Understanding Pickleball Paddle Shapes: An In-Depth Guide

When stepping onto the pickleball court, every player—whether a seasoned pro or a curious beginner—seeks an edge that can elevate their game. One of the most crucial, yet often overlooked, aspects of achieving this optimal performance is the shape of the pickleball paddle. Imagine paddles as the magic wands of a wizard; while skill and strategy are vital, having the right wand can truly perform wonders. But why are pickleball paddle shapes so important? How can understanding these shapes improve your game? And what are the key differences between each style? This article delves deep into the mesmerizing world of pickleball paddle shapes to uncover the secrets that could transform your game.


Understanding Paddle Shapes

What is paddle shape, and how does it affect my play?

Paddle shape refers to the design and dimensions of a pickleball paddle, which can significantly influence your play style and performance. Every paddle is an amalgamation of length, width, and overall design, which together determine its aerodynamics, hitting surface, and sweet spot. Essentially, the shape of your paddle can:

  • Boost Your Reach: A longer paddle can help you reach those distant balls with ease.
  • Enhance Control: Certain shapes provide better grip and control for precise shots.
  • Maximize Power: Some designs focus on generating maximum power with each hit.

What are the different types of pickleball paddle shapes?

When it comes to pickleball paddles, one size doesn’t fit all. Each design caters to distinct playing styles and strategies. Here’s a rundown of the most common shapes:

  • Elongated Shape: Known for its long handle and narrow body, this shape is ideal for those looking to extend their reach on the court.
  • Wide Body Shape: Characterized by its broader face, it offers a larger sweet spot and better control, making it popular among beginners and intermediates.
  • Teardrop Shape: A blend of power and control, the teardrop shape tapers towards the handle and is favored by advanced players.
  • Standard Shape: The jack of all trades, offering balanced power and control.
  • Less Common Shapes: Includes designs like the oval or square shapes, each providing unique benefits for niche playing styles.

How can I tell the difference between an elongated shape and a wide body shape?

Distinguishing between these shapes can be done by a simple observation and feeling test. Here’s how to spot the differences:

  • Elongated Paddle:
    • Length: Generally longer, around 16.5 inches or more.
    • Width: Narrower, often not exceeding 7.5 inches.
    • Sweet Spot: Smaller but more precise.
  • Wide Body Paddle:
    • Length: Shorter, typically between 15.5 and 16 inches.
    • Width: Wider, usually around 8 inches.
    • Sweet Spot: Larger, providing more forgiveness on off-center hits.

By understanding these fundamental differences, you can better appreciate how each paddle shape can impact your unique style of play.

Exploring Specific Shapes

What are the benefits of using an elongated paddle shape?

The elongated paddle shape has garnered a reputation among seasoned players for its unparalleled reach and finesse. Imagine trying to pluck an apple from a tree. The longer your reach, the easier the task becomes. Similarly, an elongated paddle grants you:

  • Extended Reach: Perfect for volley battles at the net, allowing you to intercept and return difficult shots.
  • Increased Leverage: Provides superior leverage for powerful smashes.
  • Precision: The narrow face enhances shot accuracy, making it easier to target specific areas of the court.

Notable brands like Selkirk and Engage have perfected the art of the elongated paddle, offering models such as Selkirk Amped Invikta and Engage Encore MX that have won awards and accolades for their design.

How can wide body paddles enhance my game?

Wide body paddles are akin to a trusty Swiss Army knife; they are versatile, reliable, and perfect for various scenarios on the court. With their larger surface area and expansive sweet spot, wide body paddles offer:

  • Forgiveness: A larger sweet spot means off-center hits are less likely to go awry.
  • Control: The broader face provides better grip and finer control over the ball.
  • Stability: Increased stability, making it easier to handle fast volleys and dinks.

Brands like Paddletek and Onix have designed wide body paddles like the Paddletek Bantam EX-L and Onix Z5, both renowned for their playability and user-friendly design, making them a favorite among players seeking a balanced approach.

Teardrop paddles blend the best of both worlds—power and control. Imagine the beauty of a teardrop-shaped gem, perfectly balancing aesthetic and practicality. Similarly, teardrop paddles offer:

  • Balanced Performance: Offers a harmonious blend of power and control.
  • Dynamic Sweet Spot: The tapered design positions the sweet spot strategically, enhancing shot accuracy.
  • Versatility: Suitable for all playing styles, from aggressive smashes to delicate dinks.

One shining example is the Onix Evoke Pro, a teardrop paddle celebrated for its agility and efficacy in diverse playing conditions.

What are some less common paddle shapes, and what are their unique characteristics?

