Best Pickleball Paddles For Spin | 2018 Paddle Reviews

If you’ve landed here, I’m guessing you are probably looking for a paddle that can help you put more spin on your pickleball shots. Some of the best pickleball paddles for spin have come out in the last year. There is quite a bit of buzz in the pickleball world around the topic lately and almost every major pickleball equipment manufacturer has recently come out with at least one paddle specifically designed and marketed to help you add spin to your game.

If you are in a hurry and just came for a quick recommendation, I’ll skip right to it. If we had to select one winner, our #1 pick for the best paddle for spin is the Encore Pro by Engage Pickleball. 

However, with all the paddles on the market now, there are several other great options that we review below. The overall choice was also taking into consideration value for money. If your budget can afford a higher price range, the Engage X-Series and the Selkirk S1C are really pro level paddles -apart from being great paddles for spin so you couldn't go wrong with either one of those.

Continue reading below for our full reviews of several other top rated paddles for spin along with tips to improve your game to put more spin on a pickleball. We’ve also included a full buyer’s guide that answers frequently asked questions and what to look for in your next paddle.​

 **Below, you'll find our own detailed reviews or you can click the links above for more details on Amazon.

What’s the big deal about pickleball spin?

…and why are so many people talking about it now?

From what I see, there seem to be two main reasons for this growing trend:

pickleball spin

1) The sport of  continues to evolve. Compared to the game's early days, pickleball has progressed from a slower dinking game to a much more athletic sport and players are more technically skilled than before. More athletes are being attracted to the sport and companies have responded with high tech paddles to meet this demand.

This combination of skill and better paddle technology continues to push the level of play. Advanced skills – like putting spin on the ball – have become mainstream. It’s pretty clear that pickleball equipment makers have taken notice of this trend by launching paddles that are optimized for the style of play we are seeing on the court…with new textured surfaces to maximize spin.

​2) As the sport continues to grow, pickleball is attracting an increasing number of former tennis players. Most advanced tennis players are skilled at putting different effects on the ball (topspin, backspin, side spin) and most are able to put some pretty decent ​spin on their serve.

You’d be hard pressed to find a seasoned tennis player that isn’t able to put spin on the ball. Most veteran players have a strong topspin serve, can place a well targeted drop shot with backspin and are able to handle returning a serve with a lot of “junk” on it. If you watch pro tennis you’ll see forehand topspin as a dominate weapon in the sport.

    Why Composite Paddles are the Best for Spin:

    If you look closely at a the face of a composite paddle you can see the texture of the material (normally fiberglass)​ compared to the glossy finish of a graphite/carbon fiber paddle face. You can also feel it (and probably hear it) if you scratch your fingers back and forth over the face of a composite paddle. That texture is what gives the paddle some “bite” or “grab” so when you slice it across the ball it gives it spin.

    On a tennis racket, the player (or a Pro shop) can enhance the “bite” factor on their racket by using rougher, textured, or tacky strings to “grab” the ball by modifying the space between the strings (more space between strings for the ball to sink into). So while in tennis you can modify your strings to help increase spin, with a pickleball paddle you are stuck with the paddle face you buy, so no real way to increase texture or “grab” after you’ve bought the paddle.

    Why Graphite Paddles aren’t the best pickleball paddles for spin.

    Graphite paddle paddles are known for being lightweight and strong, are. The one feature they have been missing (up until now) was texture. Graphite/carbon fiber are high gloss and slippery surfaces and lack surface roughness we just discussed that composite materials are known for. Things changed when Engage Pickleball released what they call “liquid graphite”, a chemically bonded surface that lays over the surface of the paddle and enhances the texture to give it extra touch and feel.

    Engage has added the new technology to their line of Encore paddles. In addition to enhanced touch and “play-ability”, the bonded “skin” gives it the bite you would get from a composite paddles. This new material could be a major milestone since it would deliver the benefits of graphite paddles (lightweight, durable) with the paddle surface grab that was lacking up until now.

    Head Radical Pro Pickleball Paddle Review

    The Head Radical Pro is Head’s premium power pickleball paddle. It has a what head calls their "Dynamic Power Shape" which enhances the sweet spot and a thicker honeycomb construction, which makes it more stable and secure.

