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Control or power: Which pickleball paddle is best for you?


By Brynn Grissom

on Feb 21, 2024

You should choose a power or control pickleball paddle that suits your play style.

Once you delve into the world of pickleball and start searching for a new paddle, the array of options can be quite overwhelming. 

With the sport's growing popularity comes a large lineup of equipment choices, all with their own terminology. While there are many considerations to be made when choosing a paddle, the first and often most important choice is whether you will purchase a “power” or “control” paddle. 

This decision is not merely about personal preference, these categorizations align closely with your play style, and choosing the right paddle for you can significantly impact your effectiveness on the court. 

Whether you're an aggressive player who thrives on delivering powerful drives or a strategic player who excels in placing precise shots, understanding the difference between power and control paddles is the first step toward enhancing your performance.

What is power and control and pickleball?

The essence of pickleball play styles can generally be categorized into two types: power and control. 

Power players are the dynamos of the court, using forceful and fast hits to dominate the game and win points. They often drive the ball across the net or execute strong overheads to outplay their opponents. 

On the other side, control players prioritize precision and finesse, adeptly placing the ball with carefully crafted shots that outmaneuver their opponents rather than overpower them. If you find yourself consistently engaging in dinks or setting up your partner for the perfect putaway, you're embodying the control play style.

Elements that affect whether a paddle is best for power or control

Paddles come with a variety of features that influence their suitability for either power or control. These features include the weight, core thickness, paddle face material, shape, and handle length.

A power paddle is often thinner and longer.

What makes a power paddle?

Power paddles provide more pop off the paddle to give players who prefer a powerful playstyle the pace of game they crave. Power paddles require less effort to provide pace, but they do often require more effort to make finesse shots.  

  • Core thickness: Power paddles often have a thinner core, typically 13 mm or less, allowing for a stiffer surface that enhances the power behind each shot.
  • Weight: A heavier paddle, around 7.5 oz or more, utilizes more mass to generate force, making it ideal for power hits. Players can also customize lighter paddles with lead tape to add mass.
  • Paddle shape: Longer paddles offer more leverage, which can translate into more powerful swings.
  • Paddle face: Fiberglass and carbon fiber are preferred materials for power paddles as they contribute to their ability to deliver forceful hits.
  • Handle length: Longer handles shift the sweet spot further from your hand, providing more leverage and reach for powerful swings.

Control paddles are typically thicker and wider.

What makes a control paddle?

Control paddles are often thicker with a wider sweet spot to help players take pace off the ball. This allows control players to make precise shots, but they will have to use more force to execute putaway shots. 

  • Core thickness: Control paddles feature a thicker core, around 16 mm or more, which absorbs more of the ball's energy, facilitating precise shots.
  • Weight: Lighter paddles, approximately 7.3 oz or less, offer greater maneuverability, making them perfect for players focusing on control.
  • Paddle shape: Shorter and wider paddles provide a larger sweet spot, enhancing the ability to control the ball.
  • Paddle face: Materials like carbon fiber and graphite are optimal for control paddles as they help absorb the ball's energy, allowing for more precise shot placement.
  • Handle length: Shorter handles make the paddle easier to maneuver, keeping the sweet spot closer to your hand for better control over shots.

Choosing the best paddle for you

Selecting the right paddle is paramount to playing your best pickleball. For players who don’t yet know their play style, control paddles are the safer bet because they are more suitable to all play styles. 

Once you have more time to explore your play style, you can know whether you’re better suited for power or control so you can choose the best paddle for you. 

Selkirk Sport offers a variety of paddle lines that cater to both power and control power players. 

For those looking for a power paddle, Selkirk offers the Power Air and SLK Halo series. These paddles feature thinner cores and elongated shapes, ideal for players seeking to maximize their shots with additional power and reach. 

Those looking for a control paddle should consider the Luxx Control Air or the Vanguard Control. These paddles boast a thicker core and shorter, more maneuverable handles, perfect for players who prioritize finesse over brute force. 

In the end, the choice between a power or control paddle should reflect your play style and how you feel most comfortable on the court. Whether you're looking to overpower your opponents with hard-hitting drives or outsmart them with strategically placed shots, there's a paddle out there that perfectly fits your game.

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