Pickleball paddles range in price from close to $150 to very cheap paddles around $20 or $30. But when you’re picking out a paddle, you want to make sure you’re not exchanging quality for the price. Thankfully, plenty of manufacturers are committed to bringing quality paddles to the general public without breaking the bank.
There are plenty of professional-level paddles that aren’t too expensive. If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. We’ve compiled a list of all of the top five best budget pickleball paddles, along with a guide on how to choose the best for your budget.
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In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
|Champion Spark Pickleball Paddle
|Rally Tyro 2 Pro Pickleball Paddle
|Rally Meister Pickleball Paddle 2 Player Bundle
|Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle
Budget vs. Expensive Paddles?
Most people might assume that a more expensive price tag means that the paddle is of better quality. Well, we’re here to tell you that that is not the case. On the lower end of the price spectrum, a cheap paddle is usually made out of wood. These can cost around $10 to $20, and they’re great paddles for beginners or casual players who just want to have fun with family and friends.
More expensive paddles are usually made out of graphite. These paddles can cost anywhere from $100 to $150. Composite paddles are usually a happy medium between the two in terms of price, without sacrificing the quality of the product. For players on a budget, it’s very important to get a quality paddle that will last a long time without breaking the bank.
Expensive paddles aren’t always better than budget paddles. We’ll look into all of the things that make a good paddle and explore the best budget paddles on the market.
Choosing A Pickleball Paddle
When shopping on a budget, there are a number of things one should consider when choosing the right pickleball paddle. If you’re not sure where to begin, we’ve put together this handy guide on how to choose a new pickleball paddle. There are three different things you want to look for when choosing a paddle.
It’s important to understand the weight of the paddle, the grip size of the handle, and the material that makes up the paddle. Let’s look at each of these and how they can significantly change the paddle. Making sure you have the right type of paddle is important because different types of paddles can significantly impact your game.
The weight of the paddle has a significant impact on both the type of paddle you choose and your ability to play the game. On the court, the weight of your paddle has two major effects: power and control. Most paddles have a weight range of 6 oz to 14 oz. Let’s take a closer look at how these weights affect paddle choice.
A lighter paddle allows for more control and dexterity with your movements on the court. However, with a lighter paddle, you might not have the same drive and power that can really send the ball flying through your opponent’s defenses. A lighter paddle will allow you to really control the ball, however, and return every serve that comes your way.
On the other hand, a heavier paddle will have less control but a lot more power. The drive of a swing can make a significant difference in your game. Being able to really drive the ball across the court with maximum power might be exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re choosing a heavier paddle, you also want to make sure that you’re aware of the strain it can put on your wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
Keeping an eye on your body’s reactions to your paddle is equally as important as the game! A paddle that’s too heavy can cause a lot of damage if you don’t know how to handle it.
When talking about pickleball paddles, the grip size refers to the circumference of the handle. As with the weight of a paddle, grip size is an important factor to consider when you’re looking to purchase a new paddle. Having a grip size that’s too small can make it difficult to control the paddle while having a grip size that’s too large means that you won’t be able to hold onto the paddle.
Knowing the right grip size is usually as easy as knowing your height. Here’s a handy chart that you can reference for a quick understanding of what range of grip size you should be looking for.
- If you’re 5’9” or taller, your grip size should be about 4 ½”.
- If you’re between 5’3” and 5’8”, your grip size should be about 4 ¼”
- If you’re 5’2” or shorter, your grip size should be about 4”.
While the sizes might not look like there’s a big difference, there definitely is! The best way to know whether or not a grip size is best for you is to hold the paddle in your hand and see how it feels.
Ring Finger Measurement
A great way to get your exact grip size measurement is to measure the length of your ring finger. With a ruler, measure the length from the middle crease of your palm to the tip of your ring finger. The measurement that you get is going to be as close to the correct grip size as you can get!
With a wide variety of different hand sizes and shapes out there, it can be difficult to know just exactly what grip size you should get. This is why a tried and true method of knowing your grip size is to get your handles on a pickleball paddle.
With the handle in your dominant hand, check to see how far apart the tips of your fingers are from the heel of your palm. Your index finger of your opposite hand should be able to slide in that space snugly. If you can’t fit your finger in that space, then your grip size is way too small.
