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Pickleball paddle performance guide: How to know whether a power, control, or hybrid paddle is best for you

By Brynn Grissom

on Apr 10, 2024

An array of Selkirk Sport pickleball paddles lay face up on a pickleball court. Scattered around them are several pickleballs.

As pickleball continues to surge in popularity, the technology and design behind pickleball paddles have evolved, catering to different styles of play. 

Whether you seek power, control, or a balance of both, selecting the right paddle can significantly impact your game. Various materials and paddle shapes can affect whether a paddle is best suited for power or control, and these designations closely align with your style of play. 

Here, we explore the distinctions between paddles designed for power, control, and hybrid play styles so that you can choose which paddle is best suited for you. 

Two players tap their Selkirk Vanguard Power Air paddles over the net after finishing a game.

Pickleball paddles for power players

Power players dominate the court through force and velocity, focusing on delivering hard, fast shots that challenge their opponents' reaction time. These players leverage their equipment to maximize their strength and swing speed.

Characteristics of a power paddle

Power paddles are designed to support the fast-paced game that power players crave. They offer more pace off groundstrokes and more pop on volleys. However, they often require more effort when making controlled, precise shots.

Core thickness: Power paddles usually have a thinner core, around 13 mm or less. This slimmer profile allows for a stiffer paddle surface, enhancing the ball's power.

Weight: Heavier paddles, weighing 7.5 ounces or more, harness greater mass to generate forceful hits, which makes them a popular choice for power players. Some power players even add lead tape to already heavy paddles to give them extra oomph. 

Paddle shape: Longer paddles provide additional reach and leverage, translating into more powerful swings. 

Paddle face: Durable materials like fiberglass and carbon fiber are common in power paddles, aiding in delivering potent strikes.

Handle length: Extended handles help power players execute two-handed backhands. They also shift the sweet spot further from the handle, offering more reach and leverage for forceful swings.

Recommended power paddles

Selkirk offers several models in varying price ranges ideal for power players. For instance, the Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta, the SLK Halo XL, and the SLK EVO 2.0 XL are excellent power choices, designed to enhance swing power and on-court dominance.

A man holds the Selkirk Luxx Control Air over a pickleball court. The paddle face is pointed toward the camera so it is the focus of the image.

Pickleball paddles designed for control players

Control players excel in strategy and precision, preferring to outsmart their opponents with meticulously placed shots. Precision and accuracy define their playing style, as control players rely on skillful ball placement over brute force.

Characteristics of a control paddle

Control paddles support players who prefer using finesse in their game. They typically feature a thicker core, a larger sweet spot, and materials that take pace off the ball. While they support more controlled shots, control paddles do require more force to generate powerful putaway shots. 

Core thickness: Control paddles often feature a thicker core, about 16 mm or more, to better absorb the ball's energy. This dampening effect allows for more controlled, precise shots.

Weight: Lighter paddles, typically around 7.3 ounces or less, offer enhanced maneuverability, which is crucial for players who prioritize precision over power.

Paddle shape: A shorter and wider design creates a larger sweet spot, facilitating better ball control and easier shot placement.

Paddle face: Materials such as graphite and carbon fiber are preferred for control paddles, as they help in absorbing impact and thus enable more precise shots.

Handle length: Shorter handles bring the sweet spot closer to a player’s hand and provide better paddle maneuverability.

Recommended control paddles

For those focusing on control, Selkirk offers a host of options for players of all skill levels. The Selkirk Luxx Control Air S2, the Selkirk Vanguard Control S2, and the SLK EVO 2.0 Max provide excellent control, helping to place shots with high precision.

Three players hold their SLK Evo 2.0 paddles in a triangle shape. The paddles are touching and balanced in between all three is a pickleball.

Hybrid pickleball paddles for players who like control and power

Hybrid players are versatile, often adapting their play style to the dynamics of each game. They balance between power and precision, making them unpredictable and flexible competitors.

Characteristics of a hybrid paddle

Hybrid paddles incorporate a balanced approach, featuring intermediate specs from both power and control designs.

They typically have a core thickness that provides a moderate level of energy absorption and power delivery, medium weight, and an average paddle shape that facilitates a decent sweet spot while allowing for extended reach. Although these paddles offer a nice middle ground, they typically do not rank the highest in either category of power or control. 

Core thickness: Neither too thick nor too thin, hybrid paddles typically measure around 14-15 mm in core thickness. This helps absorb energy off opponents’ fast shots but allows players to generate power. 

Weight: Hybrid pickleball paddles often fall in the midweight category, usually around 7.4 ounces. This weight allows for more force on shots, but still enough maneuverability to execute precise placement. 

Paddle shape: The shape of hybrid paddles varies, but generally speaking, they offer a mix of paddle face shape and handle length. For example, they may offer a shorter, wider paddle face (designed for control) and a longer handle (designed for power). Or, they may feature the reverse — an elongated paddle face with a shorter handle. 

Paddle face: Hybrid paddles often combine several materials to create a surface that is neutral. Common materials in hybrid paddles include carbon fiber, fiberglass, and graphite. 

Handle length: Handle length varies on hybrid paddles and is typically left to the user’s discretion. A longer handle is advisable for players who prefer to execute two-handed backhands, while a shorter handle is better suited for players who like the extra maneuverability. 

Hybrid paddle recommendations

The Selkirk Amped Invikta, the SLK EVO 2.0, and the SLK x Dude Perfect Trickshot are paddles that provide a good balance of control and power, making them suitable for players who enjoy a hybrid play style.

Selecting the best pickleball paddle for you

Your choice of paddle is your most critical tool on the pickleball court. Understanding whether you need a paddle designed for power, control, or a combination of both is key to not only enhancing your game but also enjoying it to the fullest. 

Selkirk’s range of paddles offers options for every type of player, ensuring that you can find the perfect match to succeed in your pickleball aspirations.

Selkirk Sport provides a range of paddles designed for different playing styles. Use our paddle comparison tool to find the best paddle for you, whether you're looking for power, control, or spin.

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