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Selkirk Vanguard Control Invikta Paddle Review: My In-Depth Thoughts

Power & Control ✅

Selkirk Invikta Vanguard Control Portrait
(Image Credit: Dennis Rodriguez)
Verdict
Selkirk took everything we loved about the Vanguard 2.0 and incorporated it into the Vanguard Control with a few upgrades. They made it T700 Raw Carbon Fiber and gave it a bit more power than its predecessor. Overall I would say you get a great amount of power at the baseline with literally no loss in control. Drops, dinks and resets are this paddles super power for sure. The main downside of the Vanguard Control is its lack of pop for those quick counters and blocks at the non-volley zone.

For me personally, I found the Vanguard Control to be more enjoyable when playing singles. The reason being, I need more power at the baseline with singles but I also need that added control to execute my drops and dinks during that “cat and mouse” play we see in higher level singles matches. You don’t really need the added pop in singles. I can see it being very popular with tennis players transitioning into the sport of pickleball. I don’t think I’ve hit with a paddle that felt so similar to hitting with a tennis racket. Beginners to advanced players will feel comfortable hitting with the Selkirk Vanguard Control.

View at Pickleball Central
SpecsDescription
Paddle Weight – Midweight
Paddle Weight – Lightweight
7.7-8.1 oz
7.3-7.6 oz
Paddle Face MaterialT700 Raw QuadCarbon Fiber
Paddle Core MaterialVanguard X5+ Honeycomb Core
Paddle ShapeElongated
Paddle Length16.45”
Paddle Width7.44”
Grip Size4.25”
Handle Length5.5”

First Look

The new 2024 Selkirk Vanguard Control has a very familiar look. One of their most popular paddles “back in the day” was the Vanguard and the Vanguard 2.0. The Control looks basically identical to these until you get a closer look and realize it’s clearly a Raw Carbon Fiber face. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I do not see any reason Selkirk would have had to change the look of one of their more beloved paddles and clearly they didn’t either because it looks the same with the exception of the name “Control” taking the place of “2.0” (As you can see when comparing the picture below with the picture above).

I found this paddle to be very light and maneuverable upon taking it out of its package. I received two models, the lightweight which came in at 7.52 oz, and the midweight which weighed in at 7.9 oz. Both felt extremely light and I would personally add a bit of weight to both to help increase that twist weight and give the paddle a bit more power.

Performance Review & My Experience

Consistency & Accuracy

Okay so just when I think I’ve tested the most control focused paddle out there, something else always shows up. The Vanguard series of paddles have always been known to give their player great control but the new Vanguard Control definitely takes the cake! Drops, dinks, resets, and spin variability…all exceptional with the Vanguard Control.

This paddle has to be one of the most, if not THE most, accurate paddles I’ve used and the large sweet spot also makes this paddle extremely forgiving. Selkirk stated that the Vanguard Control is “non-thermoformed” which is just another contributor to why this paddle is so control focused. Selkirk states that the T700 Raw Quadcarbon Fiber enhances the paddle’s overall touch, performance, and durability.

While I could not find much information regarding the Raw “Quadcarbon” vs. Raw Carbon, what I took out of it is that you get a more durable and longer lasting surface texture with additional striations running up and down the paddle which will in turn lead to greater spin potential.

Power

I spoke about Power vs. Pop in my previous review of the Gamma Obsidian 16. You can reference that review for more information on the differences between the two. The Vanguard Control has great power from the baseline when executing drives and serves. I even found it to have more than enough power when executing speedups at the non-volley zone. Where it lacks (and this is not surprising) is Pop. This is a soft 16mm non-thermoformed paddle so I would not expect the ball to explode off the face. With the Vanguard Control you’ll find the ball to have more dwell time off the face which leads to added spin and added control.

Spin

With the upgraded Raw QuadCarbon Fiber face and X5+ Honeycomb Core I noticed a significant improvement in the amount of spin I was able to generate with the Vanguard Control versus the Vanguard 2.0. Because there is a longer dwell time of the ball on the paddle, I felt that it was so much easier to get the ball to dip when executing top spin drops or wide angled passing shots. Two great features when trying to be a bit more aggressive with your ball placement.

Defense to Offense

One of the biggest challenges in higher level pickleball is transitioning from defense to offense. Players are so good that they are able to keep you from getting to the kitchen which, as they say, is where points are won. I didn’t find this to be an issue at all when using the Vanguard Control. That softer core and longer dwell time makes executing drops, resets, and dinks effortless. Once at the kitchen I was confident that Vanguard Control would allow me to execute a variety of aggressive dinks and/or speedups.

Feedback & Feel

The Vanguard Control feels much more responsive and seems to give me better feedback than its predecessor. The Vanguard 2.0 was one of my very first paddles and I loved it but over time as I continued to improve, I felt that it lacked in giving me the feedback I needed after executing each shot. I want to know when I’m hitting the sweet spot consistently. For such a soft paddle, this feedback was significantly improved with the Vanguard Control. Tennis players transitioning to pickleball will find the longer dwell time and more compressed feel to be quite similar to hitting a tennis ball with a racket. I think we are going to see a lot of ex tennis players using this paddle.

Sweet spot

Just like the Vanguard 2.0, the Vanguard Control has a very large sweet spot. This makes the paddle very forgiving. The only downside with a large sweet spot is less feedback when mishitting shots. With a more pop focused paddle, you can usually feel where the ball is making contact with your paddle which allows you to make those quick adjustments in order to hit the center of the paddle face more often. The bigger sweet spot and softer feel means it’s harder to adjust to mishits.

Looks & Design

The biggest design change that I found to be extremely positive was their new 5.5” octagonal shaped handle. It feels very comfortable in your hand and, again, tennis players will find this shape to be very familiar. As far as looks go, I feel this is mostly personal preference. In my opinion, the Vanguard Control has that similar look and design we’ve already seen in their previous versions so I wasn’t too impressed when I saw it for the first time. The black and white graphics are clean and simple. Some may like that, while others may want something more flashy.

Additional Thoughts

I classify the Selkirk Vanguard Control as a control paddle that can hold its own at the baseline. I found this paddle to be extremely beneficial when playing singles. The combination of control and spin gave me the confidence to execute angles I normally would not feel comfortable attempting. I felt like I could be more aggressive during those “cat and mouse” exchanges we see in higher level singles play.

Personally, the Vanguard Control does not provide me enough pop during my counter attacks to feel comfortable using it in 4.5+ level doubles play. I prefer a much poppier paddle. While its soft feel might not be for everyone, I do predict players of all levels will enjoy this paddle. Control is the name of the game and I find it hard to think of a better paddle that will offer you this kind of control and spin. If nothing else, it is definitely worth demo’ing. I do also like that it is made in the US and the $200 price point is reasonable for such a reliable company that offers one of the best warranties out there.

References

Selkirk.com

Pickleballcentral.com

Photo of author

Hey guys, my name’s Dennis. I’m a full-time Firefighter and “part-time” Pickleball Instructor who honestly loves coaching, teaching, and competing in sports. I played baseball & tennis throughout highschool and college and fell in love with pickleball. My goal with Pickleball Portal is to give you the most honest and reliable info on everything related to pickleball gear and equipment! I want to arm you with the knowledge to feel confident in your paddle choice by giving thorough reviews and comparisons through my hands on testing. Also hoping to share some tips and tricks with you to help your game and continue the growth of this awesome sport! dennis@pickleballportal.com

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