The 10 Best Pickleball Paddles For Beginners – 2020 (Review & Guide)

10 Best Pickleball Paddles For Beginners

Want an easy to understand guide on how to find the best pickleball paddle for beginners?

There are dozens of pickleball paddles to choose from and it can be overwhelming.

The goal of this guide is to simplify your buying decision and provide you with a thoroughly researched list of pickleball paddles, regardless of your budget.

IN THIS GUIDE

The Best Pickleball Paddles For The Beginner Player On A Budget

Are you just getting started with pickleball and you’re not sure how often you will play or whether you’ll even like the game?

The paddles below provide you with some good options. I know players who are still using a few of these same paddles, well into their pickleball playing days.

At the time of this review, all these paddles were priced appropriately for the beginner player or a player who will likely only play occasionally.

You can buy cheaper paddles but the quality you get with paying a bit more is worth the cost.

If you want to understand more about how to choose a pickleball paddle, read my buyer’s guide on how to choose a pickleball paddle.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT OUR TOP PICK > >

 

At A Glance: Top 3 Pickleball Paddles For Beginners

PICKLEBALL PADDLESPECSFEATURES
BEST PADDLE ON A BUDGET
GAMMA Fusion
core: polymer
weight: 8 oz
surface: fiberglass
grip width: 4”
Has a textured surface that can help you improve ball spin and control, a feature you don’t typically get with a paddle in this price range.
BEST PADDLE FOR MID-RANGE BUDGET
Selkirk Latitude
core: polymer
weight: 6.9 oz
surface: composite
grip width: 4.125”
Players like this paddle because it’s at a reasonable price point for a good quality paddle that won’t break the bank.
BEST PADDLE FOR A LARGER BUDGET
Engage Encore Pro
core: polymer
weight: 7.8-8.3 oz
surface: fiberglass
grip width: 4.25”

Pickleball Paddles For Beginners On A Budget

TOP PICK  

Gamma Fusion 2.0

Best Paddle For Players On A Budget GAMMA Fusion This paddle has a textured surface that can help you improve ball spin and control, a feature you don’t typically get with a paddle in this price range.
  • core: polymer
  • weight: 8 oz
  • surface: fiberglass
  • grip width: 4”

PROS

  • Lightweight, textured face helps with ball control and spin
  • Over-all good value for the price
  • 4” wide grip appreciated by players with smaller hands
  • 12-month warranty

CONS

  • Some mention of quality concerns
  • More dead spots than expected

Upstreet

  • core: polymer
  • weight: 8.6 oz
  • surface: graphite
  • grip width: 4.25″

PROS:

  • Good response from ball with a heavier weight that helps with applying power to the ball
  • Cover included
  • 12 month warranty

CONS:

  • Heavier weight at 8.6 oz which may cause sore shoulder or elbow
  • Not USAPA approved for tournament use
  • Some quality issues are noted

Rally Tyro 2

  • core: polymer
  • weight: 6.7 oz
  • surface: composite
  • grip width: 4 1/8”

PROS

  • Players like the quality and price
  • Lightweight allowing for good ball control
  • Smallish grip so works well for smaller hands
  • Cover included, 12 month warranty

CONS

  • Not USAPA approved for tournaments
  • Some quality issues noted with dents and chips early in use

Amazin Aces

  • core: polymer
  • weight: 8.3 oz
  • surface: graphite
  • grip width: 4 1/2”

PROS

  • Great starter paddle at a reasonable price that includes a cover and ebook

CONS

  • Some mention of the paddle face cracking early on in purchase

HEAD Radical Elite

  • core: polymer
  • weight: 7.9-8.5oz
  • surface: composite
  • grip width: 4.25”

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable grip
  • Allows for good ball control

CONS

  • Cover not included

SUMMARY

The Best Pickleball Paddles For The Beginner Player On a Budget

Any of these paddles will work well for a beginner player or for someone who wants to play on occasion and not break the bank.

None of these paddles had overwhelmingly negative reviews that were consistent, however, the Rally Tyro 2 did have more comments concerning quality and durability.

The Upstreet is truly a starter paddle at a starter price but provides decent value.

On the higher price end of these paddles, you can be fairly confident buying a HEAD paddle.

