What’s the best pickleball paddle for women?
I hesitated to write this for a long time – do we really need to differentiate between genders for something as unisex as a pickleball paddle?
However, after getting this question many times from our readers, my wife and I decided to dedicate some time to answer the question since it might be useful to a lot of women getting started in pickleball or shopping for a new paddle.
As we explain below, this article is really intended to help anyone out there shopping for the best paddle to fit their hand size and playing style: there are also many men and younger players looking for good lightweight paddles with small grip sizes.
Some readers have looked at buying the Prolite Groove paddle and wondered if that was really the best option? While it is marketed as the only pickleball paddle specifically designed for women and is definitely a decent option, we wanted to go into more detail about what to look for and open up other options for you.
The main goal is to help you shop for your next paddle and point female players to some of the best paddles to consider.
One of the great things about pickleball is that it’s an open and welcoming sport and at last count, the breakdown of male and female players was pretty balanced, with females making up close to 40% of casual players.
I guess it is a logical question since other sports like golf do have gear (ladies golf clubs) that is specifically designed for women and even when shopping for pickleball shoes, most shoe brands make different models for men’s and women’s feet.
Keep reading below to see why there’s no one right answer and get some specific tips on what to look for when paddle shopping – since much of it depends on the grip size of YOUR hand and personal playing style and less to do with your gender.
However, since a large percentage of women are looking for smaller grips and relatively lightweight paddles we’ve put together a list. Here’s a short list with some of our top picks:
It’s Not Just About Gender
Although many people are looking for an answer to the male/female paddle question, I think that’s the wrong way to think about it. As we’ve always said on this site (starting with out Pickleball Paddle Buying Guide) the most important criteria for picking out a paddle that fits you is: weight and grip size.
It’s easy to get distracted by the latest and greatest pickleball paddles on the market with special paddles for spin, textured paddle faces, new core technologies and other features. However, if we put all that as a second priority (“nice to have” features) the buying decision still comes down to finding a paddle that fits in your hand, feels good when you swing it and has the right weight and balance for your stature, level of strength and playing style.
To clarify my point, I’ll use my sister as an example (a beautiful, athletic woman at that). She is six feet tall (or 5′ 12″ as she likes to say), strong, she plays several sports and works out in the gym.
She does not need a “ladies paddle”. Her grip is larger than the hands of many of the men she partners with and plays against. She got pretty defined, muscular forearms from years of tennis, working out and in recent years: pickleball.
She doesn’t play with any of the pickleball paddles we recommend above. Yes, she is a woman- but it wouldn’t make any sense for her to buy a paddle marketed for women. She doesn’t need a light paddle with a small 4″ grip. She uses a 4-1/2” grip circumference and puts additional overgrip to bulk it out even a bit more. She is a power hitter and uses a paddle weighing over 8.5 ounces, clearly above what the average woman would be looking for in a pickleball paddle.
So that’s my point, we need to stop thinking gender and go back to the basics to make sure you get the right paddle for you…not just narrowly based whether you are a man vs. woman.
Paddle Grip Size:
Grip size is key, one of the most important factors when buying a paddle. The one thing to keep in mind, you can always build up your grip with a thicker replacement grip, a few wraps of overgrip or a combo of both, BUT you can’t make your grip smaller. When in doubt between two grip sizes go for the smaller of the two.
How to measure your ideal grip size :
1. Quick and Easy method (not as accurate) is based on your height.
|Easy Way To Measure Grip Size By Height|
|Your Height||Grip Size|
|Under 5’2″||4″ Grip|
|5’3″ to 5’8″||4 1/8″ to 4 1/4″ Grip|
|5’9″ & taller||4 1/2″ Grip|
2. Measure your hand:
To determine the correct paddle grip size, you can measure your grip size with a ruler.
Measure the distance from the tip of your ring finger, down to the middle crease in your palm (your palm has three creases).
Most paddles come in 1/4″ increments (most common sizes are from 4″ to 4 1/2″ although we do see some over that size and others that are listed in 1/8 increments, for example, some new paddles are listed at 4 3/8″.
Light Paddle Weight:
The weight of your paddle is going to determine the overall feel of the paddle in your hand. The extra weight of a heavier paddle will give you extra boost behind your shots. If you are using a heavy paddle you can get a strong deep shot with a less powerful swing since the weight of the paddle to generate more power.
The problem is that while you are playing that heavy paddle will weigh you down, you may fatigue quicker and also feel more stress on your elbow and shoulder. The heavier paddles are “slower” in the sense that it takes you longer to swing it or move it into position so you sacrifice control and playability at the net.
Lighter paddles are more agile, quicker to get into position and offer control during the soft game and short dinking game. You may struggle to generate as much power with these paddles, especially if you are deep – back by the baseline.
Unless you are a power hitter that thrives off of hard baseline shots, hard serves and overhead smashes…most likely you’d do better with something more balanced like a mid-weight paddle. If you really enjoy the short game and slower strategic play at the net and want to be able to play longer without getting fatigued you may like a lighter paddle.
Most of our recommendations for this category fall somewhere in the light range to lower mid-range paddle, around 8 ounces and under with several closer to 7 ounces.
|Pickleball Paddle Weight Ranges|
|Lightweight Paddles||Under 7.3 oz|
|Mid-weight Paddles||7.3 to 8.4 oz|
|Heavy Paddles||8.5 oz and over|
So as you can see, there are several reasons why there is no simple answer to the original question. It’s not so much about being a man or a woman but rather your own personal requirements. You need to know your hand size first, then the second question really is personal preference when selecting the paddle weight from lightweight to heavy.
However, to give you some recommendations we’ve had to make a few assumptions. The paddles below give you a good starting point with a few paddles that might be a good fit.
The average woman player is not built like my sister, most women (just based on height) would need a small to medium grip. As we said, it’s better to go small and build up with overgrip if needed, so most women would probably be looking for a small grip.
While you personally may be a power hitter or “banger” like my sister, most casual doubles pickleball players tend to play a combination of hard shots and strategic dinking/slow game at the net.
If we had to generalize, I’d say most people (unless you are a competitive player) would be more on the control and finesse end of the spectrum vs. power hitters. Because of that, I would recommend you look at mid to lightweight paddles with a good paddle response vs really heavy paddles that excel at power.
We really shouldn’t go without mentioning the “Groove” paddle by Prolite Sports. It’s marketed as the only women’s paddle (or specifically made for women). While it is clever marketing, and we do think the Groove is a quality paddle worth considering it’s not the only option out there so you shouldn’t feel limited to just one. The paddle weighs 7.4-7.8 ounces with a grip circumference 4 1/8″ so is right in line with the other paddles we’ve recommended.