    This paddle weighs 8.1 oz. on average coming in on the heavy range of the spin paddles we reviewed. However, this added weight will be welcomed for any power hitter looking to boost their shots. 

    The Radical Pro's 16” length gives it ample reach. The new Ergo Grip is 4 ¼ “ and it creates a softer feel, so combined with the weight and length of the paddle makes for a good all-around solution for the versatile player. 

    The ergo grip is also designed to decreases paddle vibration and makes it more comfortable to play. The width of the paddle is 7 ⅞ “. This new pickleball paddle from Head features their "Extreme Spin Texture" on the fiberglass hitting surface designed to add spin and control to your game.

    In theory (if you have the skills to put junk on the ball, this new textured surface should give you a slight edge over other composite paddles on the market that do not have any kind of spin enhancing texture. 

    Head is new to the pickleball game and recently launched a full line of paddles, and this Radical Pro (along with it's sister, the "Extreme Pro" which features a diamond shape paddle head) are the top of their paddle line.  If it's spin your looking for from Head, then the Radical Pro is the choice for you. 


    Selkirk Pro S1C Pickleball Paddle Review

     The Pro SC1 Pickleball Paddle by Selkirk Sport  is for a player who will not compromise on control. With a FiberStrong Composite and a PolymerPowerCore this paddle will definitely improve the quality of your game. The edges were made with the EdgeSentry technology which provides you with a well-balanced paddle.

    This paddle has one of the largest sweet spots in the industry. The face of the paddle is lightly textured and made to increase your spin. The whole paddle is 15” long , with a medium width (8”). The grip is 4.5” long and you can choose between a thin (Gamma) grip and a standard (Selkirk Comfort Grip).

    This paddle weighs between 7.5 - 8 oz. on average. Selkirk also came out with a heavier version of the paddle- The Selkirk Pro S1C+, which weighs 8 – 8.5 oz. on average. 

    If you are thinking of choosing this paddle it might be useful to know that the handle is 4.5", which is a little bit shorter than the average pickleball paddle so if you have large hands you may find yourself needing to choke up on it a little.   

    While this paddle is a great option for any player, it was designed for professional players and is most suitable for intermediate to advanced competitive players. However, that said, even if you are just starting out- if your this fits your budget and you prefer quality gear this paddle would be an excellent way to begin your pickleball jouney (with a nice head start). 

    ProLite CRUSH PowerSpin Pickleball Paddle Review

    The Crush PowerSpin Composite Paddle by Pro-Lite is named after the company's proprietary, textured PowerSpin™ paddle surface, which helps add some extra  “grab” to the pickleball. As we've discussed the textured surface is a key element to adding spin. 

    This pickleball paddle represents a great combination of control, power and spin. It is built on the Magnum shape- the most successful shape from ProLite. This paddle was designed to deliver enhance ball spin abilities with new surface – SPINtac™. 

    These new SPINtac™ fiberglass panels cover the QuadCore polymer honeycomb paddle core. This  newly designed fiberglass face creates a surface that is evenly responsive. The company stands behind the construction with a 5 year No-Dead Spot Warranty (in addition to their Limited lifetime warranty).

    The Crush comes in at 7.4-7.8 ounces, so the light head weight makes for faster response and the smaller grip is good for adding control shots at the net and slower finesse game. The ProLite Crush is approved for noise restricted communities and USAPA approved for tournament play. Like Pro-Lite's other paddles, it is made in the USA.

    Since the grip measures 4 1/8", it's a grip size that will fit the average player.  The Crush comes with Pro-Lite's  No-Slip Thin Grip. If you're looking for a mid weight all around paddle that will help you put some massive spin on your shots, the ProLite Crush is worth taking a closer look at. 

    ProLite Rebel PowerSpin Pickleball Paddle Review

    The Rebel PowerSpin is another paddle in the Pro-Lite lineup that also features their textured PowerSpin™ paddle surface. 

    The paddle has a good amount of "pop" and the extra long paddle face (16 inches) gives a bit of extra reach.

    The texturing of the surface is strong enough to give the ball a good spin, but is also subtle enough so it doesn’t feel like a big change compared to other composite paddles since the PowerSpin texture itself doesn't feel overly rough.

