What Is The Most Forgiving Pickleball Paddle?
Pickleball paddles are like people in that forgiveness is a virtue. Some pickleball paddles are more forgiving than others, but for different reasons. Forgiving paddles are typically more helpful to beginners and intermediate players than professional-level players.
In pickleball, forgiveness is a paddle’s ability to help players execute a shot even when they’ve missed the sweet spot. The most forgiving pickleball paddles include the Engage Encore EX 6.0, the Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro, and the Gamma Hellbender.
Choosing a pickleball paddle can be a tricky business, especially when looking for a forgiving paddle. Whether you’re a casual pickler looking to improve your game or a beginner trying to get started with pickleball, the type of paddle you choose can significantly affect your improvement. Luckily we’ve compiled a list of the most forgiving pickleball paddles for you to choose from.
What Is Pickleball Paddle Forgiveness?
Pickleball paddles are rated according to three main characteristics, namely power, touch, and forgiveness. Power is the amount of force you can apply to the ball when you hit it, and it will affect the speed and distance the ball flies through the air. Touch refers to the control and accuracy players have over the ball when hitting.
Touch is about more than just simple control, however. It includes the feedback the player receives from the paddle when hitting the ball, the stability a paddle provides, and how easily a player can direct the ball when it’s hit.
The last attribute paddles are rated on is forgiveness. Forgiveness refers to the paddle’s ability to help players execute a shot even when the player mishits. Some paddles have more prominent sweet spots than others, depending on their composition and shape. Mishitting, in this case, refers to hitting the ball with the area outside of the paddle’s sweet spot.
Though exceptions exist, the typical paddle shape that provides the most significant sweet spot is the more evenly-sided, square shape. Some paddles are longer and thinner, giving players a narrower but longer sweet spot, and some are shorter to give players a wider sweet spot.
The sweet spot of a paddle can extend up to an inch from the edge. This may seem like an insignificant amount of ‘non-sweet spot space’, but it’s around 25-30% of the paddle’s hitting surface area. However, some paddles have been engineered to increase the size of the sweet spot.
When looking for a pickleball paddle, the amount of forgiveness a player needs from their paddle will vary according to their skill level. Advanced or professional players depend less on the forgiveness attribute and more on power and touch. Forgiveness becomes important when beginner-level to mid-level players are looking for a good paddle.
Professional-level players have much better technique and skill than beginners, so mishitting doesn’t often occur. When someone is learning to play, a forgiving paddle can help them significantly improve because they won’t be hitting dead balls every other shot. Instead, a forgiving paddle will provide breathing room to get them used to the game. As they progress, the number of mishits will decrease.
Most Forgiving Pickleball Paddles
Forgiveness helps players hit the ball well, even after missing the sweet spot. A pickleball paddle’s forgiveness is vital for beginner-level to average players. Additionally, while it’s less important for players at higher skill levels and professionals, a forgiving paddle can help to improve their game. Here’s a list of the most forgiving pickleball paddles.
Gearbox CX14E Middleweight Carbon Fiber
Weighing in at eight ounces, the Gearbox CX14E is one of the best for those looking for a forgiving pickleball paddle. Despite having a relatively narrow face of 7 ⅜ inches, the CX14E has a more prominent sweet spot than many paddles on the market. This USAPA-approved paddle may seem pricey, but it’s worth the extra money.
It has an edgeless design and a 3K Woven Carbon Fiber face composition that enlarges the sweet spot. Where other paddles may have dead zones in the corners, it seems Gearbox has managed to extend the sweet spot far into the corners, giving players an extremely forgiving paddle.
This paddle has a slightly elongated shape with a total length of 16 ⅝ inches. It’s made entirely from carbon fiber, making it highly durable and unlikely to break or snap. It has a 14mm thick paddle face with a T-700 carbon fiber core.
If you’ve got bigger hands, you may have to bulk up the grip to make it more comfortable. The grip is on the smaller side at only 3 ⅝ inches for the thinner grip option and 3.94 inches for the standard grip option.
Check it out on Amazon below.
Engage Encore EX 6.0
The Encore EX 6.0 is a paddle designed with extra forgiveness in mind. It’s a middleweight paddle with a FiberTEK face composition. The FiberTEK provides players with a significant amount of spin and forgiveness, and the standard paddle shape allows for a slightly wider sweet spot.
The edge guard prevents scraping and damaging the paddle during play, so you can go for shots close to the ground without worrying about what it will do to your paddle.
Measuring in at 16 inches long and 8 inches wide, the EX 6.0 has a decent amount of space for players to use, making the sweet spot even wider. The thicker ⅝ inch ‘ControlPro’ polymer core makes spinning the ball a breeze and gives players an overall balanced feel with excellent control.
The ex 6.0 is in the medium to high price category for pickleball paddles, though very reasonable for the quality. The handle is 5 inches long with a standard grip size of 4 ¾ inches, meaning it will fit comfortably in most players’ hands. It has also been designed to be quieter to remove the worry of disturbing community members when playing at home or on courts near homes.