Just a reminder that before I selected a paddle to include in this review, I read dozens of reviews from various sources for many paddles and only included the paddles that I believed would be a good choice for the new player on a budget.


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The Best Pickleball Paddles For The Beginner Who Is Okay Paying A Bit More

Are you looking to start playing pickleball or you’ve just started and you’ve decided to get a pickleball paddle that will stand the test of time without breaking the bank?

These 3 paddles are great options, however, if you know that you want to get more serious with your pickleball game, take a look at the paddles listed below in The Best Pickleball Paddles For The Beginner Who Wants To Grow Into Their Paddle.

After looking at these paddles, you might decide that you are happy to pay more for a paddle that will grow with you and help you improve your game.

However, this list of 3 paddles narrows the options for you while keeping the price point in-check.

If you want to understand more about how to choose a pickleball paddle, read my buyer’s guide on how to choose a pickleball paddle.


TOP PICK

Selkirk Latitude

Best Pickleball Paddles For The Beginner Who Is Okay Paying A Bit More – Selkirk Latitude This paddle is powerful, durable, and consistent with the Selkirk PowerCore polymer core giving an amazing responsive “Sweet Spot” coverage. Plus, players like the ability to manage spin with the composite surface.
  • core: polymer
  • weight: 6.9 oz
  • surface: composite
  • grip width: 4.125”

PROS

  • Lightweight, good balance at a great price point
  • Overall, players comments indicate that this is a great paddle for beginners and a paddle that could be used for years

CONS

  • Cover not included
  • No notable dissatisfaction with this paddle

HEAD Radical Pro

  • core: polymer
  • weight: 8.1 oz
  • surface: fiberglass
  • grip width: 4.25”

PROS

  • Good power
  • Comfortable grip
  • Players like this paddle for ball control

CONS

  • Some minor mention of quality concerns

Onix Z5

  • core: Nomex
  • weight: 8.1 oz
  • surface: fiberglass
  • grip width: 4.25”

PROS

  • Extremely popular paddle and well known for having power but being lightweight
  • Good control with a big sweet spot
  • Comfortable grip, flared handle similar to a tennis racquet

CONS

  • Nomex core is known for a lot of power which can make it difficult for new players to control the ball
  • Louder pop so may not work well in designated quite areas

Summary

The Best Pickleball Paddles For The Beginner Who Is Okay Paying A Bit More For Quality

Any of these 3 paddles will work well and not disappoint. Just remember that a paddle might work well for one person but the next person may not enjoy playing with it.

That being said, the Onix Z5 is an extremely popular and well-liked paddle with literally hundreds and hundreds of positive reviews.

Nomex is not typically recommended for newish players because of the amount of power that comes off when hitting a ball.

However, majority rules here and people just like this paddle and seem to adapt well.

I can’t overlook the other 2 paddles on this list though because it’s hard to go wrong with 2 big names like HEAD and Selkirk.

All in all, I think this list of 3 provides new and newish players with the best selection at a really manageable price point.


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The Best Pickleball Paddles For The Beginner Who Wants To Grow Into Their Paddle

These 2 paddles are not in the entry-level paddle price range but I felt compelled to include a couple of options for those people who are okay spending more than many people would when buying a paddle that is truly for the beginner.

Both these paddles are well-liked in the pickleball community with the Selkirk being on the much higher end.

Keep in mind that Selkirk technology is unique and stands out in a crowd so if you’re okay investing in a paddle, this is definitely worth close consideration.

If you want to understand more about how to choose a pickleball paddle, read my buyer’s guide on how to choose a pickleball paddle.


Engage Encore Pro

  • core: polymer
  • weight: 7.8-8.3 oz
  • surface: fiberglass
  • grip width: 4.25”

PROS

  • If you are comfortable paying a bit more than the other paddles, this is a good place to start and you’ll get many games out of this paddle
  • Players love the control and appreciate how easily this paddle helpt to put spin on the ball
  • Quite a bit of power so it might take some time to adjust

CONS

  • Some players mention that this paddle feels a bit heavy but quite honestly, there weren’t enough consistent complaints to suggest that the majority of players will have problems

Selkirk Amped S2

  • core: polymer
  • weight: 7.4-7.8 oz / 8-8.4 oz
  • surface: fiberglass
  • grip width: 4.25”

PROS

  • Available in two models, a lightweight and a midweight which means there really is an S2 model for the majority of players
  • Players talk about the wide sweet spot with an easy ability to hit the ball with power and control
  • Selkirk uses its own technology including their X5 core which makes for a thick paddle and yet their paddles are light – even the midweight paddle is below 8.5 oz
  • Slightly shorter handle but the face is slightly longer giving a bigger sweet spot

CONS

  • No consistent complaints worth mentioning

Summary

The Best Pickleball Paddles For The Beginner Who Wants To Grow Into Their Paddle

Either one of these paddles will work well for the beginner, intermediate or advanced player.

