When you play pickleball, one of the most important pieces of equipment is the paddle. It is how you serve and volley. If you are serious about playing, then you should invest in a fairly decent paddle. But how much do they cost and what types are there?
That leaves us to answer the question: What is a Kinetic Pickleball Paddle?
The Evolution of the Pickleball Paddle
Before we get into that, let’s quickly look at the history of the sport. When the game first came to light on that day in 1965, it is highly doubtful that Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell thought that they were going to create anything that would be as long-lasting as pickleball has become.
They used ping-pong paddles because they were the only things on hand at the time. There were no official pickleball paddles until years later. The first official pickleball tournament was held in ’78 and the people who played in it used wood paddles.
It was not until ’84 when a Boeing engineer named Arlen Paranto made the first composite pickleball paddle. The materials he used were the same as those for airline flooring and structural systems.
Then, as time went by, other paddles were made from different materials besides wood and graphite. Carbon fiber is another one. Paddle manufacturers began to really focus their technology on improving both the look and function of the pickleball paddle. One of the things they honed in on was lessening the effects of vibrations when they struck the ball. This is something that older players appreciate.
How Long Do They Last?
The answer to this depends on how often you play and at what level you are. If you are a professional player and play often, you will likely find yourself switching out every year … or possibly earlier than that if you have a sponsor who regularly sends you new equipment. Who doesn’t like playing with brand-new paddles?
If you are more of a recreational player, then you will likely get a new paddle every two to three years. This is for those who like to play on the weekends. There will be significantly less wear and tear on those since they are not used quite as often and with less intensity. it all depends on your style of play, though.
What Does a Kinetic Paddle Do?
When you swing and hit something, it sends vibrations into your hand. Have you ever hit a baseball when the weather is cold and felt a sting at contact? That is because the vibrations feel more pronounced. There is a reason that most baseball players wear gloves when they hit – it does more than just prevent blisters – they dampen the vibrations. That is good, because hitting a Jacob deGrom fastball – which can exceed 100 mph – can do a number on the hands.
The thinking behind the kinetic paddle is that they create them using material that will dampen that impact when the wiffleball meets the paddle. The material can redistribute those vibrations and help you guide the ball to where you want it to go. So you won’t be worried about connecting when you are playing outside on a cooler night or inside with the air conditioning.
How Much Do They Usually Cost?
While the casual player will not have to shell out as much as those who play competitively – they can get two paddles and four balls for around $60. The higher-end pickleball paddles can cost as much as $200 or more. These are made of really top-notch material and they offer results for a serious player.
The higher-end ones are meticulously crafted and every single ounce counts. The manufacturers seek to provide every single edge possible – including using proprietary designs for the paddles themselves to make them as sleek and efficient as possible. The players that use them are very particular about how a paddle should feel in their hands – much like a baseball player would about the dimensions and weight of their bats and gloves.
What Are Some of the Best Paddles?
One thing to keep in mind – if you want to play in tournaments or at a higher level, you should make sure that the paddle is approved by the USAPA. You don’t want to be disqualified for using something that is not approved.
1. Selkirk Invikta Amped
You can usually get this paddle for around $150, which is an excellent investment for those who are serious about pickleball. People like the material that is made of and they also say that it has consistent speed and they also like how large the sweet spot is on it, along with its elongated surface. The core is honeycomb and it cushions the ball as you hit it, so you won’t feel the vibrations.
2. Paddletek Bantam EX-L
Are you an intermediate or an advanced player? Do you favor the power pickleball game? This paddle is for you. It has an excellent spin texture and you will love how it dampens the vibrations. It usually retails for about $100, so you won’t be breaking the bank to get it. It is not too heavy, either, weighing around 7.8 ounces.
3. ProKennex Pro Flight Pickleball Paddle
This is the highest-end one on this list, with a price tag of about $189. You will get a really great paddle, though. It is designed to be wind resistant and you can swing quickly with it. Players really like the kinetic dampening and it only weighs 7.30 ounces. If you want to avoid aggravating your tennis elbow, then this is the one for you to use.
4. HEAD Extreme Tour
This is considered a midweight paddle, weighing 7.6 ounces. Since the head weighs less, it allows you to swing faster. It has a sleek diamond design and you can get a bright yellow one or a more muted silver one. It usually costs around $135, but you can find it on sale sometimes for under $100. The surface is graphite and it can help control spin.
5. Gamma Needle Pickleball Paddle
One thing you will notice is that the grip has a honeycomb cushion to it. The USAPA approves of this paddle. It is made with textured graphite and is a very good value at $119 on Amazon. Players like the poly core and have commented on how great the sweet spot is. and how lightweight it is.
As pickleball continues to gain in popularity, companies will keep looking to improve what is already out there. There will be breakthroughs in upcoming equipment that will make kinetic paddles look positively quaint. While they are working on those new pieces of equipment, they will also keep refining the current batch of kinetic paddles. Perhaps they will find a newer substance that will do an even better job of reining in those vibrations.
Ultimately, if you do decide that you want a kinetic pickleball paddle, you know the science behind it. There are a lot of kinetic paddles on the market. ProKennex is one of the more popular ones. HEAD is another one. They are available on pickleball-related sites, stores, and also on Amazon. Be sure to read all the reviews. If you can go to a brick and mortar store, then you can try out the paddles and see how they fit in your hand before making a final decision.
These are great if you have conditions like tennis elbow, since the reduced vibrations can keep you from feeling discomfort in the area. You can focus on having fun and not grimacing every time you are ready to hit the ball. Isn’t modern technology great? It’s going to be interesting to see what the future brings as far as pickleball paddle design goes. The game can only benefit from these technological and design advances.