    It has a 5-inch long grip handle, so if you like a longer grip or you have bigger hands, this might be the paddle for you. The grip circumference is 4 1/4" so on the small side. It's heavier than the other Pro-Lite paddle we reviewed above (Crush) with weight on this one weighing in about half an ounce more with ranging from 7.7 - 8.1 ounces.

    This paddle might be a good choice for your first "spin" or experienced pickleball players alike. It is and USAPA approved and is "green zone approved for quiet communities. The paddle handle is finished with ProLite’s Comfort Contour™ grip, a quality and comfortable grip which helps give better control. 

    Pickleball, Inc. Venom Pickleball Paddle Review

    The Venom pickleball paddle by Pickle-ball Inc. was inspired by the style of popular wood paddles and its “tear-drop” shape resembles a tennis racket. It also has a longer handle (5 ½ “) than most pickleball paddles, which can help increase control in your game. The PFG2 Core is made specially for this paddle by Pickleball Inc.

    For inquiring minds that really want to know...the PFG2 is a Nomex honeycomb core with aramid fibers that have been saturated in phenolic resin). For most of us that don't work in paddle construction that really doesn't help much but basically the those kind of fibers and resin make for a strong and durable paddle.  

    The Venom Composite paddle surface provides a lot of frictionon the ball which helps increase  spin and while making  for a quieter hit. This paddle is shaped to be "head-weighted" (more of the weight is in the top end of the paddle) to significantly increase power behind every hit while making it easier to maneuver and create spin.

    The weight of the paddle ranges from 7.6 to 8 oz., which makes it solid but light enough to not cause fatigue when you’re playing for multiple hours. It's a good mid-weight paddle for cross over tennis players. 

    If you are thinking about choosing this paddle, it would be good to keep in mind that it might take some time getting used to it because of the weight distribution and the longer handle. Since it is more of a unique paddle, it is more suitable for intermediate or professional players than someone brand new to pickleball. 

    Gamma Micron 2.0 Pickleball Paddle Review

    The Gamma Micron 2.0  is good match for you if you are looking for an excellent mixture of power and control at a budget price. At the time of publishing this, the Micron was the least expensive paddle on this list of best spin paddles.

    The Aramid Honeycomb core of this paddle provides you with both. This paddle falls under a mid-weight category (weight range: 7.5 – 7.8 oz.) It has a 4 “ Honeycomb grip which makes the grip softer and more comfortable. It has a Durable Edge Guard which protects your paddle from damage during long hours of playing pickleball.

    The textured composite face of the paddle is rougher than average pickleball paddles so it helps with top and back spins and reduces air resistance. The narrower width (7 ¾ ") makes it easier to swing the paddle through air and control your moves while keeping the precision of your hits.

    The Gamma Micron 2.0 is suitable for players at any level and it is USAPA approved.

    Onix Composite Z5 Pickleball Paddle Review

    If you have good ball control and are looking for more pop from the baseline, the Onix Z5 might be the right choice for you. This paddle can provide a great power for your hits and the wide body of the paddle (8 ⅛”) prevents you from missing balls coming from difficult angles.

    The paddle falls under the heavy-weight category with its weight ranging from 8.4 oz. to 8.7 oz making the heaviest paddle on our list.  It has a honeycomb core and a fiberglass face which “grabs” the ball which should help you put more spin on the ball.  

    As we said, this is a heavy-weight paddle so it might be too heavy for players who are looking for a lighter paddle and want to make fast moves while playing. If you are confident in your wrist and arm strength, then the weight of this pickleball paddle shouldn’t be a problem.

    The grip is a little thicker and is similar to tennis racket grips. A few potential drawbacks to the Z5 are that the handle is on the thicker side so it might be difficult to quickly switch to a backhand. Also, the disposition of the weight combined with a thicker grip of the paddle might make it a bit more difficult to handle.

    With all of this said, this paddle would be a great addition to your pickleball equipment if you are an experienced player. The Z5 (also comes in graphite) and has been Onix's best selling paddle for years. It's very common to see this paddle on the courts so that in itself is a testament to the paddle

    Other paddles to consider for spin:

    Paddletek Phoenix Pro Pickleball Paddle

    This paddle might be for you if you are looking for the right balance of control and power. It was made with Advanced ProPolyCore which was designed to reduce vibration and give you more control.