However, if your finger doesn’t fit snugly, then your grip size is way too big. Try out different paddles and make sure that your grip size fits just right. It’s important to be able to play your best game!
Handle length can make a significant difference in how your paddle handles. Handle length can affect whether or not your pickleball paddle is appropriate for tournament play. Longer handles, around 5 inches or longer, can provide you with a better reach on the court.
On the other hand, it can also mean that it’s harder for people with small hands to control. Smaller handles can provide better control over the paddle but also risk making the paddle top-heavy.
Pickleball paddles come in a variety of materials. Each material has its pros and cons when it comes to having a quality paddle. As well, some materials are going to be cheaper than others. When you’re looking to buy a paddle on a budget, you want to pay close attention to the materials. Not only will they affect the price, but the quality as well. Pickleball paddles come in three different materials: wood, composite, or graphite.
Wood paddles tend to be both heavy and inexpensive. A wood paddle is always going to be your go-to when you’re looking for paddles on a budget, especially if you’re just looking for a paddle to play casually with friends and family at home. However, a wood paddle is going to have a lot of extra weight to it, which isn’t for everyone.
Composite paddles are just what they sound like: a “composite” of several different types of materials. These paddles come in a variety of weights, shapes, and sizes, which makes picking out a paddle a breeze. Especially if you’re on a budget. Composite paddles aren’t as cheap as wooden paddles, but you’re much more likely to find quality paddles in the bunch. These are great paddles for people who are both serious about their game but need to keep their spending a little lower.
Graphite paddles tend to be more expensive than the other two materials. However, they also tend to be much lighter and stronger than other paddles. They’re paddles that are made for both speed and power. You’ll likely get a paddle with good control without having to sacrifice the drive. They’re great for seasoned professionals, especially if you don’t mind how expensive they can be.
Pickleball Paddle Cores
There’s more material to a pickleball than just the outside. Inside the paddle, there are three different types of cores. The “core” of the paddle is what makes up the majority of the paddle. The right core can affect both the way the paddle handles as well as how pricey it can be. They can also affect the drive, power, and control of the paddle. Let’s take a look at the different types of cores.
Made from older material that was once used to help firefighters, Normex is one of the materials that most companies have been using for years. The material was first developed in the 1960s, and it has since been a tried and true material for pickleball paddle cores.
Normex cores are honeycomb-shaped, which can help with the density of the paddle without affecting the weight of it. Normex has that familiar, loud smacking sound that you get when you hit the ball. The density of the material helps make the core hard while keeping it lightweight, perfect for drive and control.
Polymer is another word for “plastic,” and polymer cores are not unlike Normex cores in that they have a good bit of density. However, polymer cores tend to be much more lightweight. They’re easier to swing, and because plastic is so easy to produce, they also tend to be more of a budget material for pickleball paddles. Polymer cores are very popular for manufacturers to use, and many companies are working on developing polymer technology.
On the lightweight end of the spectrum are aluminum cores. Most composite paddles on the market use aluminum cores. The draw of aluminum cores is how little weight they add to the overall paddle, which means that you’re going to get a lot of dexterity and control. However, aluminum tends to mean that you’re going to have to give up a lot of drive and power.
Types of Pickleball Paddles
Pickleball paddles come in a variety of different types, and it’s important to know what you’re getting into when you start shopping for your next paddle. The shape and size of the paddle, as well as whether it’s edgeless or not, can affect a lot of different aspects of your game. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of pickleball paddles and the pros and cons of each of them.
When picking a pickleball paddle, another consideration is whether or not to utilize an edge guard. An edge guard is a small protrusion around the outside edge of the paddle. The guard is installed to protect the paddle from cracks or damage, which could occur during play or if it is dropped inadvertently.
There is, however, an edgeless paddle style. Not having to worry about the edge guard can be a benefit for some players. For example, removing the edge guard allows the player to operate with a little larger surface area on the court. It’s plausible that the ball striking the edge guard will throw off your hit when you’re playing, and some players like to go without that particular possibility.
One thing to consider, however, is that pickleball paddles will tend to become damaged along the edge first. The durability of the paddle might be compromised with an edgeless model, but if you’re looking for more control and a wider surface area, you might want to consider the sacrifice.
