We agree with much of what they have there. But of course we have other things to say on the subject as well.
No surprise that two people seldom agree on what it takes to choose the right paddle, is it? Choosing a paddle is a uniquely personal experience. For instance, where the top players seem to be gravitating towards lighter-weight paddles, for instance (in the 7.0-7.5 oz frame) we have a number of friends who are themselves quite good and use paddles that IOHOs (in our humble opinions) are more suitable to driving railroad spikes than hitting a pickleball. We have no idea how people use paddles that heavy, still hit the ball as often as is required in a simple 6-game Round Robin (much less playing twice that many games in a day or in a tournament should you be so lucky to last so long) and come away without getting what amounts to a giant case of golfer’s elbow as opposed to tennis elbow…”golfer’s elbow” due to our propensity to swing at many balls underhanded, for instance on the serve. (If you hit a ball underhanded you utilize some of the same muscles that you do on a golf swing, per our chiropractor.)
So weight is important and you need to think about not only what you are used to but how you are gonna use the paddle. If you play a lot, lighter weight paddles MAY offer a slight edge in terms of the injury issue.
On the other hand, “Hit” is important to us. People talk about “Feel” being important but frankly we think we can play a pretty good soft game with almost any paddle out there save some of the pure-aluminum ones which are so slick we don’t see how anybody can keep a ball on the face of the paddle long enough to get a dink over the net. Well, we exaggerate, but if we had to choose one thing over the other, we’d slightly favor the paddle that, with the same energy, can hit the ball a bit deeper. We’re not fans of increasing the velocity of paddles beyond a certain range and are all in favor of the USAPA restrictions on how “hot” a paddle can be legally, but given a choice, we’d want something that, to us, hits a bit harder.
The vendor and their customer service is important, too. We won’t buy a paddle from an individual or a company if they won’t address the problems that come up. Paddles are designed to be used hard. AJ especially is tough on paddles as he doesn’t seem to differentiate between the ground and the ball when he’s swinging at stuff sometimes. So within minutes a new paddle’s top edge guard looks like he’s been chewing on it. (Irene’s opinion only here.) On the other hand sometimes stuff happens…a bad batch of “skins” will somehow get into production and will too-easily dent so the paddle looks like it’s had a very bad case of acne in its misspent youth. If the face of the paddle dents too easily under normal use and quickly looks like the craters of the moon, we send them back and they are replaced. Hopefully we are serving a useful function in this category by only recommending individuals and companies that stand by their product and would take them back if normal usage produced that result.
And then there are the differences between summer play and winter play and between playing in a wind and on a hot, windless day. Over a period of time we have found value in having and carrying paddles that address different conditions. We play with and against people who, in the wind, will carry two paddles onto the court and use one to hit with and a different paddle to hit into the wind. Make sense.
Sometimes the fit of the paddle handle in the hand is everything. Neither of us are big fans of handles with pronounced ridges as we tend to shift our grips to accommodate different shots. A rounder grip is better for that for us. However, we can also adapt a paddle handle and make it more round by over-wrapping it with different materials. The stuff we are using for over-wraps now is white and tacky, sold in large roles, is easy to replace when it wears, and (due to being able to tell when it is worn ‘cuz it looks dirty and loses tackiness and tackiness) instructs us as to when the over-wrap needs to be changed. The over-wrap also allows us to buy paddles with slightly smaller diameter handles, knowing that we can wrap and increase the size of the grip easily. (BTW, we tried, twice, shaving down a paddle handle to make it smaller. Neither case worked out.)
Lastly, there is “balance” – a nebulous term having to do with the paddle seeming to fit in the hand without tipping downward due to paddle-face-weight or backwards due to handle weight. Irene seems to favor very well balanced paddles, usually with a sweet spot in the dead center of the face. AJ seems to favor top-weighted paddles and for him these hit slightly better when he hits just above dead center, although both AJ and Irene seem to hit those spots pretty regularly if you look at their wear patterns.
Oh—beware the pickler who shows up with an aged paddle that has a totally paint-worn-off spot right in the center of the paddle. These guys will have remarkably consistent strokes, will hit the ball well most of the time, and will place it where you aren’t. If asked, they will also parrot one of the slogans like “It ain’t the Arrow, it’s the Archer!” or some other nonsense that would lead you to believe that the paddle doesn’t make as much difference as what you do with it. How silly is that??? Who wants to play with somebody with that bizarre a world-view???
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