What Is The Difference Between A Cheap And Expensive Pickleball Paddle?

You may be entirely new to the game of pickleball or a veteran who has gone through many paddles; either way, though, you are here for one particular reason. That being you are searching for a pickleball paddle and wonder whether there truly is much difference between the cheaper and the expensive options.

Pickleball players require a versatile, durable paddle of the best possible quality; however, price does not always dictate quality. Typically, the cheapest paddles are wooden, and the most expensive are graphite. The effect and experience of overall performance are affected. 

If your budget allows for it, try to avoid purchasing a wooden pickleball paddle as they are clumsy and offer less benefit than the graphite and composite types. The price tag will not always dictate the quality of the paddle, so be wary of being drawn in simply by brand names, exciting graphics, or appealing names. Focus instead on the weight, grip, budget, and materials used.

The names of paddles can be deceptive, and you may well feel duped into purchasing a more expensive one that could quite possibly have its shoes filled by one of a lower price. However, this is not something we want to rush into assuming; instead, come along as we examine and untangle the challenging quandaries that may riddle your mind regarding the pickleball paddle.

The Variation In Pricing

When looking to purchase a pickleball paddle, you will be surprised, I am sure, that their prices can range anywhere between as little as $10 and can go for well over $200 for the more high-end options. So regardless of your needs, price is quite likely going to play a crucial factor in your final decision to purchase one paddle over another.

You get pickleball paddles, and then you get pickleball paddles; not all of them are made equally. For example, there are those made from wood, formed from graphite, and others known as composite pickleball paddles.

In terms of pricing, you will likely pick up a low-end graphite paddle for around $60, while a composite one will fetch for approximately $45. These are not hard and fast amounts, but really just to give you some idea. However, with that being said, you are unlikely to fork out more than $145-$150 for either of these kinds. 

Wooden paddles are almost always your cheapest option and will be priced well below $50; this said, though, most people would not recommend them, even if you are just a beginner to the sport and are testing the waters. So it is recommended to at least spend between $20 and $50 on your preferred paddle.

For most, they will look for a paddle that falls into the $50-$150 range, depending on how often they intend on playing. This is because you will likely want to play more frequently than you may initially expect. And although we would like to argue that exorbitant amounts are not needed to be spent to get a decent quality paddle, there is some truth to the matter of spending more.

In such cases, you will find that a paddle with a slightly higher price tag comes with the benefits of a better quality of play. Additionally, if you intend to play for years to come, making an initial investment in a higher quality paddle will be of benefit, especially if you take good care of it.

Also, if you consider how many games you will get out of a good quality paddle, the thing will ultimately pay for itself over time. It must be noted, though, that if you are on a tight budget, it is better to initially invest in higher quality footwear, as this will affect performance. The likelihood of injury is also significantly reduced.

Suppose you can afford to, it is best to opt for at least a decent graphite or composite paddle, as you will reap the benefits. We shall get into these finer details below.

Components To Consider When Purchasing A Pickleball Paddle

When purchasing your (first) pickleball paddle, the price will undoubtedly be a factor for many; however, more is at play here than the price tag attached to the paddle.

Firstly, you need to consider the weight of your paddle. This may be overlooked initially, but it is certainly something about which to think. The bulkiness of the paddle will affect your play. For example, you will have more power and drive with a heavier paddle, but lighter paddles are better for maneuverability and if you have prior arm-joint injuries. 

Next, you need to be concerned about the grip size and how the paddle sits in your hand. This is just like any other type of equipment or gear, such as your shoes, for example – you need something comfortable and easily manipulated. A larger grip will give you more excellent stability; however, smaller grips offer greater control over the ball and allow for adding spin to your shots.

Then one of the more prominent aspects that people are more likely to consider (as this tends to affect the price the most) is the material used to make the paddle. There are generally three main types of paddles that you will find in any store. These are wood, graphite, and composite materials.

  • Wooden paddles are more traditional, cheapest (usually), and the heaviest. Despite their low cost and extended durability, they are less recommended, especially for newer players and those who have existing injuries, as they make for challenging play.
  • Graphite paddles tend to be more expensive, but they are typically the lightest and make for easier use. One area where they perhaps offer drawbacks is that they do not provide as much “punch” to your shots. However, most would argue that they provide the best all-around performance out of the three.
  • Composite paddles offer a mid-ground or comfortable in-between area; they will go for a higher price than wooden ones but are generally not as pricey as graphite paddles. They are considered versatile in that they are made from fiberglass or carbon fiber and house cores typically made from aluminum or polymer.  

When playing at a competitive level, your most likely choice is a more expensive graphite pickleball paddle. Even if you are not a professional or competitive player, graphite paddles will be what you opt for if you are looking for the best possible quality. They are the most versatile and will give optimal performance. However, composites are a close second.

How Long Do Various Pickleball Paddles Last?

Out of the three main types of paddles you could get, a wooden paddle will offer the most extensive lifespan; however, they are not the most ideal, and you are highly unlikely to find competitive players using this type of paddle.

The high-end graphite and composite paddles used daily by professional players is likely to last about a year before it needs replacing. This time frame will obviously be significantly lessened if you play with your paddle less frequently.

Overall, the amount of use and wear and tear that the paddle undergoes, the shorter the time frame you can expect it to last.


If your budget allows for it, try to avoid purchasing a wooden pickleball paddle as they are clumsy and offer less benefit than the graphite and composite types. The price tag is not always an indication of paddle quality, so be wary of being drawn in simply by brand names, exciting graphics, or appealing names. Focus instead on the weight, grip, budget, and materials used.


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