Traditional paddles, and ones that are approved for tournament use, are called “widebody” paddles. These are the paddles that you’re going to see in the store for the most part. A traditional paddle is going to be about 8 inches wide and 15 inches long. However, there is another size of the paddle that might be worth consideration.
The “oversized” paddle is a wider and longer paddle that isn’t allowed in competition. Oversized paddles are any paddles that have a length longer than 24 inches. These paddles have large surface areas with big sweet spots. While you won’t be able to use these paddles in tournaments, they’re great for beginners or for people who just want to have some fun at home with friends.
Oversized paddles can really take the stress out of playing pickleball. They’re great for building confidence on the court before transitioning to a slightly smaller paddle with a less wide surface area on the face.
Elongated paddles are a fairly new category of paddle when it comes to pickleball. Manufacturers have worked to find a way to make oversized paddles tournament compliant, and this is where elongated paddles have come into play. These paddles have wider faces to accommodate a big sweet spot and a large surface area while having shorter handles. These short handles help keep the paddle within regulation size.
Elongated paddles are becoming more and more popular among many players. This paddle does take a bit of a learning curve when it comes to mastering its use, however. Due to the shorter handle and the larger head, these paddles have a tendency to be top-heavy. While they might not be best for beginners, they provide a good challenge for those who are looking for something new.
Control vs. Power
You now have a better understanding of the various materials and options available when selecting a pickleball paddle. You’ll have to consider what kind of game you’d like to play. The type of player you are is just as crucial as your height or hand size when choosing a paddle. If you want to focus on having complete control over your paddle and swing, you should go for a lightweight paddle with a smaller grip.
A composite paddle with a polymer core would be a good option. A heavier paddle with a normex core, on the other hand, might be exactly what you’re looking for if you know you’re the type of player who concentrates on sheer power. Both playing styles have their advantages. Many players focus on one or the other, but pickleball manufacturers know that there is merit in having a mix of both.
Many paddles now have the advantage of being both lightweight and dense. This can give you better control while also allowing you to really put a lot of power behind your swing.
Top 5 Best Budget Pickleball Paddles
Choosing a pickleball paddle on a budget doesn’t have to mean that you’re sacrificing quality for saving a few bucks. Manufacturers have put a lot of effort into making more quality, professional-level paddles available for everyone. If you’re just looking to have some fun with a new hobby or serious about going pro, take a look at our top five budget paddles to see where you can get good, quality equipment without breaking the bank.
1. Upstreet Pickleball Paddle
Upstreet is a great company when it comes to pickleball paddles, and they definitely deliver with this budget paddle. This is an upgrade from a former upstreet paddle, and the upgrade really ramped up the quality without ramping up the price.
The Upstreet paddle is made out of graphite with the polypropylene honeycomb core. The honeycomb core is such a good design, as it makes for a very dense paddle without giving up any of that dexterity and control that comes with lightweight plastic cores.
The Upstreet paddle weighs 8.6 oz, with a length of 15.75 inches and a width of 7.75 inches. The handle grip size is 4.5 inches. And of course, this paddle is USAPA approved, which is one of the improvements that Upstreet has made with this upgrade. If you’re looking for a good, tournament ready paddle, this is one of them.
- Comes with a paddle cover
- Under $50
- Unique design
- Honeycomb core
- Edgeguard tends to crack
- Loud when playing
2. Rally Meister
If you’re looking for a nice cheap option, then Rally Meister is perfect for you. These wooden paddles boast better quality than a lot of other wooden paddles out there. Many wood paddles don’t make the cut when it comes to listing quality paddles, but these ones do. This particular paddle comes in a set of two, which is great if you’re looking for a bundle to get you started with playing.
The Rally Meister wooden paddles are made from nicely finished wood. The wood is a durable maple ply. It is a particularly heavy paddle, as most wooden paddles are. It weighs 9.5 oz to 10.5 oz. While this may be the average weight of a wooden paddle, it is much heavier than some composite paddles out on the market, which is something to keep in mind.
The grip size on the paddle is medium at 4.25 inches. What sets this paddle apart from other wooden paddles is the quality construction of the handle. Unlike other wooden paddles, Rally Meister goes the extra mile with a polyurethane grip. This comfortable grip really elevates the quality and makes it easier to play.
