The Best Pickleball Paddles To Look For In 2019

Barrett Kincheloearticle, Gear, review, Reviews, Uncategorized 18 Comments

Every year I release my favorite list of paddles that you should look out for throughout the year. Well, the time has come to do it again! I’ve compiled a list of some of the best pickleball paddles that you should keep your eyes on throughout 2019.

I’ll be explaining these paddles in detail from an objective standpoint, not just what I personally like. I have played many, many games with the vast majority of the paddles on this list, but I’ll try to keep the subjective opinions down to a minimum. Also, to be clear and transparent, there are some links below that lead you to Amazon where I earn a small percentage if you buy a paddle.

There’s one more thing that I’d like to say. Always remember that when it comes to playing pickleball well, it’s not the paddle that matters, but the user. Your overall skill at the game is what makes the difference on the court, not the paddle!

So, what are the best pickleball paddles available? Let’s get into it!

Prince Response/Spectrum Pro

  • Average weight: 7.2– 7.6 oz (lightweight) 7.7 – 8.3 oz (midweight)
  • Paddle length: 15 ¾”
  • Paddle width: 8 ¼”
  • Grip circumference: 4 ⅜” (perforated grip) or 4 ⅛” (thin grip)
  • Handle length: 5 ½” (Response) or 5” (Spectrum

So I mentioned that I wouldn’t go into subjective opinion, but I just can’t help myself. The Prince Response Pro is the paddle I’ve been using since mid-2018 and will be my paddle of choice (most likely) for the next two years. It’s my baby. I’m serious about that. I make sure it’s safe wherever it is and sometimes I get the urge to tuck it into bed at night.

Jokes aside (maybe), the Prince Response Pro or Spectrum Pro paddles are amazing. They are the absolute best paddles I have ever played with and I’m shocked that they’re not as popular as others.

What makes them so different than any other paddle I’ve ever played with is the shape. And before we get into it, yes, it does make a huge difference.

The rounded shape of the Response/Spectrum gives the paddle more forgiveness, especially at the net. Rather than having tight corners like most paddles, the sweet spot on the Response/Spectrum is rounded out and smoother. It creates more area for the ball and it shows in its performance.

Response/Spectrum differences?

There is a difference between the Response and Spectrum pickleball paddles, but it’s minimal.

Simply put, the Response and Spectrum are the same height, but the Spectrum has a shorter handle. Since it has a shorter handle, it also has a longer paddle face as you can see below.

The Spectrum is below the Response.

If you’re comfortable using shorter handles, then the Spectrum is the best one to go for.

If you want to read more about the paddle, you can head over to the written. Or if you prefer a video format, you can go to YouTube here.

The Prince Response or Spectrum is great for people who want less miss hits at the net. The expanded sweetspot helps to make your dink volleys more accurate giving you confidence at the kitchen line!

Paddletek Tempest Wave

  • Average weight: 7.6 oz
  • Paddle length: 15 ⅞”
  • Paddle width: 8”
  • Grip Circumference: 4 ¼”
  • Handle length: 5 ¼”
It doesn’t come with the white overgrip. I put that on there!

The Paddletek Tempest Wave made my list last year and for good reason. It’s one of the greatest paddles ever made. I put it up there with the Selkirk AMPED Epic, which is a hard bar to surpass.

The Tempest Wave is enormously popular for a few reasons:

  1. The sweet spot is extremely “soft” and forgiving due to the graphite face.
  2. Smashes and punch volleys feel powerful and visceral.

This paddle gives you the best of all worlds. It’s great at the net, great from the baseline and anywhere in between. It’s easy to soften up shots and bang for the winner as well. It just feels amazing.

Even though the Pro version of the Tempest Wave is technically better, it’s not that much better than its predecessor. Therefore, I cannot recommend buying a brand new Tempest Wave Pro if you’re already pleased with your “regular” version. I would only buy one if your current paddle is beaten up or just needs replacing in general.

The Paddletek Tempest Wave is great for people who want all the control in the world without sacrificing much in terms of power.

Selkirk AMPED Epic

  • Average weight: ~8.1oz (Midweight) 7.3 – 7.7oz
  • Paddle length: 15 3/4″
  • Paddle width: 8″
  • Grip circumference: 4 1/4″
  • Handle length: 5 1/4″
selkirk AMPED epic

Out of all the paddles that I recommend to beginners who want the best paddle without any considerations for price, this is the one that I show them. This paddle “flies off the shelves” so to speak. I don’t sell paddles, but whenever I recommend this to someone, they typically buy it the next day.

