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.
Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners: 2021 Picks
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**You’ll find our more detailed reviews below, but you can also click the links above to read customer reviews and see more details on Amazon.
Beginner Paddles: Things 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: We did not include any wood paddles on this list, if you are looking for a good wooden paddle please see the link above for budget paddles. All of the ones on this list here are graphite or composite.
Paddle Technology: Since this list if 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 damage and wear & tear. We don’t generally recommend edgeless paddles for beginners but feel free to click the link if you want to see the options in that category.
USAPA Approval: if you want to play in sanctioned tournaments you’ll need to have an approved paddle. While some beginners will eventually want to compete it’s not necessarily a priority for most.
While more expensive paddles are almost always approved (since the buyers tend to be competitive players) some of the paddles on this beginner list are not, although we did manage to include a few that are approved- in case you foresee entering a tournament in the near future.
Since we first published this article the pickleball paddle market has been booming with lots of new options available and high-quality products at more affordable prices than before so we have expanded our reviews to include more graphite paddles in our picks for top beginner paddles.
The Upstreet Graphite paddle is a great quality beginner paddle at a reasonable price and also includes a free neoprene case. Unless you are on a very tight budget that only allows for a beginner wood paddle… it’s worth considering this one by Upstreet as your first paddle.
If you are sure that you want a graphite pickleball paddle and are willing to spend slightly more please click here to see our top picks in that category.
How to Choose the Right Paddle for you?
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).
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.
Pickleball, Inc. Champion Graphite X Pickleball Paddle
The Champion Graphite X paddle is made by Pickleball-Inc, the original startup company and early inventors of the sport. This best-selling mid-range paddle has become an industry standard and has been around since 1998. The Champion weighs 7.6-8.0 ounces.
The large-sized hitting surface gives this paddle a large sweet spot that helps beginner plays hit their shots consistently. The Champion offers a good weight for beginners and a nice balanced feel.
The paddle comes in 5 vintage colors, reminiscent of the early days of the sport. 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the Champion, a great testimonial to the quality of the product. With so many new paddle models being made and redone it’s rare to find a paddle that has stood the test of time…
In 2017 the Champion did get an upgrade with a stronger edge guard (and the bonding that holds it to the paddle) as well as a newly improved surface on the face. But at its core it’s still the paddle – just improved.
For our full overview and comparison of the different Champion paddles see here.
Gamma Fusion 2.0
This midweight (8.0 oz) paddle by Gamma Sports is the recent remake of their original Fusion paddle. The widebody face is finished with a textured fiberglass face gives the paddle good touch while still packing eight ounces of punch for your hard drives. The wide paddle face has a large sweet spot and is an easy shape for beginners to start using.
The 4″ grip on the Fusion 2.o pickleball paddle makes it ideal for small hands and the handle is Gamma’s comfy honeycomb grip.
The company is well known for grips and this is one of the pros to buying their paddles is that they offer a comfortable and solid grip (some other brands actually use Gamma grips on their paddles and players like the Gamma replacement grips to upgrade old worn grips.
The Fusion 2.0 is approved for tournament play by USAPA.
Amazin’ Aces Graphite Pickleball Paddle Review
Another very popular seller is the Amazin’ Aces Graphite Pickleball Paddle. It’s slightly heavier than the other paddles listed above, weighing 9.2 oz (compared to under 8 ounces) that extra ounce is a consideration. At over 9 ounces it definitely lands it in the heavy category. While that extra ounce will deliver plenty of power.
The boost of power combined with the soft touch core, make this a good all-around paddle for a beginner or intermediate players that are currently playing with wood and would like to upgrade.
The Amazin’ Aces features a Polymer core which is known to be the softest and quietest on the market (compared to an aluminum core which gives extra pop but at the cost of more noise and vibration. Another benefit of this paddle is that it has been approved by the USAPA.
When it comes down to it, the Upstreet (below) and the Amazin’ Aces are very comparable. They are both young companies selling popular beginner paddles on Amazon. The specifications are very similar between the two options.
