Best Intermediate Pickleball Paddle – What You Need to Know

Ready to graduate from a flimsy dollar store paddle to a paddle that elevates your game? Leveling up to intermediate pickleball is exciting, but choosing the right paddle can feel overwhelming. Fear not, fellow pickleball enthusiasts! We’ve reviewed them all and will now share the best intermediate pickleball paddles for control, power, and pure pickleball bliss.

Whether you’re a finesse fanatic or a power play champion, we have the perfect match to help you dominate the court. So, grab your eye on the prize (and by that, we mean the winning point!) because it’s time to unleash your inner pickleball champion!

Quick Picks

Gearbox CX14E
best intermediate pickleball paddle

This pickleball paddle is a favorite among intermediate players for a reason. The Gearbox CX14E offers a great balance of power and control thanks to its solid carbon fiber face and a thick 14mm core.

The paddle also features Gearbox’s SST core technology, designed to absorb impact vibrations and provide a comfortable feel. Users love its excellent feel, easy maneuverability, and lightweight construction.

Onix Evoke Premier
best lightweight pickleball paddle

The Onix Evoke Premier Pickleball Paddle is another great option for intermediate players. It’s known for its large sweet spot, which means you’ll have more forgiveness on off-center hits.

The paddle also has a soft feel, which makes it comfortable to play with for long periods of time. Users especially praise its great power and maneuverability, with a good feel for control.

JOOLA Ben Johns
best intermediate pickleball paddle

The JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 13.5mm Pickleball Paddle is a great choice for intermediate players looking for a paddle with a bit more control.

The paddle has a smaller sweet spot than some of the other paddles on this list, but it makes up for it in precision. The paddle also has a comfortable grip and a lightweight design. Users appreciate its control and feel.

Why Choosing the Right Paddle Matters: From Dinking to Dominating

Congratulations on graduating from pickleball newbie to intermediate player! You’ve mastered the basic strokes and are ready to refine your game. But here’s the thing: your old rental paddle won’t cut it anymore.

The right pickleball paddle becomes your secret weapon. It’s an extension of your hand, directly impacting your performance on the court. We’re talking about:

  • Shot Accuracy: A good paddle translates your intention into precise dinks, powerful drives, and strategically placed volleys.
  • Power and Control: Imagine hitting winners consistently without feeling overswinging or sacrificing finesse. The right paddle strikes the perfect balance.
  • Spin Potential: Mastering spin adds a whole new dimension to your game. The right paddle lets you unleash tricky topspin serves and deceptive backspin lobs.
  • Maneuverability: React quickly, chase down drop shots, and dominate the net with a lightweight paddle that feels like an extension of your arm.

The wrong paddle can hold you back. Think of it like trying to paint a masterpiece with a dull crayon. An ill-fitting paddle can limit your power, hinder your control, and frustrate you on the court.

That’s why intermediate players need a Goldilocks paddle – not too powerful or weak, but just the right balance. This sweet spot allows you to hit winners while maintaining the control needed for strategic finesse.

But the magic doesn’t stop there. Weight distribution, grip size, core material, and overall design affect how paddles feel and perform. Finding the right combination for your playing style is key to unlocking your full potential.

Investing in the perfect intermediate paddle isn’t just about a piece of equipment – it’s about investing in your game. The right paddle can help you dominate the court, elevate your skills, and take your pickleball experience to the next level. So, let’s dive deeper and explore the key features to consider when choosing your ideal intermediate pickleball paddle.

Top 3 Intermediate Pickleball Paddles

Gearbox CX14E Ultimate Paddle: Power Meets Control

The Gearbox CX14E Ultimate Pickleball Paddle is popular for intermediate players seeking a well-rounded paddle with power and control. Let’s break down its key features:

  • Solid Carbon Fiber Face: Delivers powerful shots with a crisp feel for precise ball control.
  • Thick 14mm SST Core (Solid Span Technology): Absorbs impact vibrations for a comfortable playing experience, offers a larger sweet spot, and provides a nice balance between power and control with its 14mm thickness.
  • Gearbox Power Band Technology: Aims to increase power by suspending the core within the paddle, creating a trampoline effect for boosted ball acceleration. (User reviews on the effectiveness of this technology are mixed).
  • Lightweight Construction (around 8.0 ounces): Easy to maneuver for quick reflexes and effortless swings.
  • Large Sweet Spot: Minimizes mishits and helps you maintain control of your shots, even on off-center hits.
  • Comfortable Grip: Gearbox Smooth Wrap Grip provides a secure and comfortable hold, reducing hand fatigue during extended gameplay.
  • Grip Size Options (3 5/8″ and 3 15/16″): Accommodate different hand sizes and preferences for optimal control.

