I have my own opinion about this, but my opinion is not based on hard science. So let’s see what the research says to get a deeper understanding of the effects of weight on performance in pickleball.
Are Heavier Pickleball Paddles Better?
Many people think that using a heavier paddle will make your shots go farther because you are adding weight to your stroke. But, the ball speed is not proportional to the weight of the paddle.
Every stroke will generate a specific power level and it doesn’t matter what you’re using as long as you maintain that power level: lightweight, moderate-weight, or heavy-weight.
If you swing all three at 100% power (and assuming each one has an equal head size), they will all go the same distance.
In my experience, if you are a beginner, intermediate, or an older player you will probably benefit from using a heavier paddle because it will make your stroke mechanics easier to execute.
Benefits of Heavier Pickleball Paddles
The benefits of using a heavier pickleball paddle for beginners, intermediates, and older players are:
- If you have problems hitting the ball on the sweet spot then adding weight to your paddle will force you to swing slower because it takes more effort to accelerate a heavier object.
- You don’t have to worry about wrist fatigue when using a heavier paddle because you will naturally slow down your swing if the racket head is heavy.
- If you don’t have much time for practice, then adding weight to your racket will force you to improve your technique without thinking much about it because when you must slow down your stroke in order to hit the ball cleanly, technique errors will become more obvious.
- If you have a shoulder injury, wrist injury, arthritis in your hands, or arthritis in other joints, then using a heavier paddle will reduce the stress on those body parts by slowing down your swing and making it easier to hit the ball cleanly.
I would like to emphasize that these benefits only apply if you use proper form and the power level that generates a specific ball speed is constant for every swing.
Are Heavier Pickleball Paddles More Accurate?
No! The power level that generates a specific ball speed is not constant throughout your swing because it changes due to racket head acceleration. If you swing the same weight paddle at 80% power, then 90% power, and finally 100% power it will end up going a lot farther than if you maintain that same power level.
In order to have the most accurate strokes, you have to have perfect technique and execute your shots with 100% effort for every swing. If you can do it then it doesn’t matter what paddle you use because your accuracy will be the same.
In other words, if your stroke mechanics are good, then using a heavy paddle will not improve your accuracy.
If you have poor technique or are an older player then using a heavier paddle can help you compensate for lack of accuracy by slowing down the racket head speed so that it is possible to hit the ball with better precision.
However, even if you use the heaviest paddles available you will never have pinpoint accuracy.
Speed vs. Paddle Weight
Higher swing speed makes your shots go farther because you are hitting the ball with more power. The only way to improve your shot distance is by increasing your racket head speed during contact. However, the trade-off is that it becomes harder to control the ball when you hit faster shots.
At high speeds, any slight change in racket angle or ball position during contact will cause the ball to go off-line. So if you increase your swing speed but don’t have good technique, then your shots will end up all over the court with poorer accuracy.
But adding weight to the paddle is not an effective way of increasing swing speed because it will only reduce the power you generate. It may seem like swinging a heavy paddle is more powerful, but if you double or triple the weight of your racket then all of that added weight must be accelerating during the swing which imposes limits on how fast your swing can become.
Ball Speed vs. Paddle Weight
The higher the ball speed, the faster you must swing the racket in order to hit it at the same power level. For example, if you are hitting a slow pace shot with some spin then 60% power will be enough to get it back over the net.
However, for this same strength shot with more speed and topspin then 70% to 80% of power is required to get the ball back over the net.
If your opponents are stronger or faster, then you’ll need more power to hit the ball at the same speed they are hitting it. There are no ways of adding power to shots other than increasing swing speed during contact, adding topspin, or both.
Bottom Line on Heavier Paddles
If you are using proper form, then it doesn’t matter what paddle you choose because your accuracy will be the same.
However, if you lack good technique or are an older player, then using a heavy paddle can help compensate for poor accuracy by slowing down the speed of the ball. But even if you use the heaviest paddles, it will never be possible to have pinpoint accuracy.
If you are hitting shots with spin, then if you have good technique, your shot accuracy will depend on how much topspin you generate. But if you are not generating enough topspin then a heavier racket might help keep the ball from landing short or long.
We hope that this article has helped to explain the importance and illusions of paddle weight and proper use for each type of player.