Are you just trying out this great sport and want to start with a cheap pickleball paddle? While the sport is growing faster than ever and lots of people are getting hooked, it makes sense that not everyone wants to invest in the latest and greatest pickleball paddles - especially considering the price tag on the best paddles can be well over $100.
First we should just clarify when we say cheap we are not referring to low quality. While the word "cheap" is often used to refer to poorly made products, here we are looking at affordable paddles.
The following paddles are all relatively inexpensive but high enough quality that we think they are good value for the money.
Price: This is obviously a requirement to make into this category. Paddles on the market currently range anywhere from $10 - $150+. While prices do fluctuate due to sales and discounts as of the last update to this article these are all priced below $30, with some options as low as $10. (prices were last checked May 2018, please use links below to check the current price)
Brand: There has been in influx of budget paddles in recent years but many of these are by no-name companies or sellers who sell a random mix of products. For this list we stick to reputable brands that are dedicated to the pickleball and have a good record of quality control and customer service.
Materials: If you are looking for a very affordable paddle, especially in this lowest price range we mostly have to limit the search to wood paddles (we've included one budget composite paddle). As soon as you start looking at graphite and composite paddles the price jumps up to the next category.
The Rally Meister Wood Pickleball Paddle is one of the finest wood paddle out there and one of the best selling. It is lighter than some other wood paddles and the surface is nicely finished.
It also overcomes one of the main shortcomings of many other wooden paddles on the market (which didn’t make the cut into our paddle review list): the grip.
Unlike some poorly constructed wood paddles where the grip is basically tape wrapped directly over a wood handle, the Rally Meister sets itself apart with a high-end cushioned polyurethane grip that you wouldn't necessarily expect on a paddle designed for beginners . The grip is similar to what you would find on a more expensive entry level composite paddle.
The slightly elevated ribbing provides great feel when gripping the paddle and the cushion even gives a bit when squeezed making for a comfortable grip even during long sets.
If you are in the market for an affordable wood pickleball paddle, unless you’re looking for the colored paddle face of the Kanga, you really don’t need to look any further than the Rally Meister. Like the Kanga, the Rally Meister is also available in bundles (balls and paddles sold together).
Amazin' Aces is a relative newcomer on the pickleball market but they have been consistently been putting out quality entry level products and have recently expanded into more advanced paddles as well as bags and other accessories.
These wood paddles are made of similar quality and materials as the other wood paddles that we've reviewed here, they are also made of 7 ply maple and have comparable weight (averaging just over 10 ounces).
While the paddles are similar to others on the market in this category, the company does really excel when it comes to added bonus items. They sell this paddle as a set of two but also include 4 pickleball balls.
They also upgrade the package to include a free mesh bag (to hold the balls) and a downloadable ebook, "The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Pickleball". The company is known for steller customer service and have been prompt and courteous in every interaction we've had with them.
If you are looking to get a pair of inexpensive paddles, you really wouldn't go wrong with this choice- especially since they include the extras. If you want to check out all of their products, you can see our overview of their brand here.
If you already have some pickleballs or want to buy them separately you could take a look at this pair of paddles by Upstreet. Although it doesn't come with all the freebies like the previous option, it does include two paddles and a paddle carrying bag. The price is right if you just need to simple paddles- a nice choice for a couple looking to get into the game. The also sell sets of 4 paddles in blue, black and red finishes.
If you definitely want a bundled set (with paddles and balls sold together) you may want to check out our overview of pickleball sets here where we review the best sets.
As we mentioned in the beginning of the article, we mostly concentrated on wood paddles to keep keep under the $30 limit we set. It may seem like kind of an arbitrary number, but once you get above that it opens up a whole new range of intermediate paddles. But we wanted to give you at least one option that wasn't wooden. So here it is:
This is an entry level composite paddle made by Pickle Pro LLC. They are located in Naples, Florida and make their paddles in-house. This "Classic" composite paddle is their original and a good entry level option.
The paddle weighs 8.9 ounces, so it saves you about an ounce compared to the wood paddles on this list. Although that doesn't sound like much of a difference, an ounce is noticeable when you've been swinging the paddle for a few sets!
The grip is 4 1/4” and finished with a cushioned grip tape, making it a option that will fit most average hands and with some added comfort.
The Pickle Pro Classic is made with an aluminum core and composite finish. Compared to wood, you'll notice more pop off the paddle and more "touch and feel", especially once you try more controlled shots at the net (dinks) and finesse shots. While it weighs less you'll still get plenty of power with this paddle.
The paddle is USAPA approved and made in the USA. It comes in White, Yellow, Black, Blue and "Patriotic" (Red, White & Blue with star design).
Diller is another top option for casual players looking for a wood paddle. It's made by Pickle-Ball Inc, the company from the original founders of the sport of pickleball. The specifications of this paddle are very similar to the other wood paddles on the market.
It averages 10 ounces. The handle is a fraction of an inch longer than the Kanga, with a length of 5.5” and a medium grip circumference of 4 1/4" that will fit most average hands.
This paddle, although it's made of wood, is approved for USAPA pickleball play. While that's probably not a major concern for most of you reading this article, it is good to know that if you ever did want to try your hand in a local tournament you could use this without having to upgrade.
As mentioned, this is the original company that came up with the sport and they've been selling paddles since 1972 so as far as buying a paddle from a reputable company you really can't go wrong here. These basic paddle can be seen at school in PE classes around the country, summer camps and YMCAs.
