So you’ve mastered the basics of pickleball and now you’re hooked. You’ve outgrown those beginner paddles and you’re ready to step up your game. As an intermediate player, you need a paddle that can keep up with your developing skills and need for more power and control.
The good news is there are some great paddles out there perfectly suited for players at your level.
We’ve play tested and reviewed dozens of paddles to find the best of the best for intermediate players. The paddles on this list will give you the perfect blend of power, control, and feel to take your game to the next level. Read on to find your new favorite paddle and get back out on the court!
What Makes a Great Pickleball Paddle for Intermediate Players?
A great paddle for intermediate players has a few important features. First, it should be lightweight and balanced, around 7 to 8 ounces. This makes it easy to maneuver and won’t fatigue your arm. Look for an aluminum or composite core with a cushioned grip so you have good control and comfort.
The paddle face should also have a textured, non-skid surface, like fiberglass. This gives you more spin and ball control. A slightly grittier surface works well for intermediate players. You’ll also want an oval or teardrop shape, which is more forgiving if you’re off-center. An elongated shape provides more reach.
For power and speed, choose a medium-sized paddle, around 15 to 16 inches long and 8 inches wide. This size, along with a longer handle, gives you more leverage and reach. A longer handle, around 5 to 6 inches, also allows for two-handed backhands and more wrist action on shots.
Some highly rated brands for intermediates are Onix, Paddletek, and Gamma. Popular, affordable models include the Onix Z5, Paddletek Bantam EX-L, and Gamma Micron 2.0. These offer an ideal blend of control, power, and forgiveness as your skills improve.
The most important thing is finding a paddle that complements your playing style. An intermediate paddle should help you develop more advanced techniques while still being very playable. With the right paddle, your game will quickly go from good to great!
Best Overall: Amped Pickleball Paddle |
The Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddle is a top choice for intermediate players looking to step up their game. This paddle features a fiberglass and polymer honeycomb core that provides power and control. The oval-shaped paddle face gives you a large sweet spot so you can return shots with confidence.
- Generous hitting surface. The oval shape and 8.3-inch width give you more paddle to work with for solid returns and volleys.
- Lightweight yet durable. At just under 8 ounces, this paddle reduces fatigue so you can play longer. The fiberglass face also stands up well to frequent use.
- Great combination of power and control. The polymer core and fiberglass face provide a level of flex that allows you to add power to your shots while still maintaining control.
- Paddle grip tends to loosen. The grip tape on the handle can start to peel away and may need to be replaced for the best traction.
- Can be pricey. While a high-quality paddle, the cost may be more than a recreational player wants to spend. Look for sales to find the best deal.
If you’re looking to improve your skills and want a paddle that will help you get the most out of your game, the Selkirk Amped Pickleball Paddle is an excellent choice. With the ideal blend of power, control, and durability, this paddle can help take you to the next level.
Most Powerful: Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle
The Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro is a lightweight, balanced paddle that packs some power. It’s ideal for intermediate players looking to add more oomph to their shots without sacrificing control.
Composite Honeycomb Core
At the heart of this paddle is an aerospace-grade aluminum honeycomb core sandwiched between two layers of fiberglass. This provides an ideal blend of pop and precision. The honeycomb structure gives it a higher sweet spot so you can crank out drives with less vibration. It has enough power to hit attacking shots but still feels responsive enough for drop shots and drinks
Textured Fiberglass Face
The fiberglass face has a slightly textured surface which gives it a soft, quiet feel while increasing spin and allowing for more aggressive strokes. The texture is not too rough, so the paddle still slides through the air easily on serves and returns. The fiberglass is durable but not too stiff, absorbing some shock without deadening the power.
Comfortable, Secure Grip
The Tempest Wave Pro has an ergonomic grip with a slight flare at the top to prevent slippage during hard hits. The grip circumference is on the smaller end of the spectrum, suitable for most hand sizes but ideal for players with smaller hands. Perforated cushioning inside provides comfort and wicks away moisture to keep your hand dry. An adjustable wrist strap gives added security so you can swing away with confidence.
