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best inexpensive pickleball paddle

Pickleball is a fun sport that has gained a dedicated following, enjoys widespread popularity in the United States, and has been termed by some as America’s fastest-growing sport. Looking like a mashup of tennis, whiffle ball, and ping-pong, the sport is more approachable than tennis and requires far more physical exertion than ping-pong.

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As a result, many people are getting into the sport and it is also an excellent family activity. All you need for a court is a driveway or parking lot, a portable net, some paddles, and a pickleball.

There are several reasons for all this popularity. First and foremost, pickleball is a great sport for people of different skill levels.
If you crave competitive play but are not the most coordinated person in the world without a lot of practice, pickleball is a great sport for beginners at this level. Matches can be either leisurely fun or hot contests.

Best Inexpensive Pickleball Paddles Comparison Table

IMAGE PRODUCT LATEST PRICE
EDITOR’S CHOICE
1. Diller Wood

  • Material(s): hardwood plywood (7-ply)
  • Weight: 9.5-10.5 oz (269.3-297.7 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 7 inches (39.4 x 17.8 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5.5-inch handle (14 cm)
Check Price
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2. Kanga

  • Material(s): maple plywood (7-ply)
  • Weight: 9.5-10.5 oz (269.3-297.7 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 7 inches (39.4 x 17.8 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5.5-inch handle (14 cm)
Check Price
3. Champion Spark<

  • Material(s): fiberglass face over polypropylene core
  • Weight: 7.0 oz (198.4 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.6 x 7.75 inches (39.7 x 19.7 cm)
  • Grip: 4-inch (10.2 cm), 5-inch handle (12.7 cm)
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4. Rally Tyro 2 Pro

  • Material(s): polycarbonate face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 7.8 oz (221.1 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.6 x 7.75 inches (39.7 x 19.7 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5-inch handle (12.7 cm)
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5. Amazin’ Aces Graphite

  • Material(s): graphite face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 9.2 oz (260.8 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.8 x 8.125 inches (40 x 20.6 cm)
  • Grip: 4.375-inch (11.1 cm), 4.75-inch handle (12 cm)
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6. Rally Meister Beginner

  • Material(s): maple plywood (7-ply)
  • Weight: 9.5-10.5 oz (269.3-297.7 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 7 inches (39.4 x 17.8 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5.5-inch handle (14 cm)
Check Price
7.Upstreet Polypro

  • Material(s): graphite face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 8.6 oz (243.8 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.75 x 7.75 inches (40 x 19.7 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 4.75-inch handle (12.1 cm)
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8. Flybold Graphite

  • Material(s): graphite face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 8.3 oz (235.3 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.75 x 7.75 inches (40 x 19.7 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5.25-inch handle (13.3 cm)
Check Price
9. Westop Sports

  • Material(s): maple plywood (7-ply)
  • Weight: 9-10 oz (255.1-283.5 g)
  • Dimensions: 16 x 8 inches (40.6 x 20.3 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5 -inch handle (12.7 cm)
Check Price
10. Head Radical Elite

  • Material(s): fiberglass face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 8.1 oz (229.6 g)
  • Dimensions: 16 x 7.875 inches (40.6 x 20 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 4.75-inch handle (12.1 cm)
Check Price

The second attraction is that pickleball is a social activity. Since playing pickleball does not require any extreme physical prowess, it is an ideal family sport with parents, grandparents, and the kids all able to participate.

The rules are easy to understand and follow since they resemble the rules of ping-pong in many aspects. The lack of complicated rules makes it an easy game for children to learn and an excellent means of getting them to be physically active while learning a sports skill.

That leads to the third major attraction: pickleball is a healthy physical activity. We currently spend far too much time on our butts in front of screens and simply do not engage in enough physical activity to maintain good health.

The easy approachability of pickleball and the fact that games can be played anywhere you have enough room (driveway, parking lot, gymnasium, community center hall) opens up a wealth of opportunities for matches. The fact that anyone can play at any age and that you can set up a court just about anywhere has contributed strongly to pickleball being an “every person’s” sport.

