Why Thick Pickleball Paddles May Improve Your Game

Over the past several years paddles with thick cores have risen in popularity. With major manufacturers like offering thick core options, there’s a reason why players have turned to this style of paddle and found that it improved their game.

A thicker core is the result of a desire for a more stable paddle that generates more consistent shots across the surface. A thicker paddle is less likely to twist in your hand when the ball is struck near the edge, and it has a lower modulus of elasticity or resistance to being deformed elastically when a stress is applied to it. A stiffer material will have a higher elastic modulus, as seen in Why Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddles May Improve Your Game. Both levels of elastic modulus can help you in different ways.

Over a decade ago composite paddles became the standard for performance paddles, and they generally used cores that were .375” to .400” thick. In the last few years, a dramatic number of new products were introduced with cores ranging from .562” to .75” in thickness. While these increases seem small, they’re more than a 25% increase in thickness.

The challenge with placing a ball where you want it on the court is that different parts of the paddle behave differently when transferring energy to the ball. Players refer to the place on a paddle where the ball receives the most energy as the sweet spot. The most dangerous and ineffective shots are shots where you miss your target. You may hit balls too high that are easily attacked by your opponent, hit shots into the net or hit shots out of bounds. Some paddles have a sweet spot where the ball seems to explode off the very center of the face of the paddle, but that same paddle may feel more dead the further away you get from the center of the paddle. This results in balls being hit inconsistently, some being hit too hard and some too soft.

To create more consistency in the energy delivered from a paddle to the ball, manufacturers have produced thicker core paddles. That change started in 2013 when Paddletek introduced the polypropylene core. Prior to that, most paddles were constructed using 0.400” Nomex or Aluminum cores. The change to polymer honeycomb material coincided with a switch to primarily 0.500” thick cores. This change was as much about material as it was about thickness, but both factors led to higher performing paddles. Now the majority of paddles in the industry use some form of polypropylene core.

The key advantage is more consistent ball performance coming off a larger portion of the paddle surface. While it might seem like a thicker core would generate more power or ball speed, the opposite is true. You get more control, touch and consistency even when you mishit the ball. And you get all the power you need.

The thicker cores give players improved shot consistency due to two factors:

  1. The first is energy absorption. Whether it’s an opponent’s driving shot at you or a volleyed dink, the thicker core helps dissipate the energy of the ball into the paddle and allows the player to regain control of the play.
  2. The second is stability. The thicker core provides more stability across the paddle face for those shots further away from the center of the paddle. The biggest advantage is play at the net, especially for volleys back and forth. The thicker core material further dampens the ball energy, which gives you a little more feel and control on drop shots, volleys, and dinks.

PICKLRZ offers more than 30 thick core paddles from Paddletek, Diadem and Cheetah. Use our filtering system to drill down to the perfect paddle for you. You can filter by Core, Facing, Grip Circumference, Grip Length, Price, Shape, Weight and Thickness.