Pros and Cons
Powerful, spin-friendly, comfortable, durable
May lack control for beginners, small grip not ideal for larger hands
If you’re looking to take your game to the next level with a paddle that can drive the ball hard but still handle finesse shots, the Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro is a great choice. Packed with technologies to boost power, spin, and comfort, this high-performance paddle is fit for intermediate players ready to start dominating.
Best for Control: Onix Composite Z5 Pickleball Paddle
The Onix Composite Z5 is a great paddle for intermediate players looking to improve their control and accuracy. This paddle features a graphite and fiberglass face with a composite core, giving it a medium weight and flex. The slightly textured surface helps add spin to shots while still being very responsive.
- Provides excellent control and touch. The Z5 makes it easy to place shots where you want them.
- Comfortable, ergonomic grip. The handle is sized well for most players and helps reduce vibration.
- Mid-range price. For the performance, the Z5 is very affordable. You get a lot of paddle for the money.
- May lack power for some players. While great for control, the Z5 isn’t the most powerful paddle, so you’ll need to generate most of the power in your swing.
- No edge guard. The Z5 lacks an edge guard, so the sides of the paddle can dent or scratch more easily. You’ll want to be careful when not playing to avoid dropping or banging the sides.
The Z5 is ideal for players focused on improving their finesse and soft game play. If you find yourself struggling with dinks, drop shots, and lobs, the Z5 can help give you more confidence in executing these shots. The control and feel this paddle provides helps take the guesswork out of touch shots.
For recreational and competitive play at an intermediate level, the Onix Composite Z5 is a great, well-rounded choice. It offers a blend of control, power, and responsiveness to help elevate your game without breaking the bank. If you’re looking for a solid graphite paddle to help you spin, place, and finesse shots, the Z5 is one to consider. With this paddle in hand, your soft game and shot making ability will get a boost in no time.
Best Value: Amazin’ Aces Signature Pickleball Paddle and it’s pros & cons
The Amazin’ Aces Signature paddle is a top choice for intermediate players looking for performance at a budget-friendly price. This paddle delivers on all fronts without breaking the bank.
- Composite paddle face provides good power and control. The textured surface helps add spin to your shots.
- Lightweight yet durable aluminum core makes it easy to maneuver while still able to stand up to frequent play.
- Comes pre-assembled with a comfortable, shock-absorbing grip for hassle-free use right out of the box.
- Offers great value for the quality. This paddle compares well to more expensive options but at a fraction of the cost.
- Lacks some of the advanced features of higher-end paddles like a fiberglass or carbon fiber face. The composite material may dent or scratch more easily over time.
- Grip tends to wear down faster than paddles with a rubber or tacky grip. You may need to replace the grip after several months of frequent play.
- Limited selection of grip sizes. Only available in 4-inch and 4.25-inch grip circumferences which may not suit all hand sizes.
For intermediate players looking to step up their game without a big investment, the Amazin’ Aces Signature paddle deserves strong consideration.
It provides enhanced performance over basic beginner paddles at an affordable price point. While lacking some of the high-end features of more premium paddles, this model offers solid value that will appeal to many recreational and club players. For the combination of playability, durability and price, this paddle is hard to beat.
Composite vs. Graphite Paddles: Which Is Better for Intermediate Players?
When upgrading from a beginner to an intermediate pickleball paddle, you’ll need to decide between a composite or graphite paddle. Both options have their pros and cons for intermediate players, so consider your playing style and needs to determine which is the better choice for you.
Composite paddles are made from a blend of materials like aluminum, polymer and wood pulp. They’re typically cheaper, more durable and better for power shots. However, they can be slightly heavier and less responsive. If you prefer extra paddle pop or play an aggressive game with lots of spin and speed, a composite may suit you well.
Graphite paddles are constructed with a honeycomb graphite core, making them extremely lightweight and sensitive. They generate more control and touch, ideal for dinking and drop shots. Although more maneuverable, graphite paddles tend to be more expensive and less durable. If placement and finesse are most important to your game, you’ll likely prefer a graphite paddle.
For many intermediate players, a paddle with a composite handle and graphite face offers the best of both worlds. The composite handle provides power while the graphite face generates control and responsiveness. Popular options like the Selkirk Amped S2 X5 and Paddletek Bantam EX-L fall into this category.
