Pickleball paddle manufacturing is usually an automated process in which big batches are made. There are some companies, like TMPR, who make them one at a time because they have so much variety. Anyway, if you are a stickler for precision, I hope this blog gives you some idea of how to see if the paddle you just got meets specs.
Why you should measure your paddles
When I was whitewater kayaking a lot, I bought a micrometer to measure the diameter of the paddles I had. Some were slightly bigger than others, and those were the ones I didn’t like. I had one paddle I just knew was bigger than another, and that affected my state of mind. I had trouble rolling the kayak back up when I flipped. When I used the micrometer, I found out that it was exactly the same size as the one I liked. Mind over matter.
This is the micrometer I used (got it on Amazon): https://www.amazon.com/Pittsburgh-Digital-Caliper-Metric-Case/dp/B00CM8YYK0?crid=2R25V6J4U43KL&keywords=pittsburgh+6+inch+digital+caliper&qid=1687358028&sprefix=pittsburgh+caliper+digital%2Caps%2C82&sr=8-3&linkCode=ll1&tag=theadvent09e6-20&linkId=4f94b4a1d021c2dc903cce1ebcff1148&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
Note: this was intended for inside and outside measurements. We used it a lot for measuring the width of, say, a small window in our camper so we could get the right seal.
When it came to measuring pickleball paddles, though, I had to deal with edge guards. I could use my existing micrometer for edgeless paddles and, in fact, found that a 14 mm paddle I ordered was actually 14.5 mm. I sent it back and got a replacement.
For paddles with edges, I had to get a different micrometer, so I got this one (again on Amazon): https://www.amazon.com/SHAHE-Micrometer-Electronic-Resolution-Protective/dp/B07ZQ4WW24?crid=2TZD1UWCYV2K4&keywords=0+to+6+inch+digital+outside+micrometer+set&qid=1687358499&sprefix=digital+outside+micrometer+%2Caps%2C93&sr=8-36&linkCode=ll1&tag=theadvent09e6-20&linkId=bab9b5616664d121389fa510e78f8ad7&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl
You would be amazed at how off many paddles are. I’m talking about anywhere from .25 to .4 mm.
I had two instances in which the thickness was off enough for me to request a replacement. No one argued with my findings.
You can also use a micrometer to see how your core is holding up. If, with a little bit of pressure, you can compress the core significantly, it’s time for a new paddle.
Why you should weigh your paddles
I recently had a good reason to weigh one of my paddles (the last one discussed). Based on what I found, I decided to weigh a few others. Note that not one of the paddles met its specs, except for one that had a lot of leeway built in. Another used the term “average” for its weight. I guess that counts as meeting the specs.
Here are the results.
The specs for the Prodrive say that it should weigh 8.5 ounces. This one weighed 8.6. I can live with that.
The specs for the Joola Swift state that it should be an “average” weight of 7.9 ounces. This one weighs 8.0 ounces. Again, I can live with that.
Selkirk Invicta midweight – 7.8oz – 8.4oz (not sure why there is a range). This one weighs 8.0 ounces.
Diadem Warrior. Specs say 8.5 ounces. This one weighs 8.4 ounces.
This is the Diadem Warrior Edge. Because I had shoulder surgery, I decided to learn how to play left-handed, and wanted a lighter paddle. I figured an 8-ounce paddle would be good. I could dink very well with the Edge, but could not get any drive on ground strokes. So I decided to weigh it. It was way off! I sent this photo to the Diadem warranty department and asked for a replacement and, to Diadem’s credit, they agreed.
So, why are the weights off? I can only guess it is because of large batch manufacturing.
So, my opinion is that you should always weight a new paddle (or a paddle under warranty) to see if it meets (or comes close to) the stated specifications.
By the way, the scale I used is a kitchen scale. I got it on Amazon at this link: https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-Stainless-Digital-Batteries-Included/dp/B06X9NQ8GX?hvadid=225339663785&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=3114747619402117758&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9011011&hvtargid=pla-379543666039&psc=1&linkCode=ll1&tag=theadvent09e6-20&linkId=2cf1ff50bbb18d41c49b4def96084e18&language=en_US&ref_=as_li_ss_tl