We get that question a lot at the Pickleball Rocks world headquarters. 🙂 People will call, email or come up to us at a tournament and say, “I don’t need more power. What is the best paddle if I want control?”
Coming from a lifelong love of tennis and over seven years of pickleball playing experience, we always answer that question like this:
The best paddle for a player wanting great control is always going to be a graphite faced paddle.
And here is why:
Graphite is a very hard surface, so when the ball hits a paddle that has a graphite face (surface), the ball will deflect off that paddle instantly. In other words there is no “give” to the surface so the ball doesn’t sink into it. Where ever you point the paddle, that is the direction the ball will go. If you are familiar with tennis racquet strings, it is the same science for paddles (kinda). When you want greater control in a tennis racquet, you string it tight so the ball doesn’t sink into the strings very far. The ball leaves the strings quicker, rather than sitting on the strings for an extended period of time. Therefore it is easier to control and hit your target.
If you want more power from a tennis racquet, you string it looser and the ball sinks into the strings and then is catapulted out as a high rate of speed. Just FYI, that concept for getting more power does NOT apply with pickleball paddles and here is why. Unlike tennis racquet strings which build up power as the ball hits the strings, sinks into them, and then is flung out, the face of a pickleball paddle works quite differently because the deflection is totally different. Yes the paddle “gives” (especially different thickness of fiberglass and the new carbon fiber and kevlars), but it rebounds back very slowly, more like a foam Tempur-pedic pillow than stretched tennis strings. A paddle face does not build up more power from the ball sitting on the paddle longer. Therefore, when you read deflection specifications for pickleball paddles, do not equate higher or lower deflection as a sure sign of more or less power. It just doesn’t work that way. Power and speed comes from a combination of many things, like weight distribution in the paddle head and handle, what the core of the paddle is made of, the size of the honeycomb compartments inside, and the various paddle face compositions.
Anyhow, back to great control. Since the pickleball doesn’t sit on the graphite paddle face very long, you do get an increased ability to have great control and it is easier to direct the ball to an exact spot on the court.
So if you want a great control paddle, look for a paddle with a graphite face. They will all say “Graphite” right on them. Since we are Pro-Lite Pickleball fans, we love and use the Blaster Graphite and the Magnum Graphite (the best selling graphite paddle of all time), but most manufacturers have one or more models with graphite faces. So find one that feels good to you.
So, for you control enthusiasts (like us), until the paddle manufacturers come up with a diamond faced paddle (that would definitely be harder, but probably a tad more expensive), the graphite paddles will be the best for you.
Keep us posted on your pickleball progress on the Pickleball Facebook page. We look forward to hearing the success stories.
Humble but unashamed product plug: The Magnum Graphite and the Blaster Graphite are both available at great prices at PickleballShopping.com