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Best Beginner Pickleball Paddles In 2023 & 2024: Paddle Reviews

(Image credit: Kerry Pittenger) Pro Player Paris Todd

Are you just starting out and looking for a good pickleball paddle for beginners? If so, we understand that you probably want a decent paddle but may not be ready to spend a lot of money.

This Champion Pickleball Paddle is a reliable pick and has also been one of the best-selling paddles on the market. However, there are several other top-rated beginner options that we’ve reviewed for you below.

With the rapid growth of pickleball, there are so many new paddles being launched that the choices can be overwhelming. In our honest opinion, if you are a beginner, those may not be the best options since you end up paying for features that you probably don’t need when just starting out. 

So to help you narrow down your choices, we’ve come up with a list of top beginner picks along with detailed reviews to help find the paddle that best fits your playing style and budget.

Mike Branon’s short and practical 4 part series has some quick tips and advice if you want to improve your game before you hit the courts.

Things for beginners to consider

Price

All of the beginner paddles reviewed here fall somewhere in the “mid-range” of the price spectrum. Currently, pickleball paddles sell for anywhere between $10 to over $150. The options on our list are not the latest and greatest paddles but they are also not the cheapest pickleball paddles either. This list is somewhere between those two extremes. 

So, if you are planning to play pickleball somewhat regularly, looking for a paddle you can play with as you improve …you want a quality paddle but not necessarily top of the line… this list is perfect for you, please keep reading below.

However, if you are just trying out pickleball for the first time and you’re not even sure you will be playing long term…and just looking for a cheap paddle click here to see a list specifically with a low budget in mind ($30 and under) for people that just need an affordable paddle.

Material

Since this list is for beginners, we’ve left off all the cutting edge paddle tech. Pickleball brands continue to push the limits of what they can offer, some of the high-end paddles use aircraft-grade composites, specially textured faces and vibration canceling cores.

All of these features can have benefits for advanced players but we don’t really think you need a lot of expensive bells and whistles. If you are still working on getting the ball over the net, you probably don’t need “liquid graphite” to increase your topspin…

Edge Guard

All of these paddles have a protective guard around the edge, it protects the paddle from normal wear & tear, not so you can slam it on the ground!  Often times players accidentally scrap their paddle on the ground when returning shots. 

We don’t generally recommend edgeless paddles to beginners, but if you want to find out more about the design, check out this article

Weight

The #1 most important buying factor in this range is the weight.

Heavier paddles give you extra power, that will add a boost to your shots – especially long drives from the baseline and your serve.

Lighter paddles are easier to control and maneuver which helps when you are playing at the net, “dinking” and playing the slow game up at the kitchen.

If you do not have any injuries, especially tennis elbow or arthritis, you should be able to handle a heavier paddle. But if you do have any of the issues mentioned above – go for a mid-weight paddle (somewhere in the 7.3 to 8.4 oz range).

Grip Size

It’s also important to select a grip that fits your hand size. We’ve listed the grip size of each paddle. When in doubt between two sizes, get the smaller of the two. Here is the quick and easy way to determine grip size just based on your height. If you’re looking for a more detailed guide to buying your first paddle and other factors to consider, please see our Complete Pickleball Paddle Buyers Guide.

HeightGrip Size (inches)Grip Size
Under 5’2″4 inchesSmall
5’3″ to 5’8″4 1/4 inchesMedium
5’9″ & taller4 1/2 inchesLarge
(@Picture Vijay Nitesh)

Electrum Model E Stealth

SpecsDescription
Paddle Weight 7.8 oz / 221gm
Paddle Face MaterialToray Carbon Fiber
Paddle Core MaterialPremium Honeycomb Polymer Core
Paddle Core Thickness0.63″ / 16mm
Paddle ShapeElongated
Paddle Length16.3” / 413mm
Paddle Width7.3” / 185mm
Grip Size4 ¼” 108mm
Swing Weight108
Twist Weight5

View at JustPaddles with discount code PORTAL

Upside

  • Great hand speed and control.
  • Moderate pop and spin capabilities.
  • Customizable weight for balance adjustment.
  • Affordable with good value.

Downside

  • Smaller sweet spot, not ideal for power hitters.
  • Durability concerns without edge guard (though mitigated by protective tape).
  • Might require grip customization for comfort.

After spending two weeks testing the Electrum Model E Stealth, I’ve found it excels in enhancing hand speed and control, especially for those who value quick reflexes and precision over sheer power. Its carbon fiber surface and Whole Cell Honeycomb Condensed Core contribute to a moderate level of pop and excellent spin capabilities, albeit with a smaller sweet spot. This paddle is a solid choice for players who prefer agility and finesse, willing to adapt to its unique feel and possibly customize it for improved performance. However, it might not be the best fit for players looking for a paddle that emphasizes power. Priced reasonably, it offers good value for players focused on control and maneuverability.

Read our in-depth Electrum Model E Stealth review.

