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You may be asking yourself, “What pickleball equipment do I need to play the game?” Honestly, not too much. Unlike some sports, you don’t need protective padding, helmets, or fancy footwear. All you really need is just a ball, a paddle, and a court with a net.
While there isn’t as much equipment needed to play pickleball as is required to play other sports, there are a lot of options when it comes to pickleball equipment. Many manufacturers have hopped on the pickleball wagon. This is good as it continues to improve the sport as they compete with better technology; however, it can be a bit overwhelming for someone new to the sport.
No need to worry. We have you covered! In this article, we will go over what equipment is needed to play pickleball.
- What Equipment is Needed for Pickleball?
- What Kind of Ball is Used for Pickleball?
- So Many Pickleball Paddles! Which One to Choose?
- Do You Need a Pickleball Net?
What Equipment is Needed for Pickleball?
All you need to play pickleball is a paddle, pickleball, and a net. Each of these items can be purchased separately, or you can purchase a complete pickleball set. There can be advantages and disadvantages to purchasing a complete set, but it is an option for some.
What Kind of Ball is Used for Pickleball?
A pickleball is used to play pickleball, of course! Pickleballs come in different colors and have a different number of holes. There are balls for indoor play and different balls for outdoor play. There are also balls from different manufacturers that play a little differently.
A pickleball is a plastic ball that is between 2.87″ – 2.97″ in diameter and has between 26 and 40 circular holes.
Indoor balls are softer and lighter. They have larger and fewer holes. Indoor balls are typically easier to control.
Outdoor balls are harder and slightly heavier due to the outdoor court surface, wind, and temperatures. They have smaller holes and tend to travel faster than indoor balls.
Pickleballs can get worn and can tend to crack (especially on cold days), so it’s always best to have a supply on hand as you may go through a couple during a game.
Only balls that are approved by USA Pickleball are allowed in sanctioned tournaments. There are over 40 balls that are approved. Click here for a complete list of approved pickleballs.
If you plan to play in a tournament, it’s always good to find out what ball is being used in the tournament so you can begin practicing with it.
When it comes to what color ball is the best, it depends. Are you playing indoors or outdoors? What color is the court surface? Is there a background wall and what color is it? These are some questions you will want to consider.
Certain colors will be easier to see in different scenarios.
While there are many pickleballs to choose from, the following are a few leading brands with which most people play:
So Many Pickleball Paddles! Which One to Choose?
Paddles come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, weights, grips, colors, prices, and materials. Just like balls, there are many manufacturers and paddles from which to choose. Also, similar to balls, only USA Pickleball approved paddles can be used in tournaments.
If you played another racquet sport such as tennis or badminton, that might determine what paddle you will be most comfortable with.
When shopping for a paddle, here are some things you might want to consider:
- Shape – Paddles can come in different shapes depending on your preference. Some have a wide body while others are narrow. Some paddles are teardrop-shaped, diamond-shaped, rounded, or square-like. Some paddles have a long handle while others are short.
- Weight – Paddles can range anywhere from hyperlight to heavyweight. Do you want a paddle that is quick, or are you looking for a paddle that has more power? Whether a paddle is lightweight or mediumweight can determine how your paddle handles. Lightweight paddles tend to be a “safe” option if you are unsure. Paddles can range in weight from 7-9+ ounces.
- Edge Guard – Does the paddle have an edge guard, or not? This protects the edge of your paddle.
- Grip – Do you want a Standard grip, a Double grip, a Thin grip, a Contour grip, or an Ergo grip? The grip is measured by the circumference around the paddle handle. Is it important for you to have comfort and cushion? Do you like to feel the ridges of the grip? Do you want a large grip or a small grip? Those are some things that will determine what grip is best.
- Color – Are you a rec player who is more interested in the look of a paddle, than its performance? Paddles come in many different colors and have many different graphics on their face. Some paddles can even be customized to your preference.
- Cost – Are you looking for a paddle that’s affordable, or does the price not factor into your decision as long as you can find what you’re looking for? Paddles can vary in price from $50 up to $300.
- Warranty – How long is the warranty period? Some manufacturers might offer a lifetime warranty while others offer 1 year. What is included under the warranty – manufacturing defects, workmanship, the wearing of texture, or an edge guard that comes loose for example?
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What is the Best Material for Pickleball Paddles?
Pickleball paddles can be made with wood, graphite, or composite material. Wooden paddles are heavy and are typically only used by beginners. Technology has advanced so most of today’s paddles have a graphite, composite, carbon fiber, or fiberglass face.
Many paddles have a honeycomb core that can be made of polypropylene or aluminum. Other paddle cores are made with proprietary technology.
These are some of the things you should consider when shopping for a pickleball paddle. It’s always a good idea to ask other players for their recommendations and to try a paddle out ahead of time if you’re able to.
Many manufacturers create pickleball paddles. While some pickleball companies were developed by pickleball players, larger companies have also jumped on the pickleball wagon – these are the ones you may be familiar with if you have a tennis background.
Each brand brings something unique and might offer its own proprietary technology. Following are many paddle brands from which you can choose:
- Amazin’ Aces
- Rally/Pickleball Central
Do You Need a Pickleball Net?
Pickleball is played on a court with a net one-third the size of a tennis court. For those of you who are fortunate enough to have a pickleball court near you, you wouldn’t have to worry about a net, but for everyone else, you need to have a net in order to play.
There are portable nets, permanent nets, and nets on rollers. Some tennis facilities offer pickleball. They have pickleball nets on rollers that can easily be moved and secured into place.
If you have a tennis court nearby, or if you would like to play in your driveway or street, a portable pickleball net works great. You can place two pickleball courts on one tennis court.
A pickleball net is 22 feet wide. It is lower than a tennis net. A pickleball net is 34″ high at the center compared to 36″ at the center for a tennis net. The height of a pickleball net at the sidelines is 36″.
What to Look for in a Pickleball Net
When shopping for a net, you want to make sure the base and legs are sturdy. You don’t want a flimsy net that can blow over in the wind. You also want a velcro tension system so the net stays at the appropriate height.
Portable nets consist of a carrying bag, a mesh net with vinyl edges, and steel tubes which are its base. They are easy to assemble once you get the hang of it. Each piece typically comes labeled with a letter or a number on it. The directions will tell you which piece you need to insert into the next piece.
Each of the following portable nets has the characteristics mentioned above other than the SwiftNet option. It is lightweight as it has fewer parts since it does not have poles across the bottom of the net.
We hope you found this list of pickleball equipment helpful. If you choose one item out of each category, you will be well on your way to playing pickleball.
Enjoy the game! See you on the courts!
Teresa is the idea-maker behind PickleballMAX. Teresa joins Todd to manage and market PickleballMAX. She creates pickleball content and assists with pickleball tournaments. In 2023, she wrote a pickleball devotional book titled Pickleball Is [Not] Life.