BEST Pickleball Paddles for 3.5 Players

In this article, we’ll review some of the BEST Pickleball Paddles for 3.5 Players and help you understand the pros and cons of each, so you can find the right pickleball paddle to complement your style of play.

Now that you’ve put in the time, learned the skills, and are a 3.5 player, what’s the best paddle for you?

Having the right paddle for your skill level can give you better control and bring you to the next level of play. 

All reviewed paddles are USA Pickleball approved for tournament play.

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BEST Pickleball Paddles for 3.5 Players

Overall we believe the best option for 3.5 players (intermediate players and advanced players) is the Onix Graphite Z5 pickleball paddle.

It has a Nomex core, and graphite face, a comfortable grip, good balance, with great control and power.  It’s also under $100 which is a great price point, making this one of the BEST Pickleball Paddles for 3.5 Players

In fact, even if staying under $100 isn’t important, the Onix Z5 is still an excellent choice.

This paddle has been around for years, it’s tried and true and liked by many players.

Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle

Specs:

  • Core: Nomex honeycomb
  • Weight: 7.5-8.2 ounces
  • Paddle face: Graphite
  • Grip size: 4 1/4 inches
  • Grip length: Standard

Pros

  • The graphite face and nomex honeycomb core provide excellent ball control and feel.
  • The Widebody shape on the Z5 is great for beginner through advanced level players with its large sweet spot.
  • The tennis handle shape mimics the shape of a table tennis racket with a flared, wood handle.
  • The widebody shape and large sweet spot make it easy to hit the ball with accuracy and power.
  • The tennis handle shape with a flared wood handle provides a comfortable grip for extended play.

Cons

  • The handle may be too thin for some players, leading to discomfort or difficulty gripping the paddle.
  • The paddle may be slightly heavier than other paddles in its class, which could lead to fatigue during long games.

The Onix Graphite Z 5 Pickleball Paddle is a durable paddle and a popular choice for 3.5 players due to its graphite surface and nomex core, which provide superior ball control and feel.

Its widebody shape and tennis handle shape make it comfortable for players of all skill levels. However, some players may find the handle too thin and the paddle slightly heavier than other options.

Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle

Specs

Core: Graphite polymer composite core

Weight: 7.6 – 8 ounces

Paddle face: Carbon Fiber

Grip size: 5.25 inches

Pros

  • Unmatched accuracy, power, and forgiveness
  • Smart Response Technology for controlled hits
  • High tack performance grip for better handling

Cons

  • Some may find it slightly expensive
  • Not ideal for beginners

The Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle is a professional-grade paddle that delivers unmatched accuracy, power, and forgiveness.

The smart response technology and large, consistent sweet spot add finesse to every shot, while the balanced weight increases speed and maneuverability for even better play. The 1/8″ edge guard protects that paddle against accidental damage.

The high tack performance grip ensures better handling and control, making it easier to place the ball exactly where you want it.

One downside is that some may find it slightly expensive, and it may not be ideal for beginners. Additionally, it may take some time to get used to the paddle, but once you do, you will be able to perform at your best.

Engage Pickleball Encore EX 6.0 Pickleball Paddle

Specifications

  • Core: Thick Polymer Core
  • Weight: 8.0 – 8.4 oz
  • Paddle face: Graphite
  • Grip size: 4 3/8 inches
  • Grip length: 5 inches

If you’re looking for a pickleball paddle that offers superior ball control, the Engage Pickleball Encore EX 6.0 is worth considering.

Pros

  • The thick core provides more control and a softer feel at the point of contact
  • The large sweet spot and right amount of power allow you to put the ball away while maintaining full control, balance, and positioning
  • It features an industry leading, textured skin that allows for excellent spin control.

Cons

  • The thicker core may diminish the power and size of the hit spot
  • The price point may be higher than some other pickleball paddles on the market
  • The paddle may not be suitable for beginners or players who prefer a lighter weight

The Engage Pickleball Encore EX 6.0 Pickleball Paddle is a high-quality paddle with a thick core that offers superior ball control.

With a large sweet spot and the right amount of power, this paddle allows you to put the ball away while maintaining full control, balance, and positioning. The industry leading textured skin on the face of the paddle provides excellent control for spins.

Although the thicker core may diminish the power and size of the sweet spot and it is in a higher price range, this paddle is a great choice for intermediate and advanced players who value ball control.

GAMMA Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle

If you’re an intermediate or advanced player looking for a paddle that provides a blend of power and control, the GAMMA Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle could be a great option for you.

Pros

  • The textured fiberglass face is perfect for power players, providing a stable feel and power on all strokes
  • The aramid honeycomb core provides a blend of power and control that benefits beginners and experienced players alike
  • The 4” honeycomb cushion grip is soft and sweat-absorbing, helping you hit with confidence

Cons

  • The paddle may feel a little bit light for some players
  • The sweet spot is small, so a ball struck anywhere except the center may not perform as well

The GAMMA Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle is an advanced-level paddle with a blend of power and control. It features a textured fiberglass face, an aramid honeycomb core, and a 4” honeycomb cushion grip. While it may feel a little bit light for some players, it’s a great paddle for power players who want a stable feel and power on all strokes.

Specs

  • Core: Aramid honeycomb
  • Weight: 8.0 oz
  • Paddle face: Textured fiberglass
  • Grip size: 4 inches
  • Grip length: Standard

Overall, if you’re an advanced player looking for a paddle that provides a blend of power and control, the GAMMA Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddle could be a great option for you. Its textured fiberglass face, aramid honeycomb core, and 4” honeycomb cushion grip make it a great choice for power players who want a stable feel and power on all strokes. However, it may feel a little bit light for some players, and the small sweet spot may take getting used to.

neo SLK by Selkirk Pickleball Paddle Set

If you’re a 3.5 player looking for a comfortable, lightweight pickleball paddle with a large sweet spot, then the neo SLK by Selkirk Pickleball Paddles is a perfect choice.

