Choosing a padel racket
I appreciate this might ruffle feathers of those padel racket producers, but expensive rackets can be a barrier of entry for those taking up the sport. Already in most countries the court rental is expensive, coaching is not cheap and so the idea of paying a lot for a padel racket can be daunting! It is also likely that you would be able to find a perfectly suitable racket at a lower price point!
High Level Padel Players
Before getting into the meat of this article, I do want to say that at the higher levels racket selection can be important and can enhance parts of your game. But even at that top level, where the players would notice minor differences between very similar models, they would be able to adapt very quickly. As long as the balance, hardness, weight etc are relatively close to their preference they would most likely be able to play at the same level.
But even at that level there is huge variety between the rackets players use. Take Bela and Tapia (who played together last year) – 2 of the best players in the world right now: Bela uses a very hard racket that weighs about 390-395g. Tapia uses a soft racket that weighs 355-360g. This is a huge difference!
When you are starting to play, it can be intimidating the number of padel rackets available. There are literally thousands of different models/brands, all of which are produced in less than 10 main factories (excluding a few handmade brands with their own production). The main brands are often coming out with 20+ padel racket models each year! So as a purchaser you are even given the option to buy previous seasons’ models. A sea of padel rackets!
So many players become wrapped up in searching for… “a 378g tear-drop shaped racket, with 46% graphite, with heady heavy balance and an oval sweetspot”…but in truth there are excellent padel rackets outside of what you are currently using or have probably even tried. And particularly if you are relatively new to padel you do not need to be so specific when looking for the model.
Experiment with different padel rackets
While the recommendations of other players can be useful, you need to gain your own experience to know what suits you physically and your game. We always recommend players new to the game starting with something quite light and quite soft, but that does not mean you shouldn’t try other padel rackets.
Each brand has a premium range of rackets (that usually contain the best materials), but they also have lower end rackets that are most of the time perfectly adequate for your needs. This article can help when it comes to trying to save some money choosing a racket.
Many of you will say you do not have access to a wide range of rackets and that is gradually changing across Europe and other padel playing countries. But if you do not have access to a shop, try asking other players to try their racket – be as impartial about the racket as you can when testing! Here is a suggestion with How to Test Rackets.
So I would say if you are in your first couple of years of playing padel, do not get too fixed on “the perfect racket for you”. Each time you need a new one, experiment with a few test rackets before making your choice. As your level improves you also might be looking for different qualities in the racket! And if you buy a new padel racket that felt great while you were testing it (as most new rackets do!), then do not get frustrated if you play badly with it to start with.
So many players buy a new racket, then play badly once or twice and think it is the racket’s fault and immediately start the hunt for a new racket. I have probably played with the new Metalbone racket about 15 times and am only starting to feel natural with it. Despite really liking the weight, balance and material, I just was not used to it.