles for around $40. That’s perfectly fine if you plan to play once or twice. If you’re hoping to play more, I highly suggest buying a mid-range paddle. We see so many players buy cheap paddles at first and buy a better paddle a week or two later. So many cheap paddles are going to end up in landfills.

One great thing about the pickleball community is that most people have multiple paddles and are friendly enough to share. If you have an active pickleball community near you, just show up and ask to learn and try paddles. That’s one of the best ways to get started without buying anything. If you get hooked, you’ll have learned what paddle you’ll want to play with.

These are the best pickleball paddles within each budget.

Coupon Codes and Links for Pickleball Paddles and Accessories

If you’re looking to get a discount on Pickleball Paddles, use the codes below:

See More: The Best Places to Play Pickleball in Las Vegas

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Tips on How to Choose a Pickleball Paddle

Now that we’ve covered the key features, here are some practical tips on selecting your pickleball paddle.

  • Demo Paddles: If possible, try out different paddles before buying. Many sporting goods stores and pickleball facilities offer demo programs, giving you a feel for how different paddles perform. You can also ask other players to try their paddles.
  • Consider Your Playing Style: Are you a power player who enjoys aggressive shots, or do you prefer finesse and control? Pick a paddle that matches your playing style. Go heavier for power or lighter to prioritize control.
  • Budget: Pickleball paddles come in varying price points. While it can be tempting to go for the most expensive option, you can find quality paddles at each price range. Set a budget and find the best value for your money.
  • Read Reviews: Take advantage of online resources and read reviews from other pickleball players. Real-world experiences can provide valuable insights into a paddle’s performance, durability, and overall satisfaction. Also, see what people play similarly to you. As much as we trust advice from the pros, they are at a different level.

Must-Have Pickleball Accessories

In addition to your paddle, these accessories can enhance your pickleball experience.

  • Pickleball Balls: Invest in a set of high-quality pickleball balls. Different balls vary in bounce and durability, so find the ones that suit your playing conditions. The Franklin X40s are the most popular, but we also love the Selkirk Pro S1 balls.
  • Pickleball Bag: A dedicated pickleball bag keeps your equipment organized and protected. Look for a bag with compartments for paddles, balls, and additional gear. I prefer one that has a shoe compartment.
  • Court Shoes: Proper footwear is crucial for quick lateral movements. Choose shoes with good traction and ankle support to reduce the risk of injuries. I love the Nike Air Zoom Vapor 11s.
  • Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses can help reduce glare and improve visibility on sunny days. We use these Adidas Sunglasses Sport glasses.
  • Pickleball Hat or Visor: Protect yourself from the sun during outdoor play with a comfortable hat or visor.

Pickleball Accessories to Improve Your Paddle

  • Paddle Weight: Lead weights or tungsten tape add weight to your paddle and can impact your game by providing more power and stability.
  • Overgrip: Overgrips are essential for maintaining a good grip on your paddle, especially during longer play sessions. Some of the best ones offer a comfortable feel, moisture absorption, and durability.
  • Hesacore: Hesacore is a specialized grip that can enhance your control and comfort while playing. It’s designed to reduce vibrations and improve your overall grip on the paddle. Use code LocalAdventurer when buying your grips!
  • Edge Guard or Edge Tape: An edge guard is a protective strip that goes around the edge of your paddle, helping prevent dings, chips, and other damage during play.
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Pickleball Training Tools

  • Dink Net: Great for practicing and improving your dinking skills, especially in a limited space. It’s also great for warming up if the courts are busy or waits are long. Use code LOCALADVENTURER for 10% off.
  • Drill Pickle: Drill Pickle makes decals and targets to help you work on your game. They also have Soft Practice Balls that feel like real pickleballs but are made of foam.
  • Top Spin Pro: An excellent tool for honing your topspin and overall shot technique. It provides a consistent and controlled environment for practice. DM me on Instagram if you want a coupon code.

What are the best pickleball paddles you’ve tried? Any others that aren’t on this list that we need to check out?

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

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