(Picture Dennis Rodriguez)

Gamma Obsidian 16

SpecsDescription
Paddle Weight7.8 oz
Paddle Face MaterialRaw Carbon Fiber
Paddle Core MaterialSensa Core Honeycomb
Paddle ShapeElongated w/ Tapered Edge
Paddle Length16-3/8 in.
Paddle Width7-3/8 in.
Grip Size4-1/8 in.
Handle Length5-3/4 in.

View at JustPaddles with discount code PORTAL

Upside

  • Excellent control and consistency.
  • Good for finesse and soft game strategies.
  • Lightweight, allowing for customization.
  • High spin potential.
  • Comfortable grip and good for two-handed backhands.

Downside

  • Lacks the pop some players prefer.
  • Might be too soft for advanced players seeking more power.

The Gamma Obsidian 16 is an excellent choice for players who value finesse and control in their game, especially for those who enjoy a soft play style, setting up points with precision. It’s a bit too soft for my personal taste, as I usually prefer paddles with a bit more pop. However, its control, consistency, and the ability to execute drops, dinks, and resets seamlessly make it a solid option. For players like me, who seek more power, Gamma offers a 13mm version. The paddle is well-designed, lightweight, and offers great spin potential, making it suitable for beginner to intermediate players focusing on improving their game control. Advanced players might find it too soft, favoring the Obsidian 13 for extra power.

Read our in-depth Gamma Obsidian 16 review.

(Image credit: Dan Langston)

Versix Pro 6c

SpecsDescription
Paddle Weight8.0 ounces
Paddle Face MaterialCarbon Fiber with Peel Ply Texture + Wear Prevention Coating
Paddle Core MaterialPolypropylene Honeycomb
Paddle ShapeStandard
Paddle Length15.6″ 
Paddle Width8.2″ 
Grip Thickness4 1/8″
Handle Length5″

View at Pickleball Central

Upside

  • Affordable price of $84.
  • Textured surface enhances ball spin for slicing and topspin.
  • Natural feel and precise shot placements provide excellent control.
  • Forgiving nature with a large sweet spot and effective dampening.
  • Surprisingly easy to maneuver despite its 8-ounce weight.
  • Decent power from the back baseline.
  • Well-balanced swing weight aids in quick movements and positioning.

Downside

  • Minor texture inconsistencies on the left side.
  • Not solely focused on power, may not suit power players exclusively.

At an affordable price of $84, the Versix Pro 6c pickleball paddle may seem geared towards beginners, but its performance exceeds expectations. The textured surface enhances ball spin, allowing for easy slicing and topspin generation. While some minor texture inconsistencies are present on the left side, they have little impact on gameplay unless you consistently mis-hit. Transitioning to this paddle feels natural and it gives you consistent feedback, making it an ideal choice for beginners seeking control. Its forgiving nature and large sweet spot, coupled with effective dampening, result in minimal vibrations even on off-center hits. Surprisingly easy to maneuver despite its 8-ounce weight, the Versix Pro 6c allows players to stay in control during intense matches. While it may not focus solely on power, it still offers a decent amount of force from the back baseline. The well-balanced swing weight enables quick movements and easy positioning during volley battles near the net.

Read our in-depth Versix review.

Diadem
(Image credit: Dennis Rodriguez)

Diadem Icon 12mm

SpecsDescription
Paddle Weight7.7 (+/-0.20) oz
Paddle Face MaterialCarbon Fiber
Paddle Core MaterialPolypropylene
Paddle ShapeStandard
Paddle Length16”
Paddle Width7 3/4”
Grip Size4 1/4”
Handle Length5”

View at JustPaddles

Upside

  • Sufficient power and control
  • Advantageous for counters and firefights
  • Elongated allowing for good reach
  • Unique 3 piece edge guard

Downside

  • Not as reactive and poppy as many 12mm paddles
  • Thin core sacrifices some control

Diadem is no stranger to the pickleball and tennis world. I found the Diadem Icon to be very unique, from it’s “Spin RP” polyurethane coating on the face to its three piece replaceable edge guard. After getting used to the feel and responsiveness of the paddle, I found the Icon to be quite forgiving and very well rounded in terms of power and control. My intermediate students loved this paddle.

The Icon was consistently generating spin at around 1400 RPM. Power was decent, not great. For a thin core paddle I was surprised at the amount of control and feel I had with the Icon. For $100, I would say this is an exceptional paddle for beginner to intermediate players that want to transition into a more well rounded paddle that isn’t too sensitive, but can get the job done and have a little fun with.

Read our in-depth Diadem Icon review.

the slk evo control max 2.0
(Image credit: Dan Langston)

Selkirk Evo Control Max 2.0

SpecsDescription
Paddle Weight7.6 – 8.1 oz
Paddle Face MaterialG8-Flex Carbon Fiber
Paddle Core MaterialRev-Control Polymer Core
Paddle ShapeStandard
Paddle Length16”
Paddle Width7.85”
Grip Size4 1/4”
Handle Length4.85”

View at Pickleball Central

Upside

  • Affordable price compared to similar paddles.
  • Gritty and textured surface for enhanced ball control.
  • Polymer core minimizes noise during gameplay.
  • Soft feel prioritizes precision and finesse.
  • Good performance in the soft game.
  • Wider sweet spot for more forgiveness.

