Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. Since 2020, the onset of the pandemic has led to a 40% increase in the number of players playing nationwide, five times as many. Like tennis for the rest of us, pickleball’s popularity isn’t just based on how fast it is. It’s easy to learn, but it’s played on smaller courts, making it easier for players of any skill level and age to play. easy to use.
“Pickleball is a great low-impact cardio, balance and strength exercise,” says Ajay Pant, vice president of racquet sports at Life Time, one of the largest pickleball court operators in the United States. “Usually, a new player can be assembled within half an hour.”
You’ll eventually need your own paddle and ball, although beginners can try the borrowed equipment found at most pickle ball facilities for comfort. “Because the court is smaller, the racquet is shorter and lighter than a tennis racquet, and the ball is made of plastic, it’s easy for most beginners to learn and control,” said vice president Ernie Medina, Jr. Chair, Pickleball Board, USA.
Thankfully, this gear won’t break the bank. A strong, lightweight racquet starts at about $60, and pickle balls run about $2 to $3 each (although they do last longer than tennis balls).
To help you get started with the right swing, we talked to several experts about their picks for the best pickleball racquets and balls.
According to Life Time National Pickleball Director David Dutrieuille, several factors come into play when choosing a pickleball paddle. In addition to budget, you also need to consider your athletic background in racquet sports as well as the feel and quality of the racquet itself. While a good, sturdy, lightweight starter paddle can cost you around $60 to $80, you might want to splurge on something that will more easily take you into the pickleball future.
“Beginners may not be able to tell the difference between a $50 and $300 paddle board, but more experienced players certainly can,” says Medina.
No matter what price range you decide on, here are some expert picks.
Our Lowest Cost Racket for Beginners
For the lower price, Dutrieuille appreciates the solid feel of the Joola Essentials paddles. It also comes with padded grips for better shock protection and a well-respected name that he says is backed by professionals.
Affordable, durable small paddle for faster gaming
This lightweight Gamme pickleball racquet has a smaller head for faster hand speed, and Pant loves it because it’s durable and affordable. The Dart is also approved by USAPA for use in sanctioned championship competitions.
Inexpensive racquets with longer handles, best for backhand swings
Panter recommends this budget racquet because of the grip that keeps your hands from slipping while playing. Plus, the Echo Team’s extended handle makes it easier to practice your backhand, while the bumper guard lets you swing safely.
Forgiving core makes this beginner racquet more responsive
Not only does this handsome pickleball racket come in five vibrant colors, but according to Dutrieuille, the owners of PikNinja use a community-based approach to attract a passionate following. The forgiving core makes it more responsive to beginners – even if you’re not hitting the ball in the middle of the racquet.
Affordable paddle for players ready to upgrade
The Halo is a new racquet from Selkirk, and Dan Santorum, president and CEO of the Professional Pickleball Registry, thinks it’s a good racquet for the beginning player. “It has a raw carbon surface that’s really forgiving, and it’s affordable,” he says.
Larger paddles allow for maximum range during gaming
Dutrieuille loves the Invikta Amped paddle because its shape allows for maximum reach without compromising balance. As an added bonus, every Selkirk racquet also comes with a lifetime warranty.
A splurge paddle for more speed and comfort for those ready to invest in the sport
Dutrieuille likens wielding the Black Ace Pro to driving a Lamborghini—more power, speed and finesse for players of all levels. “This paddle blew me away due to the combination of some of the highest quality carbon fiber and shock absorption technology in the industry,” he said.
When choosing the best pickleball ball, it’s important to consider where you’ll be playing. Indoor balls are made of softer plastic for longer life, larger holes and higher bounce. Outdoor balls, on the other hand, are made of harder plastic and have smaller holes, which makes them better for faster games, but also easier to break.
“The two are constructed differently; although you can use either ball anywhere, they’re best suited to where they’re created,” Medina said.
More Durable, Lower Cost Balls
According to Medina, these balls are popular on indoor recreational pickle ball courts primarily because they last a long time and cost less.You can get a three-pack for less than $10, or a 12-pack for $24
Heavier ball for more stability in outdoor sports
These Dura Fast 40 pickle balls are heavier at nearly 1 full ounce, which means they’ll hold up even in windy weather and tend to hit faster — both important aspects of outdoor play. However, Medina also points out that they are made of more brittle plastic and tend to break faster.
How to choose the best Peake shoes, nets and more
When it comes to other pickleball gear, Medina and Pant agree that while you might not think of it first, shoes are an important consideration. “The biggest concern is cross-training/running shoes. Don’t wear these to pickleball,” says Panter.
“Running shoes aren’t designed for side-to-side movement, and many people end up spraining their ankles,” adds Medina, who thinks a good pair of shoes, like these K Swiss Express Light peak sneakers, are like cheap health insurance.
For anyone looking to set up a pickle ball court in a basement, driveway, or anywhere you might roam, it might be worth buying a portable net like the Rally Deluxe Portable Net System ($165) — though Pant recommends using a caution Tape invests pre-strung between two chairs.
now go out and play pickle ball
Can anyone learn to play? of course can.
Not sure how to get started? Ernie Medina recommends checking out USA Pickleball’s ambassador directory to find free introductory classes. “USA Pickleball is the national governing body for pickleball in the United States and has nearly 2,000 ambassadors across the United States. Their mission is to help grow the game of pickleball in their area, and one of their responsibilities includes helping teach newcomers how to play,” he says.
While it’s easy to find videos online or grab a copy of Pickleball for Dummies, Medina believes learning it in person is best. If you don’t have time to connect with an ambassador or take lessons from a knowledgeable friend, working with a certified coach is a fast way to learn the right way.
“The Professional Pickleball Registry has a certified coach directory that allows people to search for a certified coach closest to them. Other certification organizations like IPTPA or PCI have similar directories or contact information for their coaches,” he says. “Most facilities (clubs, health centers, gyms, etc.) that have pickleball courts will also have certified coaches who can get you started the right way.”
When you’re ready to find a pitch near you, Santorum recommends checking out the official US Pickleball Places 2 Play website, which lets you search by city, state, zip code or place name.
It’s also important to warm up before a game to avoid basic injuries. It may be a smaller field, but you still want to get your heart rate up before you start swinging.
“Warm up and prep your body with dynamic stretches (arm circles, squats, lunges, monster kicks, lateral shuffle, balance exercises) before playing,” says Pant. “You need to warm up all the major muscles that you’re going to be using during the race.” He also recommends cooling down with static stretches after the race.
Long live the pickle ball!