Makes sense to me!

This paddle came out in late 2017, but it’s still relevant even to this day.

Selkirk took a chance with this one. They decided to do something that no other manufacturer was doing at the time.

They made the paddle core much thicker than what was usually seen. It was shocking and surprising, but it worked.

Because of the thick core, which is standard these days, you get loads of softness and control. The paddle is “spongy” you could say. It seems to absorb the impact of the ball better which gives you more control over your finesse game.

This is great for people who have trouble popping up the ball.

Selkirk offers two types of AMPED Epic paddles based on weight. One is midweight and the other is lightweight. For most people, the lightweight version is going to work just fine. I know it may seem like you’ll get less power with a lighter paddle, but it’s not that bad!

If you have tons of upper body strength, then you may want to go for the midweight version. This will give you more weight behind your swings which will makes your shots effortless and will give you more power on the winners.

If you want to read more details about the AMPED Epic, you can head over here for the original review, or over here for the lightweight review that includes all the other versions.

Engage Poach Advantage

  • Average weight: 7.9 oz (Standard) 7.5 – 7.8 oz
  • Paddle length: 16″
  • Paddle width: 8″
  • Grip circumference: 4 1/4″
  • Handle length: 5″
The updated visual design looks great!

Engage has been a huge player in the pickleball paddle world for many years now. Although they lack in visual design, they easily make up for it by providing some of the highest quality paddles around.

The Engage Poach Advantage is no exception to this. It’s another one of these enormously popular paddles. I know 5.0 players who use this paddle, but also know 3.0 players who use it as well. This is especially the case for tennis players.

The aspect that defines this paddle is its top-heavy nature. It’s very top-heavy, and thus makes your swings effortless since all the weight is centered around where the ball is hitting. As long as you trust your swing, this makes getting the ball over the net effortless.

The heavier the paddle is, the more you can let the paddle do the work. That defines the Engage Poach Advantage.

But when the times comes around to crush the ball, this paddle has you covered. It has an enormous amount of power behind it. If you can swing this thing quickly, you will get results!

If you’re a previous tennis player or someone who loves top-heavy paddles, this is the paddle for you.

If you want to see this paddle in action, check out my review on YouTube.

ProKennex Kinetic Pro

  • Average weight: ~8.0
  • Paddle length: 15 3/8″
  • Paddle width: 7 5/8″
  • Grip circumference: 4″
  • Handle length: 4 7/8″
The yellow overgrip is an addon! It doesn’t come that way.

Recently, ProKennex has exploded onto the pickleball scene. And rightfully so. Their first paddle has been a huge success and has seen play at high levels from multiple professional players.

You can’t see it from the picture above, but the ProKennex Kinetic is actually an edgeguard free paddle. This means that there is no plastic wrapping around the edge of the paddle like you see in most others.

One of the reasons why they had to go this route is because the paddle is very thin. In terms of most paddles on the market, the ProKennex Kinetic is one of the most thin paddles around, which goes against the current grain.

A lot of manufacturers are going with the thick cores, but ProKennex said no. Even with the thin core, the paddle still feels great and you still get plenty of control and finesse.

Hard shots are great because of how thin the paddle. You can really feel the explosiveness and the impact in your hand. If you’re not a fan of the spongy paddles, this will be a great one for you!

Keep in mind that if you do get this paddle, the edges of the paddle will start to fray, but this does not mean that your paddle is breaking down. It’s normal!

Onix Outbreak

  • Average weight: 8.0 oz
  • Paddle length: 15 ½”
  • Paddle width: 8”
  • Grip circumference: 4.375”
  • Handle length: 5″

As of early 2019, the Onix Outbreak is the new kid on the block.

It features a kind of paddle face that has never been seen before. It’s called TexTreme and it intrigues me. If you look closely at the image above, you’ll see that the paddle has a checkerboard look. These are interwoven bands of carbon fiber graphite called TexTreme. It’s made by a company in Sweden and Onix is the first manufacturer to use it on a paddle.

But does the technology actually make a difference?

Yes, yes it does.

Due to the carbon fiber/graphite face, the Onix Outbreak is the most spongy and soft paddle I’ve ever played with. It’s incredible.

But that doesn’t mean that you sacrifice power. You don’t. It just means that your dinks feel more like hitting a ball of butter rather than a ball of plastic.

