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Choosing the right core thickness for your pickleball paddle is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your gameplay. While a paddle may have the same specifications, even a slight change in core thickness can lead to substantial differences in performance. In this article, we will explore how core thickness affects paddle play and help you understand the implications of different thickness options.
Understanding Core Thickness
Core thickness, typically measured in millimeters (mm), plays a significant role in paddle performance. However, it is important to note that some companies do not publish core thickness or use inches/fractions, which can be confusing.
16mm and Above
Paddles with a core thickness of 16mm or above are considered standard thick core paddles. While paddles exceeding 16mm are less common, they do exist. Choosing a thicker core paddle is often driven by the desire for increased control. Thicker cores offer less power but excel in block shots, resets, and drop shots. Additionally, as the thickness increases, the paddle absorbs more of the pace from the ball, resulting in a better feel and larger sweet spot.
13mm and Below
Thinner core paddles with a thickness of 13mm or below are preferred by players seeking more power. These paddles feel stiffer upon impact, and due to their thinner composition, they release the ball faster, providing increased power. Thinner paddles are often favored by those who play a faster-paced game, aim to end points swiftly, or require additional power. However, it’s worth noting that thinner paddles may be less forgiving compared to their thicker counterparts.
The Standard Thickness Range
While 13mm and 16mm are common core thicknesses, recent paddle models have introduced options in the 14mm and 15mm range, aiming to bridge the gap between thin and thick core paddles. Some players find these options to be a perfect blend. However, the majority of premium paddles are still offered in a 13mm and 16mm variant.
Extreme Thickness Variations
At the extremes, some paddles are as thin as 9mm, while others reach a thickness of 20mm. Thinner paddles may produce more vibration and potentially hinder off-center shot performance. On the other hand, thicker paddles tend to minimize vibration but may pose challenges in finishing points during hot weather conditions when combined with a soft ball.
Choosing the Right Core Thickness
Determining the ideal core thickness is a subjective decision influenced by personal playing style and preferences. Players who favor a soft game, focused on drop shots, resets, and dinks, often gravitate towards thicker paddles. In contrast, those who rely on power-based shots often opt for thinner paddles. As a general recommendation, newer players up to the 3.5 skill level are advised to start with a thicker paddle. The extra control provided by thicker cores can be advantageous for players still developing their soft game. In cases where a thick paddle feels too soft and more power is desired, lead tape can be added to increase paddle power.
While core thickness serves as a valuable guideline for paddle selection, it is important to note that other factors, such as the paddle’s face material, also contribute to its performance characteristics. Ultimately, finding the perfect paddle involves experimentation and considering individual play preferences. Consulting with knowledgeable paddle retailers can further boost your understanding and help you make an informed decision that aligns with your goals and style of play.