- Polyurethane grip
- Quality wood
- Not USAPA approved
3. Champion Spark
The Champion Spark may not be much to look at with its plain white design, but what it lacks in creativity, it certainly makes up for in quality. Not to mention, it’s a paddle that definitely won’t break the bank. This particular paddle is perfect for beginners.
The Champion Spark weighs in at 7.0 oz. It’s 15.6 inches in length and 7.75 inches wide. The handle is 5 inches long, with a slighter small handle width at 4 inches. The size of the paddle is great for people who are looking to get a little extra surface area and a slightly wider sweet spot.
The paddle is made of a quality fiberglass surface with a polypropylene core. While these particular materials give you great control, they lack a little bit of accuracy because of how smooth the fiberglass paddle head tends to be. However, the length does give you more reach than other paddles.
- Good control
- Good for beginners
- Higher price
- Less accuracy
4. Rally Tyro 2
The Rally Tyro 2 is a tried and true pickleball paddle. This particular paddle is an updated version of the original Rally Tyro. It has a lot of upgrades from its previous iteration, all of which add a little extra weight and a little bounce. It’s a paddle that is great for both beginners as well as intermediate players.
The Rally Tyro 2 is a middle-weight paddle at 7 oz to 8 oz. It’s 15.75 inches long, which gives it a little extra reach, and 7.8 inches wide. The handle is 4.3 inches long, and the grip size is 4.25 inches in circumference. The shape and size of the paddle makes it particularly agile and great for control.
The Rally Tryo 2 is a composite paddle with a polycarbonate surface and a polypropylene core. These materials are particularly good for players who really want to get power behind their swing. The handle size is a little short, which can lead to the paddle being a little top-heavy at times. The Rally Tyro 2 also has USAPA approval.
- USAPA approved
- Good power and drive
- Less vibrations
- Decal bubbles
- Cheap handle
5. Amazin Aces Graphite Paddle
Usually, graphite paddles are going to be your more expensive paddles. But Amazin Aces, a relatively new company that manufactures pickleball equipment, is bringing these expensive graphite paddles to the general public at a more affordable price. This particular paddle is one of Amazin Ace’s older designs, but it’s yet to go out of style.
Amazin Aces graphite paddle is a little heavier at 9.2 ounces. It’s also wider than most of the other paddles on the list, at 8.1 inches wide and 15.75 inches long. This wide paddle face makes for a really good sweet spot, perfect for beginner players and those who are just looking to play for fun.
Inside, the Amazin Aces graphite paddle has a dense polypropylene core. Despite the heavier weight of this particular paddle, it does offer a fair amount of control. The graphite surface paired with the polypropylene core also gives this paddle a nice heavy and powerful swing. It also comes with a “low-profile” edge guard.
- Beginner friendly
- Wide sweet spot
- Graphite surface
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there professional pickleball leagues?
People don’t just play pickleball for fun, even though it is a particularly fun and engaging sport. There are people who have gone pro when it comes to pickleball, and they’ve brought a lot of recognition to the sport all around the world. If you’re looking to join a local pickleball community, there are plenty of leagues all over the world.
The USA Pickleball association is a great way to get started when it comes to connecting with leagues and pickleball tournaments in your area. You can also take a look at the International Federation of Pickleball. This is the worldwide governing body for pickleball. The IFP was established in order to help grow the sport, and it’s done a fine job of it so far.
Pickleball is a fast-growing sport. It’s becoming more and more popular every year. Local leagues are always looking for new players. The community is full of people who have a passion for the sport.
What is USAPA approval?
Going through this guide, you may have seen the term “USAPA approved” floating around. The USAPA stands for the USA Pickleball Association. This is one of the organizations that works on making sure everyone follows the same rules and regulations during tournaments. The USAPA has an official rulebook, where they detail all of the specific rules regarding how to play and what equipment players are allowed to use.
When it comes to pickleball paddles, the USAPA is very particular about what kinds you can use in official tournaments. There are rules regarding the size, the weight, the shape of the paddle, as well as the colors and textures that can be used on the court. Manufacturers work hard to make sure that their paddles have USAPA approval, and usually list on the website or packaging if the organization has given their stamp of approval.
If you’re looking to go pro, then USAPA approval is definitely something to consider when you’re picking out your next paddle. And, USAPA approval isn’t just for expensive paddles, either. You’re definitely bound to find good quality budget paddles that are legal to use in official tournaments.
