When I started playing Pickleball earlier this year, I was really interested in having a paddle that would help me generate spin. Coming from tennis, I loved trying to hit huge spin shots. As we all eventually learn, spin is not the end all be all of Pickleball, but then I became curious, which paddles actually put the most spin on the ball?
No one has had objective tests or data to backup any claims that companies make. Every company has a lot of marketing hype around why their paddle technology gives you the most spin. After being tired of the marketing hype I decided to try and come up with a way to run my own tests. I took a Franklin X-40 and covered 3/4ths of it in sharpie, took my 120FPS camera and would do drop serves with topspin (As to not influence the spin on the ball before hitting). From there I count how many video frames it takes to complete one full revolution on the ball. I plug those numbers into an RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) calculator and then it spits out my RPM for that shot. To help keep the data consistent, I do 10 shots with each paddle and average the results. I also take a second person (my brother) and have him do the same.
While this is not a 100% perfect test, I do believe it helps give a general idea of which paddles put good amounts of spin on the ball. In the future I would like to add testing for dink spin shots as well since many people believe the results for each paddle may change. Maybe in the far future, we can have robots do the tests for perfectly accurate results, but until that becomes feasible, humans will have to do.
The results of the paddles can be seen in this spreadsheet that I made with results for me and my brother. The results were actually quite similar across the board except for one major stand-out, which was the Engage Encore 6.0. My brother achieved the highest RPMs of 1788 while my result was 1166. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to retest this paddle as I had to give it back to our friend. My best guess is that the way my brother swings along with the longer handle helps him snap his wrist more to help generate spin. Besides this abnormal result, all the other results were generally within less than 100 RPM of each other which is very close.
When it comes to the highest average RPM the winner was a newcomer to the pickleball scene, crbn. The combined average RPM for the 13mm crbn was 1650! You can get 10% off yours at Fromuth Pickleball by using the code 10DINK.
*Editor’s Note: Thomas here. crbn was kind enough to ship us some paddles recently, and let me tell you, they live up to the hype. These paddles also have exceptional touch and an impressive ability to ‘carve’ the ball.*
We found that spin becomes noticeably better in increments of 300 RPM. So if you have a paddle that is doing 1,000 RPM, going up to 1,300 was a noticeable improvement on the court. Or say, 1300 to 1600. In the video, I grouped paddles in 3 categories. Low spin (1,000-1,199), average spin (1,200-1,499) , and high amounts of spin (1,500+).
Personally for how I like to play, anything under 1,300 RPM didn’t feel like enough spin. After 1,300, it starts to fit my play style more.
Now I do want to make it clear, spin should not be the only deciding factor when choosing a paddle. Especially because there is clearly a variance in spin from paddles depending on how you hit your shots, as seen with the Encore 6.0. These tests were done simply to help give a base idea of which paddles may give you more spin. It is not a perfect test and I will continue to refine it as I try more paddles in the future.
One final note I want to give is you may want to be cautious of paddles that use grit paint. It is known to wear off and eventually you can’t generate as much spin because the paddle face becomes smooth. The biggest culprit of this is the Ben Johns paddle. People often say the grit wears off very quickly. We tested a Ben Johns that was brand new, and one that had no grit left. The results for my brother were 1458 for the new Ben Johns and 1108 for the old. Like I mentioned before, 300 more RPM is where we started to see a difference in paddles. So going from 1458 to 1108 is a pretty big fall off. Something to be careful of when choosing a paddle.
WRITTEN BY DINK CONTRIBUTOR: CHRIS OLSON