So how did all this business get started anyhow? Well, back in 1969 on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, two families, the Bell’s and McCallum’s, were spending some summertime at the home of future US members of Congress and lieutenant governor of Washington, Joel Pritchard.

After Bill Bell and Barney McCallum left their families at the Pritchard estate to play a round of golf, they returned to find the whole crew completely bored out of their minds. Scrambling around in Pritchard’s shed hoping to find badminton set to remedy the situation, the two come up with everything… but a shuttlecock.

Deciding to get a bit creative to fix things (and maybe they had a few beers at the course…), they set up the net lower than it is used for badminton, dug up a whiffle ball, and fashioned some “paddles” with some plywood and quick work with a saw. After presenting this menagerie of sports equipment to their families and deciding on a few basic rules, they all began to play this new makeshift sport.

Days went by, matches and re-matches were played, and thus pickleball was born. The name allegedly came from a joke about the paddles and competitive sailing, but you can read about that on your own (go read up on pickle boats).

So, if you are now interested in this sport after our grand introduction, what you need for starters is a decent paddle. If you are not interested in investing a lot of money in a paddle for a sport you are uncertain about (until the bug bites you), we have some options for you.

Here we list out our picks for affordable starter pickleball paddles. They are listed in no particular order and we will give our top pick recommendation at the end of this article.

Attention was paid to an affordable price balanced against acceptable performance so those beginning players using any of the paddles on this list will be sure to have some fun and want to dive deeper into the sport.

Our Best Inexpensive Pickleball Paddles Reviews and Comparisons

1. Champion Spark

Product Highlights

Product Highlights
The Champion Spark pickleball paddle from Pickleball, Inc. is a simple and straightforward design. Produced by the originators of pickleball, the McCallum family, Pickleball, Inc. has been committed since 1972 to providing a full range of excellent pickleball sporting equipment from elite to affordable.

The Champion Spark is an ideal choice for new players of the sport and children as it is simple and affordable. The lack of fancy face graphics and vibrant colors reduces the price of the paddle, although it is made from polymer materials (polypropylene and fiberglass) and is a great value for the price.

It is a lightweight racquet but can still deliver a pop for crisp ball action.

Features

  • Material(s): fiberglass face over polypropylene core
  • Weight: 7.0 oz (198.4 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.6 x 7.75 inches (39.7 x 19.7 cm)
  • Grip: 4-inch (10.2 cm), 5-inch handle (12.7 cm)

What We Like About Champion Spark

With a polypropylene core covered with a stiff but flexible fiberglass face, the Champion Spark emphasizes good ball control (i.e., spin control). The Champion Spark has a 5-inch handle, not too long and unwieldy but long enough to provide an extra bit of reach for easy returns.

This is a smaller paddle than many pickleball paddles, which lends itself to a quicker swing and improved agility. Many parents have purchased a Champion Spark for their kids since the small grip size is great for small hands.

What We Don’t Like About Champion Spark

The edge guard definitely protects the racquet from accidental court contact, but some players may find it annoying. A ball strike on the racquet edge can lead to ball deflection and an unpredictable return.

The 4-inch grip is great for children, but adult players may find that it is too small in their hands. Small grip sizes can lead to hand fatigue, so we recommend a grip wrap to fatten it up if this is an issue for you.

PROS

  • Springy polypropylene core for power
  • Sturdy build with edge guard protection
  • Comes with a zip-on neoprene cover
  • One-year warranty

CONS

  • Polypropylene core gives powerful serves and returns, but the paddle lacks balanced action and control
  • Grip size may be too small for some people (it’s good for kids, though)

2. Rally Tyro 2 Pro

Product Highlights

The Rally Tyro 2 Pro from Pickleball Central is an improved version of their venerable Rally Tyro. The Tyro 2 Pro has a thicker core than the Tyro, which makes the action on this paddle springier and adds a bit of weight for more power.

