You can search the internet and find thousands of opinions on what to look for in a Pickleball paddle. You should play with this paddle or that paddle if you are this type of player or that type of player. So we have put our 2 cents in.
There is a 3 line summary at the end if you are in a rush.
In a larger grip say 4.5 inch the shape will be pretty even all the way around. Meaning the flat surfaces are all even in size.
Because the handle has to be a certain width for strength the shape of the surfaces changes as the handle diameter gets smaller. When designing a handle surface you can make the palm face flatter and keep the same angles on the sides, or you can change the angle on the sides and keep the palm surface consistent.
Our testing and research indicates a symmetrical palm face provides a more balanced and comfortable feel, and makes it easier to change the hand position. So that’s what we do.
There are lots of different end caps out there but most are either a molded plastic that flares out to provide a bit of a stop at the end or a thin plastic that provides very little flare at the end.
We opted for the non flared style as it gives a shorter handle a longer feel and you can use more of the handle without interference.
Handle length generally ranges between 4.5″ to 5.5″. The width of your hand and your style of play will probably determine what length works best. Some don’t like a long handle as they say it interferes with their wrist motion. Others like a longer handle as it gives them more reach. Personal opinion, if you are reaching for a ball and the extra half inch or so makes a difference you are probably not putting the return back over the net anyway. However you will find yourself needing to adjust your hand position during play. For this reason we designed our paddles with a balanced 4.75″ handle.
There are lots of options here. Cushion, contoured, over grip, textured, not textured, its confusing. As the grip has a significant impact on the feel of the paddle the odds of a manufacturer getting it right for every player are zero.
Suffice to say you will end up changing and customizing the grip on your paddle at some point. It is inexpensive and easy to do. So don’t let the grip type be a huge contributor in choosing your paddle. If you like a particular paddles weight and feel but the grip is to small budget 4 or 5 dollars for rewrapping or adding an over grip to get the feel you want. Remember it’s easy to make a grip bigger, tough to make it smaller.
Keep in mind that a cushion grip will be somewhere between 1.2mm and 1.8mm which adds about 6mm to the diameter of the handle. Over wrap which can be used directly on the handle as well, ads roughly .3″mm to the handle diameter.
So a standard 4” diameter handle with just an over grip will have a diameter of say 4.125” while a cushion grip will give the same handle a 4.25” diameter.
The takeaway on this is, it’s more important to get a handle size that will let you do what you want with the grip. You can always build up using over grip but its a bit more involved to make the handle diameter smaller.
Where to start on a grip size?
Based on your height the following is an average and a good place to start.
- Player height under 5’3” usually 4” grip is best.
- Player height between 5’3’’ and 5’8’’ usually 4 ¼’’ grip is best.
- Player height over 5’9’’ usually a 4 ½” grip is best.
You can also figure it out based on measuring from the middle crease in your palm to the end of your ring finger. Don’t have a ruler, the Brick*House logo on our paddles is exactly 4″ so a good place to start.
Ok so maybe more info than you wanted from a paddle nerd.
Summary – for us anyway, we look for a consistent palm face, lightweight end cap, mid range handle length and we focus on the handle diameter so we can add additional grip tape to build the handle to our preference. There you have it.