Complete Guide for Padel Rackets
Which padel racket should I buy? This is a question many players have asked themselves, as navigating the many different rackets can be a jungle. There are a plethora of different padel rackets designed for beginners, intermediate and experienced players. And the rackets cater to different player types such as control, power and all-round players.
At Padellife we are specialists in padel and we take pride in helping you find the right equipment. We regularly meet padel players who play with a racket that doesn't match their style of play, and as a result they don't get the full benefit of all the hours on the padel court. That's why we've put together this guide on how to choose the perfect padel racket for your needs.
Firstly, the guide takes you through the most important aspects of a padel racket including head shape, weight distribution and what type of player they are aimed at. Secondly, we look at how much a padel racket costs, different padel brands and the difference between padel rackets for women, men and juniors. Lastly, we present advice on how to choose the right racket for your needs and how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls when buying a new racket.
The headshape of a padel racket is one of the most crucial things in your choice of racket. A racket can have the 3 different shapes: diamond, teardrop or round. Quite simply, the main difference between the 3 headshapes is where you have placed the sweetspot on the racket, and hence the weight balance.
The diamond-shaped racket has the majority of the weight placed towards the end of the racket and thus the sweet spot is also high on the racket. This gives a good power, but also compromises a bit on the control of the racket. These types of rackets show their qualities best in smashes and overhead shots.
An example of a padel racket with a diamond-shaped head is the Babolat Technical Viper 2023:
The teardrop-shaped racket has the sweetspot placed slightly lower on the racket, which offers a combination of power and control. The weight balance can be quite different on this type of racket, so we advice you to try it out or ask for advice if you are considering to buy a teardrop-shaped padel racket. Thus, there can be a significant difference in playability between 2 teardrop shaped rackets.
An example of a padel racket with a teardrop-shaped head is the Head Speed Pro X:
The round racket shape has the sweetspot placed at the center of the racket. The sweetspot is often larger on a round head racket than on the other types of rackets. This racket is designed for control, where not much power is generated in smashes and other overhead shots, as there is not much weight at the top of the racket. Conversely, the round racket will best show its qualities in technical shots, lobs and the like.
An example of a padel racket with a round headshape is the Nox ML10 Pro Cup Luxury by Miguel Lamperti:
In terms of the weight of a padel racket, you should be careful not to focus too much on this parameter. In padel, the weight of the racket is not as crucial as it is in certain other racket sports. Thus, the weight of the various padel rackets is usually between 345 and 375 grams - there is not much difference between the lightest and the heaviest rackets.
Where weight becomes an important decision parameter in the choice of racket is if you suffer from a tennis elbow. As in tennis, a lighter racket will put less strain on your arm than a heavier racket. However, it is worth noting that many padel rackets have built-in shock absorbing technology to counteract vibrations down the arm. The weight might be a factor in choosing a padel racket, however, often it is weight distribution (balance) of the racket that makes the biggest difference to its playing characteristics. You can read more about this topic in the section below.
Balance (Weight Distribution)
The weight distribution is one of the most important aspects of choosing the right padel racket for your needs . Hence, two rackets with the same weight but with a different balance provide highly different characteristics and are therefore suitable for different types of players. Therefore, it is recommendable to keep in mind the weight distribution when buying a new padel racket. Overall, there are 3 different ways of distributing the weight in the racket: head heavy (also called high balance), neutral (also called even or medium balance) and head light (also called low balance).
Padel Rackets with a Headheavy Balance
In this type of racket, the weight is located at the top of the racket head. Typically, you hit the ball in this area when you have the initiative during a rally applying your offensive strokes. You achieve a higher degree of weight transfer in your stroke when you hit the ball where the weight is located. Thus the head-heavy rackets offer you plenty of hitting power and are generally best suited for the offensive padel players. The trade-off with the very powerful rackets is that it can be more difficult to control the accuracy of your strokes.
Padel Rackets with a Neutral Balance
The weight in these rackets is so-called neutrally distributed. When this balance is combined with a teardrop-shaped racket head, you're in the middle of the spectrum between power and control. If you thrive on a combination of both worlds, this is an obvious option. Additionally, for those players who have not yet decided which type of racket is best for them, this all-round racket with an even balance is also a wise choice.
Padel Rackets with a Headlight Balance
A lightlight balance involves that the weight is located further down the racket head. This is typically where you hit in the defensive and controlled strokes like lobs, serves and generally strokes where you take the speed off the ball and want accuracy rather than hitting power. They are often more maneuverable and comfortable to play with and they also reduce stress on your arm.
In terms of power, a headlight racket does not provide you with the same amounts of power as a headheavy racket does.