Features

  • Material(s): polycarbonate face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 7.8 oz (221.1 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.6 x 7.75 inches (39.7 x 19.7 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5-inch handle (12.7 cm)

What We Like About Rally Tyro 2 Pro

The Tyro 2 Pro is a middleweight racquet that offers more power on the court with good ball pop. The core of the paddle is a polypropylene honeycomb that compresses well to deliver power.

The shape of the paddle face combined with the core material provides a large and consistent sweet spot. This is typically a feature found only on higher-priced professional paddles.

Pickleball Central is able to produce an affordable paddle with professional features because they build and market their paddles directly with no wholesaler in the middle.

Regular players who have tried the Tyro 2 Pro are often surprised at its action, which is similar to paddles that are twice the price or more. They often comment about the ability to volley strongly within the kitchen and the amount of subtle control to dink.

Much of this ball control comes from the handle materials, which are designed to work in concert with the honeycomb core to dampen vibration. This allows for excellent feedback and reduced hand fatigue during extended play.

What We Don’t Like About Rally Tyro 2 Pro

The decals add a bit of bling to the paddle, but some users have complained that if the racquet gets hot, the decals start to bubble and peel. Bubbles on the paddle face equal whacky shots going all over the place.

The grips also seem to loosen over time, resulting in an uncertain feel in the paddle. However, it is an inexpensive pickleball paddle.

PROS

  • Vibration dampening materials in the handle
  • Power with good ball control
  • Approved by the USAPA for tournament use

CONS

  • Handle grip may loosen with play
  • Grip sizes vary from product to product by 0.125 inches (32 mm)
  • Face decals can peel off

3. Amazin’ Aces Graphite

Product Highlights

Amazin’ Aces of Austin, Texas is a new entry onto the pickleball scene and offers a range of pickleball sporting equipment. The Amazin’ Aces Graphite pickleball paddle is just one of their offerings and is an affordable performer.

Basically, this is the least expensive graphite/polymer pickleball paddle you can buy and is near the bottom of the price range for paddles on our list. If you want to try out pickleball, but do not want to invest too much in equipment, this is a great starter paddle for the price.

Features

  • Material(s): graphite face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 9.2 oz (260.8 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.8 x 8.125 inches (40 x 20.6 cm)
  • Grip: 4.375-inch (11.1 cm), 4.75-inch handle (12 cm)

What We Like About Amazin’ Aces Graphite

Whether you like edge guards or not on your paddle, Amazin’ Aces Graphite edge guard is low-profile and unobtrusive. The Amazin’ Aces Graphite is a weighty paddle at 9.2 ounces and packs a punch.

The graphite face is stiff but flexible and provides some contact friction with the ball, which allows players to apply some additional ball spin on returns and serves. Graphite in an affordable paddle is also a rarity.

The weight with the honeycomb polymer core in combination produces a lot of power hits. The sweet spot of the paddle is also forgiving and large and the face of the paddle is also a bit larger than many competitor paddles in this price segment.

What We Don’t Like About Amazin’ Aces Graphite

The edge guard tends to fall off of the paddle over time and with use. This may not be a problem for some people since the pickleball world is split regarding whether edge guards are a good thing or a bad thing.

The paddle is also a bit top-heavy with the weight distributed toward the tip rather than balanced or distributed toward the handle. If you are into the power play, it works well, but if you are into control and prefer to play close to the net, this paddle may not work for you.

PROS

  • Heavy for power
  • The edge guard is low-profile
  • Can be purchased in sets of 2 or 4 (also in other colors)

CONS

  • Edge guard can fall off
  • Weight and balance may be an issue for some people
  • Not tournament-approved (USAPA)

4.Rally Meister Beginner

Product Highlights

The Rally Meister Beginner by Pickleball Central is, as it states in the name, a paddle for beginner players. Among all our recommended inexpensive paddles, the Rally Meister Beginner is likely the least expensive (think burger, fries, and shake prices).