If you are okay paying more for a paddle than you would typically pay for a starter paddle, the Engage or the Selkirk will work well and not disappoint.


Selection Criteria

The game of pickleball has grown exponentially over the last few years and as a result there are 1000s of paddles on the market now, making it time-consuming and overwhelming to weed through all of the options.

My goal is to make your pickleball paddle purchase easier, less confusing and less time-consuming.

I’ve spent many hours reading dozens and dozens of reviews and ratings so that you don’t have to.

And I’ve narrowed down this list and included only paddles that I believe are a good option and as a result, I hope that I will make it easier for you to choose a pickleball paddle that you’ll be happy playing with.

I describe the selection criteria below but I think it’s important to mention that I spent a tremendous amount of time vetting the reviews and ratings left by players and weighed the comments to determine whether a paddle would be worthy of being in this guide. And only then did I finalize the list of paddles that have been included.

I also want to mention that I have not played with all of these paddles and I’m not associated with any paddle brand or manufacturer.

I’ve chosen to do an incredible amount of research to understand how the actual users (players) feel about these paddles and share that information in a consolidated, easy to read format.

It’s true that if I had played with all of these paddles, I would be able to provide you with my own unique perspective.

However, I believe that it’s more valuable to provide you with the consolidated feedback from a large group of players.

There will be situations where I provide my own personal feedback on a paddle or another product, but not in this particular guide.

Here’s the criteria I used to determine which paddles to include:

  1. Reviews or ratings from a minimum of 2 or more sources, when possible
  2. I excluded paddles that had consistent complaints across reviews about a particular feature. There is no perfect paddle that works for 100% of the people but where I saw a problem that was consistently mentioned, I excluded that paddle
  3. Paddles in various price ranges have been included because what’s affordable to another person, is expensive to another. And some people can invest more than other people. I believe that this list is comprehensive and provides a good selection of paddles for people with various budgets
  4. Only paddles that have a loosely aggregated score of 8.5 out of 10 were included. Because the sources I reference have a different scoring system, I’ve done my best to average scores out to ensure only those with a score of 8.5 or higher have been included (at the time of writing this review guide).
  5. No aluminum or Nomex™ except for the Onix Z5 Nomix™ paddle due to its popularity and extremely positive reviews
  6. No edgeless paddles
  7. No wood paddles. You can learn about wood paddles here

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Pickleball Paddle Basics

Are you new to pickleball and trying to decide if this is the sport for you?

Or you aren’t too sure how often you’ll play?

One of the many great things about pickleball is that it can be affordable

If you’re a beginner, you have many options and as long as you stay away from the following types of paddles, most others should work for you: 

  • Nomex™ core
  • Aluminum core
  • Wooden paddles unless you absolutely need the most economical option (see Very Budget Friendly Wood Paddle Sets)
  • Long-board or tear-drop paddles (long and narrow instead of wide)
  • Heavy or light paddles, choose a mid-weight paddle (7.3 to 8.2 oz)

There are several other key factors to consider before buying a paddle and I’ve covered these points in How To Choose A Pickleball Paddle.

If you haven’t already read it, take a look because it can help you understand the basics of buying a pickleball paddle.

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BOTTOM LINE

The game of pickleball is quickly rising in popularity and as a result, so are the number and types of pickleball paddles available on the market.

It can be overwhelming.

I hope that this guide will help you figure out how to choose the right pickleball paddle for you and your game.

If you are looking for some additional details on the basics of pickleball paddles, have a quick look at How To Choose A Pickleball Paddle.

Or if you want to take your game to the next level with a new paddle that is well known for helping players improve their spin and control, check out The 5 Best Pickleball Paddles for Spin (2020).


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