The EX 6.0 also comes in a lightweight version, weighing between 7.5 to 7.8 ounces compared to the standard version, which weighs 7.9 to 8.3 ounces. This paddle is recommended for intermediate to professional-level players. However, the forgiveness rating makes it an excellent paddle for those of all skill levels.
Check it out on Amazon below.
Selkirk Vanguard 2.0 Hybrid S2
The Hybrid S2 is a standard shape paddle in the midweight category. It has a two-layered face composed of carbon fiber that gives players excellent feel, feedback, and control. It is 15 ¼ inches long and 8 inches wide and comes in lightweight and midweight versions. The lightweight version weighs between 7.4 ounces and 7.9 ounces, while the midweight version weighs between 7.8 ounces and 8.3 ounces.
While its paddle face is the standard shape, giving it a slightly wider sweet spot than narrower paddles, the carbon fiber cross-weave is what really gives it that extra forgiving nature. It widens the sweet spot, and the slim edge guard gives players a stable and durable feel.
The handle is standard at 4 ½ inches long with a grip size of 4 ¼ inches. It feels comfortable in most hands, giving anyone who uses it a good feeling of control without sacrificing power. The core is Selkirk’s own X5 Honeycomb Thick Poly Core technology that absorbs most of the vibration from contact with the ball and gives the paddle a delightfully soft feeling.
Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro
The Tempest Wave Pro is a middleweight paddle with a standard shape that focuses on bringing players excellent control without sacrificing power. It weighs between 7.6 and 8 ounces and sports a slightly longer handle for balanced weight and added control. The grip length is 5 ¼ inches long and comes in standard and thin grip options, which are 4 ⅛ and 4 ⅜ inches, respectively.
The paddle measures 15 ⅞ inches long and 8 inches wide, giving players a wide sweet spot with the unidirectional carbon fiber face material. The core is a 14.2875 mm thick high-grade graphite polymer composite honeycomb that gives players that extra bit of control.
Marketed as a paddle for intermediate and professional players, the Tempest Wave Pro can help players improve their game with its forgiving nature and consistent sweet spot. It may lack some power, but the control is almost unmatched by other paddles, making it extremely useful up close to the net.
Although in the slightly higher price category, the Tempest Wave Pro earns its place as one of the most forgiving paddles anywhere. Players may have to do most of the work when it comes to power, but the control this paddle offers is top-notch.
Check it out on Amazon below.
Oneshot Proshot 2.0
Coming in at a range of light to medium weights, the Proshot 2.0 offers excellent control for a reasonable price. It comes in weights from 7.3 ounces up to 7.9 ounces and measures 15.8 inches long and 8.2 inches wide, with 5.3 inches of the length being just the handle. This gives the paddle a square-ish face with a decent all-around sweet spot.
The core material is polypropylene honeycomb that gives the paddle a soft feel and spreads the force throughout the entire face when hitting. Unfortunately, the paddle doesn’t have the best power but makes up for it with its control and forgiveness.
Even with the paddle face being proportionally wider compared to its length, the technology that has gone into it gives players a very stable feeling with a lot of forgiveness to make those hard swings. Coming in at a lower price point than other professional-level paddles, the Proshot 2.0 is definitely worth it.
The Proshot 2.0’s Dual Edge Guard technology, coupled with the honeycomb core, provides a good balance between durability and shock absorption. The grip size comes standard at 4 ¼ inches, and the octagonal handle gives players extra control no matter their grip style.
Gamma NeuCore Hellbender
The Gamma Hellbender is in a league of its own when it comes to forgiveness. The teardrop shape and 16mm thick core give players a massive sweet spot and decent control, making it a dangerous weapon close to the net.
It weighs only 7.6 ounces putting it on the lighter side of paddles, and the standard length handle of 4 ½ inches doesn’t allow for two-handed shots. The combination of these factors somewhat limits the amount of power this paddle can give to players. On the other hand, its light weight allows players to achieve incredible paddle speeds to reach any ball.
The textured carbon fiber face material may be stiff, but it gives shots a softer feel when combined with the 16mm NeuCore honeycomb core. It allows players to choose their play style, either taking advantage of its agility or generating their own power by swinging fast and taking advantage of the large sweet spot to help the ball along.
It has a slightly elongated face – though not as much as some – and a total paddle measurement of 16 ⅛ inches long and 7 ⅝ inches wide. Unlike other paddles with narrower faces, the teardrop shape of the Hellbender provides players with a large sweet spot and an exceptional amount of forgiveness.
The grip size of the Hellbender is relatively small, measuring only 4 ⅛ inches in circumference, so players with larger hands may have to tape the handle for a better fit. This also allows players to add some weight to the paddle for extra power and a better feel in hand. It sits cozily in the mid-price category and is definitely worth it for an enhanced playing experience.
When considering which pickleball paddle to purchase, one of the most important attributes to look at is the forgiveness it offers. Forgiveness helps players hit better shots, even when they’ve mishit the ball. It’s more important for beginners to have a forgiving paddle than professional-level players as it can help them to improve faster.
Professional players have mastered their technique, so their need for a forgiving paddle isn’t as high as beginners. A forgiving paddle can help beginners get the ball over the net, even on poor shots, to let them get a better feel for the game.