Made of 7-ply plywood, the Rally Meister Beginner is a somewhat heavy paddle by modern standards and looks more like a throwback to the early days of the sport. The paddle looks not much different than the ones invented by the founders of the sport, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum.

Features

  • Material(s): maple plywood (7-ply)
  • Weight: 9.5-10.5 oz (269.3-297.7 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 7 inches (39.4 x 17.8 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5.5-inch handle (14 cm)

What We Like About Rally Meister Beginner

The Rally Meister is strong, durable, and affordable. It has become a popular choice to stock pickleball courts and gymnasiums for youth camps, schools, and community centers.

For a wood paddle, it is one of the lighter weighted ones on the market. The Rally Meister also comes with a wrist strap to prevent accidental release during a swing.

The paddle grip is also excellent and it is easy to maintain your grip and exert some control during a swing. The material of the grip is designed to wick away moisture to prevent a slip.

What We Don’t Like About Rally Meister Beginner

As a traditional wood paddle, the Rally Meister Beginner does not provide the amount of ball control you would experience if using a polymer paddle.
The additional paddle weight is an advantage for power play but might be too heavy and unwieldy for some players, especially beginners and children.

This paddle is also narrower than most modern paddles and is not a great choice for beginner players since it has a reduced sweet spot.

PROS

  • Most affordable wood paddle
  • Weight delivers power
  • Durable
  • Has wrist strap

CONS

  • Too heavy for some players
  • Face is narrow

5. Upstreet Polypro

Product Highlights

The Polypro by Upstreet is another affordable honeycomb polymer pickleball paddle with graphite face material. With a low-profile rubber edge guard, the Polypro resembles the Amazin’ Aces paddle we reviewed above.

The paddles come in medium blue or black and what makes the Upstreet Polypro different from other honeycomb polymer paddles is the cell configuration of the honeycomb. Typical honeycomb cores are a bi-directional monolayer with honeycomb cells oriented in one direction, towards the racquet faces.

With the Polypro, the honeycombs have three orientations, better distribution of ball force, and produces a crisper feel to ball contact. This provides improved feedback during play and assists in achieving better ball control.

Features

  • Material(s): graphite face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 8.6 oz (243.8 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.75 x 7.75 inches (40 x 19.7 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 4.75-inch handle (12.1 cm)

What We Like About Upstreet Polypro

Crisp strikes and good ball control are the hallmarks of the Upstreet Polypro. Again, it is rare to find graphite-faced paddles in this price segment since graphite is typically found in more expensive paddles for professional players who want better ball spin.

The unique three-orientation honeycomb core is also a strong point for imparting better vibration dampening, improved ball pop, and a more forgiving sweet spot. As a result, power transfer during a swing is more efficient and makes for an easier swing.

The paddle is also a bit heavier than most polymer paddles for more power and has a larger face that is usually only seen in higher grade racquets. The grip is excellent and designed well to dissipate perspiration and allow the player to maintain control.

What We Don’t Like About Upstreet Polypro

Weight may well be the major issue here with beginning players, but that all depends on the player. The Polypro is 0.1 ounces over the line in the heavy paddle category.

Some customers have complained about the paddle face cracking or chipping near the edge of the racquet.

PROS

  • Large sweet spot
  • Good balance between power and control
  • Good vibration dampening
  • Excellent grip

CONS

  • May be too heavy for some players (it is just into what is considered the heavy paddle category)
  • Not tournament-approved (USAPA)

6. Flybold Graphite

Product Highlights

The Flybold Graphite has a basic paddle design and simple features. It is well-made, durable, and yet another example of an affordable racquet with graphite facing.

The graphite surface makes for good ball contact and application of spin. The grip of the Flybold Graphite is a standard 4.25 inches, but the handle is longer than usual at 5.25 inches.