In the end, the right paddle for you depends on your playing style, budget and how serious you are about the game. As an intermediate, either composite or graphite can work well. If possible, try out different paddles from friends or at your local sporting goods store. See which feels most comfortable and natural in your hands. With the variety of high-quality paddles available today, you’re sure to find one that helps take your game to the next level.
Paddle Weight and Balance: How Heavy and Head-Light Should You Go?
When it comes to paddle weight and balance, finding the right fit for your playing level and style is key. As an intermediate player, you want a paddle that gives you control and power, without being too heavy or head-light.
For intermediate players, a midweight paddle between 7.5 to 8.5 ounces is ideal. Any lighter and you may struggle to return power shots or place the ball accurately. Heavier than 8.5 ounces can be tiring and reduce wrist action and touch on shots. A midweight paddle gives you a blend of power, control, and maneuverability.
Paddle balance refers to how the weight is distributed between the handle and the head. A balanced or slightly head-heavy paddle is best for intermediate players. A balanced paddle has an even weight distribution, making it easy to swing and generate solid shots. Slightly head-heavy means a bit more weight concentrated in the paddle head. This gives extra power and pop on shots while still being controllable.
Avoid an extremely head-light paddle which can feel unwieldy and make it hard to direct shots with accuracy. Also avoid a very head-heavy paddle unless you have a strong wrist and forearm – the extra weight in the head can be fatiguing and reduce finesse.
The paddle specifications will indicate the balance using a ratio, like 1:1 for balanced or 2:1 for head-heavy. As an intermediate, look for a ratio between 1:1 and 1.5:1. This hits the sweet spot of a balanced paddle with a slight head-heavy bias for extra oomph on shots.
By choosing a midweight paddle with a balanced or slightly head-heavy design, you’ll have a responsive and forgiving paddle that helps you take your game to the next level. Be sure to also consider other factors like grip size, paddle shape and core material to find your perfect match. With the right paddle in hand, you’ll gain power, precision and confidence on the court.
Paddle Surface and Grip: What’s the Right Amount of Texture for You?
The surface texture and grip of your paddle play an important role in control and performance. As an intermediate player, you want a paddle that provides some spin and touch, without being too grippy.
A completely smooth paddle surface won’t give you much traction on the ball, making it hard to put spin on shots or drop delicate dinks over the net. On the other hand, a very textured surface with lots of grip can make it difficult to get solid, clean contact on power shots. It may feel like the ball is sticking to the paddle face.
For most intermediate players, a medium-textured paddle surface with a modest amount of grip works well. This provides enough traction to add spin when you want it, but still allows you to drive the ball hard when the opportunity arises. Popular paddle faces in this range include textured graphite, textured composite, and perforated surfaces.
The grip, or handle, is also key. An ergonomic shape that’s not too thick will give you good control without straining your hand. Many paddles targeted at intermediate players have a slightly flared or angled handle that helps prevent slippage during play. A modest amount of cushioning can help reduce vibration while maintaining touch.
In the end, the right amount of surface texture and grip comes down to your playing style and personal preference. If you rely more on power and speed, you may prefer a paddle on the less grippy end of the spectrum. If spin and finesse are strengths of your game, additional texture and grip will allow you to showcase those skills. The good news is, many major brands offer demo or trial programs so you can experience different paddles hands-on before you buy.
Taking the time to find a paddle with the perfect feel for your game will give you an edge on the court as you continue to improve your skills. The right paddle really can make a difference.
So there you have it, the top five pickleball paddles that can take your game to the next level. Any of these options would be a great choice if you’re ready to graduate from your beginner paddle.
The key is finding one with the right combination of control, power, and comfort for your playing style. If you’re not sure where to start, you really can’t go wrong with the Selkirk Amped or the Tempest Wave Pro Pickleball Paddle. Once you have a high-quality paddle in your hands, get out on the court and start practicing those dinking and drop shots. Before you know it, you’ll be acing serves and slamming kills. Your game is about to get a whole lot more fun!
Pickleball Lover & Enthusiast. Sharing my love for the game on my website. Come join me for all the pickleball fun & get your paddle on!
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