Whether you’re just a beginner or have a few games under your belt, picking the perfect paddle will help improve your game. If you’re a woman who plays pickleball, then you may be wondering whether or not there are paddles out there designed specifically for you.
There’s more to picking a paddle than just grabbing the first one you can from the store or an online manufacturer. The right paddle will improve your game and help keep your body healthy while you play.
We’ve put together a guide for the best pickleball paddles for women. This guide is complete with all of the different types of paddles and a how-to guide on how to best choose the right paddle. Then, we’ll get into our top picks for paddles for female pickleball players.
Table of Contents
- 1 In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
- 2 Is there a difference between men’s and women’s paddles?
- 3 How to choose the right pickleball paddle.
- 4 Choosing pickleball paddle cores.
- 5 Different types of pickleball paddles.
- 6 What paddles work best for women?
- 7 Top 5 Best Pickleball Paddles for Women
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8.1 When was pickleball invented?
- 8.2 How many women play pickleball?
- 8.3 Who is the best women’s pickleball player?
- 8.4 What is USAPA approval?
- 8.5 How to join a professional pickleball league?
- 8.6 Are expensive paddles better?
- 8.7 How to take care of your paddle?
- 8.8 Is there a difference between indoor and outdoor paddles?
- 8.9 Which is better: control or power?
- 8.10 Where is the sweet spot?
- 9 Conclusion
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
|Prince Response Graphite Pickleball Paddle||Buy Now|
|HEAD Extreme Tour Lite Pickleball Paddle||Buy Now|
|Top||Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddle||Buy Now|
|Franklin Christine McGrath Pickleball Paddle||Buy Now|
|Vulcan V510 Blade Pickleball Paddle||Buy Now|
Is there a difference between men’s and women’s paddles?
In the world of pickleball, there’s actually no difference between “men’s” and “women’s” pickleball paddles. Every paddle can be picked up by either gender and used, depending on how the paddle is constructed and the person using it. However, women’s needs in athletics are going to be different than the needs of men.
So, the answer is complicated: no, there’s no real difference between paddles for men and women, but there are paddles that work best for women. Not every paddle you pick up is going to work for you.
On average, women have smaller hands and slightly smaller frames than men. This is what really matters in terms of choosing your pickleball paddle. Picking a paddle that’s too heavy or long can be detrimental to your game or even the health of your elbows and wrists.
Manufacturers may also market their paddles as geared towards either men or women, depending on the weight, size, color, and textures. However, pickleball paddles are not the same as, say, golf clubs, where men’s and women’s are markedly different.
While pickleball paddles themselves are not divided based on sex, there’s going to be a range of paddles that work best with women. That’s what we’ll be going over in this guide, as well as with our top five picks for paddles.
How to choose the right pickleball paddle.
Picking the right pickleball paddle requires a little bit of know-how. There are three things that you need to be on the lookout for when considering a paddle: the weight of the paddle, the grip size, and the materials the paddle is made out of. Let’s take a look at each of these factors.
The weight of a pickleball paddle affects two main things when you’re playing: the control you have over your swing, as well as the power behind it. Picking the right weight is important for an effective game. For most women, they want to focus on dexterity and control in their game versus pure drive and power.
A pickleball paddle weighs anywhere from 6 oz to 14 oz. The paddles on the lighter end are going to give you more control over your swing, whereas the heavier paddles are going to sacrifice dexterity of power. Choosing a paddle that’s the wrong weight for your game can have the opposite effect that you’re looking for.
Heavier paddles can cause a lot of strain on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Powerful serves can be tempting, but it’s not worth injuring yourself by choosing the wrong weight.
Grip size refers to the diameter of the grip of the handle on your paddle. Much like with weight, this is an important factor to understand when it comes to picking the right paddle. Women tend to have smaller hands, so paddles with smaller grip sizes usually work better for female pickleball players.
For most women, picking out the right grip size corresponds easily with your height. This cheat sheet is a great place to start when figuring out the right grip size for your paddle:
- 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 difference between the grip sizes might not look like a lot, those quarters of an inch can really affect how comfortably you’re able to hold the handle. With too small of a grip, you’re going to lose a lot of your control. With too large of a grip, you’re going to cause strain in your hands.
Checking your grip size.
Because grip size is so important, you want to make sure that you’re getting the right size for your hand. If the above chart doesn’t quite work for you, here’s a more precise method on determining what grip size you need for your paddle.
First, check your grip size using your ring finger measurements. This can be done by using a ruler to measure the length from the tip of your middle crease of your palm to the tip of your ring finger. The length of this measurement should correspond with the diameter of the grip size on the paddle.