Features

  • Material(s): graphite face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 8.3 oz (235.3 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.75 x 7.75 inches (40 x 19.7 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5.25-inch handle (13.3 cm)

What We Like About Flybold Graphite

With a polypropylene honeycomb core and a full 8.3 ounces weight, the Flybold Graphite will bake your balls fly boldly. There is plenty of power in this paddle.

The textured graphite surface also offers good ball control for shot placement. The paddle has a large face and a generous sweet spot.

Besides these positive features, the handle is longer than usually found in paddles with this size of the face coming in at 5.25 inches. This translates to extra reach on returns, complemented by the slightly longer head.

If you are a two-handed player, the long slim handle is ideal.

What We Don’t Like About Flybold Graphite

Weight becomes an issue if you are not used to playing with heavier paddles. Using a heavier paddle has power advantages, but will require adjustments in your play if you wish to still maintain some control and finesse.

The longer handle may also not be preferred by some people, who feel more comfortable with a lighter, more compact paddle. The Flybold Graphite is head-heavy, so the long handle is probably intended for two-handed players.

There are some reported durability issues with some customers complaining about breaks and chips in the graphite face. Typically, these complaints come from aggressive players.

PROS

  • Balanced control and power
  • The edge guard is low-profile
  • Longer handle = greater reach
  • Neoprene cover

CONS

  • On the heavy end of paddles
  • Durability issues

7. Kanga

Product Highlights

The Kanga pickleball paddle is another wood paddle that is very affordable and extremely durable. The facing of the paddle looks deceptively like a polymer paddle because it is brilliantly painted in two shades of green, the lighter one patterned, and emblazoned with a cute little kangaroo logo wielding a pickleball paddle.

You almost cannot find this paddle as a lone purchase, since the smallest packaging we could find was a set of two paddles with four pickleballs.

Features

  • Material(s): maple plywood (7-ply)
  • Weight: 9.5-10.5 oz (269.3-297.7 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 7 inches (39.4 x 17.8 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5.5-inch handle (14 cm)

What We Like About Kanga

These Kanga paddles are heavier than polymer paddles, but wood is very durable and the weight in the paddles are well balanced. They are neither handle-heavy nor head-heavy and the plywood is made from laminate maple.

The black cushion grips are slightly spongy for an easy grip, are designed to wick away moisture, and come with a wrist strap to prevent losing the paddle on a swing.

What We Don’t Like About Kanga

The only negative thing we can say about the Kanga is that the paddles are relatively heavy. However, these are ideal paddles for beginners who just want to try out the sport or for children who tend to be less than gentle with sports equipment.

PROS

  • Durable maple plywood
  • Excellent ball pop
  • Beautiful painted facing

CONS

  • Heavy for beginners

8. Diller Wood

Product Highlights

The Diller Wood pickleball paddle is another affordable wood paddle that performs well and is sold in sets of at least two paddles with four pickleballs. The face of the paddle is a natural finish with the Diller logo painted across the front.

Grips are easy on the hands and allow you to keep good control of the racquet. The grips also come with a wrist strap to prevent fly-aways.

Features

  • Material(s): hardwood plywood (7-ply)
  • Weight: 9.5-10.5 oz (269.3-297.7 g)
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 7 inches (39.4 x 17.8 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5.5-inch handle (14 cm)

What We Like About Diller Wood

The Diller Wood is one of the few wood paddles that are USAPA-approved for tournament use. The reason behind this unusual decision is not clear, but apparently, the Diller Wood meets all fair-play specifications for the league.

These paddles also have a longer than usual handle for excellent reach. That extra half to a three-quarter inch or so can make all the difference when trying to intercept that wide return.

What We Don’t Like About Diller Wood

Apart from the weight issue that many players may not like, an issue common with all wood paddles, there is a noise issue as well. The choice by Diller to use hardwood plywood instead of lighter maple plywood does improve paddle durability.

However, the tone of the hardwood plywood is different from maple. Ball contact produces a sharp and loud pop that can be distracting to players (it’s really loud).

