intermediate paddles
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7 Best Pickleball Paddles for Intermediate Players (3.5-4.0)

If you’re an intermediate pickleball player, having the right equipment is crucial for improving your game. One of the most important pieces of equipment is your pickleball paddle. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. To help you, we’ve researched and compiled a list of the 7 best pickleball paddles for intermediate players.

First, What Is An Intermediate Player?

An intermediate play is a player that is rated from 3.5 to 4.0.

If you don’t know what your rating is, there is a way for you to better define what level of player you are. When I participate in different round-robins, they always ask me to self-rate. I would say probably 1/2 the people think they are at a higher skill level than they are. Especially those who come from a tennis background.

The USA Pickleball Association, the official governing organization for pickleball in the US, has taken some of the guesswork out of this. They publish what skills you need to have for each level. Let’s take a look at what this looks like.

This is the USAPA website rating levels.

usapa rating levels
USAPA Rating Levels

So for each one, they go into detail on what skills you should be able to demonstrate to support this rating level. You can find this at USAPA Definition of Player Skill Ratings.

It is worth taking a look. I did and was a bit surprised that I still need to build out a couple of shots/skills.

How Do We Do Our Research?

There are hundreds of blogs, sites, and YouTube channels, all with the latest recommendations on paddles. Everyone has their own spin. You may have players that you want to be like, and so you look no further than their site or channel.

However, at SportyEscapade, we have an in-depth review process that looks across tons of key sites and channels and evaluates which paddles are consistently performing with casual players, experts, and influencers. We review the testing information, test ourselves, and look at all the pros and cons to provide you with truly unbiased recommendations.

We do the research, so you don’t have to. So, let’s get started!


Understanding Pickleball Paddles

intermediate players
Paddletek Tempest Wave Pro – Intermediate Players

As an intermediate player, knowing about the different types of pickleball paddles is essential. These paddles come in various materials, sizes, and shapes.


Pickleball Paddle Materials

The material of a pickleball paddle affects how it performs. Some common materials used are graphite, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and composite materials.

Graphite paddles are popular because they are lightweight and durable. Fiberglass is also well-liked for its flexibility and shock-absorbing properties.

Carbon fiber is becoming more popular for its strength and stiffness. Composite paddles combine different materials to offer a good balance of durability, power, and control.


Pickleball Paddle Cores

The core of a pickleball paddle also influences its performance. The two most common core types are honeycomb and polymer. Honeycomb cores can be made of aluminum or paper and provide a lightweight and responsive feel. Polymer cores, made of dense plastic material, offer a softer feel with more control.

MaterialCharacteristicsCommon Use
Polymer– Softest and quietest material
– Excellent power with less noise
Heavier paddles
Nomex– Hard, durable, and powerful material
– Created by dipping a honeycomb framework into a resin
Lightweight paddles
Aluminum– Offers a blend of power and control
– Usually light but less powerful than Nomex
Lightweight paddles
Paddle Core Types

Pickleball Paddle Size and Shape

The size and shape of a pickleball paddle can impact your game too. The standard size is 8 inches wide and 15.5 inches long, but some players prefer paddles of different sizes. The shape of the paddle can also vary, with some paddles having a wider or narrower head.

ShapeLength (inches)Width (inches)Total Length + Width (inches)
Standard15.75 – 16.57.5 – 8.2524
Elongated16.5 – 177 – 7.524
Widebody16 – 16.58.25 – 8.524
Control15.5 – 167.75 – 824
Paddle Shape Specs

There is a lot of experimentation going on with different shapes for the paddles. The two Head paddles below use more of a diamond or fan shape. These shapes are meant to provide a larger sweet spot and reach out toward the top of the paddle.


Choosing the Right Pickleball Paddle

For intermediate players, a balanced paddle with power and control is crucial. Look for a lightweight to midweight paddle that is easy to maneuver while still providing enough power for accurate shots. It’s a good idea to try out several paddles to see which one feels best for you.


Key Features to Consider

When looking for the best pickleball paddle for intermediate players, consider these key features:

Weight: Lighter paddles are easier to maneuver, while heavier paddles provide more power and stability. Find a weight that feels comfortable for your playing style.

Weight RangePowerSpinControlAgility
Lightweight (7-7.3 ounces)Best for agility and controlGood for spinGood for touch shotsBeginner
Intermediate
50+
Women
Doubles Play
Midweight (7.3-8.3 ounces)Good balance of power and controlGood for all-around playGood for volleysVersatile
Heavyweight (8.3-10 ounces)Best for powerGood for blockingLess forgiving on mis-hitsSingles
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced
Extra Heavy (10-13 ounces)Maximum powerNot as good for spin or controlVery unforgiving on mis-hitsAdvanced
Paddle Weight Guide

Sweet Spot: A large sweet spot on the paddle helps you hit shots accurately and consistently.