Secondly, you can always check your natural grip. Women’s hands are very diverse, and you might need to get your hands on an actual paddle in order to find the right grip. When you hold a handle in your dominant hand, there should be space between your fingers and the heel of your palm to snugly fit your index finger on your opposite hand.
Pickleball paddles come in three different types of materials. Each material has its own benefits for the game and can affect your paddle’s weight, control, and power. Pickleball paddles are either made out of wood, composite, or graphite.
Wood paddles tend to be the heaviest but also the cheapest. These tend to be beginner paddles, and very few players use them in tournaments. These paddles are also much heavier than the other materials, which give them good power but markedly less control over your swing. However, if you’re just looking for a cheap paddle to play with friends and family, wood is definitely a good starter material.
Composite paddles tend to be the best of both worlds between wood and graphite. These come in a variety of weights and sizes, which make them the most versatile of paddles. They also tend to be cheaper than graphite paddles. Composite paddles are made up of a “composite” of different materials. You can get a good combination of control as well as drive, depending on the core.
Graphite paddles are both lighter and stronger than the other materials. They’re perfect paddles for those who are looking to play with both control, speed, and drive. However, the drawback of the graphite paddle is that it tends to be one of the more expensive materials on the market.
Choosing pickleball paddle cores.
On the inside of your pickleball paddle, there can be three different types of cores. These cores make up the majority of the paddle, and they’re very important when it comes to choosing a paddle that’s right for you. Much like the materials, the core can affect the control and power of the paddle.
Normex is a material that was first developed in the 1960s. It was originally created to be used by firefighters. It’s some of the oldest material when it comes to pickleball paddles, and manufacturers have been using normex cores since the beginning of the sport. Normex is used in a honeycomb-shaped core, which allows it to be both lightweight and very hard, which gives it a good powerful swing without compromising control and dexterity.
Polymer cores are plastic cores that are much like normex. They’re very hard but lightweight. In fact, polymer cores tend to be even lighter than normex, which gives them a more controlled swing. This is the second most used core by manufacturers of pickleball paddles. Most companies have a focus on creating better polymer cores. This particular core works best for paddles for women because of how lightweight it is without compromising the integrity of the paddle.
Perhaps the lightest of all the cores, aluminum cores are less popular by manufacturers. Because of how lightweight they are, these cores are going to be the most detrimental to the power behind your swing. This core is for people who really want to focus on the control and dexterity of the game, but it does mean sacrificing the drive behind a slighter, harder, and heavier paddle.
Different types of pickleball paddles.
As we’ve covered, not all pickleball paddles are made the same. A lot of different factors go into picking the right paddle. Now, let’s cover the different types of paddles, including the shape and size, the length of the handles, and the inclusion or exclusion of an edge guard.
For the most part, pickleball paddles usually come with something called an “edge guard.” An edge guard is a slight protrusion around the outer edge of the paddle. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a guard for the edge of the paddle that keeps the paddle safe from damage during play or if it’s accidentally dropped or thrown.
Another style of paddle is called “edgeless,” which is also just as it sounds: a paddle without an edge guard. In place of an edge guard, there is usually a thin piece of adhesive around the outer edge of the paddle. Choosing an edgeless model means that you’re going to get a slighter larger surface area to work with when playing.
However, it’s important to weigh the costs of a larger surface area with the reality that a pickleball paddle without an edge guard is more susceptible to damage and cracking. Sacrificing durability for more control over your hit might mean that you’re going to be replacing your paddle more often than a paddle with an edge guard.
A widebody paddle is known as your typical everyday pickleball paddle. These paddles are standard dimensions, usually at about 8″ wide and 15″ long. If you’re going shopping at your local sporting goods store, this is the type of paddle you’re most likely to run across. Widebody paddles are the only ones that are approved for competitive pickleball games.
While not approved for competition, oversized paddles are great for beginners who are just starting out in order to build confidence. They’re also great for anyone who isn’t going to focus on competitive play. Oversized paddles are any pickleball paddle that has a length longer than 24 inches. The oversized paddles allow for greater surface area to hit the ball and particularly large sweet spots.
This third style has become a category of its own as manufacturers try to get around creating longer and wider paddles without going over the regulation standards. An elongated paddle is when a manufacturer decides to remove some of the length of the paddle from the handle and at it to the face. This shortens the handle, which can cause some issues with grip and dexterity. This allows the paddle to edge into “oversized” territory without actually breaking any regulations.