PROS

  • Durable hardwood plywood
  • Grip is comfortable
  • Tournament-approved (USAPA)

CONS

  • Weight may be too heavy for some players
  • Hardwood makes a loud and distracting pop on ball contact

9. Westop Sports

Product Highlights

Westop Sports is very new on the pickleball scene, producing its first paddles in 2017. As a company policy, a dedicated portion of their profits is given to the Fallen Hero’s Fund to help disabled US veterans.

The Westop Sports pickleball paddle comes in a nice set of two paddles and three pickleballs, all in a zip-up bag with a carrying strap. The paddles are made of wood and painted dark blue with the Westop Sports logo.

Features

  • Material(s): maple plywood (7-ply)
  • Weight: 9-10 oz (255.1-283.5 g)
  • Dimensions: 16 x 8 inches (40.6 x 20.3 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 5 -inch handle (12.7 cm)

What We Like About Westop Sports

All around, we consider this a great deal on a pickleball starter set. You get two paddles, three pickleball, and a convenient carrying bag that has a clear plastic front (so you can see what is inside).

For wood paddles, these are lighter than you typically see ranging from 9-10 ounces. That is about half an ounce or lighter than any wood pickleball paddle we have seen.

The grip is excellent (and has a wrist strap), feels firm in the hand, and the handle is long enough to feel like you have that extra bit of reach. In addition, the face is a bit larger than most pickleball paddles and is somewhat more forgiving for new players.

What We Don’t Like About Westop Sports

Although the storage bag is a nice addition, it does not last and tends to fall apart after a short time of use. The paddles are also not the most durable things in the world for wood paddles and there are reports of the plywood layers separating.

These separations are either visible at the paddle face edge or are inferred from oddball pops and sounds when the ball strikes different parts of the racquet face.

PROS

    • Lighter than normal wood paddles
  • Larger than normal face

CONS

  • Storage bag frays and comes apart over time
  • Paddle durability is low for a wood paddle

10. Head Radical Elite

Product Highlights

The Radical Elite by Head is an affordable power paddle designed with features that amplify the amount of energy you transfer to the ball. The honeycomb polymer core has cells arranged in a proprietary format termed “optimized tubular construction” by Head.

This arrangement is claimed to transfer more power to the ball while balancing out the force across the paddle face to create a more even sweet spot, thus improving ball control. The head of the paddles are also tapered slightly and are wider at the top than down near the neck.

Features

  • Material(s): fiberglass face over polypropylene honeycomb core
  • Weight: 8.1 oz (229.6 g)
  • Dimensions: 16 x 7.875 inches (40.6 x 20 cm)
  • Grip: 4.25-inch (10.8 cm), 4.75-inch handle (12.1 cm)

What We Like About Head Radical Elite

The construction features of the paddle live up to the claims by Head that this is a superior design. These features are also seen in their more expensive professional paddles in the Dynamic Power line.

The only difference between the Radical Elite and their higher-priced offerings is that this paddle has a fiberglass face, whereas the professional paddles use graphite for finer ball control. This paddle does have Head’s Ergo Grip system, which uses their SofTac grip wrap for a comfortable feel and reduced hand fatigue.

What We Don’t Like About Head Radical Elite

The lack of a graphite face makes ball control in this paddle a bit less than its more expensive cousins.

PROS

  • Construction is tubular and optimized (a similar strategy to their tennis racquets)
  • Fiberglass face for good ball control

CONS

  • Fiberglass is ok, but we prefer graphite

Final Verdict

This is a tough call since there are so many different ways to go. If you are looking for family play and want some durable paddles (read “wood”), then we recommend you go with Diller Wood or the Kanga if you want a quieter ball strike.

If you want a beginner paddle that is not too heavy and is also good for kids, look no further than the Champion Spark. It has a smaller handle for little hands and only weighs 7 ounces.

If, however, you want to be a serious player but want to keep your initial investment small, the Head Radical Elite is a good starter paddle with some professional-ish features.