Grip: Look for a paddle with a comfortable and cushioned grip that provides anti-slip properties.

Surface: The hitting surface of the paddle can affect shot accuracy and spin. A textured surface, like graphite, can help generate more spin.

Edge Guard: A durable edge guard protects your paddle from damage during play.

Maneuverability: A paddle with a wide body shape and edgeless design provides better maneuverability and ball control.

Durability: Look for a midweight paddle with a durable edge guard for long-lasting performance.


Top 7 Pickleball Paddles for Intermediate Players

Here are our top 7 picks for the best pickleball paddles for intermediate players:

Ben Johns Hyperion Pro

ben johns hyperion pro
Ben Johns Hyperion Pro CFS

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Joola Ben Johns Hyperion Pro – Offers a balance of power and control, designed for intermediate players to advanced players and approved for official tournaments.

FeatureSpec
CoreReactive Honeycomb Polymer
Core thickness16mm
SurfaceCarbon Friction Surface (CFS)
Weight8.2-8.4 oz
Length16.5 in
Width7.5 in
Grip typeRidge
Grip length5.5 in
Grip circumference4.25 in
Control rating93
Power rating94
Spin rating95
USAPA approvedYes
Ben Johns Hyperion Pro CFS Features

The Ben Johns Hyperion Pro CFS paddle is a high-performance paddle designed for intermediate players and advanced players alike. It features a 16mm core that provides a good balance of power and control. The CFS surface helps to generate spin, while the elongated handle provides a comfortable grip.

Pros:

  • Excellent blend of power and control
  • Large sweet spot
  • Comfortable to use
  • Durable construction
  • Unique Carbon Friction Surface (CFS) that provides a lot of spin

Cons:

  • Some players may find it too expensive
  • Some players may find the handle to be too thick

If you are an intermediate pickleball player looking for a high-performance paddle, the Ben Johns Hyperion Pro CFS is a great option.

Ben Johns Hyperion CFS Review


Paddletek Tempest Wave 2

Paddletek Tempest Wave 2

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Paddletek Tempest Wave 3 – Designed for intermediate players to advanced players with a large sweet spot for accuracy, also approved for official tournaments.

FeatureSpec
CoreTempest PolyCore
Core thickness11/16″
SurfaceTextured Graphite
Weight7.4–7.8 oz
Length15 ⅞”
Width8″
Grip typePerformance
Grip length5 ¼”
Grip circumference4 ¼”
Control rating85
Power rating70
Forgiveness rating85
USAPA approvedYes
Paddletek Tempest Wave 2 Features

The Paddletek Tempest Wave 2 is a versatile paddle designed for intermediate players to advanced players. It features a lightweight core that provides good control and feel, while the textured graphite surface helps to generate spin. The elongated handle provides a comfortable grip for both forehand and backhand shots.

Pros:

  • Excellent control
  • Large sweet spot
  • Comfortable to use
  • Durable construction
  • Affordable price
  • The carbon fiber face provides a good feel and allows for precise shots.
  • Smart Response Technology enhances the feel and sensitivity of the paddle.

Cons:

  • Not as powerful as some other paddles
  • Not as maneuverable as some other paddles

If you are an intermediate to advanced pickleball player looking for a versatile paddle, the Paddletek Tempest Wave 2 is a great option.


Selkirk Amped Epic

selkirk amped

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Selkirk Amped Epic – An excellent choice for intermediate players seeking a balance of power and control, also approved for official tournaments.

FeatureSpec
CoreX5 Polymer honeycomb
Core thickness9/16″
SurfaceFiberFlex
Weight7.6-7.9oz
Length16″
Width7.5″
Grip typePerformance
Grip length5 ¼”
Grip circumference4 ¼”
Control rating80
Power rating80
Forgiveness rating80
USAPA approvedYes
Selkirk Amped Epic Features

The Selkirk AMPED Epic is a performance paddle designed for intermediate players to advanced players. It features a lightweight core that provides good control and feel, while the FiberFlex surface helps to generate power. The elongated handle provides a comfortable grip for both forehand and backhand shots.

Pros:

  • Great balance of power and control
  • Large sweet spot
  • Comfortable to use
  • Durable construction
  • Affordable price
  • Unique face material that provides a lot of spin

Cons:

  • Not as maneuverable as some other paddles
  • Some players may find the thick core to be too much

Overall, the Selkirk Amped Epic is a good all-around paddle that is suitable for players of all levels. It is a good choice for intermediate players who are looking for a paddle that has a good balance of power and control and is comfortable to use.

