Whether you are an advanced player or new to Padel, choosing the right racket is an important decision. There is a wide range of rackets out there on the market but not all have the same prices and performance so, which one is the right one for you?
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that, there is no such thing as “the perfect Padel racket”. However, there is certainly the Padel racket, which is best, suited for you. Leaving aside considerations like price or aesthetics, there are a few characteristics that determine how the Padel racket performs in your hand and these should be the main guiding principles while choosing your Padel racket. The most important factor when buying your racket should be your level of play and the characteristics that the racket can offer to your game.
Your racket should match your level of play
In general, the level of play is divided into 3 levels:
- Regular player (Intermediate)
- Advanced or Professional
Each level represents the speed and weight of the ball as you play. This means that the ball will come to us more slowly and with less effects as we start playing Padel (assuming we play with equally levelled peers or with a coach) and faster and using more effects (cut, topspin or flat effect) as we play more often and improve our level in the game and the level of our opponents.
In general, Padel retailers and manufacturers already classify their catalogues of rackets into these levels of players. As long as you are able to place yourself into one of these levels, it should be easy to find which racket is the right one for you.
A Padel racket, like any other product, should be of a good quality. However, due to its inherent purpose of hitting a ball, it has to be a combination of certain features like low weight, elasticity and firmness. This means that its composition might involve an ideal combination of different materials of varying resistance and durability.
Basically, a Padel, might seem like a single piece but there are in fact three parts with different compositions fused together into a single shape:
- The frame or profile: the outside around the main impact area, which gives the racket its firmness and strength.
- The impact surface: is the most important part of the racket as it is the area where the ball hits and the performance depends on their composition.
- The shaft: which is usually wrapped around a rubber or grip which is where you handle the racket.
Nowadays, there are many rackets in the market which have frames made with carbon fiber to give the best combination of firmness, durability and light weight. The frame is also the part of the racket, which is more prone to knocks while trying to hit the balls that are close to the ground and walls. To protect the frame, many models of rackets come with a plastic guard screwed or glued at the top of the racket.
In general, Padel rackets are more fragile than Tennis rackets. While Tennis rackets use solid frames with strings that can be easily replaced when broken, Padel rackets are made of soft components that will eventually break with intense use or accidental knocks to the ground and walls. Once broken, a Padel racket is difficult to repair.
Know your strength
As explained above, Padel rackets have a solid impact surface that is filled with holes to allow an easy swing in the air. This surface may be hard or soft and will greatly determine the performance of the racket. A softer racket will have more elasticity to rebound the ball and provide more power to your shots.
The impact surface is normally a core made of EVA or FOAM and is then covered with different materials depending on the manufacturer but the most commonly found are: fiber glass and carbon fiber.
EVA rubber is hard, less flexible and gives less power to the ball. Its advantage is its longer durability and more control. EVA is the most commonly used core by most of the manufacturers. Foam, on the other hand, is soft, provides lesser control but has much more elasticity and provides more power and speed to the ball. This obviously means that FOAM has less durability. Lately, some manufacturers have developed a third type of core, which combines both EVA and FOAM. This hybrid is a soft rubber with much longer durability made out of a core FOAM surrounded by an exterior EVA rubber.
Soft rackets: provide power to your shots, as their higher elasticity tends to give extra energy to the ball. On the other hand, they reduce your control. These rackets will help you defend yourself at the back end of the court (as it will help your hits reach the other side) and will provide power on the volley. Obviously, soft rackets tend to last less than hard rackets, as softer materials are more easily damaged.
Hard rackets: unlike the soft ones, hard rackets provide control and power. They require more technicality and precision than soft ones, and hence the rebound power needs to be provided by your arm to optimise the impacts.
Hard rackets are generally not recommended for beginners. As the playing level progresses, the hardness of the rackets preferred tends to increase.
Heavy can be good
Rackets can be generally divided into lighter (less than 375 grams) or heavier ones (over 375 grams). Each of these will give the swing a different performance and it is therefore advised to choose the weight depending on the level of play.
In this regard, note that while we will be able to move a lightweight racket with greater ease and speed (ideal for volley game) you however lose power in your shots, especially as we get tired. A heavy racket will be more difficult to move, but on the other hand, it will gives more power at impact. The key to how we handle the weight of the racket depends on how this weight is distributed in the racket itself.
Try to play with the heaviest Padel racket that you find comfortable. This may seem like a contradiction but higher the weight, more the force transferred to the ball with every hit along with less effort by your arm. Additionally, under the same use, a heavy racket tends to last longer than a lightweight.
In a Padel racket, the balance indicates the point where most of the weight is concentrated along its vertical axis. Balance can be:
- High: these rackets are called “big heads” because their weight is concentrated closer to the head of the racket (the opposite end of the handle.) Despite weighing less, placing the weight at a further distance from our hand will make us feel that they weigh more. This type of rackets gives a lot of power, but it can overload the wrist, as the weight is farther out, so the leverage produced is higher (more strength required to hold the racket). These High balance rackets usually have a diamond shape at the top.
- Middle/Balanced: the weight is a little closer to the handle, which provides a better handling of the racket; thus providing more control, and lesser strain on the wrist. These rackets usually have a teardrop shape and some models can be round too.
- Low: the concentration of the weight lies far below, close to the handle and this gives excellent control, as the hand is now able to move more easily. But it lacks power, which is essential for volleys and defensive shots. Experienced players with great touch generally use it and although it seems contradictory, it is also recommended for beginners due to the fact that it will allow them a better control. These rackets typically have a round shape.
If you are just starting to practice Padel, we recommend that you to choose a racket that is under-balanced (or Low balance) and round shaped, which will help you to control the racket and not the other way round. Besides, the fact of having a round head expands the sweet spot (the natural and best point of impact in the racket´s surface) and facilitates your shots better. If you are a more regular player with more playing time under your belt, we recommend that you choose a racket to help you correct your mistakes as in terms of balance and form, considering that a diamond shape has a higher sweet spot, and it will provide more power and will therefore require more control and mastery of the racket.
When it comes to thickness, Padel rackets cannot exceed a thickness of 38 mm, so this is not a factor that will determine your choice of racket. Generally, rackets oscillate between 36mm and 38mm thick and some have a different thickness on the frame than on the impact surface.
In summary, remember that not all the rackets will suit you equally well. Instead, each person will require a model that suits his or her physical condition and their level of play. As your skills develop, the performance you look for in the racket will also evolve, but the criteria explained above will remain useful when choosing your next Padel racket.