The only minor gripe I have about this paddle is the handle. It has very well-defined edges that you can feel in your hand. The edges of the handle is almost “sharp” so to speak. When I showed this to my pickleball friends, some liked it and some didn’t. However, everyone loved the paddle in general.

If you want to see this paddle in action, check out my review on YouTube. Or if you want the written review, you can read it here.

Selkirk Invikta

  • Average weight: 7.3– 7.7 oz (lightweight) 7.9 – 8.3 oz (midweight)
  • Paddle length: 16.5″
  • Paddle width: 7.375″
  • Grip circumference: 4.25″
  • Handle length: 5.25″

I wanted to make sure that I included an elongated paddle in this year’s list. I know that there are quite a few power players out there. Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you!

The Selkirk Invikta is the product of Tyson McGuffin. At the time of this writing, Tyson is the #1 singles player in the world, and his paddle helped him get to that point.

The Selkirk Invikta is basically a control-oriented version of a power paddle. It’s not quite as powerful as the Maxima (which is more slender), but not quite as wide as an AMPED Epic. It’s right in the middle putting the Invikta in a class of its own.

The greatest thing about this paddle is the amount of whip you can get. Unlike most elongated paddles, the Invikta sports a long handle. This means that you can get a firm grip on the paddle, but also choke up to where your hand is closer to the center of gravity.

This creates more whip and power with your shots because you can swing the paddle faster.

If you’re looking for an elongated paddle that has plenty of room for your hand, but doesn’t sacrifice power over accuracy, then the Invikta is right up your alley.

If you want to learn more, you can read the written review or check out the video. Or if you want to see this paddle in action, check out my review on YouTube.

Other questions

If you have any other questions about paddles, please let me know. I’m here to serve you in any way that I can.

If you want a guide on how to pick a paddle, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Head on over here for the full guide!

Thanks for reading!

Comments 18

  1. I totally agree when you said that the user matters more than a paddle when you are playing pickleball. But I think that it will also be great if you are able to invest in custom pickleball paddles that will help you perform better in some way. And it has to be done according to the rules and regulations of the sport so that it will be fair for you and for your competition.

  2. Looking for the 2021 update. 5’2 female looking to purchase my first paddle. Just starting out and want to move from 3.0 to 3.5.
    I enjoy your videos, teaching style, and honest advice.

  3. I bought the Prince Spectrum Pro based on your recommendation and I love it! It is the first “upscale” paddle purchase for me as I was playing w a $50 paddle up until now. I would say the one thing that I find to be so true is that the entire paddle surface seems to be the “sweet spot”. I really didnt expect my game to improve from using a new paddle but I was wrong! It has mad playing a lot more fun because it seems to hit differently and has improved my confidence.

  4. Hi Barret, what’s the main difference between. The Onix Outbreak,and the new Onix Premier? Do you have the intention to do a full review on raquet for 2020



  5. Hi Barrett…My name is Bob Starner from Kennett Square, PA. Being a semi-retired dentist I needed to find an activity to help fill the void of my new found time…Pickleball!! Your passion for the sport along with your excellent videos were and are an inspiration to me!! I first started with an entry level paddle but after watching one of your videos picked up a Paddletek Tempest-Wave. I consider myself a student of the game, watching as many videos as possible, taking several clinics and trying to play with as many high end players as I can. I consider myself a good 3.5+. Now I need some advice. I have a compromised right hand. My middle finger was severely fractured playing college baseball and cannot completely close it around my paddle. Coupled with this I had carpal tunnel surgery on the hand a month ago. I further found that I also like to rest my index finger at the base of the paddle. Consequently, to give myself a firmer grasp I found it necessary to “beef” up the handle substantially with soft grip tape. I’m 6’1” and pretty strong. At the suggestion at one of the clinics, the pro suggested a strip of lead tape on the top periphery of the paddle which gives it some added punch. After playing several matches, neither my hand not wrist is tired. The grip circumference is 5.75in and overall weight is 9.4oz. Do you feel these are unreasonable? What recommendations/modifications should I explore. Should I try a different paddle and if so which one??
    Thanx so much for your time and expertise!! Please keep those wonderful videos coming!!

    Bob Starner

  6. Waooo! That is amazing, the best paddles, so affordable. I know anyone success in this Pickleball game relies on many factors but the paddle is not an exception. Good job man.