    This paddle falls under middle to heavy-weight paddles with its weight ranging from 8.4 to 8.5 oz. It has a 4 ¼ inch grip. It's velvet textured poly surface was designed specially to add extra spin to your hits and the weight is distributed evenly on this paddle’s extra large surface.

    Adding to the long list of qualities, this paddle has a very durable surface and a 5 year guarantee against soft spots. The Paddletek Phoenix Pro meets all USAPA guidelines and is fit for  noise restricted neighborhoods.

    Paddletek Bantam EX-L Pickleball Paddle

    The Bantam ranges from 7.9 to 8.3 oz, a good weight range if you are looking to add a bit more power to your strokes. It has an extra large surface with a larger sweet spot, which makes it very forgiving of possible mistakes you’ll make.

    The ProPolyCore was designed to decrease vibration and provide more control to your game.  The vibration reduction is also a welcomed feature for anyone suffering from "pickleball elbow".

    The 4 ¼ - inch grip is a good match for anyone with medium-sized hands and will make it easier to change grip position from forehand and backhand. This paddle's weight delivers some extra power and control in your game and the 

    The Paddletek Bantam EX-L paddle is suitable for beginners and experienced pickleball players alike. The paddle is USAPA approved, made in the USA and often be seen in the hands of professional pickleball players such as  gold medal winner Kyle Yates. 

    Selkirk Sport 200P Polymer Honeycomb Core Composite Pickleball Paddle

     The paddle is slightly textured so it provides a good spin and allows more control. The face of the paddle is covered with a vinyl laminate and it is UV protected so the color and the design of the paddle stays vibrant after many hours of pickleball wear and tear. 

    This paddle comes in two sizes: L and XL. The XL might be the right paddle for you if you are looking for bigger and heavier paddle. The XL paddle is slightly longer than the L paddle (15.75 inches vs. 15.5). Both versions have the same grip size – 4 ⅛ inches. The most important difference is weight- The L paddle weighs 8 oz. and the XL weighs 8.8 oz. 

    This paddle has a low-profile edge guard which provides protection to the paddle, it prevents damage or chipping of the material but is subtle enough so it doesn’t affect the quality of your shots.​

    If you are a power player looking for a beefy paddle on the heavier side, that also offers good spin this paddle would be a good match. The Selkirk Sport 200P is USAPA approved and made in the USA.

    Why pickleball paddles alone will not put spin on your shots!

    While high quality sporting goods can definitely help improve your game but many players over estimate how much impact the equipment ​has. Just as buying a $400 titanium golf driver won’t make you hit hole-in-ones, buying a paddle marketed as a “paddle for spin” doesn’t automatically add effect to your shots as soon as you pick it up!

    While the paddle face surface does help, there’s no doubt that a high-end composite paddle with textured face or a new “liquid graphite” face will make it a lot easier to spin the ball – compared to a slippery face of a cheap wood paddle- buying a new paddle is not a magic wand!

    To put massive spin on your shots, first you need to develop pickleball skills and practice your shots- A LOT! The combination of skill plus a quality paddle that is designed for spin can take your pickleball game to the next level. Below you’ll find several tips to add spin to your game.

    Pickleball serve spin. How to put spin on your serve:

    ​Here’s a great video by pickleball coach Deb Harrison (AKA “Ping Pong Deb”) teaching how to do the “Snap Serve”. She is a long time player and teaches pickleball in The Villages (FL). Harrison runs her “Intense Pickleball Workshops” around the country and is a Pro-Lite Pro (sponsored by Pro-Lite, one of the leading paddle makers. I love her videos because they are concise and full of great tips, lots of valuable nuggets in just a few minutes. You can learn more about Deb Harrison  here on her website.

    Her videos also have great quality footage and show you the drill or shot from multiple angles, and the same is true in this video where you see her hitting the serve but also the ball coming at the camera so you can see the spin effect or “junk” as she calls it 🙂 coming off the bounce. She goes over how to keep your spin serve legal and as a bonus in this video she also goes over the return of serve applying under-spin. So in one video you learn how to do a spin serve and hit a return with spin on it. She also explains you can easily tweak the angle of the spin (side-spin, top-spin) by adjusting the angle of your stroke.

