Will a new paddle make me a better player?
I know, as a manufacturer, I should be posting about how you should be buying a new paddle every 3 months, but let’s be real.
For the majority of us, a good paddle should last a couple of years or more, depending on how often you play. That being said, there are a few reasons you may want to consider a new paddle sooner rather than later.
There is buying a new paddle because you have to, and then there is buying a new paddle because you want to. This post is about why you might want to.
Players of all skill levels are constantly seeking ways to enhance their game. Improving technique and strategy are primary, but having good equipment is also important.
At some point, most players question whether buying another paddle will improve their game. The right paddle can help improve your game over time, but the reality is there is not a paddle in the world that will take you from a 3.0 to a 4.0 overnight, so that shouldn’t be your reason for looking for a new paddle.
There are lots of reasons to look at changing your paddle. I use the term “changing” rather than “upgrading.” To me, upgrading is associated with buying a more expensive paddle with a perceived significant increase in performance. Just because a paddle is more expensive doesn’t mean it will get you the results you want or need. I have used lots of expensive paddles. For my game, some were good, some not so great.
When You Have to Replace your paddle:
Pickleball is addictive, and paddles get a lot of use. Over time, the paddle’s surface can deteriorate. Chips, cracks, edge damage, and worn texture can affect a paddle’s performance.
Surface deterioration can also be a sign the interior of the paddle may be compromised, resulting in dead spots. These dead spots can lead to all sorts of paddle performance issues, especially in your soft game and when blocking.
If you are wondering how to determine your paddle’s condition, visit our webpage When to replace your paddle. In short, if you have excessive wear or damage to the face of the paddle, it is a good indication you should be thinking about changing your paddle out. This is really a have to reason.
Changes to Your Playing Style:
As your pickleball skills improve, or your playing style changes, you may find that your current paddle no longer meets your playing requirements. Maybe as a beginner, you always played back, and now your skills have developed. You are now finding yourself at the net and need a paddle that is better at the soft game and better for blocking. Maybe you have acquired a couple of aches and pains, and that heavy paddle is just too much to lug around the court.
Picking up a new paddle may provide you with more control, increased power, enhanced spin, better agility, or a combination depending on what it was designed for.
If you feel your current paddle consistently hampers your performance, upgrading may enhance your gameplay.
Notice I said “may enhance your gameplay.” A new paddle is not necessarily a better paddle. The buy and sell facebook groups are full of folks who found out the hard way.
The majority of paddles all use similar technology; some just come in a fancier package. Buying a $300 paddle is not going to make you a better player overnight. Know what area of your game you want to improve and focus on a paddle that will help you get there.
Competitive play vs not so competitive play:
If you are planning on playing in tournaments or leagues, you will need a USAPA approved paddle. Buy through a reputable retailer or directly from the manufacturer and look for the USAPA approved logo on the paddle. Also, visit the USAPA website and search for a specific paddle to see if it is actually approved. USAPA approved paddle list.
If you are regularly playing at a higher level, you are probably going to be changing out your paddle on a much more frequent basis. Not strictly looking for an edge in performance, but because your current paddle is degrading faster, and your margin for degradation allowance is much less. This is especially true for paddles with a textured surface.
That being said, in reality, somebody competing at a 3.5 level generally will not need to replace or upgrade their paddle as often as somebody playing at a 5.0 level.
Yes, I realize that is an odd statement coming from a manufacturer who should be telling you to upgrade at every opportunity and chase every new shiny paddle, but no.
If you are not playing at the pro level, a slight degradation in the performance of your existing paddle will not likely have a significant impact on your game.
Changes in Paddle Technology:
Manufacturers are constantly introducing new paddle models, and some are even innovative in materials and design. Sometimes these advancements result in paddles with enhanced performance characteristics, such as increased power, more control, or increased vibration dampening.
If it has been multiple years since you last upgraded your paddle, it might be worthwhile to look at what is currently available in the market. Just remember, spin isn’t always on the court. There is no quick fix to up your game, and paddle performance reviews are subjective, not definitive. Everything is relative to the reviewer’s perspective, which may or may not reflect yours. A great review on a paddle by a guy at a semi-professional level in his late 20’s may not be applicable for a semi-active person in their 50’s.
One other thought on new technology. There are always advancements but, if you can’t understand or have never heard the terms used to describe the latest and greatest paddle feature, maybe you want to question the technological advancements.
Construction Materials for Performance:
There are huge differences in a paddle’s performance based on how the components are combined, and changing a paddle based on the performance of a core, surface, or material can have an impact on your play.
If you are looking for more control, for example, you may want to look at carbon vs. fiberglass; if you are looking for more spin or pop, you may want to think about fiberglass. If your current paddle’s construction materials are no longer aligned with your playing style, that is a good reason to look at a new paddle. You might want to check our paddle construction page link.
Multiple Paddles: Different Days, Different Games:
“My paddle worked great yesterday, today not so much”. Sometimes you just want something for different days, weather conditions, playing surfaces, and even different opponents.
I always have 4 or 5 paddles in my bag and often change them up depending on the day and sometimes even the match. I can’t always explain it, but some days different paddles seem to work better. I will also use a different paddle depending on the weather. If it’s windy, for example, I prefer my fiberglass paddle that has more pop and power to it for hitting into the wind.
If I know I am playing with a group of guys that like to slam, again I may opt for my Retro 87 fiberglass paddle vs. my 74T carbon fiber, which I love for control. Just wanting different options is a great reason to add another paddle to your bag.
Sometimes you just get tired of your old paddle and want something with a new look. Nothing wrong with that, just make sure that the paddle works with your playing style and fits your goals.
There are lots of good reasons to change up your paddle or add another one to your bag. Not always because your old paddle is toast.
So if you are thinking about buying a new paddle, define what you realistically want a new paddle to do. Read reviews carefully. Evaluate the reviewer’s perspective and applicability to your ability and playing style. A more expensive paddle or using what a pro uses may or may not be the best option for your particular game.
A new paddle can be a lot of fun and a great way to give your game some options. I hope this post provides a few things to think about when considering a new paddle. Good luck and have fun.