Who are the top pickleball players?
Professional pickleball players give it their all when it comes to this sport. There are plenty of top players all over the world, but there are two that give everyone else a run for their money. Benjamin Johns is the top pickleball player in the world. He’s been unstoppable when it comes to winning tournaments, winning gold in Men’s Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles at almost every tournament he’s been in.
Meanwhile, making strides for women is Simone Jardim. Simone is one of the most recognized players of this generation of pickleball players. She’s won over 90 medals, 70 of them being gold. She placed gold in women’s singles, mixed doubles and won silver in women’s doubles. She’s one of the most decorated pickleball players.
When was pickleball invented?
Three friends, Congressman Joel Prichard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell, invented pickleball. The game was created on Bainbridge Island in the state of Washington in the summer of 1965. Their children were bored, so the three fathers got together to come up with a new game to keep them occupied.
The name “pickleball” comes from the idea of a “pickle boat,” which is a term that is used to describe a boat crew that is made up of leftover oarsmen from other boats. Just like those pickle boats, pickleball was made up of leftover sports equipment from different sports. The three fathers took an old ping pong paddle, a wiffle ball, and a badminton net and created a game to keep their children entertained.
And it worked! The children had such a great time that the sport went on to become the worldwide sensation that it is today.
How to care for a pickleball paddle?
Taking care of a pickleball paddle is very important to the longevity and durability of your paddle. If you’re a more casual player, your paddle is probably going to last a bit longer than if you’re someone who plays multiple games in a week. No matter how often you play, however, if you take good care of your paddle, then you’re bound to keep your paddle around for as long as possible.
Wooden paddles are usually the first to deteriorate with use and age. Composite and graphite paddles are much more durable. In order to keep your paddle in top condition, you need to make sure that you keep your paddle out of the elements. Extreme temperatures can cause cracks and damage to the material. Store your pickleball paddle in a dry environment and make sure you don’t leave it outside for long periods of time.
Where is the sweet spot?
While looking for the ideal paddle, you may have come across the term “sweet spot.” The sweet spot in pickleball is right in the middle of the paddle. The sweet spot grows in size as the paddle becomes wider and longer. The most power and drive behind a swing comes from a large sweet spot. Getting a paddle with a wide sweet spot is great for building confidence in your game. The bigger the sweet spot, the easier it is to hit the ball.
What is deflection?
You’ve probably heard the phrase “deflection” before, as well. This does not refer to a paddle’s ability to hit a ball. Deflection refers to the “flex” of the paddle. Depending on how rigid your paddle is, the level of flex in your paddle may be higher or lower. The USAPA has a standard set for deflection. Too much flexibility in your paddle can cause too much of an advantage on the court.
What’s the difference between men’s vs. women’s paddles?
Pickleball paddles are not divided into “men’s” and “women’s” categories, as they are in other sports. The paddles aren’t segregated into gender-specific sizes. For various folks, different sizes will function better or worse in one way or another.
Someone who is shorter and has smaller hands will prefer a smaller paddle, whereas someone who is taller and has larger hands will want a larger, longer paddle. Many players will find this to be true for regardless of gender. Of course, as you look online and in stores, you may find that manufacturers market their paddles in one way or the other. Some manufacturers market their smaller paddles for women, even though they’d work just as well for a smaller, slighter man.
Searching for a good, budget pickleball paddle can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. There’s no need to suffer through poor quality paddles just to save a few bucks. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get a good pickleball paddle.
As you can see, pickleball paddles come in a variety of different sizes, materials, cores, and shapes. All of these things can affect how expensive a paddle is going to be, but not every budget paddle will compromise on the quality of its materials. After reading through this guide, you now have more information on how to go about your next pickleball paddle purchase.
We’ve listed our favorite budget pickleball paddles. Each choice has its pros and cons. Some paddles are going to work better for some people than others, which is why it’s important that you know all of the things that go into making a quality pickleball paddle. If you’re looking to save some money, it’s extra important to know what you’re looking for going in.
With this guide, you’re finally ready to take the plunge and make your next purchase. You’ll have all of the knowledge you need to pick the paddle that works best for you.
Have fun and good luck with your next paddle!