Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in recent years for good reason – it’s fun, social, and easy to learn! This paddle sport played on a badminton-sized court combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong. Players use solid paddles to hit a perforated polymer ball over a net.
As with any sport, having the proper pickleball gear that suits your playstyle and skill level helps maximize enjoyment and performance on the court. But with so many paddle and ball options on the market, it can be tricky to choose.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll cover how to select the ideal pickleball paddle, top ball picks, essential accessories like proper shoes and nets, plus tips for buying and caring for equipment. Let’s get you geared up for the addictive world of pickleball!
Choosing the Right Pickleball Paddle
The paddle is without question the most important piece of pickleball gear. Your paddle’s weight, grip size, materials, shape and other specs directly impact power, control, responsiveness and game play. Invest time in finding the best paddle for YOU.
Here are the key pickleball paddle attributes to consider:
Materials – Composite, graphite, aluminum and wood paddles vary in touch, power and control. Composite balances both.
Weight – Heavier paddles around 8 ounces provide power while lighter ones around 7 ounces boost maneuverability.
Grip Size – Measure hand size to get ideal grip circumference. It should be comfortable without slipping.
Shape – Wider, shorter shapes generate spin while longer paddles offer reach. Consider your play style.
Balance – Head-heavy paddles stress power while even balance benefits control. Handle-heavy is rare.
Now let’s explore top pickleball paddle recommendations for players of all skill levels:
Beginner Pickleball Paddles
Franklin Sports Pickleball Paddle – A low-cost but decent performer with aluminum core and polymer face. Gives beginners a feel for the sport.
Gamma New 2.0 Paddle – At a friendly price point, this composite paddle offers nice pop and control for novice players learning the ropes.
Selkirk Sport 20P XL Epic Polymer Core Paddle – A step up for beginners, with generous sweet spot and comfortable grip. Lightweight for easy handling.
Intermediate Pickleball Paddles
Onix Graphite Z5 Graphite Paddle – With graphite face and honeycomb core, provides excellent touch and power for developing players.
Prolite Magnum Paddle – A widebody paddle made for spin and control with polymer honeycomb core and surface. Ideal upgrade for intermediates.
Pickle-Pro Volt CX2 Two Tone Paddle – Excellent control from this midweight composite paddle. Derived from popular Franklin paddle.
Advanced Pickleball Paddles
Selkirk Amped S2 Paddle – Top players love this perfectly balanced, lightweight graphite paddle with excellent touch and pop.
Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro paddle – Outstanding combination of spin, speed, and power from this premium composite paddle.
Engage Pursuit Ergo Contour Grip – Innovative vertical ergonomic grip improves biomechanics for competitive play. Graphite face and core.
Pro Tip: Try out paddles from fellow players if possible and take note of which you like best before buying. Their feedback can be invaluable.
You’ll also want to learn proper pickleball paddle grip and take good care of your paddle by storing it safely and cleaning the grip periodically. With the ideal paddle match, you’re on your way to greatness on the courts!
Choosing the Best Pickleball Balls
Pickleballs may seem pretty basic, but they require specific design and consistency to get that satisfying pop off the paddle. Let’s look at the key factors for game balls and practice balls:
Official vs Practice – Official balls are more durable and hold their bounce, while practice balls deform over time but are cheaper.
Weight – Heavier balls like the Onix Outdoor weighing 0.78-0.80oz travel faster and bounce higher.
Indoor vs Outdoor – Indoor balls have minimal bounce to stay in play, while outdoor balls have higher bounce.
Venting – Small holes allow balls to have consistent bounce without over or under-inflating. More holes, more consistent bounce.
Here are some top pickleball ball picks for players:
Dura Fast 40 Outdoor Balls – The official ball of USA Pickleball, fantastic bounce consistency and durability for games.
Gamma Pickleball Practice Balls – Affordable bulk practice balls to hit around before game time and work on skills.
Onix Fuse Indoor Ball – Minimal bounce for indoor courts. Still provides great feel off the paddle.
Franklin X-40 Outdoor – A favorite for outdoor tournaments and competitive play. Bright colors for high visibility.
You’ll want to have several new balls plus some practice balls on hand so you can rotate fresh ones in during long sessions. Store used balls separately from new official balls, and replace balls showing significant nicks, bald spots or reduced bounce. Enjoy the satisfying “pop!” with every strike.
