should i upgrade to a better pickleball paddle

Should I Upgrade To A Better Pickleball Paddle?

Most people start playing Pickleball by buying an inexpensive paddle or set of paddles just to try the sport out. After getting to know the basics of the game, you will probably ask yourself, “Should I upgrade to a better Pickleball Paddle? Is there really a difference between less expensive paddles ($20-$50 range) and the more expensive big brand paddles ($80 and up)?” Or you wonder, “At my current level of play, would my game really benefit by buying a better paddle?”

For the last 15 years, I have been a three-day-a-week racquetball player. Prior to Covid 19, I had only played Pickleball casually with family a handful of times and enjoyed it but was committed to racquetball as my primary racket sport. I decided to buy a pair of made-in-China Niupipo Paddle which got some great reviews from Amazon for about $70. I enjoyed the game of Pickleball and the paddle seemed to meet my needs. (You can see our review of the Niupipo paddle in our post “Best Pickleball Paddles Under $50“. That was last summer (2019).

Then 2020 rolled around and my gym shut down due to Covid 19. So goodbye racquetball! I began playing Pickleball three times a week beginning in June and have really come to love it. After about 10 weeks of playing, I was progressing into a fairly solid intermediate player and began to ask myself the two questions above. I decided to find out for myself and purchased 8 popular, well reviewed paddles in the $65-$120 range, just to find out for myself.

My Two Questions Answered:

Q. Is there really a difference between less expensive paddles ($20-$50 range) and the more expensive big brand paddles ($80 and up)?

A. ABSOLUTELY! While I enjoyed my initial paddle very much, there is not a single one of the 8 new paddles that I wouldn’t rather play with now! I had no idea what I was missing. With every one of these paddles, I had more control (better surfaces for spin), more power (more pop off the surface), and greater agility (all were lighter than my original paddle, and thus easier to manage during quick volleys at the net). In a word, the old adage held true: “You get what you pay for!” Now that is not always the case, and these paddles are not all equally desirable to me, nor does my happiness with them line up exactly with their price. But each one of them was a definite improvement for me in my game play over the original paddle that I was perfectly satisfied with.

Q. At my current level of play, would my game really benefit by upgrading to a better paddle?

A. I think I’ve already answered this for myself above: YES! But how about for you? At what point in your game play would you benefit by an upgrade to a better paddle? Would it make a difference in your game? I would say that after you have spent a dozen hours on a Pickleball court and are able to make the fundamental shots (serves, ground strokes, dinks, and volleys—what Pickleball terms a novice 2.5 player), you will definitely play better if you upgrade to a better Pickleball paddle, and improvement will come more quickly than with an entry level paddle. And if you are an intermediate player (and I play regularly with 3.0-3.5 level players who are still playing with their first entry level paddle), I guarantee you will immediately (well, OK, after a few minutes of adjustment) feel more comfortable, more in control, and more confident with a better quality paddle.

As I mentioned earlier, I was aiming at trying out paddles in the $65-$120 range (I really wanted to set my limit at $100, but found a couple of good deals on more expensive paddles). What I haven’t tested (with one exception) are the “Pro” level paddles, which generally come in at the $150-$200 range.

The Pickleball Paddles I Purchased & How Much Each Currently Sells For On Amazon

Here is a list of the paddles I purchased and how much each currently sells for on Amazon. I will be doing an individual review on each of these paddles in the coming days.

Rally Graphite Power 5.0 by Pickelball Central

Rally Graphite Power 5.0



Link To Amazon:

Prime Epic X4 FiberFlex by Selkirk

Prime Epic X4



Link To Amazon:

Graphite Z5 by Onix

Graphite Z5



Link To Amazon:

Magnum by Prolite




Link To Amazon:

Bantam TS-5 by Paddletek

Bantam TS-5



Link To Amazon:

Radical Tour GR by Head

Radical Tour GR



Link To Amazon:

Needle by Gamma




Link To Amazon:

Poach Advantage by Engage

Poach Advantage



Link To Amazon:

5/5 - (1 vote)


1 Comment

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