Handle length is particularly important when it comes to choosing the right paddle. Because of the popularity of elongated paddles, the handle length can become compromised. But handle length affects how well you can use your paddle.
Longer handles, ones that are around 5 inches or longer, provide a better reach for the player. However, many women find that longer handles make it much harder to control the balance of the paddle. Shorter handles can provide more dexterity and control, so long as the length of the handle, it’s sacrificed for the height of the paddle. Too small of a handle can make the paddle unbalanced and hard to hold.
What paddles work best for women?
The variety of pickleball paddles is just as diverse as the variety of women who play pickleball. However, most women find that paddles with a more balanced face-to-handle ratio, a smaller grip size, and more lightweight material are the most effective paddles for their game.
But of course, there will always be women who decide for heavier and more powerful paddles. It all depends on what paddle is best for your body. Choosing a paddle with too much weight and too wide of a grip size just to get that perfect drive will only be a detriment to both your physical health and the health of your game.
Top 5 Best Pickleball Paddles for Women
Now that you’ve gone over our guide for picking out the best pickleball paddle for your game let’s take a look at our top five pickles for female pickleball players. Each of these paddles are perfect for women in terms of size, weight, and style. Check out the pros and cons of each paddle to decide which should be your next purchase.
1. Prince Response Pro
The Prince Response Pro is the signature pickleball paddle for the world renowned Simone Jardim. It’s the paddle that was used when she did her historic 2018 US Open, where she collected a staggering four gold medals. Prince is well known for their high-end quality pickleball paddles.
The Prince Response Pro comes in two different weights, either standard (7.7 – 8.3 oz) or light (7.2 – 7.6 oz). The lightweight composite version is perfect for women. The paddle width is a large 8 ¼”, which gives a perfectly sized sweet spot. The handle is 5.5″ long, which allows for better dexterity and control.
The shape of the paddle offers a unique roundness. Unlike traditionally shaped paddles, the Prince Response Pro allows a player to get in there and really scoop up a low ball. It’s also able to produce an astounding spin on the ball.
The balance on the Prince is also particularly great for female players. It’s got a head light balance with a hard and stiff face that allows for good drive and power when needed. This particular paddle has both USAPA approval, as well as approval from Simon Jardim herself.
- USAPA approval
- Large sweet spot
- Unique shape
- Higher price point
- Needs grip adjustments
2. Selkirk Amped Epic
The Selkirk Amped Epic pickleball paddle is just as cool as it sounds. This is marketed as an “all-around” paddle that is perfect for both control and power. Selkirk is a great company that offers a wide variety of paddles, and their Amped Epic paddle is great for female pickleball players. This specific paddle is particularly good for two-handed players as well.
Here’s another easily controlled paddle that will offer all the dexterity and control that most women want out of a pickleball paddle. This paddle weighs in between 7.3 – 7.7 oz, which puts it solidly in the lightweight category. It has a handle length of 5 ¼” and a paddle width of 8″, giving it a nice wide sweet spot. The core is made out of lightweight and thick polymer.
The face of the paddle is made with FiberFlex, which creates a wonderful grippy texture that allows you to get a good grip on the ball with each swing. The extended handle makes it a perfect paddle for the two-handed backhand, which is a popular technique for female pickleball players.
The Amped EPIC combines a traditional paddle shape with a longer handle and a wide surface area. There’s a great balance with this handle that makes it easier to control without sacrificing a good amount of power. And, of course, the Amped Epic is USAPA approved.
- USAPA approved
- Wide sweet spot
- Polymer core
- Elongated handle not for everyone
- Higher price point
3. HEAD Extreme Tour Lite
HEAD Pickleball is a company that doesn’t falsely advertise when it comes to their paddles. This particular paddle is very true to its name when it comes to how light and fast their design is. When it comes to paddles for women, the HEAD Extreme Tour Lite is no joke.
The average weight of the Extreme Tour Lite comes in at 7.2 oz, though the weight ranges between 7.1 and 7.3 oz. This makes it a lightweight paddle that is perfect for women who are searching for something with a lot of control. The grip size comes in thin (3 ⅞”) or standard (4 ⅛”). The paddle width is slightly smaller at 7 ⅞”, but it makes up for it with a 16″ length.
The core of the Extreme Tour Lite is an SPC polymer, which allows for that hard drive without compromising the weight and dexterity. The handle is 5″ long, which allows for a lot of wrist maneuvering without compromising your grip on the paddle. The paddle face is graphite, which means you might be paying a little bit more for the quality material.
