As a pickleball player, the better you become, the more serious you have to be with the equipment that you are using for your games. While it may be fine to pick up a $25 paddle as a beginner, it won’t take long to realize that you’re holding back on your progress by not upgrading your paddle.
If you’re a 3.0-4.0 player, then you are by definition, an intermediate player. In this article, we’re going to be covering what sets paddles apart from one another, and what the best pickbell paddles are for intermediate players.
Why Intermediate Players Need a New Pickleball Paddle
If we go by what the people at the top of the game use, we begin to understand the size, weight, and material that best leads to a great play. Unfortunately, when you’re playing with a starter paddle, very often, those paddles don’t have the optimal size, are way too heavy, and utilize material that isn’t best for popping off a shot.
As of 2023, all of the great players in the sport are looking for “thermoformed” paddles. Unfortunately, such paddles cost much more than your usual beginner paddle.
But as an intermediate player, you’d benefit heavily from a thermoformed paddle, since such a paddle has:
- Unibody design – The whole paddle is one piece, instead of multiple pieces stitched together. This makes it very difficult for the paddle to actually break in half.
- Foam Injection – When the paddle is constructed, foam is injected from the outside, into the body, and this foam does an awesome job in reducing vibrations all through the paddle. This is great for any player since that will also help reduce the chances of developing a tennis elbow.
- Carbon Fiber Face – Nearly all thermoformed paddles utilize carbon fiber for the face. In conduction with the unibody design, this leads to a very noticeable bounce off the paddle. So if you’re ever in a “hand war” at the NVZ, you’ll have a better time reflecting the shots back with such a paddle.
So with all that being said, our recommended list will be focusing on the best-thermoformed paddles for intermediate players. You won’t go wrong by picking any on the list, but I’ll still list them from “best to worst”.
Top 3 Pickleball Paddle For Intermediate Players
1) Vatic Pro V7 16mm
I may be a bit biased here, but the Vatic Pro V7 16mm (8.1 ounces) is the paddle that I personally use, even as a 4.9 DUPR player. I started using it back when I was self-rating myself at about 3.5; but after trying all sorts of other paddles, I always come back to the Vatic.
This a thermoformed paddle, foam injection, with a carbon fiber surface. This is a fantastic paddle for generating spin and power. It is a paddle that runs a little heavier than other intermediate paddles, so that might take some time to get used to, but in return, you have a lot more power to work with.
What I’ve also noticed with this paddle is that the grit lasts for a while. Grit is the textured surface on a paddle that aids in generating spin on the shot, by helping you grip onto the pickball.
This paddle also comes in 14mm (so the face isn’t as thick), which takes off some weight, and allows for quicker handling. If you prefer for a paddle to have more “pop”, then the 14mm paddle will feel more familiar, but you do lose out on control. Typically, the greater the width of a paddle, the less of a pop it will have, but the more control it will have. But as long as you can generate the power with your technique, you’ll love it!There are a lot of “counterfeit” paddles out there nowadays, so here is a link to a genuine Vatic Pro on Amazon.
2) Hyperion 14mm
It’s difficult not to love this paddle. The #1 Pickleball player on the Men’s side (Ben Johns) had been utilizing the Hyperion for some time, and many other players love it as well. Similar to the Vactic Pro above, this paddle also has an elongated face (the paddle shape is more narrow), but a noticeable difference to the Vatic Pro is the length of the grip. The Hyperion has a grip length of 5.5 inches (and weighs 8.2 ounces), which is quite long compared to most paddles on the market, for example, the Vactic Pro has a handle length of 5.3 inches. With a longer grip, it does make it easier to get a comfortable grip on your backhand side.
As we’ve seen with recent trends in the pro space, pros love to use a two-handed backhand, whether it is at the baseline for their drives, or when they are hitting a backhand volley. So the Hyperion does a great job of catering to two-handed players. That doesn’t mean you can’t use two hands with other paddles, just that with the Hyperion, you’ll get the most comfort out of doing so.There are a lot of “counterfeit” paddles out there nowadays, so here is a link to a genuine Hyperion on Amazon.
3) CRBN2 13mm
The CRBN2 paddle is another fan favorite, and it definitely fits some players better than others. For starters, this paddle can come in at just 13mm, with a 4.25-inch grip, with a weight of just under 8 ounces. So it is the “smallest” paddle compared to the Vatic Pro and Hyperion.
From this list, the CRBN2 paddle is by far the “softest” paddle. If you’re a player who specializes in third-shot drops, dinks, and placement, then this paddle will shine in those circumstances. You won’t be able to generate the same level of power or spin that the Vatic or Hyperion offer, but your soft game will feel like butter with this particular paddle.
An added bonus is that the face of this paddle is made from “raw carbon fiber”, which helps retain the grittiness of the paddle the longest, compared to the others on the list.There are a lot of “counterfeit” paddles out there nowadays, so here is a link to a genuine CRBN on Amazon.
You can’t go wrong with any of the three paddles listed on this list. But I strongly believe that in terms of performance vs price, the Vatic Pro V7 16mm is the winner. While being 30-40% less than the Hyperion or the CRBN2, it offers impressive power, spin, and touch. The Hyperion had the chance of topping the list, but there has been constant community complaint regarding the paddle, and it’s the fact that the grit on the paddle tends to shave off fairly quickly. The less grit on your paddle face, the less spin you’ll be able to generate. So that downdraw alone is the reason why I’ve left the Hyperion at number 2 on the list.
On the other hand, even though the CRBN manages to hold onto its grit the most, it does lack in power and spin, something that the Vatic excels in.
I hope you enjoyed my personal recommendation for what the best paddles are for intermediate pickleball players, and if you have any questions for me, leave them in the comments below!