Beginner’s guide to pickleball: Everything you need

Recreational Sports

While pickleball doesn’t require as much running as tennis, proper footwear is still essential. Tennis shoes or court shoes are recommended.

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What do you need to start playing pickleball?

Combining fun, simple gameplay and an awesome workout, pickleball has become the new favorite racquetball sport for players of all ages and skill levels. If you can find a court, all you need are paddles and balls to get started. Paddle size, grip comfort and ball material are just a few considerations to keep in mind. 

Paddles and balls are the two essential components, but pickleball courts can be busy, and some players may find purchasing their own net to be useful. Plus, while pickleball may look easy at first, it can work up a serious sweat before you know it, so it’s also important to have a trustworthy water bottle. 

Best pickleball paddles

Top pickleball paddle

Gearbox GX6 Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle

Gearbox GX6 Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle

What you need to know: This carbon paddle has a large frame that offers strength and accuracy. 

What you’ll love: It has a larger sweet spot than most paddles, meaning that accurate hits are more likely, and the edgeless frame is a definite plus. The responsiveness and spin are fantastic, and it’s easy to swing despite its size. The carbon material is high-quality, and customers report very responsive play compared to other pickleball paddles.

What you need to consider: It’s on the lighter side, and some customers prefer a weightier paddle. The high price means it’s best for customers who are committed to playing.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top pickleball paddle for the money

Gamma Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddles

Gamma Sports 2.0 Pickleball Paddles

What you need to know: This affordable paddle has great power and control, and it comes in a variety of colors.

What you’ll love: The aramid honeycomb core improves strength, while the textured fiberglass face creates enhanced spin. The grip has been customized to absorb sweat so that it’s easy to hold for long sessions. The honeycomb core means that hits will be quieter, making it a great choice for playing in public spaces. 

What you need to consider: Customers have reported “dead spots,” which are areas on the paddle that lead to mishits. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Top pickleball paddle for beginners

Onix Graphite Z5 Graphite Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle

Onix Graphite Z5 Graphite Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle

What you need to know: This mid-price, midweight paddle has a large sweet spot for beginners.

What you’ll love: The Onix Graphite Z5 gives players superior control, and the wide frame is forgiving for new players. The sweet spot is relatively large, so strong and accurate shots are more likely, and the weight is substantial without being cumbersome. It’s aerodynamic and well-designed for dink shots, taken near the net.

What you need to consider: While the spin is good for the price point, it generally provides less spin and speed than options with more textured faces.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Worth checking out

Monarch Pickleball Pack

Monarch Pickleball Pack

What you need to know: This incredibly affordable set is perfect for newcomers looking to get into pickleball with another beginner. 

What you’ll love: One of the lowest-cost options on the market, this set from Monarch includes two paddles as well as two balls, so you’ll have everything needed to start playing with a partner. The paddle weight and grip are awesome for the price, and the paddles come with a convenient wrist strap. 

What you need to consider: These paddles are less aerodynamic than more expensive paddles, and the aspen wood chips relatively easily. They are only recommended for beginners.

Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Best pickleballs

Top pickleballs

Dura Hard Fast 40 Pickleballs

Dura Hard Fast 40 Pickleballs

What you need to know: A classic, high-quality option approved by the United States of America Pickleball Association, or USAPA.

What you’ll love: Dura was the first dedicated pickleball, and the quality of these outdoor balls reflect that rich history. Incredibly durable, they can adapt to any court surface, and they last longer than other balls in their price range. Consistency is guaranteed.

What you should consider: Like any pickleballs, these will not last forever. After several games, they will begin to show noticeable wear. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top pickleballs for your money

Franklin Sports X-40 Outdoor Pickleballs

Franklin Sports X-40 Outdoor Pickleballs

What you need to know: At an affordable price, this pack comes with 12 USAPA-approved balls.

What you’ll love: These are a great option for those seeking a slightly lighter ball. The color is especially visible, which is helpful in different lighting conditions, and the high-quality design makes for consistent flight patterns.

What you should consider: While the lightness is a positive for many customers, some prefer a heavier ball. They are not quite as durable as the Dura Hard Fast 40.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Best sports water bottles

Top sports water bottle

Iron Flask

Iron Flask

What you need to know: This deluxe water bottle keeps water cold and comes with multiple lids.

What you’ll love: It’s attractive, and its stainless-steel material is free of the bisphenol-A, or BPA, that can come with plastic and leach into the water. It’s also sturdy enough that you won’t have to worry about it being injured during a game. Even better, it won’t give water a metal taste. It’s great for customization, as it comes in multiple sizes and includes three differently designed lids. 

What you should consider: It includes features that are generally unnecessary for pickleball, such as the ability to keep liquid hot, which leads to a higher price. It’s relatively heavy when full.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top sports water bottle for your money

Polar Bottle Sport Insulated Water Bottle

Polar Bottle Sport Insulated Water Bottle

What you need to know: At an affordable price, this Polar model is simple and convenient.

What you’ll love: The BPA-free material keeps water cool and is easy to squeeze, while the design ensures a comfortable grip. It comes in 20 ounce and 24 ounce sizes, as well as several colors. The leakproof cap has a removable nozzle that makes cleaning easier.

What you should consider: It doesn’t keep water cool for as long as stainless steel models, which could be inconvenient during longer pickleball sessions.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best pickleball nets

Top pickleball net

PickleBall Net (EA)

PickleBall Net (EA)

What you need to know: This portable kit includes everything needed to easily set up a professional net.

What you’ll love: Commonly used in USAPA competitions, this sturdy yet manageable option uses oval poles that add to the overall sturdiness. The net has an elastic band that allows for easy setup, and it stays close to the ground so that balls won’t easily roll under. 

What you should consider: Players expecting to transport their net often should note that the sturdy oval poles are heavier than traditional round poles. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top pickleball net for your money

3.0 Portable Pickleball Net System

3.0 Portable Pickleball Net System

What you need to know: This lightweight option comes at an attractive price and is great for transport.

What you’ll love: The 3.0 Portable Net is lightweight and easy to set up while still being sturdy and regulation height. The reinforced frame and wide legs offer great stability regardless of weather conditions, and it’s generally easy to set up.

What you should consider: It uses round poles, typically less sturdy than oval poles. The design creates more space between the bottom of the net and the ground than the PickleBall Net (EA), so balls can easily roll under.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Henry McKeand writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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