Reviews on the Gearbox CX14E consistently praise its:

  • Excellent Feel and Playability: Users appreciate the comfortable feel and overall ease of playing with the CX14E, fostering a sense of control and confidence on the court.
  • Solid Construction and Durability: High-quality materials ensure a well-made paddle built to last and withstand regular play without sacrificing performance.
  • Balanced Power and Control: The sweet spot is a crowd-pleaser, allowing players to generate power for winning shots while maintaining control for strategic finesse.
  • Lightweight Maneuverability: The paddle’s weight is a major selling point. Players consistently mention its lightweight construction, allowing for quick reflexes, effortless swings, and improved overall agility on the court.

Our Conclusion

Some users find the CX14E pricier than other paddles, but the quality justifies the investment. Ultimately, reading various reviews and considering your playing style will help you determine if the Gearbox CX14E is the right intermediate pickleball paddle for you.

Onix Evoke Premier: Forgiveness and Maneuverability

Conquering those pesky dinks and driving winners down the court with confidence – that’s the sweet spot every intermediate pickleball player strives for. This might be your golden ticket. Here’s why this paddle is a top contender for those who value forgiveness and maneuverability:

  • Large Sweet Spot: Even if you don’t connect perfectly with the center of the paddle, the Evoke Premier’s generous sweet spot minimizes mishits and helps you maintain control. This lets you focus on strategy and power rather than dwell on off-center hits.

  • Lightweight Construction (7.8-8.2 oz): Shave weight off your game! The Evoke Premier’s lightweight design translates to effortless swings, quicker reflexes at the net, and less fatigue during extended matches.
  • Precise Cut Polypropylene Core: This core strikes a beautiful balance. It delivers a crisp feel for confident shot placement while offering a comfortable feel that reduces arm strain during long rallies.
  • DF Composite Face with Minimal Coating: Imagine powerful shots without sacrificing touch. The Evoke Premier’s unique coating softens the ball upon impact, allowing for better control without compromising responsiveness or power.

  • Comfortable, Non-Slip Grip: Maintain a secure hold throughout the game with the Evoke Premier’s ergonomic grip. This reduces hand fatigue and allows you to focus on executing precise volleys and strategic drop shots.

User Reviews: A Celebration of Forgiveness and Maneuverability

Players who’ve tested the Onix Evoke Premier rave about its:

  • Excellent Maneuverability: The lightweight design and comfortable grip consistently win user reviews. Players appreciate the paddle’s effortless control, allowing them to react quickly and dominate the net.

  • Great Feel and Forgiveness: The large sweet spot and comfortable core are user favorites. Players enjoy the confidence the paddle inspires, knowing that even off-center hits land close to the target zone.

  • Solid Power with Good Control: The Evoke Premier strikes a chord with players who appreciate a balance between power and control. While not the strongest paddle on the market, it allows for powerful hits without sacrificing precise shot placement.

  • A Great Value: The Onix Evoke Premier is more affordable than high-end paddles. Users appreciate the quality and performance they receive for the price point.

Our Conclusion

The Onix Evoke Premier might be your ideal intermediate paddle if you prioritize forgiveness, maneuverability, and a comfortable feel. However, remember that individual preferences can vary. If you crave maximum power for aggressive play, you might want to explore paddles with a larger core or a different face material.

JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 13.5mm: Control w/ Punch

Intermediate players crave a paddle that’s more than just a beginner’s friend. They need a paddle that delivers precision control for strategic finesse and packs a punch for powerful smashes. 

The JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CAS 13.5mm Pickleball Paddle might be the answer you’ve been looking for. Here’s why:

  • Carbon Abrasion Surface (CAS): This innovative technology utilizes a sandblasted texture to enhance grip on the ball. The result? