This can be a difficult decision so early in your padel journey. You’ve either been renting a padel bat from the club or borrowing a friend’s each time you go to the courts or you’ve played once and decided padel is the sport for you! But either way you decide a padel racket is a good investment! And in most cases it is an investment indeed, because before you step into the shop (physically or online) you probably think this glorified beach bat cannot set you back too much. However, most of the top models from the mainstream brands cost 200-300 euros, so you want to make sure you choose wisely!
Here are a few characteristics to consider when choosing your padel racket:
The weight can vary in bats between 320-400g (especially if you add grips), 100g might not seem like much, but wait until you are swinging it constantly for a couple of hours. If you are new to padel or have any elbow/shoulder injury I always recommend aiming slightly lighter 340-370 would be the bracket I suggest.
This basically tells you if the racket is head heavy, evenly balanced or head light (the weight is more in the handle). You can actually test this yourself by taking a rule or edge and seeing where the even point is across the racket. A head heavy racket will feel heavier than a head light racket even if they are exactly the same! This again is a preference and further down your padel career you might opt to a head heavy racket, but to start I would suggest an even balance or head light (most brands will tell you how the balance of the racket is).
This affects the impact and responsiveness of the contact. Generally speaking a harder racket gives more power, less feeling and more vibrations up your arm. A softer racket gives more control/feeling and less vibrations. This can be very difficult to measure, the only real way is to test it by hitting or using the heel of your hand to feel how hard it is (you might need the help of a coach or more experienced player to tell you). Generally speaking the brands would tell you if this is a softer or harder racket. For a new player, power is unlikely to be a crucial part of your game, so I would always suggest a softer racket for those starting out.
There are 3 shapes of racket at the moment – Diamond, Tear Drop and Round. As a new player I would not get too caught up on “the right shape for you”, the shape might alter the balance (Diamond is most head heavy usually). But the materials that brands put in the rackets is a much bigger factor. So choose the shape you feel comfortable with.
So as a new player you know you need a relatively light, evenly balanced, softer padel racket…how do you find that??
In most cases the brands will have that information on each of their models online. But in the best case scenario you can test the rackets! This might be a system you can find at the local padel club or if padel is not quite setup like that near you yet, then ask to borrow rackets. Players at the club will have a wide variety of racket and most are willing to let you hit the ball for 5 minutes to see what their padel bat is like.
How to Save Money?
If you want to save some money on your first purchase, here are some sensible ways to do that.
Buy a previous year’s model
It might not have this season’s colours or the player using it before might’ve moved to a different brand, but most of the time the racket characteristics will be very similar (if not identical) to the latest model. Often these sell for less as brands are trying to get rid of them.
Wait for a deal
Almost all the brands will have a deal on the rackets later in the season. They realise they still have a huge stock left and try to shift it later in the season.
Try a less mainstream brand
Having made my own rackets I can tell you the quality of the smaller brands are similar (if not better in some cases) than their expensive counterparts. Nowadays there are plenty of cheaper options that will offer you, a relatively new player to padel, some very good rackets.
Only buy a second-hand racket if you know the person and know how long they’ve used it! I have seen so many times where people have bought second hand to save money, have then broken the racket within the first few times of playing (assuming they didn’t notice it was broken on the resell) and then have to buy a new racket almost straight away. I would also only recommend buying the racket if your friend has used it less than a handful of times.
Hope you are able to find your dream racket and this leads you into a happy start to your padel.