Downside

  • Possible grip defect.
  • Moderate power compared to high-end paddles.
  • Acceptable swing weight, but may be bothersome for smaller players.

The Selkirk Evo Control Max 2.0 pickleball paddle is an innovative addition to the Selkirk paddle lineup, designed to provide exceptional control and precision. Building upon the success of its predecessor, the Evo Control Max, this new version incorporates a few new features. One of the key highlights of the Selkirk Evo Control Max 2.0 is its construction. The paddle is crafted using a high-quality polypropylene honeycomb core, known for its durability and responsiveness. This core is combined with a G8 Flex Face, which enhances the paddle’s feel and responsiveness while maintaining ball control.

While Selkirk is renowned for its superior craftsmanship, I encountered an issue with the grip on my paddle, where the tape shifted during swings. However, this seems to be an isolated defect as I’ve never encountered it with any other Selkirk paddle. With a price of $100, I was curious about how they achieved such affordability, and upon closer examination, I noticed disparities in component quality compared to higher-priced alternatives (see full review for details). In terms of design, the Selkirk Evo Control Max 2.0 showcases a sleek and modern look. It sports a vibrant and eye-catching graphic design on the face, no doubt.

Read our in-depth Selkirk Evo Control Max 2.0 review.

the prince response pro
(Image credit: Dan Langston)

Prince Response Pro

SpecsDescription
Paddle Weight7.8 – 8.3 oz
Paddle Face MaterialFiberglass with Textured UV Coating
Paddle Core MaterialPolypropylene Honeycomb
Paddle ShapeRound
Paddle Length15 3/4″
Paddle Width8 1/4″
Grip Size4 3/8″ standard & 4 1/8″ thin
Handle Length4.85”

View at JustPaddles

Upside

  • Massive sweet-spot
  • Unlimited forgiveness
  • Fairly powerful
  • Has game in the kitchen
  • Easy to handle and get used to

Downside

  • The lighter version is harder to control
  • The grip has a boxy feel, but you can add more tape to offset

If you haven’t heard of Prince, then you haven’t heard of racquet sports. They’ve been around since the 70s. This gives them such an advantage and insight into what consumers really care about. They were the first to create a sweet-spot so big on a tennis racket, that they were able to get a patent on it… Full circle, this is ironic because the Response Pro undoubtedly has an oversized sweet-spot, which is one of the reasons why the pros use it. There’s also a few different weight options depending on your playing style, but for almost everyone I would recommend the middleweight option with a standard grip. Maybe go with the lighter option if you never plan on hitting the ball hard and only play doubles.

The thick polymer core makes the Response Pro a lot more plush than I would normally expect with a fiberglass face. Usually, I will look for a graphite material on the surface if I plan on hanging out in the kitchen, but the Response Pro soft game is actually one of the significant advantages to this paddle. The long handle allows for two-handed backhands, if you want to be like Anna Leigh Waters. And if Simone Jardim can achieve a historic triple crown victory with the Response Pro, I think that makes it a safe purchase. Also plenty of colors to choose from if you want to make it fun.

Read our in-depth Response Pro review.

the selkirk omega max paddle shown on a table
(Image credit: Dan Langston)

Selkirk Omega Max

SpecsDescription
Paddle Weight7.8 – 8.2 oz.
Paddle Face MaterialGC9-Flex Dual Carbon
Paddle Core MaterialRev-Core+ Polymer Core
Paddle ShapeStandard
Paddle Length 16”
Paddle Width7.85”
Grip Size4 1/4″
Handle Length4.85”

View at JustPaddles

Upside

  • Decent Power
  • Exceptional spin
  • Good Build Quality
  • Long-lasting

Downside

  • Small sweet-spot
  • Too low swing-weight
  • Hard to control
  • Inconsistent feel

Selkirk consistently excels in terms of build quality, and I must commend them for it. After hitting the ball over 300 times, my arm is sore, but I can confidently say that the paddle feels exceptionally well-made. It boasts a sturdy finish that shows no signs of wear despite several intense hitting sessions. Notably, the coating is impressively tough, although the edgeless design of the rim could benefit from tape for added protection. Nonetheless, the paddle remains blemish-free, allowing me to maintain a consistent feel and apply significant spin.

The paddle initially gives a positive impression with its lightweight and maneuverable design. However, during testing, I found that the paddle lacks some functionality despite its fashionable appearance. The low swing-weight and head-light balance can cause the paddle to move upon ball impact, resulting in reduced responsiveness and power. On the bright side, the paddle’s aerodynamic design provides a comfortable and less fatiguing experience for the hands and wrist.

One noticeable aspect of the paddle is its louder sound, which may or may not be a concern depending on personal preference. I think this is a phenomenal bargain if you naturally have good hand eye coordination and want a paddle that is resistant to your emotions on the court. To counterbalance the low swing weight, I recommend adding heavy tape to enhance its overall performance. If you’re willing to invest an extra $30, I suggest considering the Joola Vision, as it may provide a better value for your money.

Read our in-depth Omega Max review.

Expect more reviews to show up here on an on-going basis.

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