Gear Thoughts Paddles and Grips

In2Picklers,
We wanted to share with you some thoughts about Pickleball gear. While traveling the country we are often asked about paddles and other gear questions.
As always, if you have any other questions about gear or otherwise please reach out to us at in2plickle@gmail.com.
Tony and Jill Roig

Paddles

Buying a paddle can be daunting. One site alone offers 130 different paddle choices. We at In2Pickle are in the process of testing various paddles and will endorse the paddles that we believe will provide the blend of performance, quality, and playability that will work the best for most playing styles. In the meantime, below are some guidelines to assist you through the process.

Don’t ditch your current paddle and run out to get a new one. Use this guide if and when you are looking for a paddle.

  1. We recommend “regular” shaped paddles. Unless you have a specific reason for buying an odd-shaped paddle, we do not recommend these for most players. Regular shaped paddles are the most common ones you will see and are generally squarish in shape. As an example of the shape, the 2 in our logo is wrapped in a regular shaped paddle.
  2. We recommend playing with as light a paddle as comfortable. Pickleball is a game where speed is more important than brawn. You do not need to plow through the ball - like you might in tennis. You need a paddle light enough that you can swing from one side to the other quickly. The only exception would be for singles - then more weight may help.
  3. Along the same lines as total weight, we recommend a headlight paddle. This means that the head of the paddle feels light as you swing it from side to side. A head heavy paddle will feel like you are dragging a weight through the air behind it as you swing it from side to side.

While there is no one-size-fits-all for paddle purchasing, the above guidelines should help you find a paddle that is right for you. Buy a paddle where you enjoy the look and feel. In the end, you should enjoy pulling the paddle from your bag and getting ready to play. Read Grips, below, as part of this decision.

Grips

While obviously part of the paddle, the grip merits its own focus. No matter how good your paddle is, you will not enjoy the game if your grip is wrong. Consider the following:

  1. Grip size. It is important that the grip fit comfortably inside your hand. A too big or too small grip will not feel right. When in doubt get the middle grip. Some paddles do not offer a grip size option. If that is the case, make sure the grip is not too big (there is no way to make it smaller once you buy it). You can build it up some by adding overgrips - see below.
  2. Grip length. Paddles have varying grip lengths. If you stick with a squarish paddle the grip will probably be a regular length. If you have a 2-handed backhand, double check the grip length.
  3. Overgrips. Overgrips help keep the paddle grip drier during play by absorbing sweat and also help protect the paddle’s original leather grip. You can change overgrips easily and with relatively little expense. There are different textures for overgrips - from the more rubbery feel of the Wilson and Gamma overgrips to the more suede feel of the original Tourna grip. Some of the overgrip companies are offering pickleball-specific overgrips but our recommendation is to purchase tennis-sized grips and then cut them in half.

Edge Tape

It is easy to scuff your paddle on the court surface. These scuffs can add up and ultimately cause you to need a new paddle. An easy way to avoid these scuffs is to use tape that is specially designed for this purpose. You can probably use any tape that will adhere to the edge of the paddle, but we like the specially-designed tapes because of their heft and stickiness. This is not lead or weight tape. It is intended to provide edge protection and not extra weight the paddle. We have had good luck with the edge tapes from Head and Babolat. Gamma makes one too but it does not stick as well as the other two. You can purchase the tape online at any tennis website or on Amazon.

Shoes

The type of shoe we recommend depends on the surface you are playing on:

  1. If you are playing on a tennis court surface (whether indoor or out), we recommend tennis shoes. Tennis shoes are designed to provide lateral support as you move side to side. The soles are usually good at handling the roughness of the court surface.
  2. f you are playing on a wood or polished concrete surface (this is not a tennis surface, which generally has texture to it), we recommend gym (sometimes called badminton) shoes. These shoes are also good for lateral movement and have a proper sole for the surface. They will not hold up on tennis court surfaces though as they have softer rubber soles.
  3. Regardless of surface, we recommend NOT playing in running, walking or jogging shoes (unless of course your doctor has suggested otherwise). These shoes are not made to handle lateral movement and place unnecessary strain on your ankle.

Last thought, if you are only going to get one type of shoe, make it a tennis shoe suitable for outdoor surfaces. You can always wear it indoors too.

Eye Protection

The IPTPA recommends eye protection meeting the ASTM F803 standards. A pickleball striking your eye can cause serious damage. Consider wearing some eye protection.