  7. Yours is the best instructional site I have found. The articles and videos are excellent. Thanks. I have only been playing since April 2019. I am 69 and in good shape but haven’t played much racket/paddle sports since my twenties. After two weeks of play while borrowing paddles, I knew I wanted my own paddle. After considerable research, I bought a Pro-Lite Titan Pro. It is all I have played with since beginning but I really like it. As a former volleyball player, I get a thrill out of smashing the ball when it is a good choice and this paddle feels very good to me for hard shots. Lobs are also an important tool for me and this paddle give me good control. Dinks and third shot drops are my weakest skills but I think it is me not my paddle. Have you tried/reviewed any of the Pro-Lite paddles? Since I like my paddle, I would like to see Pro-Lite get some recognition if they compare favorably with the brands that you mention in your reviews.

    1. Post

      Thank you very much! I actually haven’t played with any Pro Lite paddles at all. I’m a Prince guy primarily, at least for now!

  8. Love your webpage and advice.
    Recommendations? I use the Gamma Voltage. 7.6oz it feels great in my hand. Been using it for three years. Playing 2-4times a week. Playing 4-5yrs I was told im a 3.5-4.0 player i am 57yrs old. I dont play a super power game but i do put it away hard when i can. I dink very well and i like to finesse the edges and center line.
    A heavy paddle hurts the elbow and shoulder. Any recommendations?
    Should i go with the voltage 2?

  9. I’d really love to hear about the best paddles under $50 (or around that price) for absolute beginners. I’ve only played about 10 times and I’ve tried a few good players’ paddles in the $125 range and they are great but I’m not ready for that kind of investment. I need a lightweight (approx. 7.2 oz) with a 4 1/4 grip.

  10. Hi: Just got a Poach Advantage 8.0 oz. On front push drops with top spin from 6 to 12 o’clock, I have little spin versus taking the shot from the side with top spin from 9 to 3 o’clock. Strangely, if I softly pass a fingernail on the face from 6 to 12 it’ feels smooth with virtually no sound vs. 9 to 3 with Rougher feeling surface and some sound. Any ideas? Do I have a defective paddle? I previously played with an 8.2 oz. Engage Encore Pro and loved it.

    Any input you can provide would be appreciated.

    3.5 – 8 years playing.

  11. Barrett, have you ever tried a Gel-Core paddle made and sold by Players Pickleball? They claim that their new paddle offers better response and has a much larger sweet spot. Does anyone else offer a gel core paddle? I have been playing with the same paddle for 4 years and think that it might be time for a new one. Thanks

  12. Hi Barrett,
    I’m a french canadian from Montréal. Here the Prince paddles are difficult to find and not available to try.
    I hesitate between the Engage poach extrem light (for the power) and the Prince Response Pro Light because I tried the Engage standard and not the Prince. But I’m really confident by your recommandation, that’s why I’m interesting by Prince Response Pro.
    I’m a women 5 feets 4 inches and 130 lbs. For a women a light paddle is it a better choice ? With a light paddle, we’re faster to block the shot at the net.
    Waiting your anwser before purchase my new paddle.

    1. Post

      You’ll definitely want a lighter paddle. Honestly, I would go with the Selkirk Epic or S2 Lightweight. I think that would be a good paddle. But yes, you’ll want the lightweight versions of any paddle.

  13. Question for you, Barrett. I’ve been demo-ing the Amped Epic paddle all week and…I don’t see much difference between that and my “regular” Epic as far a game play goes. Except in one area: my elbow pain has receded. I have an idea it could be due to that thicker, spongier core having, possibly, improved vibration dampening.

    I’m wondering if your Prince Responce has a similar core to it and the benefit you might see in it (if it does).

    Thanks for any thoughts you might have!

    1. Post

      I’ve heard from people that the AMPED Epic and the Prince Response perform the same. I would agree for the most part. I can’t comment on the elbow pain just because I’m not an expert in that area. But both paddles do have similar cores in terms of thickness.

  14. You mention power and touch, two of the most important attributes of any paddle, but you do not mention spin which is an important part of my game. Any thoughts on which paddles impart the most spin? Thanks!

    1. Post

      There’s some debate going on right now about where spin actually comes from. The general thought is that spin comes from the roughness of the paddle. Unfortunately, most manufacturers don’t release that info, so it’s hard to know how much spin you can get. But the rougher the paddle, the most spin you’ll get. Something like the Onix Z5 comes to mind. That paddle gets an insane amount of spin. Same with the Selkirk AMPED Epic.

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