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Pickleball Gear: The Ultimate Guide

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Need the right gear? Here’s everything you need to know about pickleball gear! From paddles to shoes, we have the ultimate guide.

Table of Contents

When it comes to Pickleball, having the right gear can make all the difference in your game. That’s why we’ve put together the Pickleball Gear Buyer’s Guide, so you can take your game to the next level. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about pickleball gear. We’ll also give you some tips on how to choose the right gear for your game, so you can start playing like a pro.

Choosing the right Pickleball gear can be a tough decision. There are a lot of different types of Pickleball gear on the market today. Paddles, shoes, nets, balls, equipment, and more. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out which one is right for you. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll break down the different types of gear available, so you can make the best decision for your game.

So whether you’re a beginner Pickleball player or a seasoned veteran, this guide has something for you.

Introduction

This guide breaks down pickleball gear into the following areas:

Clothing, shoes, and wearable accessories are covered in our Pickleball Clothing and Attire Buyer’s Guide.

When reading this guide and shopping for pickleball gear, keep in mind that not all products on the market are USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) approved for tournaments.  Check out the USAPA Equipment Standards Manual for more information and check the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure your equipment is USAPA-approved.

Pickleball Paddles

The most important piece of Pickleball gear is the paddle. A good, well-fitting, paddle can make all the difference in your game.

Read more: Pickleball Paddles: Ultimate Guide

Unlike tennis, in pickleball, you use a paddle, not a racket. The paddle looks more like a ping pong paddle with a slightly longer handle that is wrapped like a tennis racket handle. The pickleball paddle is smaller and lighter than a tennis racket. This makes it easier to control and maneuver.

Anatomy of a Pickleball Paddle

  • Face: The striking surface of the paddle, usually made from a different material than the shaft and often textured to improve grip.
  • Edge Gaurd: The edge guard is a protective strip of rubber or plastic that covers the paddle’s edge. Doing so prevents the paddle from experiencing too much wear and tear.
  • Handle: The handle is the part of the paddle that you grasp. It’s usually constructed of wood and has a textured grip to help you to keep hold of it.
  • Core: The paddle’s core is usually made from a honeycomb structured material, which helps make the paddle lighter and more comfortable to grip.

Paddle Structure & Materials

Paddles consist of both an inner core and a face surface on each side. Both affect your game and swing. They affect the control, power, feel of your swing, and ball spin.

Core Structure

The inner core is usually built of a honeycomb design with hollow cells between the face surfaces. A few manufacturers provide solid core paddle construction.

Honeycomb-designed cores vary in cell density with higher-density cell structures being more prevalent in higher-end paddles. On the budget-friendly end of the spectrum is wood which was the original material used for paddles in the early days of pickleball.

Core Materials

The three most commonly used core materials are polymer (plastic blend), Nomex (fiber paper coated with resin), and aluminum. Polymer, including polypropylene, and plastic blends currently are the most common core materials; however, with the growing popularity of the pickleball game and advancements in technology, we expect to see many improvements in paddle construction.

In addition to your performance, your paddle core materials and construction also affect the noise level of your play. This has become a more important consideration in paddle selection recently as many communities set noise restrictions on the typical pickleball “pop” and are establishing green zones.

Paddle Face

The paddle face is the surface that makes contact with the ball. Most pickleball paddles have one of these surfaces: graphite, fiberglass, carbon fiber, composite, or wood. Each type of surface offers different properties in terms of power, touch, spin, and noise.

The main characteristics of the face materials that affect your game are surface density (hard/soft), texture (rough/smooth), and durability. The harder the surface the more power and ball speed with less effort. The more texture, the more spin you can apply to the ball.

When selecting your face surface you’ll want to balance the strengths and weaknesses of density and stiffness, texture, and durability to arrive at the best selection for your needs. Additionally, the price may be a factor in your selection. Is the spin provided by carbon fiber more important to you than the power of fiberglass? Or maybe the larger sweet spot of fiberglass outweighs your need for a lightweight graphite paddle with a smaller sweet spot.

