The BEST Pickleball Paddles for 3.5 Players – Top Choices Revealed!

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Searching for the BEST Pickleball Paddles for 3.5 Players? You’re in the right place!

This article is your ultimate guide to finding a paddle that not only meets but exceeds the demands of intermediate players looking to hone their skills.

Here, we’ll break down the advantages and disadvantages of each top-rated paddle to help you make an informed decision that perfectly suits your style of play.

You’ve invested time and effort into your pickleball prowess, becoming a solid 3.5 player. Now, matching your skills with a paddle designed for enhanced control and performance enhancement is crucial.

Every option we explore is approved by USA Pickleball for tournament play, ensuring you choose from the best of the best.

Read on to discover how the right paddle can transform your game and provide the control and power needed to dominate the court.

As a 3.5 level pickleball player, you’ve moved beyond the basics and are refining your skills for more competitive play. At this stage, using a specialized paddle isn’t just an advantage—elevating your game is necessary.

  • Match Your Growth: As you progress, the standard paddles you started with might not serve the increasingly sophisticated tactics you’re learning. A specialized paddle brings a blend of control and power suited to your refined strokes and serves.
  • Enhanced Control: Specialized paddles often feature advanced materials and designs that provide better feedback and responsiveness. This allows for more precise shots and improved control over the ball, helping you place your shots exactly where you want them.
  • Adaptability to Style: Every player has a unique style, and at 3.5 level, your paddle should complement this. The right paddle can significantly enhance your performance whether you prefer a power game or finesse shots.

Remember, the right equipment can make a substantial difference in your play. Choosing a paddle that grows with you is crucial as you continue to grow in your pickleball journey.

Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle

The Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle stands out as the overall best pickleball paddle for 3.5 players on our list, thanks to its exceptional durability and superior performance features.

Buy if:

  • You need excellent ball control and feel.
  • You like a tennis racket-like handle for grip comfort.
  • You prefer a paddle that enhances shot accuracy and power.

Don’t Buy if:

  • You need a thicker handle for comfort.
  • You want a lightweight paddle to avoid fatigue.

The Onix Graphite Z 5 Pickleball Paddle‘s graphite surface, paired with a Nomex core, significantly enhances ball control and provides a great feel, perfect for making precise shots.

Designed with a wide body shape and a tennis-style handle, it offers comfort and ease of use for a wide range of skill levels.

While some players might find the handle slightly thin and the paddle a bit heavier than others, its combination of features makes it a top choice that suits various playing styles and preferences.

Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle

The Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle is the second-best option on our list, ideal for those seeking professional-grade accuracy, power, and forgiveness.

Buy if:

  • You need top precision and power.
  • You value controlled hits from advanced technology.
  • You prefer a superior grip.

Don’t Buy if:

  • You’re sensitive to price.
  • You’re a beginner.

Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle features smart response technology and a consistently large sweet spot, which enhances each shot with added finesse.

This paddle’s balanced weight boosts speed and maneuverability, allowing for superior gameplay.

Additionally, a 1/8″ edge guard protects against accidental damage. The high-tack performance grip significantly improves handling and control, enabling precise ball placement.

While it may have a higher price tag and not be the best fit for beginners, the initial adjustment period is well worth the performance benefits it offers once you get accustomed to its feel.

Engage Pickleball Encore EX 6.0 Pickleball Paddle

If superior ball control is what you seek in a pickleball paddle, the Engage Pickleball Encore EX 6.0 should be at the top of your list.

Buy if:

  • You prioritize control and a softer feel during play.
  • Having a large sweet spot and optimal power is crucial for your style.
  • You value excellent spin control.

Don’t Buy if:

  • You prefer paddles with thinner cores for maximum power and a larger hit spot.
  • Price is a significant factor for you.
  • You are a beginner or prefer lighter weight paddles.

Engage Pickleball Encore EX 6.0 is a high-quality paddle with a thick core designed to enhance control over the ball.

This paddle features a large sweet spot and balanced power, making it ideal for players who want to place the ball with precision confidently.

Its industry-leading textured skin improves grip and spin control, tailoring it perfectly for intermediate and advanced players.

While the thicker core might reduce the sweet spot slightly, and the price point is higher, the enhanced control and quality make it a valuable investment for those focused on elevating their game.

GAMMA Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle

If you’re an intermediate or advanced pickleball player seeking a paddle that perfectly combines power and control, the GAMMA Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle deserves your attention.

Buy if:

  • You’re a power player seeking stability and power in all strokes.
  • Value a blend of power and control.
  • Prefer soft, sweat-absorbing grips for confidence.

Don’t Buy if:

  • Prefer heavier paddles for a better feel.
  • A small sweet spot might affect your performance.

GAMMA Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle is an advanced-level paddle featuring a textured fibreglass face, an aramid honeycomb core, and a 4” honeycomb cushion grip. It is designed to enhance your poker game while maintaining stability.

Though it’s lighter and has a smaller sweet spot, which might take some time, the GAMMA Sports 2.0 is ideal for players who value precise and powerful strokes in their gameplay.

Neo SLK by Selkirk Pickleball Paddle Set

If you’re a 3.5 player seeking a lightweight pickleball paddle that combines comfort and performance, the Neo SLK by Selkirk Pickleball Paddles is an excellent choice.

