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How to know if you're ready for a high-spin pickleball paddle


By Brynn Grissom

on Mar 27, 2024

Three Luxx Control Air paddles are laid on a pickleball court near the kitchen line.

Over the years, the pickleball industry has seen major innovations in paddle technology. From introducing new materials such as carbon fiber, to creating hollow head designs made to maximize control, the pickleball paddle industry is constantly changing. 

The latest trend has been maximizing the grit and spin generation from the paddle face. The truth is, spin generation varies from player to player. Not every player will produce the same spin that pros display daily. 

However, when a player generates more spin, it forces their opponent to exercise more control to maneuver the ball effectively. Although players can teach themselves how to add spin to the ball, a high-quality paddle designed to impart spin can greatly improve any player’s natural ability. 

Generally speaking, paddles with grittier and rougher surfaces are optimized to increase spin. But it’s important to search for a high-spin paddle only when you have the skills to use such a paddle. 

Why is spin beneficial?  

Putting spin on the ball can produce numerous outcomes, both good and bad. To cover the basics, generating spin on the ball will provide movement through the air. This allows a player to shape their shots to their specific needs. 

For example, topspin aids in wrapping the ball tightly over the net to prevent hard-hit shots from going out of bounds. Backspin is of enormous importance when placing those soft-landing dinks and drop shots just over the net. 

Spin also causes ball movement upon contact with the ground. A well-hit backspin shot may skip and provide a lower bounce, while a topspin shot may kick up a bit due to the downward force of the ball. Sidespin may also be incorporated, leaving the ball to bounce side to side. 

When used properly, having an extra spin on your shots is a nightmare for your opponents to handle. It leaves a sense of uncertainty as to where the ball may go and leads to poor return shots that can be easily put away at the net. 

How paddle characteristics affect spin

Beyond a player’s normal swing pattern and technique, a grittier paddle will enhance spin. This is because a rougher surface digs into the ball as it makes contact with the paddle. The extra grip allows a player to further direct the ball in the direction they want it to go. 

While the grip on the ball helps increase your spin, it will also enhance the spin of your opponent’s shots. In other words, when your opponent hits a shot with spin, the ball will react more off the surface of your paddle because of the grittiness. 

Picture yourself holding a paddle perfectly still. If a backspin shot is played against your paddle, the ball will naturally roll toward the bottom of your paddle. 

Therefore, when returning a backspin shot in live play, the ball will tend to come off your paddle lower. When a topspin shot contacts your paddle, it will tend to roll up the face. When players aren’t prepared for this, a new paddle may lead to many errors. 

How to know if you’re ready for a high-spin paddle

When considering pickleball paddles, it is crucial to keep your skillset in mind. You want to avoid using a paddle that will limit your ability to improve.

If you’re not able to impart spin on the ball on your own, you are likely not ready for a high-spin paddle. Using a high-skill paddle before you are ready can actually impede your progress because you will likely make more mistakes than you would with a more control-oriented paddle. 

If spin is a category you wish to improve upon, then opting for a paddle with moderate amount on the surface is a good option. This will promote proper technique before you advance to a high-spin paddle. 

You can browse Selkirk's best paddles for spin here. 

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