Selkirk Amped Epic Review


Engage Encore MX 6.0

engage encore mx 6 pickleball paddle

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Engage Encore MX 6.0 – Designed for intermediate to advanced players, with a soft feel for improved touch and control, and approved for official tournaments.

Sure, I can add the power, control, and touch specs to the table. Here is the updated table:

FeatureSpec
CoreControlPro Polymer (with Vibration Control Technology)
Face MaterialFiberTEK (for maximum forgiveness and spin)
WeightLITE: 7.5 – 7.8 oz. Standard: 7.9 – 8.3 oz.
Paddle ShapeStandard
Paddle Length16.5″
Paddle Width7.5″
Grip SizeStandard (4 3/8″)
ColorBlue, Purple
USAPA ApprovedYes
PowerMedium
ControlHigh
TouchGood
Engage Encore MX-6 Features

The Engage Encore MX-6 paddle is designed to be a control-oriented paddle with a good touch. It is not the most powerful paddle on the market, but it provides a good balance of power and control. The FiberTEK face material helps to create spin, and the ControlPro Polymer core helps to dampen vibrations for a comfortable feel.

Pros:

  • Good control and touch
  • Creates spin
  • Dampens vibrations
  • Lightweight (LITE version)
  • USAPA approved
  • Designed to reduce noise

Cons:

  • Not the most powerful paddle
  • Some players may find it too control-oriented
  • The LITE version may not be durable enough for some players

The Engage Encore MX-6 paddle is a good choice for intermediate players who are looking for a control-oriented paddle with good touch. It is not the most powerful paddle on the market, but it provides a good balance of power and control.


Onix Z5

onix z5

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Onix Z5 – Popular choice for intermediate players, offering a balance of power and control, and approved for official tournaments.

FeatureSpec
Paddle typeWidebody
Weight7.5-8.2 ounces
Face materialFiberglass
Core materialNomex paper honeycomb
Grip size4-1/4 inches
Length15.5 inches
Width8.3 inches
Height1.5 inches
BalanceMidweight
Power Rating90
Control Rating80
Forgiveness Rating80
DurabilityGood
Onix Z5 Features

The Onix Z5 is a good all-around paddle that is suitable for players of all levels. It is a great, affordable paddle for intermediate players. It has a wide body shape that provides a large sweet spot and good power, while the fiberglass face and Nomex honeycomb core offer good control and touch. The paddle is also lightweight and comfortable to use.

Pros:

  • Large sweet spot for power and forgiveness
  • Good control and touch
  • Lightweight and comfortable to use
  • Durable construction

Cons:

  • Some players may find it too powerful
  • Not as maneuverable as some other paddles

Onix Z5 Review


Head Extreme Tour Lite

head extreme tour lite

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Head Extreme Tour Lite – Designed for intermediate players, featuring a lightweight design for better maneuverability, and approved for official tournaments.

FeatureSpec
Paddle typeDiamond
Weight7.6-8.1 ounces
Face materialCarbon graphite
Core materialFoamed core
Grip size4-3/4 inches
Length16 inches
Width7 7/8 inches
Height1.5 inches
BalanceLighter Head
Power70
Control90
Touch80
DurabilityGood
Head Extreme Tour Lite

The Head Extreme Tour Lite is a paddle designed for intermediate players who are looking for maximum control. It has a diamond shape that provides a smaller sweet spot but also more control over shots. The lightweight foamed core also helps to improve control and feel. The carbon graphite face provides good power and durability.

Pros:

  • Excellent control
  • Good touch
  • Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Durable construction

Cons:

  • Smaller sweet spot
  • Not as powerful as some other paddles

Overall, the Head Extreme Tour Lite is a great choice for intermediate players who are looking for a paddle with excellent control.


Head Radical Elite

head radical elite

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Head Radical Elite – Designed for intermediate players, with a unique diamond shape for improved power and control, and approved for official tournaments.

FeatureSpec
Paddle typeMidplus
Weight7.8-8.1 ounces
Face materialFiberglass
Core materialPolypropylene honeycomb
Grip size4 1/4 inches
Length16 inches
Width7.85 inches
Height1.5 inches
BalanceMidweight
Power60
Control70
Touch80
DurabilityGood
Head Radical Elite
  • Dynamic Power Shape: This head shape provides a larger sweet spot and more power.
  • Extended PowerCore: This core material provides additional thickness for more power and forgiveness.
  • Composite Hitting Surface: This surface technology provides a softer feel and more power.
  • Ergo Grip: This handle provides added comfort and enhanced feel.