Combining Headshape and Balance
A general rule is that the balance of the padel racket is located at the widest point of the racket head. Often you see that for example rackets with a round headshape have a headlight balance. In this way, the headshape and weight distribution are related to the playing characteristics of the racket.
However, the above is a generalisation and there are quite a few exceptions in the relationship between racket headshape and balance. It cannot be concluded that just because a racket has a round head, it automatically has a headlight balance. Different manufacturers make sure they offer ranges that suit different player types and needs, so a racket with a round headshape, for example, may well have a neutral balance to provide it with a bit more power.
Therefore, it is also advisable to pay attention to and possibly experiment with the weight distribution of the individual rackets. In many cases, the weight distribution has more influence on the power/control distribution of the racket than the headshape itself. For example, the weight distribution plays an important role in your volleys, as a headheavy racket has a longer reaction time, so if your reactions are already not too fast, you should probably not choose the most headheavy racket, which will however give you more weight and power in your volleys.
The Racket Frame
The frame of the padel racket has a significant impact on both the playing characteristics and the durability of the racket. In general, most rackets are made of carbon, fibreglass or a mixture of the two. Carbon rackets are usually more expensive as they are developed for the more experienced and professional players. These rackets are somewhat harder to play with and they often offer a smaller sweetspot than the equivalent fibreglass rackets. A big advantage of a carbon racket is that their outcome when the ball is hit well is significantly better. This point combined with the fact that the racket's durability is slightly inferior, means that they are not suitable for beginners.
Hard or Soft Padel Rackets: Different Carbon Density
Finally, it's worth mentioning that there can be big differences as to how the carbon fibres are woven in the different rackets. This is because the carbon fibres are woven at different densities - the higher the density, the harder the surface. Some manufacturers mark their padel rackets with the density of the carbon fibres to give you an indication of how hard the frame is. You'll typically encounter ratings like 3k, 6k, 12k, 18k and all the way up to 24k as the hardest. So, a racket with 18k carbon will be significantly harder than a racket with 3k carbon. When you hit the ball well with 18k carbon, you will get a super good output in your stroke, but you are also punished harder with a poor contact with the ball if you hit outside the sweetspot. A racket with 3k carbon will be much more forgiving if you don't hit the sweetspot every time.
Should I Go for a Padel Racket Made of Fibreglass or Carbon?
For beginners and less experienced players, fibreglass rackets are often a superior choice as they are more durable and easier to play with due to a larger sweetspot. A larger sweetspot means you have a larger hitting area on the racket where you get a premium contact with the ball. Good contact gives you better impact and reduces the risk of elbow, shoulder and wrist strain injuries when playing padel.
If you are an experienced padel player who consistently hits the ball well, a carbon racket rewards you with more output in your strokes.
The Core of the Padel Racket
The core (middle) of the racket is usually made of different kinds of foam - often called either EVA or FOAM. The main difference between them is their ability to control the ball on hard hits. Again, EVA foam is most often used in advanced rackets, while FOAM is used in all types of rackets. In general, EVA foam is harder than FOAM, which is why it provides more power in your strokes and more in-play speed, but it is also more difficult to control.
The Racket Grip
The grip on your padel racket should not be underestimated. If it's too thin, you risk holding on too tightly and cramping your arm, which can lead to overuse injuries. If the grip is too thick, you lose control and manoeuvrability of the racket. That's why it's important to find the right grip size.
Unlike tennis, a padel racket does not come with different grip sizes. Instead, you adjust it through your grip. The general rule is that you add an overgrip on top of the original grip that is placed on your racket from the start.
Another way to adjust the grip to match your needs is to apply an undergrip. In this case you remove the original grip on the racket right down to the bare handle, and then fit your undergrip followed by an overgrip on top. The undergrip comes in different thicknesses and patterns, so you can play around with what's the optimal grip for you. Bullpadel's Hesacore grip is popular with many padel players who prefer contours and shock absorption in their grip.
Some padel rackets are also made with an extended shaft, so you have the option to apply a two-handed backhand when you need a bit extra stability in your stroke. Browse our large selection of grips here.
What Does a Padel Racket Cost?
Besides the racket's playing characteristics, the price should of course also match your financial situation. Padel rackets come in different price ranges from 50€ up to 450€, and it is individual what you want to pay for a new racket. It is important that you only spend an amount that you are comfortable with, and that you are not afraid to hit the ball near the padel court glass or grid, because you are afraid to break the racket. That will take the joy out of padel for most people. In that case, it is preferable to move down a price level so that you dare to return the difficult balls as well.
As with so much else, price and quality go hand in hand with padel rackets. You can roughly divide padel rackets into three price groups: beginner rackets cost around 60-110€, intermediate rackets are around 120-190€ while top rackets range from around 200€ all the way up to 450€.