One of the main deciding factors would be- weight, if you want a paddle cover included (Upstreet) or if you think you’ll compete in tournaments (Amazin’ Aces).
Upstreet Graphite Pickleball Paddle Review
This young company out of Utah has been selling its paddles on Amazon for the past few years and this budget graphite paddle continues to be one of the top-selling paddles in its category.
Although the Upstreet Graphite paddle comes in several unique designs, under the hood they are all the same. It’s an 8 and a half ounce paddle with a graphite face over a polymer honeycomb core. The paddle comes with a 4.25″ micro-dry comfort grip designed to wick away sweat and keep your hands dry during play.
One of the benefits of buying an Upstreet paddle is that they include a neoprene paddle case. Many other brands sell these separately ($10-$15) so it’s worth factoring that into the price when you do your comparison shopping and decide which paddle to buy.
As a beginner, you may not be making plans to compete in tournaments any time soon but we do want to mention that this paddle is NOT approved by the USAPA so keep that in mind if you have any interest in getting into competitive play down the road.
Rally Tyro 2 Composite Paddle Review
This is a great cost-effective option for an entry-level composite paddle. The Rally Tryo 2 paddle delivers quality design at a much lower price point than you would expect for similar composite paddles. It’s a couple of steps up the ladder from a basic wooden paddle and the quality of the materials is similar to what you would see in a more premium mid-range price point.
The Tyro 2 paddle weighs in at under 7 ounces (6.7 ounces) making it a great lightweight beginner option!
The paddle face is made of polycarbonate laid over Polymer honeycomb core. The pure white face and black grip make for an elegant design and great choice for a pickleball player looking to avoid some of the flashy colored paddles we see more and more on the court.
One important factor to consider is that due to slight texture variation on the paddle face, the Rally Tyro has NOT been USAPA approved for tournament play.
Rally Paddles is a well-known brand, run by the folks at Pickleball Central – one of the largest online retail pickleball equipment sellers.
- Strong Polymer Core
- Not approved for USAPA tournament play.
Rally Tyro 2 PRO Pickleball Paddle
The Rally Tyro Pro recently came out as an upgrade version of the earlier Tyro 2. This new “Pro” version of the paddle has a few upgrades, including vibration dampening core technology to reduce the shock from repeatedly hitting the ball.
The face is finished with a “velvet” enhanced texture face to improve the touch and feel of the paddle. The Pro has a medium grip measuring 4.25″ in circumference with a 5″ long handle. The weight range is 7.5 – 7.9 oz with an average paddle weighing 7.7 ounces.
Head Extreme Elite Pickleball Paddle
Head made news in the pickleball industry in 2017 when they launched a whole line of paddles, this move from such a large and well-known tennis brand was a vote of confidence for the growing market. The paddles definitely have a look and feel that will appeal to cross over players coming from a tennis background. We previously reviewed the Tour and Pro paddle lines which are their higher-priced paddles.
The Xtreme Elite is marketed as a control paddle with its thinner core and lighter weight. The Elite is a less expensive paddle than the Tour and Pro lines. However, as a beginner, the Extreme Elite is still a suitable option.
The main difference between this paddle and the more expensive Head options is that the Elite comes with the company’s “Ergo” grip (compared to the Head “Comfort” grip on the more expensive Head paddles).
The Elite also does NOT have the “Extreme Spin Texture” that is featured on the Head “Pro” and “Tour” paddle faces. So if you are looking for a more affordable budget paddle and are willing to pass up the nicer grip and not really worried about adding spin on your shots, the Extreme Elite could be a good starter option for you.
ProLite is a well-known pickleball company that makes a wide range of products from beginner to high-end paddles used by pro players. The The company also offers a limited lifetime warranty which should give buyers peace of mind should anything go wrong with the paddle.
When the ProLite Rockstar paddle first came out we had this as a top pick, unfortunately for unknown reasons we see few of these available online and they have a much higher cost now. You may be able to find some used options online.
Hopefully, these paddle reviews have given you a few good options for your first beginner paddle and we were able to help you chose the best one that meets your budget, grip and playing style.