Other Essential Pickleball Gear and Accessories
Beyond the paddle and balls, here are some other key pieces of equipment for pickleball:
- Shoes – Choose athletic shoes with excellent lateral support for quick side shuffling, and grippy soles for traction on court. Basketball or tennis shoes work well.
- Nets – Portable nets around 22 inches high allow for setup on any smooth surface. Permanent pickleball nets are ideal for dedicated courts.
- Bags – Backpacks or tennis bags conveniently hold paddles, balls, water bottles and other gear. Look for protected paddle sleeves.
- Apparel – Quick-drying athletic tops, shorts and skirts allow freedom of movement while wicking sweat during active play.
- Gloves – Gloves enhance grip security on the paddle handle and absorb sweat. Useful for blister prevention. Fingerless options increase feel.
- Protective eyewear – Shields eyes from glare and fast moving balls. Essential for safety.
- Ball scoopers – Extend reach for easy ball retrieval without excessive bending over. A must-have accessory.
- Water bottles, towels – Stay hydrated and wipe sweat off your face when needed during games with these simple but vital items.
Invest in quality gear like paddles and nets, but accessories like basic balls, towels, gloves and sunglasses can be found at low prices to fully outfit you for play. Take good care of items to maximize longevity.
Pickleball Gear Buying Considerations
You don’t have to spend excessive money on fancy equipment as a beginner. Here are some smart tips for purchasing pickleball gear:
- Check specialty pickleball retailers online for the widest selection of paddles and accessories. Local sports stores may have a limited inventory.
- If possible, test out paddles in person before buying. The feel off the face is very subjective so try some options.
- Pickleball paddle prices range from $50 to $150+ for pros. Expect to pay $30-60 as a beginner for a quality starter.
- Ball packs of 4 official balls start around $15. Buy cheaper practice balls in bulk.
- Consider kits or packages that provide paddle, balls, net, and accessories together for one price. These can be economical.
- For gear like paddles and nets, invest in equipment made to last over the cheapest versions. Upgrade over time.
- Be sure to consistently replace old, dead balls and worn out paddles that lose pop and grip over the years. Using fresh gear maximizes play experience.
Don’t be overwhelmed when outfitting yourself for pickleball. Talk to fellow players for recommendations on worthy gear purchases and start solidifying your perfect setup over time.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pickleball Gear
Here are answers to some common pickleball equipment questions:
How often should I replace my pickleball paddle?
Most quality composite or graphite paddles should provide great play for 1-3 years before needing replacement. Signs of wear include small cracks in surface, loss of pop, and declining grip tackiness.
What pickleball gear should I invest most in?
Invest first in a proper paddle suited to your skill, then good paddle grip tape or gloves. For accessories, buy solid Court NATO approved balls. Nets and other items can be basic versions.
How should I clean and store my pickleball gear?
Keep paddles in protective bags or cases. Clean grips with gentle soap and water occasionally. Wash balls with mild detergent if dirty. Nets can be hosed off and air dried. Store balls separately from paddles.
What is the best pickleball paddle for beginners vs. advanced players?
Beginners should look for light composite paddles around 7.5-8 oz for control, like the Gamma or Selkirk Sport options. Advanced players can handle heavier graphite or composite paddles for more power and finesse.
How can I easily transport pickleball gear to courts?
Choose a pickleball paddle backpack for easy transport of paddles, balls, and necessities. Some backpacks hold multiple paddles securely. Wheeled tennis bags also work well for holding all your pickleball equipment.
Gear Up and Enjoy This Fun, Fast-Paced Game
Picking up pickleball can be life-changing. It provides a fun form of exercise, builds a community around courts, and challenges both the mind and body. Having the proper paddles, balls, nets and accessories allows you to get the most enjoyment out of the sport while being safe on the courts.
I hope this guide on choosing quality pickleball equipment helps you get started, whether you’re a novice or experienced tournament player. Keep the following tips in mind:
- Choose a lightweight, quality composite or graphite paddle suited for your skill level to maximize control and power
- Select durable official balls that hold their bounce, along with a batch of practice balls for lessons
- Outfit yourself with supportive pickleball shoes, nets, bags, accessories and gear to be court-ready
- Care for your equipment properly so it lasts – store paddles safely, replace worn items
- Continually experiment with new paddle styles and brands to fit your evolving play preferences
The beauty of pickleball is that a basic setup is all you need to have hours of fun. Rally friends, get a good workout, and build lasting memories on the pickleball courts. Thanks for reading – now get out there and play!