The price difference is caused by the quality of the materials, the technologies applied and small adjustments that the best padel rackets are equipped with.
What Are the Differences between Rackets for Men, Women and Children?
Padel rackets for men and women are very similar. There are plenty of women playing with a racket that is not specifically designed for women.
The padel rackets designed specifically for women are typically 15-30 grams lighter and include a slightly adjusted design or colour. Besides that, the main difference is that the women often have smaller hands and therefore need a thinner overgrip than the male players.
Padel rackets for juniors are about 40 grams lighter than an average adult racket, and the frame is slightly narrower and the grip is shorter. This makes it easier for the child to control the raclet and maneuver it. In addition, junior padel rackets are often made with fibreglass in the surface to make it softer and easier to play with.
Which Padel Racket Brands Are There?
There are many different padel brands. Most brands have developed a complete range of rackets, so they can offer a suitable racket for the different player types (control, power or all-round player) as well as for different playing levels (beginner, intermediate or experienced).
Many tennis players will recognise brands such as Babolat, Head and Dunlop. And the connoisseur will also note that former Swedish tennis star Robin Söderling has founded his own padel brand, RS Padel.
Spain is a huge padel country and several of the biggest padel-specific brands originate from Spain. These include Bullpadel, Nox and Starvie, all of which are highly visible on the World Padel Tour.
In addition, many will also be familiar with global brands such as Adidas, Fila and Mizuno from the sports and apparel industry, while brands such as Osaka and Oxdog are exciting new players in the padel market. Finally, people with a background in table tennis will probably be pleased to know that Swedish company Stiga also produces really good padel rackets.
How Do I Find the Best Padel Racket for My Playing Level?
Besides the racket type, your own level of playing is also a key parameter when choosing the right racket. Our best advice? Be honest with yourself. How well do you hit the ball, what type of player are you and how often do you get to play? These are all questions where the answers will guide you in the right direction. The best padel racket for you is an individual matter and thus difficult to give a standard answer to. Therefore, please feel free to contact us for individual guidance. Browse our full range of padel rackets and buy at great discounts.
Avoid these 2 Common Misunderstandings when Buying Your First Padel Racket
As padel specialists, we often advise people to avoid two traps in particular when buying your first padel racket:
Our first piece of advice is that as a beginner you should not buy a racket with a hard surface. Many top rackets come with a hard surface, for example in 18k carbon, and to put it bluntly, you will be penalised if you don't hit consistently in the racket's sweetspot. This gives you both poor contact with the ball on 'off centre hits', and it increases the risk of injuries such as a tennis elbow. So rather find a racket with a softer surface that you can learn the game with and that is more forgiving and easier to play with.
The second piece of advice is to consider your time horizon for how often and how long you expect to use the racket. If you're new to padel and don't want to sacrifice a fortune on equipment, the really cheap rackets obviously stand out. They may well be the best option for some, but if, for example, you bring ten years' experience from tennis and are reasonably sporty, there's a risk that within a few months you'll outgrow your beginner's racket and need to invest again. In such cases, you might consider buying a slightly more expensive padel racket from the start that you will still be able to use in a longer time horizon, thus avoiding buying a racket that you will quickly replace.
3 Common Misconceptions of Padel Rackets
1) "The round racket is only for beginners, as this one can't hit as hard as the other rackets"
This is a big misconception that is seen among many new players in the padel world. This misconception is mainly based on the fact that 9 out of 10 of the beginners' rackets in the market are made with round headshapes, as these are usually easier to play with as a beginner. However, this does not mean that round control rackets cannot be applied by a more experienced or professional player. In fact, several of the best players on the World Padel Tour play with round shaped rackets, which just underlines that the headshape does not exclude some players, but just shows the difference in playing characteristics.
2) "A padel racket costs the same as rackets for the other sports, so the price and quality are comparable"
Padel rackets are generally a little bit more expensive than tennis, squash and badminton rackets, so be prepared to pay a bit more to secure a racket of similar quality. Padel rackets, however, as with the other racquet sports, price and quality don't always go together, but it often goes that way, which is why you can't expect to get top rackets for the same price as beginner rackets. However, we definitely recommend that you both test yourself and talk to professionals when it comes to buying a new racket - buying a new racket might be a bit of a stretch for your financials and you therefore want to be sure that you find the racket that best suits your own abilities on the court.
3) "The racket has no strings, so I can just similarly use the hardness of the racket to know its "trampoline effect" (ability to generate power using the hardness of the strings)?"
Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that. For rackets made with fiberglass or carbon frames, this can definitely play a big role, but so does the type of foam, the amount of carbon and several other elements. Thus, there are often several things to consider in a padel racket and we therefore recommend that you read through this guide carefully and possibly ask in a specialist shop if you want to find out how much power a racket can generate.