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How Often Should You Change Your Pickleball Paddle?

by Jason Flamm on

In a reader poll we published in The Dink Newsletter last week (click here to subscribe), we asked our readers, "How often do you purchase a new paddle?"

The results were a bit different than we had anticipated:

The Dink Poll: How often do you purchase a new paddle?
  • Every Year - 32.3%
  • Every couple of years - 31.7%
  • Every six months - 20.5%
  • Every three months - 7.6%
  • Never - 5.6%
  • Every month - 2.2%

We were a bit surprised at how infrequently so many pickleballers change up their pickleball paddles. Personally, I try to have at least six paddles in my bag at all times, but maybe I have a problem.

Unveiling the Future: Babolat’s Spring 2024 Pickleball Paddle Collection
Babolat is quickly becoming a player in the pickleball space. The company recently launched a series of paddles with unique specs sure to enhance your recreational experience.

With 64 percent of the nearly 4,000 of you telling us you wait a year or longer before changing paddles, we wondered: "How often should we change our pickleball paddles?"

That's what we address here. But first, let's talk about paddle quality.

How important is a quality pickleball paddle?

When pickleball first started, they used homemade wooden paddles. In fact, you can still buy wooden paddles from Amazon today. It's not recommended, but you could.

Some people will argue that the paddle you use doesn't matter at all – "a good pickleballer never blames his tools," so to speak.

Marketing for paddle companies would say the paddle makes all the difference.

Of course, the real answer is somewhere in the middle. Yes, a really good pickleball player can play with anything and get great results. But, if you put the right paddle in their hands, it can make them even better.

Today's paddle technology is like no other time in pickleball history. Paddles can help you shape your shots, pop the ball up less, and add a few extra hundred RPMs to your drives, making them dip down instead of rise.

So, while we're not going to tell anyone they'll become a pro if they spend hundreds of dollars on a pickleball paddle, we will say that you don't see Ben Johns out there playing with a z5. 

Do pickleball paddles wear out?

The short answer is, yes.

Anything that gets used, especially as much as we use our paddles, will wear out. Even though today's pickleball paddles are made from materials like carbon, plastic, fiberglass, and kevlar (instead of plywood), everything has a shelf life.

The problem is that most of the time it's difficult to tell whether or not your paddle needs to be replaced. Those tiny grooves that help you put spin on the ball can only be seen under a microscope.

So, unless you have a lab at home, how can you tell when it's time to get a replacement? Look for the signs.

Signs you need a new pickleball paddle

There are so many paddles available today. Which means, mileage may vary and the signs yours need replacing may vary too. However, there are some common issues you can look for when considering a new paddle.

This includes:

  • Loss of pop or power in your shots
  • Visible dents, cracks, or chips on the face or around the edges
  • Your handle is weakened where it joins with the face
  • An obvious warp across your paddle face
  • You have zero spin on shots that you typically have spin on
  • Something is rattling inside
  • The core is crushed

Some of these signs are obvious (cracking, warps, rattling), while others may be a bit more deceptive (game play is off or the core is crushed). Sometimes players can just know something isn't right.

For instance, if you have a favorite shot that you've always hit well and suddenly you can't, then it might be your paddle.

A note on core crush. If the core of your paddle is crushed, you may not be able to tell by looking at it. To test for core crush, place the palms of both hands on the face of your paddle (like a sandwich) and push your hands together. If it makes a squishy sound, then you may have core crush issues.

You may even hear it when you hit a ball in a specific spot. It'll almost sound like a gunshot. You'll want to contact your paddle manufacturer about this and ask for a replacement.

How to make your paddle last longer

There are several ways you can make your paddle last longer. First, play less pickleball. Just kidding. No one is doing that.

Some actual ways to keep your paddle in game shape include:

  • After play, wipe your paddle clean and use a paddle cover.
  • Keep your paddle in a cool, dry environment – yes, the same way you'd care for a pet.
  • Get a pickleball paddle eraser or some form of cleaning solution – make sure both are safe for your particular paddle before using.
  • Change your grip or overgrip regularly to keep it from slipping out of your hands during play.
  • Don't abuse your paddle when you miss an overhead for the third time in a row.
GAMMA Airbender: A Game Changing Paddle
GAMMA has been shaking things up with their 2024 product lineup, and after our fun time testing the CHUCK ball, we’ve moved on to something that packs a tech punch – the Airbender paddle.

How often should you change your paddle

While this is going to be a different answer for everyone, the main point worth making is that you should change your paddle:

a) when you want to – after all, it's your money, or ...

b) when your paddle is causing you to play worse

Pickleball paddles can be expensive and there's no guarantee that the latest and greatest will fit with your game. If you are considering getting a new paddle, consider demoing one – some pickleball clubs have demo programs and there are websites that offer demos.

You could also ask a friend to borrow theirs for a game or two. Just don't chuck it over the mountains when you lose.

Greatest paddle throw ever

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Jason Flamm

Jason Flamm

Jason is a writer from St. Louis. He’s been a coach in several sports and is currently working on his pickleball coaching certification. He loves to teach and share his passions.

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