Ah, pickleball. The sport that’s taken the world by storm! Said to be the fastest-growing sport in Canada and the United States, pickleball has grown rapidly in the past few years and continues to captivate new players of all ages. According to the Daily Mail, even professional athletes like Lebron James, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes are also picking up pickleball paddles and hitting the court.
I hear the topic of pickleball coming up more and more. The other day I overheard a son explain the game to his dad, describing it as “like tennis but with a ping pong paddle.” Though this isn’t the most accurate description, you can see how the comparison is made.
Pickleball is more like a tennis-badminton-ping pong combo with unique equipment and set of rules. Just one quick glance at a pickleball racket, and you’ll see – it’s no ping pong paddle!
Pickleball rackets, including the infamous elongated pickleball paddle, come in various shapes and sizes. They are also crafted using performance tech materials like frosted carbon fiber and polymer hexcore honeycomb.
If you are new to the game or have only played with a traditional paddle, you’re probably curious – what is an elongated paddle, how does it work, and most importantly, how will it make me a better player?
An elongated pickleball paddle will indeed affect your game, but to answer what it is, how it will affect you and why, we’ll need to dive into the science behind elongated pickleball paddles. But don’t worry, I’ll keep it light and fun – just like a game of pickleball.
Elongated Vs. Traditional Pickleball Paddle
So, what’s the difference between elongated vs. traditional pickleball paddles? The key differences are their shape and size. A traditional paddle has more of a circular shape with a shorter handle. In contrast, an elongated paddle is longer, narrower, and has a longer handle. If you’ve never seen a pickleball racket before, think of it as a frying pan vs. a pizza paddle (just smaller and much more advanced).
While a regular pickleball paddle is about 15 -16 inches long and 7-8 inches wide, an elongated paddle is over 16 inches long and 6 to 7 inches wide. Now, you might be thinking, "Great, but why would I want a longer and narrower paddle?" Well, that's where the science comes in.
The Science of Elongated Pickleball Paddles
The science behind an elongated pickleball paddle has to do with the physics of the game. A longer paddle provides a greater moment arm, which is the distance between the axis of rotation and the point where force is applied. This increased moment arm allows players to generate more torque and force when striking the ball, resulting in greater power and speed.
The elongated shape of the paddle also changes the distribution of weight and balance, which can affect the paddle's swing and overall feel. By shifting the weight towards the head of the paddle, an elongated paddle can provide a more top-heavy feel.
Additionally, the size of the sweet spot on an elongated pickleball paddle can vary depending on the specific design and construction. Because the elongated paddle has a longer shape, it can have a larger hitting surface, which means there is more area where the ball can make solid contact.
That being said the size and shape of the sweet spot on any paddle can be affected by a number of factors, including the material and construction of the paddle. For example, the P-One paddle has a more prominent sweet spot as the weaved carbon fibre surface is consistent from edge to edge.
Lastly, the science of aerodynamics also plays a role. Aerodynamics is the study of how air moves around objects. It plays an essential role in the game of pickleball because the paddle must move through the air to hit the ball. Elongated pickleball paddles have a different aerodynamic profile than traditional paddles, which affects the ball's speed, spin, and trajectory. Using the P-One paddle example, this elongated pickleball paddle has an aerodynamic curve which is a scientifically designed curvature that reduces drag and increases swing speed, giving the player greater control.
How will an elongated pickleball paddle affect my game?
I get it - the science is great, but you want to know how it will affect you and your game! An elongated pickleball paddle will affect your control, leverage, power, swing style, and reach. Here’s how:
The larger sweet spot on an elongated paddle allows for better control over the ball. This means you can hit the ball more accurately and precisely, resulting in better shots and more consistent gameplay.
Leverage refers to the ability of the paddle to generate power and speed with less effort from the player. Because the elongated paddle has a longer handle, it provides more leverage, allowing you to generate more power and speed. This can be especially beneficial if you have limited arm strength, are prone to fatigue or if you like to hit harder shots.
As mentioned, elongated paddles tend to have a different weight distribution. This impacts how the paddle feels in the player's hand and how the ball reacts to the paddle, which can provide more power to your swing.
Because elongated paddles have a different weight distribution and sweet spot, players
may need to adjust their swing style to get the most out of the paddle. For example, you may need to use a more sweeping motion when hitting the ball with an elongated paddle rather than a more compact motion used with traditional paddles.
With a longer handle, players have greater reach, allowing you to reach balls that are further away from your body. This can be particularly helpful if you who have difficulty getting to balls that are hit to your backhand side or want to add more variety to your shot selection.
To sum it up, with adjustments to control, leverage, power, swing style, and reach, your performance on the court will see some impressive improvements! But you will need to put the work in and can’t solely rely on your paddle.
If you are making the switch from traditional to elongated, it may initially feel like you need more maneuverability. The longer shape of an elongated paddle can make it feel less maneuverable, particularly for players who like to use a lot of wrist action or who prefer to play closer to the net. The added length can make it more difficult to make quick adjustments or to hit precise shots. Also, the paddle's elongated shape can change the paddle's balance and weight distribution, which can affect how it feels when you swing it. The good news is, this can be overcome with practice and minor adjustments to your technique so your game improves.
Putting the Science into Practice
So, how can you put the science of elongated pickleball paddles into practice? Well, for
starters, you'll need to get your hands on one of these bad boys. Check out our list of best elongated pickleball paddles, or try our P-One.
Once you've got your paddle, it's time to hit the court. Start by getting a feel for the longer handle and narrower face. Adjust your grip or swing to accommodate the different sizes and shapes of the paddle.
Next, focus on using the increased reach to your advantage. Try reaching for shots you
might not have been able to get with a traditional paddle. Experiment with hitting the ball with more power and see how it affects your game.
Finally, work on developing your control and accuracy. This might take some time and practice, but the payoff can be enormous regarding your overall performance on the court.
Are elongated pickleball paddles suitable for beginners?
Yes, but it also depends. Whether or not beginners should use an elongated pickleball paddle is a matter of personal preference and playing style. Some beginners may find that the added reach and power of an elongated paddle are helpful as they are learning the game and developing their skills, while others may find the longer shape more difficult to control and prefer a more traditional paddle.
It's worth noting that paddle shape is just one factor to consider when choosing a paddle. Other factors, such as weight, grip size, and material, can significantly impact a player's performance. Ultimately, the best pickleball paddle for a beginner is one that feels comfortable and allows them to play to the best of their abilities.
So, there you have it! The science behind elongated pickleball paddles is all about power, reach, and changing the balance of the universe... well, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.
Whether you're a seasoned pickleball pro or a beginner just starting out, an elongated paddle could be just the thing to take your game to the next level. In any case, have fun out there, and happy pickleballing!