Buy if:

  • Multilayer face technology provides power and control.
  • SX3 honeycomb core offers a large sweet spot.
  • Ultra-cushion grip ensures comfort and impact absorption.

Don’t Buy if:

  • Grip circumference is too small for your liking.
  • Quality of included balls is not satisfactory.
  • Durability is a concern compared to other options.

Neo SLK by Selkirk Pickleball Paddle Set‘s large sweet spot and lightweight design make it perfect for extended play.

It features a multilayer face that blends graphite’s power with fiberglass’s control. Its SX3 honeycomb core enhances the sweet spot, providing consistent speed and softening the ball’s impact for smoother play.

The ultra-cushion grip maximizes comfort, effectively absorbing sweat and shock to prevent fatigue during long matches.

This paddle ensures that you can keep your game sharp without the strain.

Selkirk Amped Invikta Pickleball Paddle

If you’re a 3.5 player in search of a reliable pickleball paddle, the Selkirk Amped Invikta stands out as a superior choice.

Buy if:

  • Fiberglass face generates unmatched ball spin and accurately counters opponents’ spin.
  • X5 honeycomb core ensures consistent speed with advanced technology.
  • Long handle provides full court coverage and power.

Don’t Buy if:

  • Handle becomes slippery when sweaty.
  • Performance may suffer when hitting off-center shots.

Selkirk Amped Invikta Pickleball Paddle is a top choice for those who value quality and performance.

Handcrafted in the USA, the Selkirk Amped Invikta combines the finest materials with proprietary technology. It features a FiberFlex fiberglass face and a thick Polypropylene X5 Core, enhancing ball cushioning for a superior play experience.

This design delivers both durability and precision, meeting the needs of advanced players looking to elevate their game.

HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle

If you need a pickleball paddle that packs power and enhances your game, the HEAD Radical Elite could be just what you need.

Buy if:

  • You want a paddle with a solid feel and good feedback.
  • You prefer a soft impact and comfortable grip.

Don’t Buy if:

  • You need a paddle that enhances spin.
  • You prefer a larger sweet spot.

Tailored for a broad spectrum of players, HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle boasts a Dynamic Power Shape for an expanded sweet spot and a robust OTC honeycomb core for consistent play.

The HEAD Radical Elite is particularly suited for beginners and intermediate players aiming to improve their game.

It offers a significant power boost while maintaining a soft feel, ensuring comfort during play despite a smoother surface than some other models.

Choosing the BEST Pickleball Paddles for 3.5 Players is pivotal for your game’s progression.

Our top recommendation, the Onix Graphite Z5, combines affordability with advanced features, making it an excellent choice for intermediate and advanced players.

With its Nomex core, graphite face, and comfortable grip, it provides the perfect balance of control and power for a paddle under $100.

This paddle is budget-friendly and a long-standing favorite, trusted by players for its durability and performance.

As you hone your skills on the court, remember that the right paddle can be a game-changer.

Is there much difference in pickleball paddles?

Yes, there are differences in pickleball paddles. The differences include the materials used to make the paddles, the shape and size of the paddle, the weight of the paddle, and the grip size.

Some paddles are made of wood, while others are made of composite materials. Composite paddles offer more power and control, but they are also more expensive.

How do I know what size pickleball paddle I need?

The size of your pickleball paddle depends on your height, arm length, and playing style.

Most players use a standard-size paddle that is 15.5 inches long and 7.75 inches wide.

However, you may want to consider a longer paddle if you are taller or have longer arms. Shorter players may prefer a smaller paddle.

How do you pick the weight of a pickleball paddle?

The weight of your pickleball paddle depends on your strength and playing style. Lighter paddles are easier to maneuver and are good for players who prefer finesse shots. 

Heavier paddles offer more power and are good for players who prefer to hit hard shots. Most players use a paddle that weighs between 7.5 and 8.5 ounces.

What skills does a 3.5 pickleball player need?

According to the USA Pickleball Organization, the skills that a 3.5 player needs are:
Forehand: Possessing improved strokes with moderate shot control.
Backhand: Developing consistent backhand strokes with a preference to avoid them when possible.
Serve/Return: Delivering consistent serves and returns while working on controlling their depth.
Dink: Achieving increased consistency and beginning to control the height and depth of dinks, understanding pace variation.
Third Shot: Cultivating drop shots that facilitate a strategic approach to the net.
Volley: Gaining the ability to control medium-paced volleys.
Strategy: Demonstrating agility to approach the non-volley zone swiftly, differentiating between power and soft game strategies, and sustaining short rallies with proper court positioning. Also includes an understanding of stacking strategies for effective play.
These competencies are key to advancing and enhancing gameplay at the 3.5 level.

What skills are rated for a 3.5 player?

According to the USA Pickleball Association, the following skills are rated for a 3.5 player:

Execute forehands and backhands with control.
Serve and return with depth consistently.
Manage dink shots with precision and understand pace variations.
Utilize the third shot drop effectively for net play.
Volley with control and sustain short volley exchanges.
Move quickly to the non-volley zone with strategic court awareness.
Differentiate between power and soft game tactics.
Maintain agility and coordination during rallies.