Specs:

  • Core: SX3 honeycomb core
  • Weight: 7.5 oz
  • Paddle face: G4 graphite
  • Grip size: 4 1/4 inches
  • Grip length: 5.25 inches

Pros

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

Cons

  • Some users may find the grip circumference too small
  • Balls included in the set may not be of the highest quality
  • May not be as durable as some other pickleball paddles on the market

The neo SLK by Selkirk Pickleball Paddles feature a multilayer face that combines the power of graphite with the control of fiberglass.

The SX3 honeycomb core is designed to yield a large sweet spot for constant speed while absorbing the hit and softening the feel.

The ultra-cushion grip is designed for the highest level of comfort, absorbing both perspiration and impacts as they travel from the paddle face to the hand, allowing you to play without fatigue after long gameplay intervals.

Selkirk Amped Invikta Pickleball Paddle

Specs:

  • Core: Polypropylene X5 Core
  • Weight: Lightweight
  • Paddle face: Fiberglass
  • Grip size: 4.25 inches
  • Grip length: 5 inches

If you’re a 3.5 player looking for a reliable pickleball paddle, the Selkirk Amped Invikta Pickleball Paddle is a great option.

Pros

  • The fiberglass face generates unmatched ball spin, and defuses your opponents spin effortlessly and accurately.
  • The X5 honeycomb core is built for consistent speed using advanced polypropylene honeycomb technology.
  • The elongated surface area integrated with a long handle provides full court and full power.

Cons

  • The handle gets slippery when your hand gets sweaty.
  • It may not work well when hit off center of the paddle.

Paddle At A Glance: The Selkirk Amped Invikta Pickleball Paddle is handcrafted in the USA with the finest materials and proprietary, leading-edge technology.

The paddle features a state-of-the-art FiberFlex fiberglass face with a thicker Polypropylene X5 Core that provides optimal ball cushioning.

HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle

If you’re looking for a pickleball paddle that can give you the power and playability you need, the HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle might be the right choice for you.

Pros

  • Optimized Tubular Core for perfect playability, feel, and sound
  • Composite Hitting Surface for maximized power with a softer feel
  • Ergonomic foam handle for added comfort and enhanced feel

Cons

  • Less texture than other HEAD models, so spin abilities may be affected
  • May have a more limited sweet spot than other paddles
  • May not be the best choice for advanced pickleball players

The HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle is perfect for a wide range of players, featuring the same Dynamic Power Shape for a larger sweet spot and a thicker OTC honeycomb core for great playability.

Specs:

Core: Polypropylene honeycomb core

Weight: 8.1 ounces

Paddle face: Fiberglass hitting surface

Grip size: 4 1/8 inches

Grip length: Standard

If you’re a beginning or intermediate player looking for a paddle that can help you improve your game, the HEAD Radical Elite Pickleball Paddle might be worth considering.

While it may not have as much texture as other paddles, it offers maximized power with a softer feel and increased comfort on impact for great playability.

FAQ – Best Pickleball Paddles for 3.5 Players

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, if you are taller or have longer arms, you may want to consider a longer paddle. 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.

How do you pick a pickleball paddle for an intermediate player?

If you are an intermediate player, you may want to consider a paddle that offers a balance of power and control.

Look for a paddle that is made of composite materials, has a medium weight, and a grip size that fits your hand comfortably.

You may also want to consider a paddle with a larger sweet spot to help you hit more consistent shots.

How do you pick a pickleball paddle for intermediate players?

To select a pickleball paddle for intermediate players, it’s best to understand what weight is preferred.

For most players, a mid-weight paddle will be a good choice. However, for someone who is a bigger or stronger player, they may prefer a heavier paddle.

In some situations, such as someone who has an injury or tennis elbow, or is a smaller player, they may prefer a lighter paddle.

Once the preferred weight is determined, decide whether graphite or fiberglass surface. And finally, is a paddle with an edge or an edgeless paddle preferred.

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:
Improved stroke development with moderate level of shot control.

BACKHAND:
Learning stroke form and starting to develop consistency but will avoid if possible.

SERVE / RETURN:
Consistently gets serve/return in play with limited ability to control depth.

DINK:
Increased consistency, with limited ability to control height/depth. Sustains medium length rallies. Starting to understand variations of pace.

3RD SHOT:
Developing the drop shot in a way to get to the net.

VOLLEY:
Is able to volley medium paced shots thereby developing control.

STRATEGY:
Moves quickly towards the non-volley zone (NVZ) when opportunity is there. Acknowledges difference between hard game and soft game and is starting to vary own game during recreation and tournament play. Can sustain short rallies. Is learning proper court positioning. Basic knowledge of stacking and understands situations where it can be effective.

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:

– Able to use a forehand with moderate level of shot control
– Able to use a backhand with moderate level of shot control
– Consistently gets serve in
– Consistently gets return of serve in
– Able to place serves deep in the court
– Able to place return of serves deep into the court
– Able to dink and sustains medium length rallies
– Able to control height/depth of dink shot
– Understands variation of pace of dink shot
– Able to hit a 3rd shot drop to gain advantage to the net – Able to volley with medium paced shots with control – – Sustains a short volley session at the next with placement and control
– Moves quickly to NVZ (non-volley zone) when opportunity is there
– Understands proper court position
– Understands difference b/w hard game and soft game and knows when to use it
– Basic knowledge of stacking and knows when to use it – Able to sustain short rallies Has good mobility / quickness /hand-eye coordination