    I've noticed in her videos that Deb is always wearing a pickleball glove. Many player find that a glove (as in racquetball) helps get absorb sweat, gives better grip and reduces hand fatigue. We wrote about pickleball gloves and gave some recommendations here.

    Why you shouldn’t try to spin every shot:

    Once you learn to put different kinds of spin on your shots, it’s tempting to put spin on every shot. The problem is that although novice players are often at a loss on how to handle spin, experienced players can read the spin on a pickleball pretty easily and will be able to take advantage of your shots. Advanced players can predict the bounce by visual clues: the angle of the paddle during your swing and the spin on the ball in flight- the large holes on pickleballs makes a spinning ball is easier to read than other racket sports.

    Spin should be one of the weapons in your pickleball arsenal, but use it in moderation and only in situations where it can be an advantage. If you put backspin on 3 points in a row, a good player will pick up on it and use it against you.​

    Is it legal to put spin on a pickleball serve?

    More than once, I’ve seen a game come to a complete stop while players from both side debate whether or not a player is serve is legal or not. As more tennis players migrate to pickleball I think this is going to be a more common dispute since they are used to putting spin on the ball…and a lot of pickleball players (especially beginners) may not be used to seeing so much effect coming off the ball. So, can you put spin on a pickleball serve and still keep it legal? ​

    pickleball serving rules

    You can definitely put spin on the serve and be legal but there are a few important factors to consider about the general pickleball serving rules to make sure your serve is legal. Here is the official rule from the International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) Tournament Rulebook.

    Section 4– Service Rule #4.A:

    Serve Motion. The serve must be made with an underhand stroke so that contact with the ball is made below waist level (waist is defined as the navel level).

    4.A.1 Underhand Defined. The arm must be moving in an upward arc and the paddle head shall be below the wrist when it strikes the ball (paddle head is that part of the paddle excluding handle. The highest point of the paddle head cannot be above any part of line formed where the wrist joint bends).

    So based on the rules, there are three main criteria to keep your serve legal: 1) your arm must be moving in an upward arc. or, the paddle needs to be going in an upward motion, (2) contact with the ball must occur below the waist and (3) the highest part of the paddle cannot be above the wrist.

    Here is a good video by Mark Renneson of Third Shot Sports where he breaks down how to put spin on your serve. Toward the end of the video he shows slo-mo video of his serve mechanics. Although some people in the comments have the opinion that he is doing an illegal serve, if you watch the end and pay attention the contact is made below his waist and the paddle is below his wrist so it is legal based on the IFP rules.  He is putting some pretty wicked serve on his serves so it's a good example proving you can perform a legal serve. 

    Conclusion:

    As the sport of pickleball evolves, the intensity of play and overall skill level of the average player is on the rise. That, compounded by the huge influx of experienced tennis players that have migrated to pickleball, have made spin a bigger part of game that it was just a few years ago.

    Intermediate and advanced tennis players use ball spin as one of their many weapons on the court and more players are now selecting their pickleball paddles with spin in mind. When looking for a new paddle to replace their used paddle or a new convert choosing their first paddle, many players are now taking a closer look at composite paddles and/or paddles that have some kind of enhanced surface texture to give them some extra “bite” on the ball.

    We’ve talked to many cross over tennis players looking for paddles and many have said that spin is one of the top priorities for them. Having played tennis for years I understand where they are coming from- for a veteran tennis player, spin is a major part of their game and a very important skill to have whether it’s having a wicked topspin serve or a surgically placed backspin drop shot just over the net.

    So the idea of relinquishing their ability to put spin on the ball with a glossy graphite paddle with little to no surface texture most players is not an appealing option and will gravitate towards a paddle designed, at least in part, for pickleball spin.

    Pickleball companies are obviously aware of this trend and have stepped to the plate to deliver what the players want. In 2017 we’ve seen a “spin paddle” (paddles marketed specifically for spin) by almost every major pickleball manufacturer. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2018 will bring in the pickleball market and how much the spin factor will continue to influence the development of paddle technology.

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