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Best Pickleball Paddles for Intermediate Players

Best Pickleball Paddles for Intermediates

Best Pickleball Paddles for Intermediates

Looks like you’re ready to take your pickleball skills to the next level, good work! This step up means it may be time for a new paddle designed for intermediates. But how do you know whether or not you’ve officially reached that “intermediate” level? 

Pickleball players can find their skill level rating based on this scale below. These ratings are done on a scale of 1 – 5.5+, made based on mastery of control, consistency, and flexibility, with many other details falling into each of those sections. Intermediates in pickleball fall into the range of 3.0 – 4.0. Take a peek to see where you may fall in this range.


Pickleball Rating System


A rating of 1.0 - 2.0 is given if you are just starting to play pickleball & just starting to understand the
rules of the sport. A 1.0 is given to someone with no other sports background when joining pickleball.


A rating of 2.5 is given if you have limited experience playing pickleball. You can keep a short rally on
the pickleball court and you have a basic understanding of the rules (in particular, if you can keep the
score properly).


A rating of 3.0 is given if you (A) can generally hit forehands, volleys, serves and returns with medium pace,
with minimal ability to sustain a dink rally. Generally you lack consistency and control; and (B) you
understand the basic strategy and rules of pickleball, including that you can keep the score properly.


A rating of 3.5 is given if (A) you can hit forehands, volleys, serves and returns with pace and moderate
control. Your dinks and drop shots have limited control, and you're developing backhand shots but avoiding
if possible. You have moderate consistency and control, and have started varying your shots between the
hard and soft game. (B) You understand the overall strategy and rules of pickleball, including stacking, to
sustain rallies. You have begun entering pickleball tournaments.


A rating of 4.0 is given if (A) you generally hit forehands and serves consistently with depth and control. You
hit backhand shots with moderate success. Your dinks and drop shots have more consistency with depth
and height. Overall, you have consistency and control in your shots. (B) You firmly understand the strategy
and rules of pickleball. You have a broad knowledge of rules, have become aware of your partner's
positioning, have a moderate number of unforced errors and you understand how to attack your opponents"
weaknesses on the court.


A rating of 4.5 is given if (A) you generally hit both forehand and backhand drives, serves, returns, dinks, drop shots,
and block volleys with pace, spin, depth, direction, consistency and control. You are able to vary your shot
selections with controlled offensive intent. (B) You firmly understand the strategy and rules of pickleball (including
stacking). You have a limited number of unforced errors and you change your game play to attack your opponents'
weaknesses on the pickleball court - including controlled footwork to quickly change directions and shot types. Your
communication with your parter is strong and you aren't afraid to play at the non-volley zone.


A rating of 5.0 is given if (A) you have mastered both forehand and backhand drives, serves, and returns with pace,
touch and spin. Plus you mastered dinks and drop shots to move opponents. You can control and block volleys of
different speeds, all with consistency to take advantage of the non-volley zone. (B) You have mastered the strategy
and rules of pickleball (including stacking) in tournament style play. Your footwork is highly effective, helping you
turn defensive shots into offensive shots. You rarely make unforced errors and you constantly attack your
opponents' weaknesses on the pickleball court by adjusting your own style and game plan mid-game.


A rating of 5.5+ is given if (A) you have mastered all shots and strategy on the court in
tournament style play. (B) You are consistently winning at the highest level, meaning that
you are winning against the best professional pickleball players at the tournament level.
Your skills and abilities speak for themselves.

Where Do I Start?

The size, shape, weight and material of a paddle all have an impact on the way you can play the game. It’s important to keep these aspects in line with where your growth is at. These differences can change the force behind your shots, the spin of the ball, and the control you have with each shot. Finding the right paddle for your skillset can be all it takes to make you a true force to be reckoned with on the courts.

 We’re making it easy; take a look at the aspects you should look for in a paddle as an intermediate pickleball player.

Pickleball Paddles For Intermediate Players

What Aspects Should I Look for in an Intermediate Paddle?


Intermediate players can move onto standard or elongated sized paddles. Standard can also be used by beginners, but is still a fitting choice at the intermediate level.

  • Standard Paddles
    • 15 ¾” long
    • 7 ½ –  8” wide
    • They provide good combination of control and power
    • They keep the paddle’s sweet spot on the larger size
  • Elongated Paddles
    • 16 ½” or longer (can be over 20” long)
    • Generally 6 – 7 ½” wide
    • Better for focusing on the power behind your shots
    • The sweet spot will be a bit smaller and higher up than on a standard or short paddle


  • Standard Paddles
    • While thicker paddles give better control and a more comfortable sweet spot, standard paddles help keep a balance between control and power
    • These paddles are around 14-15mm thick
    • Typically weigh in the upper 7 to low 8 oz. range
  • Thin Paddles
    • Being lighter, thin paddles allow for more force behind shots which increases overall power
    • One drawback is that shots hit outside of the sweet spot may not feel as comfortable
    • These paddles are 13mm thick or less
    • Typically weigh in the low to mid 7 oz. range


The top two best paddle shapes for those entering the intermediate level are blade paddles and teardrop paddles.

  • Blade Paddles
    • Long and thin
      • In essence these are elongated paddles, so about 16 ½” or longer
      • As discussed before, this shape will increase the power in your shots
    • They have a small but compact sweet spot
      • This shape will require more skill to succeed, but if you are ready to level up your game and add some power to your shots, this is for you
    • Teardrop Paddles
      • Rounder shape
        • Not as dramatic as a true “teardrop” shape, but they are slightly wider towards the top and a bit narrower towards the handle
      • Their shape balances weight to extend the sweet spot further up top


  • Long Handle
    • Better for controlling shots but are harder to maneuver overall
    • If you want to start using two hands more in your shots for added power, a longer handle will benefit this play style
    • Long handles are about 5-5 ½”
  • Standard Handle
    • Better for adding power to your shots and is easier to manage or maneuver throughout a game
    • Standard handles are about 5” long
  • Grip Size
    • Grip size is measured as the circumference of the grip
    • Your choice here mostly comes down to hand size, not so much skill level
    • Smaller hands will benefit from smaller circumference grips. This saves you from burning energy in your hand or forearm while holding onto a larger grip.
    • Larger hands will benefit from larger circumference grips for the same reason.
      • The goal is to use whatever will permit the most comfort for your hand size – not too tight or too loose
      • Thin grip size is 4-4 1/8”, standard grip size is 4 ¼”, and thick size is 4 ½ - ¾” 


Since you’re entering the intermediate level of pickleball play, you can begin to do more with your shots. Different paddle materials will have an impact on what you’re able to do when hitting the ball. Some adding more spin while others help to increase power.

  • Want more power?
    • Use an Aluminum or Fiberglass paddle
  • Want more control or spin on the ball?
    • Use a Carbon Fiber or Graphite paddle
  • Want to maintain a bit of everything?
    • Hybrid paddles will provide a little bit of all shot effects
    • Hybrid paddles are most often constructed with a combination of carbon fiber, fiberglass and graphite.

Our Top Intermediate Paddles for You

Now that you understand what makes the perfect intermediate pickleball paddle, we know that you're ready to start shopping. Don't worry, here at Pickle Ballers Hub we have built out a selection of the best pickleball paddles for intermediate players, making your shopping experience as easy as can be. If you would like to shop all of our pickleball paddles for intermediate playersclick here!