A disruptive combination of aspects that make this paddle relevant, even in 2023
|The name holds true, this thing is a pro at responding to the ball and keeping your bad shots in play, making it a very player friendly paddle. Perfect for the ex-tennis player because of the long handle for two-handed shots and a sweet-spot that has almost unlimited forgiveness. This paddle could be anyones daily driver, and it’s only $128 bucks. Prince has removed all the kinks over the years, this thing is tried and true. There are a couple of weight options, but make sure to go for the middleweight & standard grip size, unless you have tiny hands. It can withstand the regular use of wear and tear and has a 1-year guarantee against dead spots. |
View at JustPaddles
|Paddle Weight||7.8 – 8.3 oz|
|Paddle Face Material||Fiberglass with Textured UV Coating|
|Paddle Core Material||Polypropylene Honeycomb|
|Paddle Length||15 3/4″|
|Paddle Width||8 1/4″|
|Grip Size||4 3/8″ standard & 4 1/8″ thin|
|Handle Length||5 1/2″|
Believe it or not this paddle was launched in 2018, the same year Simone Jardim won 4 gold medals at the US Open in Naples, Fl. However, it was updated in 2020 when she teamed up with Prince to develop 5 new variations. I got my hands on the Response Pro Middleweight Composite for testing. It uses a fiberglass face with a textured UV coating and Polypropylene Honeycomb core. The long handle is nice, but it is squarish in shape as you can see below. The edges of this boxy grip can dig into your hand when you grip tightly. The edge guard has a minimal design and the round paddle shape is unique to Prince. The swing weight is optimal in my opinion, not too light and not too heavy. It feels like it’s somewhere in-between the Omega Max and the Joola Vision, If you have used either of those. Not really sure how I was able to dodge this thing for so many years given it has such great feedback, but I gave the Response Pro a chance, and I can see why it is still going strong.
The US has a long standing reputation for high-quality manufactures because a lot of them adhere to strict quality control standards, they have access to better training and technology, and there is intellectually property protection laws to ensure that innovations are safeguarded. Prince takes advantage of this and I’m not sure why others don’t, with a few exceptions. You can tell the difference…
Living in Florida, my paddles definitely see plenty of daylight. After weeks of blistering sun exposer, the UV coating on the Response Pro paddle face is holding up and doing its job because I can still put plenty of sauce on the ball. I will say when I am in the sun for a while, the paddle seems to have a little bit more flex, but not a showstopper. I actually think overall this paddle has the perfect stiffness to flex ratio. If it was any stiffer, I think it would start falling into the “too much pop” camp.
This may sound dramatic, but you want a paddle that gives you confidence when you swing and you don’t want to be tailoring your game to fit the paddle. In many ways, the Response Pro is like the junior version of the Joola Vision, in the sense that they both make you feel like you can try shots that you normally wouldn’t and they usually keep your mis-hits in bounds. This can turn you into a more offensive player and completely change the way you play.
The Response Pro is 8.25″ wide with a slim edge guard, which gives players the largest possible usable hitting zone. Do you have a two-handed backhand or want to smash a lob? No problem, the handle length is plenty long measuring 5.5″ and is very comfortable other than the slight boxy feel, which may bother some people.
I always favor an all around paddle over something that excels in only one category. Typically a poly core/fiberglass face will provide that balance of power and control, but the Response Pro goes a step further. I can manipulate the ball with its grippy surface even in the kitchen when the ball is moving much slower.
I have the middleweight Response Pro which is 7.8-8.3 oz, which to me is not too heavy to wield, and I would go as far to say that it has a lower swing-weight than the Joola Vision. The Vision has a really thick edge-guard that really slows down your swing speed.
Responsiveness & Power
One reason you can swing hard and not lose your feel for where the ball is going is because it has a thick polymer core and the weight is distributed properly given its weight, shape, and application. The hitting area is well distributed as it should be, but for the price, the Response Pro definitely outperforms others in its class. Take a look at this comparison between the Omega Max and Response Pro, both the same price.
Clearly you get a lot of responsiveness from this paddle, but what about power?Sure, you may find a drawback in this category if you opt for the lighter version, but the Response Pro middleweight that I got has enough oomph to serve up some serious dills. Maybe not in the likes of the Selkirk Power Air, which is a great option for singles if you’re a hard hitter. But I think nine times out of ten most people will sacrifice a little bit of power in exchange for better control and feel, especially since much of the game is won in the kitchen. If you want some more juice, you can add lead tape to the perimeter, but you run the risk of making the head heavier for what is probably only a nominal difference in power.
The Response Pro has great stability and consistency when I drive the ball, but I can still quickly maneuver it in the non-volley-zone. This is partly due to the fact that the center of balance is closer to the handle than most paddles. Vibration + a mis-hit can cause your hand to shift slightly, which means your paddle is sitting in your hand at a different angle, which leads to an even worse mis-hit if you’re lucky enough to still be alive. There is very little vibration in the Response Pro when you have a mis-hit, which is nice to have for resets, speed ups in the kitchen, or if you want to do a quick poach.
Finesse as you know is key in the kitchen. Most people would go for a poly-core graphite paddle if they favor their soft game, but this fiberglass is butter. If you’re like me, I love leaning far off to my side and waiting till the last second to hit a dink and flick it across the court to the other side because it throws my opponents off and gives me enough time to size up where everyone is. It’s hard to do this with some paddles because they are too short or the sweet-spot is infinitesimal… But I have no problem flicking with the Response Pro.
I’m trying to think of someone who wouldn’t like the Response Pro, and I’m drawing a blank. Other than maybe someone who only cares about raw power, I think everyone from the new born pickleball player to those who play at the tippy top level will enjoy this paddle. I don’t think there are any difficult characteristics to deal with as a beginner unless you go for the lighter version, which could be a little harder to control. And clearly it’s a viable option for even the pros if Simone Jardim, triple crown champion, used it back in the day.