All in all, the Extreme Tour Lite is a paddle that is designed for those quick and sharp reactions in mind, which makes it perfect for women.
- Light weight
- Dexterity and control
- Tapered design
- Expensive material
- Smaller sweet spot
4. Franklin Christine McGrath Signature
Franklin got its start as a sporting goods company in 1946 and has been providing quality equipment ever since. The Franklin Christine McGrath Signature is a paddle that was made specifically with women in mind. Co-signed by Christine McGrath herself, one of the game’s top players, the Signature is definitely a paddles to keep an eye out for, especially for female athletes.
The Signature’s weight goes from 7.6 oz to 8.1 oz, which puts it solidly in the middleweight category, benefiting a wide range of women. The handle length is a standard 5″, while the paddle length is 15″ and the width is 8″, which gives a wide sweet spot. The paddle material is composite / fiberglass, while the core is made out of polymer.
The texture of the paddle has MaxGrit technology that is specifically designed in order to dampen the vibrations, which gives it even more precision and control out on the court. This paddle was designed by Cristine McGrath herself, with female players in mind. The standard grip size, 4.25 inches, is perfectly designed for women’s hands.
The fiberglass service is great for spin and a reduction of vibration. And, of course, a paddle designed by McGrath herself gets the USAPA seal of approval.
- Designed with women in mind
- Lower price point
- USAPA approved
- Limited color options
- Less power
5. Vulcan V510 Blade
The Vulcan V510 Blade is a paddle that is perfectly designed for your average female athlete. This particular paddle is a perfect option for women who are looking to prioritize their speed, precision, and pop. Vulcan offers a quality material and expressive colors on their paddles without going overboard on the price.
Another midweight paddle, the Vulcan V510 Blade, weighs in between 7.2 and 7.6 oz, with an average weight being right in the middle at 7.4 oz. The grip size is a small 4″, a good size with women’s hands in mind. The grip style is thin, which makes it easier for the average woman to hold.
The paddle finish is carbon fiber with a polymer honeycomb core. This lightweight, hard polymer core gives the precision and control that female athletes are looking for without compromising on that power swing. The edge guard on the V510 Blade is ¼” overlapping on the paddle face.
The sweet spot on the V510 Blade has a slightly smaller sweet spot than some of the other paddles on this list. The height is 15 ½,” and the width is 7 ¾”, with a handle length of only 4 ¾”. While the sweet spot, and the paddle size overall, is a little smaller, it’s perfect for women looking for that light weight precision.
- Precision and control
- Thinner than traditional paddles
- Perfect for smaller players
- Low price point
- Less power
- Smaller sweet spot
Frequently Asked Questions
When was pickleball invented?
Pickleball was invented by three friends: Congressman Joel Prichard, Barney McCallum, and Bill Bell. The game was invented in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island in the state of Washington. As the story goes, their children were bored, so all three men got together to come up with a new game to keep them entertained.
The game was cobbled together with the equipment of three different sports: old ping pong paddles, a wiffle ball, and a badminton net. After which, the sport of pickleball was born. It got its name from a “pickle boat,” which is a term used to describe a crew that is made up of oarsmen who are left over from other boats.
Some people say the game is named after the Prichards’ dog, Pickles, who would run around after the ball and try to interrupt the game. However, they didn’t have the dog at the advent of the game, though it does make a cute story.
How many women play pickleball?
Unlike a lot of other sports, the divide between men and women who play pickleball is pretty close to even. Pickleball is considered a very open and welcoming sport. Out of the 4.2 million players in the United States, women make up about 40% of casual players.
From 2017 to 2020, the sport grew about 10.5% in terms of players, with a total growth rate of 34% over the last three years. Pickleball is a fast-growing sport when it comes to popularity, and it’s no different among women.
It’s not just casual players that are attracted to the game, either. Women make up a good chunk of the professional pickleball players as well. According to Pickleball Global, there are 62 female players in women’s singles and 109 female players in Women’s doubles in 2021.
Who is the best women’s pickleball player?
The top player for women’s pickleball is named Simone Jardim, who is native to Brazil. She was previously a tennis player, and many people owe her expertise in tennis to how well she’s done in the sport of pickleball. Jardim played tennis at Fresno State University, after which she taught women’s college tennis. She went pro for the sport of Pickleball in 2015.
Jardim is considered the most elite player, having won more PPA titles than any other woman currently in the sport. She’s won 90 different medals in her time as a professional pickleball player, with 70 of those medals being gold. In 2019, Jardim won silver at the Women’s Double and gold in both the Mixed Doubles and Women’s Single.