Beyond the mainstream lie the niche realms of pickleball paddles, characterized by unique and innovative shapes. Some of these include:

  • Oval Shape: Often shorter and wider, oval shape paddles like the Engage Poach Advantage provide stability and excellent control for precise gameplay.
  • Square Shape: Offering a more unconventional design, square paddles like the Paddletek Phoenix Genesis Pro deliver surprising power and versatile shot-making abilities.

These less common shapes may not dominate the market, but they cater to players seeking specialized play styles, often providing unique advantages that standard shapes might not.

Choosing the Right Paddle Shape

What factors should I consider when choosing a paddle shape?

Selecting the right pickleball paddle shape is akin to choosing the perfect pair of running shoes; it’s about finding what feels right for your style and needs. When in the market for a new paddle, consider:

  • Playing Style: Are you a power hitter, a control player, or a balanced all-rounder?
  • Experience Level: Choose a paddle that complements your skillset, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced player.
  • Physical Attributes: Factors like height and arm length can influence your ideal paddle shape.

What paddle shape is best for a power hitter?

Power hitters thrive on launching blistering shots that leave their opponents scrambling. For such players, an elongated paddle shape is often the weapon of choice. The extended length and narrower face enable:

  • Leverage: Generates powerful smashes and deep drives.
  • Precision: Allows targeting specific, often difficult areas of the court.

Popular choices among power hitters include the Engage Elite Pro and Selkirk Maxima.

Control players prefer finesse over brute strength, focusing on precise placement and strategic shot execution. Wide body and teardrop shapes are highly recommended for these players due to:

  • Enhanced Grip: Allows for delicate dinks and volleys.
  • Larger Sweet Spot: Forgivable, making it easier to manage off-center hits.

Models like the Selkirk AMPED S2 and Onix Summit C1 are go-to choices for control enthusiasts.

What paddle shape is ideal for a beginner?

Embarking on the pickleball journey requires a paddle that supports learning and development. Beginners are often advised to go for wide body paddles because:

  • Ease of Use: User-friendly with a larger sweet spot.
  • Stability: Offers balance and forgiveness, reducing mishits.

Paddles like the Onix Z5 and Paddletek Element provide a solid foundation for new players to build their skills.

Are there any specific paddle shapes that are better for advanced players?

Advanced players, boasting refined skills and versatile techniques, often gravitate towards teardrop or custom-shaped paddles. These shapes offer:

  • Customization: Tailored to suit specific advanced playing styles.
  • High Performance: Advanced engineering focused on maximizing power and control.

High-performance paddles like the Engage Poach Infinity and Selkirk Vanguard Power Air have been engineered to meet the demanding needs of top-tier players.


Does the shape of my paddle really matter?

Absolutely. The shape of your paddle directly influences your play style, efficiency, and overall performance. Just as a painter chooses specific brushes for different strokes, a pickleball player must select the right paddle shape to complement their game.

What’s the main difference between elongated paddles and wide body paddles?

The primary differences lie in their dimensions and play characteristics:

FeatureElongated PaddlesWide Body Paddles
LengthLonger (approx. 16.5 inches or more)Shorter (15.5 to 16 inches)
WidthNarrower (approx. < 8 inches)Wider (approx. 8 inches)
Sweet SpotSmaller and more preciseLarger and more forgiving
UsageFocuses on reach and powerEmphasizes control and balance

Which paddle shapes are best for dinking?

Dinking, the art of gently lofting the ball just over the net, requires exceptional control and precision. Wide body paddles are often favored for this task due to their larger sweet spot and superior grip.

Is an elongated paddle or a teardrop paddle better for power hitting?

Both shapes have merits for power hitting, but the elongated paddle generally takes the lead due to its added length and leverage, allowing for more powerful smashes. However, the teardrop shape offers a more balanced mix of power and control, suitable for versatile power hitters.


In the enchanting world of pickleball, the paddle shapes hold the secret to unlocking your playing potential. Understanding the nuances of each shape—whether it’s elongated, wide body, or teardrop—enables you to make informed decisions that align with your playing style and objectives. Remember, choosing the right paddle shape is like finding the perfect dance partner; harmony and compatibility matter immensely. By delving into the characteristics and benefits of various paddle shapes, you’re better equipped to elevate your game, mastering the court with confidence and precision.

For those eager to dive deeper into the technicalities and options available, numerous resources, including expert reviews and player testimonials, are available online. Renowned brands like Selkirk, Engage, and Onix offer extensive guides and models to explore, ensuring you find your ideal paddle.

In the end, it’s about harnessing the power of choice and craftsmanship, crafting your unique path to pickleball excellence.