Although the Kanga Paddle is made of wood, the printed paddle face does give it a unique look compared to a natural wood finish. When I first saw this Kanga paddle on the court I thought it was a composite or graphite paddle just from the bright colors.
However, it is indeed made of 7-ply hardwood that makes for a durable and long lasting paddle. If the colors don’t have you hopping over the fence to get on the pickleball court, the price point should cheer you up as it’s one of the most affordable beginner paddles available on the market. The Kanga white maple paddle ranges from 9 – 10.6 ounces with average weighing in at 10.2 oz.
The perforated, ribbed cushion grip provides a comfortable feeling padded medium grip (4 ¼ inches). Handle length measures 5 ¼ inches, accommodating even larger adult hands.
Kanga also sells this same model in bundles (paddle with pickleball balls) in sets of 2 paddles (with 4 balls) and 4 paddles (with 6 balls) which can be a good budget option for schools, camps and community centers buying a larger volume of pickleball gear.
Curious: You've heard about pickleball and want to try it out, maybe you've signed up for open play at your local recreation center or you have a court nearby or a friend asked you to give it a shot. You want to play but have no idea if you'll still be using the paddle a year from now or if it will be collecting dust in the garage. I'm frugal and agree, it doesn't make sense to buy high end expensive sports equipment if you are just "getting your feet wet".
Clubs: If you run a YMCA, recreation center or senior activities program at a gym or athletic club, retirement community or senior center and need to buy a large number of paddles, these are good options. For casual recreation play, wooden paddles are fine. If you find the heavy weight is too much for seniors for example you could go up one step to a the cheapest composite paddles which will be lighter then wood but still affordable.
Camps: We've seen more summer camps adding pickleball to their list of sports activities which is great. Having been a counselor at a sports camp years ago, I know first hand that the equipment takes a beating...just due to the sheer amount of use the gear is getting with so many different kids sharing the same paddles and being used daily they will wear out quickly and need to be replaced much more often compared to paddles that are used occasionally and cared for by the same person.
Backup: Do you play pickleball regularly and have a decent paddle but want to have a pair of backup paddle for when friends and family come to visit? If you live in a community that has a court it's nice to have a extra paddle around, you never know when you'll be one player short and need to recruit a newbie to make a foursome. Having a cheap paddle they can shoot around with is a good option .
Although one meaning of "cheap" does infer a lessor product, we are simply referring to budget paddles for people that do not want to spend a lot of money. The problem with buying a low priced paddle is that many of them are poorly made with low quality materials. In this article we wanted to give you a list of good choices that are low priced but not low quality.
Since we published this article, many of our readers have sent us emails asking our opinion on other low priced paddles they've seen online and were considering buying.
While I'm sure there are many quality options out there beyond what we have reviewed here, we've limited our list of top picks to companies that are well known and are dedicated to the sport of pickleball.
We've tested these paddles, borrowed them on the courts to try them out, used demo paddles or have friends and/or readers that have also added their feedback. We see all of these paddle brands on the courts on a regular basis.
As we've mentioned, many of these are major brands in the sport that also make pro level paddles, sponsor tournaments and have a major web presence (social media, website with information on their history, warranty, toll free customer service numbers, etc.).
We've spoken directly with the companies that have paddles on our list and have experience talking with their customer service or in some cases even the owners of the company.
One problem that since pickleball has become the fastest growing recreation sport in the US, the market is now flooded with low priced paddles and it's really hard to know which ones are decent and which are just junk.
With the rise of the sport and number of people starting, there are also many other companies selling pickleball paddles and other equipment. Some of them are private label sellers on Amazon that appear to sell a wide variety of products- so not particularly dedicated to the sport of pickleball. Some offer one paddle along side other household items or unrelated sports equipment.
We sometimes see these cheap paddles being offered at deep discounts as a way to launch their products and many times they do giveways or promotions online via social media with coupons and promo codes to get some initial reviews. I'm sure some of these price-cuts can be a great way to pick up an inexpensive paddle.
While I'm sure some of these brands offer quality products and service, we just don't know enough about them or their products to give an honest opinion. However, regardless of how cheap they price them -we are just not able to buy one of each of these to test them out.
I've been asked about several brands. Some that I have not previously heard of or even seen their paddles on the courts. Some of these companies do not have websites or an easy way to contact them. Some may be great companies or just new and I haven't had a chance to see them yet.
In the past many names have come up including: Algor Venatics, Amarey, Ianoni, Bison Paddles, Duck Ranger Paddles, Flybold, HUDEF, Sabu, Sports Adventure, Golden Win-gs, Veetop among others.
Again, I really can't say if these are quality products or not. At some point in the future we may include some of these if we have a chance to test their products or if have enough people asking about them we'd be happy to try them out but in the meantime we can't really say much about them. If you are considering any of these brands, it's probably best to read online reviews, check out their other products and contact them directly before making a decision.
Keep in mind, you will not get the same ball control and feel with a inexpensive wood paddle as you would with a top of the line graphite paddle, but if you’re just heading out on the court and still working on just getting the ball over the pickleball net you may not want to drop your hard earned cash on a high-end competitive paddle. Paddle construction has improved and you can find decent paddles at affordable prices.
Hopefully the above paddle reviews have given you a few good options for your first wallet-friendly paddle to help you chose the best one that meets your budget, grip and playing style.
While we love writing reviews of the top cutting edge paddles, we also want to give useful information for all readers including those that are just discovering this great sport.