When Jardim isn’t traveling for tournaments, she teaches full time at the Peak Performance Pickleball Academy, which she owns. She’s an advocate for the game of pickleball and the growth of the sport.
What is USAPA approval?
The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) is one of the organizations that ensures that everyone is recognized pickleball competitions plays fairly. The USAPA has established certain guidelines for how to play the game and what equipment can be used in sanctioned events.
The size, weight, face shape, and even the texture and colors used in pickleball paddles are all regulated by the USAPA. The USAPA’s official rulebook contains all of the organization’s rules. There are currently just over 1000 distinct paddles certified for use by the USAPA. Manufacturers will indicate whether or not a paddle is suitable for tournament use on their website or packaging.
When looking for your next pickleball paddle, look for the USAPA seal of approval. If you’re a beginner, though, there are lots of non-USAPA approved paddles that will still help you develop your game.
How to join a professional pickleball league?
You can join the USA Pickleball Association and become connected with pickleball communities and leagues in your state. You can also connect with a global network of pickleball players by visiting the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) website. The IFP is the world’s governing body for pickleball, and it was founded to help the sport grow around the world.
Joining a pickleball league is a great way to make friends, connect with other players, and grow in your skill. Even if you’re not thinking about going pro, a pickleball league is a great way to spend your time and grow the game.
Are expensive paddles better?
The answer is: no. Expensive paddles are not always the better choice, especially now that manufacturers are working to make quality paddles at a lower price point. A cheap paddle, usually made of wood, will set you back anywhere between $10 and $20. However, a growing number of manufacturers are now manufacturing high-quality composite paddles at competitive costs.
A high-end paddle, which is almost certainly made of graphite, can cost upwards of $100. The price you’re willing to pay is determined by how frequently you plan to use your paddle, how you play your game, and your lifestyle. A high-end paddle can certainly be nice in tournaments, but if you’re a casual player, you might not want to spend the extra cash.
How to take care of your paddle?
How long a pickleball paddle lasts is determined by how well you care for it and how much you use it. Those who play pickleball more than a few times a week may find that their paddles have some wear and tear sooner than those who don’t play as much. If you treat your paddle with care, it should last you several years without chipping or cracking.
Paddles made of composite and graphic materials survive longer than paddles made of wood. Keeping your paddle out of the elements will keep it in good working order for as long as you need it. When you’re done using your paddle, keep it in a dry place and don’t leave it outside. Paddles that are exposed to extreme temperatures or rain will suffer in the long run.
Is there a difference between indoor and outdoor paddles?
Pickleball is unlike other sports in that there is no distinction between paddles that are best used outside versus paddles that are best used indoors. All pickleball paddles are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Whether you’re playing indoors or outdoors, you’ll want to look after your paddle and keep it protected from the elements. Keep your paddles stored in a safe, dry place to avoid damage.
Which is better: control or power?
If you want to focus on having complete control over your paddle and swing, you should go for a light weight 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.
But which is better? The answer is neither. Both playing styles depend on the type of player. Neither is better than the other, and both have their pros and cons. A player who focuses on control will have a better chance of outwitting their opponent. On the other hand, a player who is focused on raw power can easily drive through their opponents’ defenses.
Where is the sweet spot?
The “sweet spot” on a paddle is located right at the center of the paddle. When a paddle is described as having a large or small sweet spot, it depends on how wide and tall the face of the paddle is. The longer and wider the paddle, the bigger chance of having a wide sweet spot. A good sweet spot is very important to pickleball players, as hitting the ball right in that sweet spot allows for more power and drive behind the swing.
While there’s no distinct difference between men’s and women’s paddles when it comes to pickleball, there are paddles that are going to be better suited for women. You’ll have a better grasp of everything that goes into choosing a good pickleball paddle after reading this tutorial, including the weight, grip size, material, core material, as well as the size, shape, and length of the paddle face.
While there’s no “true” differentiation between men’s and women’s paddles, women pickleball players tend to find paddles that have a smaller grip size, shorter handles, and lighter weight material are better for their game. Many women’s pro pickleball players stand behind manufacturers that make paddles designed to best aid women in their game.
Our top picks are paddles that are best designed for women. Each choice has its pros and cons, and taking a step back to look at the entirety of the paddle will benefit you in the long run. These paddles for women will help improve your game, as well as keep your body in peak physical condition without harming or straining yourself.
Take what you’ve learned here in this guide and apply it the next time you’re looking for a pickleball paddle— either for yourself or for a woman in your life who is in love with the game. Take care, and have fun!