Pickleball Gear Basics
One of the reasons pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States is how affordable it is to get started. You don’t need a lot of equipment to get on the courts and often you can find someone who will lend you the essentials until you’re ready to buy your own. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect to purchase to get started in pickleball.
Many pickleball players see their paddle as an extension of themselves. With the wide variety of paddles on the market, it’s easy to understand how some players emotionally connect with their paddle sometimes based on appearance alone! A strong physical connection with your paddle is also important and will become a stronger priority as you pursue more competitive play. There are so many details about paddles that we’ll explore in future posts, but for now here are the basics of what to look for when you’re ready to purchase a paddle.
The most important point to remember is to purchase a paddle that compliments or balances your style of play. There are several factors that play into this – including weight, grip, and shape. We’ll focus on weight in this introductory post and explore the other factors in the future.
Paddles are typically divided into lightweight (under 7.3 oz), mid-weight (7.3-8.4 oz), and heavy (8.5+ oz). The general rule of thumb is lightweight paddles are easier on the arm (reducing risk of tennis elbow), are easier to quickly move around, and have more control of the ball than heavy paddles. Heavy paddles are harder to quickly move around and may slow down your reactions (giving you that split second before you realize you’re about to hit that out ball!) but also give you extra power. When figuring out what weight you should purchase, ask yourself if you want to balance out your style of play or lean more into it.
As for price, you should expect to pay anywhere from $30-$100 for your first paddle. Keep in mind, many players purchase 1-2 paddles a year depending on how often they play and their own personal preferences. Paddles naturally wear out over time resulting in dead spots or even breaking, so try not to worry too much about your first paddle purchase. It won’t be your last!
At Pickleballerz, we have demo paddles that you can try out before you decide to purchase. When you’re ready to purchase, our front desk team can assist you. We might even be able to save you money on your purchase!
There are two main categories of pickleballs – indoor balls and outdoor balls. Generally, indoor balls have fewer larger holes while outdoor balls have many smaller holes. The holes (as well as the material and weight of the balls) assist in ball flight and counter wind. Indoor balls are softer and weigh less than outdoor balls as well.
Deciding which ball to use can be confusing as indoor and outdoor imply when you should one over the other. However, the stronger consideration for type of ball to use is court surface. Indoor balls are used on carpet or wood surfaces, while outdoor balls are used on rougher harder surfaces that are similar to tennis courts such as Pickleballerz’s Plexicushion surface. This distinction comes from how different pickleballs bounce and slide on different surfaces. Generally, indoor balls bounce higher than intended on hard surfaces (like tennis courts) while outdoor balls skid on slick surfaces (like wooden gym floors).
Many beginners under estimate the importance of having the appropriate shoes for playing pickleball. Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to injury, so making the investment into proper footwear now means a better experience for you in the future.
Just like pickleballs, purchase your shoes based on the surface you are playing on. If you’re playing on slick wood surfaces, you’ll need a reliable shoe that has a natural gum rubber sole to prevent you from slipping. On rough outdoor surfaces, you will need a durable outdoor shoe. This includes Pickleballerz’s Plexicushion surface even though we are an indoor facility. If your shoe has a softer sole (as some indoor shoes have), it will get worn down much faster on a rougher surface. The product descriptions will describe for which surfaces the shoes are designed.
When purchasing your shoes, avoid running and cross training shoes – stick with volleyball, tennis, and pickleball shoes. Running shoes have a bit of a wider sole which is designed to help you stay balanced and support forward movement. In pickleball (as with volleyball and tennis) there is a lot of lateral movement as well as sudden starts and stops. A wider sole may result in falls and twisted ankles during lateral movements.
While pickleball eyewear isn’t required to play, it is an important safety consideration. The short distance between players at the non-volley zone and the occasional mishit or ricocheted ball means there’s a decent risk for getting hit in the face by a ball. Beginners are at highest risk usually because they aren’t used to playing quick volleys and they are also more likely to mishit balls and injure other players due to inexperience. Eyewear is generally inexpensive, but can provide invaluable security while on the courts!
Those are the pickleball gear basics! If you need help deciding what to purchase, please feel free to contact us or stop by our pro shop located next to the entrance of Pickleballerz. We have a variety of pickleballs and demo paddles you are welcome to try, and when you’re ready to purchase our friendly front desk staff will be more than happy to assist you!
Northern Virginia’s first indoor dedicated pickleball facility, Pickleballerz is conveniently located off Routes 28 and 50 at 14424 Albemarle Point Place, Chantilly, VA. Keep up with Pickleballerz by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and subscribing to the mailing list.