The Head Radical Elite is a good all-around paddle that is suitable for players of all levels. It is a good choice for intermediate players who are looking for a paddle with a good balance of power and control.


Emerging Paddles Worth Nothing for Intermediate Players

Vatic Flash Carbon

vatic flash carbon

Vatic Flash Carbon Fiber

These unibody paddles are gaining a lot of attention for their quality and performance. The V7 Pro and the Flash Carbon are two of their signature paddles.


Crbn 1x

Crbn 1x
Crbn 1x

Crbn 1x

Versatile intermediate control paddle with great response.


Summary of Paddle Specs

Paddle ModelWeight (oz)Length (in)Width (in)Core MaterialFace Material
Ben Johns Hyperion Pro8.2 – 8.416.57.75Polymer CompositeFiberFlex Face
Paddletek Tempest Wave 27.4 – 7.816.57.875Polymer CompositeFiberglass Face
Selkirk Amped Epic7.6 – 7.915.758.0Polymer PowerCoreFiberFlex Face
Engage Encore MX 6.07.9- 8.316.08.0Polymer CompositeFiberTEK Face
Onix Z57.5 – 8.215.758.0Nomex HoneycombGraphite Face
Head Extreme Tour Lite7.6 – 8.116.07.875Polypropylene CoreComposite Face
Head Radical Elite7.8 – 8.116.07.875Polypropylene CoreComposite Face
Paddle Comparion

Please note that pickleball paddles can come in various weight ranges, so the weights listed here are approximate and may vary slightly between individual paddles.

Additionally, these specs are based on information available up to September 2021, so there might have been updates or new versions released after that date. It’s always a good idea to check with the manufacturer or a reliable retailer for the latest information on the paddles.


Pros and Cons

When choosing a pickleball paddle, consider these pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Weight: Lighter paddles are easy to maneuver, while heavier ones provide more power and stability.
  • Material: Paddles made from graphite, composite, or wood have unique benefits.
  • Grip: A comfortable grip is essential for control and performance.

Cons:

  • Cost: Expensive paddles may offer better performance but might not be necessary for intermediate players.
  • Durability: Some materials may wear down faster than others.
  • Personal Preference: The best paddle for you depends on your preferences and playing style.

Considering Your Playing Style and Experience

As an intermediate player, consider your playing style and experience level when choosing a paddle. Some players prefer more power, while others prioritize control and finesse.

Find a paddle that aligns with your goals. If you experience fatigue during long matches, opt for a lighter paddle to reduce fatigue and maintain peak performance.

Remember that an expensive paddle only sometimes guarantees better performance. There are affordable paddles with excellent quality. Choose a sturdy, well-made paddle that suits your needs.


Investing in a Quality Paddle

Investing in a quality paddle is essential for improving your game as an intermediate player. Quality paddles are made with durable materials like graphite or carbon fiber, providing better performance and longevity. Consider the weight and handle shape that suits you best.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top-rated pickleball paddles for intermediate players?

Some top-rated paddles for intermediate players are Joola Ben Johns Hyperion Pro, Selkirk Amped, and ONIX Graphite Z5.

The Joola Essentials paddle is a popular choice for intermediate players on a budget.

Are there any pickleball paddles specifically designed for women?

While not specifically designed for women, lighter-weight paddles and those with smaller grips might be more comfortable for women players. There are several great paddles for women.

6 Best Pickleball Paddles For Women

What should I consider when choosing a pickleball paddle?

Consider weight, grip diameter, handle length, and your experience level when choosing a paddle.

Is there a significant difference between beginner and intermediate-level pickleball paddles?

Yes, intermediate-level paddles are designed with better materials and construction, offering improved performance and durability.

How do I determine the appropriate size pickleball paddle for me?

Choose a grip diameter that matches your hand size, and consider the weight and length of the paddle that suits your playing style.

How do you know what level of pickleball player you are?

There is a guide published by the USAPA, the body that establishes the official rules for pickleball that you should use to gauge your level. There is also an app called DUPR that will give you a rating (Pros use it), and you are officially ranked in your first tournament.

What pickleball paddle does Anna Leigh Waters use?

Anna Leigh Water uses a signature Paddletek Bantam TS-5 pickleball paddle.

What pickleball paddle does Tyson McGuffin use?

Tyson McGuffin uses a signature Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta pickleball paddle.

Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta Review

What pickleball paddles does Jennifer Dawson use?

Jennifer Dawson uses the Prokennex Pro Kennex Pro Flight pickleball paddle. This is the lightest pickleball paddle on the market. Great power and fast hands.

Choosing the right pickleball paddle for your skill level and preferences will help you enjoy the game and improve your performance on the court.

Feature Image: US Sports Camps

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