Read more: Pickleball Paddle: Ultimate Guide

Face texture falls into three main categories: smooth, textured, and perforated. Smooth surfaces offer more power and ball speed. Textured surfaces are quieter and offer more spin. Perforated paddles have small holes drilled into their surface and increase spin and control and are the quietest; however, perforated paddles do not meet USAPA standards.

Other considerations when selecting a paddle are shape, weight, thickness, as well as handle grip and length. To read more about these topics and other important facets of pickleball paddles, check out our Pickleball Paddle Buyer’s Guide.

Continue reading: Pickleball Paddle: Ultimate Guide

Pickleball Balls

Pickleball wouldn’t be pickleball without the ball! Pickleball balls are made of plastic and have holes in them. They are slightly under 3 inches in diameter and weigh around 0.9 ounces.

Diagram of a pickleball ball including dimensions.

Pickleball balls are made of plastic with holes in them.

Outdoor & Indoor Balls

There are two main types of pickleball balls:

  • Indoor balls
  • Outdoor balls

Indoor and outdoor balls are designed differently to accommodate the differences in playing surface and wind resistance.

Diagram of indoor and outdoor pickleball balls

Indoor balls (on the left) have fewer holes, but they are larger than outdoor pickleball balls (on the right).

Indoor Pickleball Balls

Because indoor courts have a wooden playing surface which is softer than outdoor hard surfaces, indoor balls are designed to compensate for the loss in bounce. Additionally, playing indoors eliminates the effect of wind resistance, so indoor balls do not require as much power to fly.

Indoor balls have fewer and larger holes, weigh less, and fly shorter distances than outdoor balls. The soft plastic used to make indoor balls makes it harder to hit the ball long-range but provides greater control. Also, because of their material composition, indoor balls produce less noise.

Outdoor Pickleball Balls

Using an outdoor ball is ideal when playing outdoors because they are heavier and have less wind resistance. This allows the balls to achieve more spin and go farther. Plus, the thicker plastic makes them more durable for hard and rough surfaces; however, the thickness also means they are more susceptible to cracking in cold weather.

To address noise complaints from people living near outdoor pickleball courts, some manufacturers have started creating quieter balls. However, not all of these balls are approved by the USAPA; such as those made with foam.

The pickleball ball you use can have a significant impact on your game. If you’re playing with an indoor ball on an outdoor court, for example, you won’t be able to get the same level of bounce or spin. Conversely, if you’re playing with an outdoor ball on an indoor court, the ball may not bounce as high or spin as much. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right pickleball ball for your particular playing surface.

For more information regarding how to choose the right ball and for answers to commonly asked questions regarding pickleball balls refer to our Pickleball Ball User’s Guide.

Read more: Pickleball Balls: Ultimate Guide

Bags & Covers

Pickleball bags and paddle covers are essential for protecting your equipment and keeping you organized. Bags help keep you organized and pickleball paddle covers can keep your paddle from getting wet, scratched, or damaged in transit.

Pickleball Bags

If you’re just starting out, you’ll need a good pickleball bag to store your equipment. There are a few things you’ll want to have when it comes to a bag that can do it all and know that you can carry all of your pickleball gear. You’ll also want to make sure that the bag has a lot of compartments for everything to have its own place.

The ideal pickleball bag needs to be spacious and well-designed, capable of comfortably carrying all the essential equipment needed for a pickleball game. In addition to a pickleball paddle and balls, this bag should ideally have compartments for other items, such as cell phone, keys, a water bottle, and shoes. To be truly effective, the pickleball bag must also offer storage space for warm layers, such as sweatshirts or lightweight jackets. Other items you may want to bring along are a sweatband, hat or visor, hair bands, and a towel.

And don’t forget to make sure it’s easy to carry with either a single or double shoulder strap and a hook to hang your bag on the fence.

The right pickleball bag will help you stay comfortable and focused during matches, giving you an edge over the competition. When looking for a bag, opt for one that is versatile and high-quality to get the most use out of it.

Paddle Covers

Covers for pickleball paddles come in shapes to match your paddle shape, standard or elongated. Most manufacturers sell covers that fit their paddles but there are also some options for custom covers that may better match your style.

There you have it, everything you need to know about pickleball gear. With the right gear, you can take your game to the next level and start playing like a pro. So don’t wait any longer, get out there and get started today!

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