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Are different pickleball paddles better for different court positions?


By Brynn Grissom

on May 21, 2024

 

Judit Castillo and Rob Nunnery play pickleball with the AMPED Pro Air. Judit stands at the baseline while Rob stands at the kitchen line, highlighting the versatility of the paddle.

As they play pickleball more frequently, players of all skill levels might find themselves wondering whether there are pickleballs that better suit their play style. 

For example, those who prefer to stay toward the back of the court might want one pickleball paddle while those who dominate at the kitchen line might like another. 

Although every pickleball paddle should help players perform from every position on the court, the truth is, that some are subtly better for different court positions.

Paddles for different court positions

Most pickleball players should use just one pickleball paddle for every instance. However, some advanced players might benefit by using one pickleball paddle for singles games where they’ll spend a lot of time in the backcourt and another for doubles when most of the match will be played at the kitchen. 

Best pickleball paddles for singles matches

In singles play, players cover the entire court alone, requiring specific paddle characteristics. Longer, thinner mid-weight paddles, like the SLK Halo and the VANGUARD Control, are preferred for their reach and power. These paddles allow players to execute fast, powerful groundstrokes and passing shots, which are crucial in singles matches.

Since singles players have more time to react, they don't need as much forgiveness for off-center hits, making a wider paddle face less necessary. The increased leverage of a longer paddle enhances serve performance, enabling harder, deeper serves with more spin for a strategic edge.

Best pickleball paddles for doubles

In doubles play, a different paddle design suits the fast-paced net exchanges. Shorter, wider, and lighter paddles, like the Luxx Control Air, the Vanguard Power Air, and the SLK EVO 2.0 are best. 

These paddles have a wider surface area, offering a forgiving shape that helps mitigate mishits, crucial for success at the kitchen line. Their shorter length allows for swift maneuvering and precise shot placement, while the lightweight design enhances hand speed.

Quick hands and controlled dinking are essential in doubles, making paddles that offer control without compromising power key to maintaining an edge during rallies. 

Best all-court pickleball paddles

All-court paddles are designed to perform well at the baseline and the kitchen, providing a balanced mix of power, control, and reach. These paddles, such as the Selkirk AMPED Pro Air, offer a versatile solution for players who need to transition smoothly between different areas of the court.

At the baseline, the power and reach of an all-court paddle help players execute deep, powerful shots and cover more ground. The paddle's design ensures that baseline rallies are both effective and manageable.

At the kitchen, all-court paddles provide the control and precision necessary for quick volleys and dinking. Their balanced weight and forgiving surface allow for accurate placement and fast reactions, essential for dominating net play.

Optimal paddle positioning for success

Another factor that can improve your gameplay is how you hold your pickleball paddle depending on where you are positioned on the court. 

At the kitchen line, your paddle should be high enough to defend against volleys. Typically, holding your arm at waist height is ideal, allowing quick adjustments by cocking your wrist upward as needed.

If you pop the ball up and need to retreat into the transition zone, adjust your paddle position accordingly.

    • For a slight retreat, lower the paddle just below waist height and keep it close to your body for better control.
    • For a deeper retreat, drop the paddle to knee height to track fast-moving balls and defend against attacks to your feet.

    In the transition zone, show more of your paddle's backhand side, which offers greater coverage and loft to effectively reset the ball.

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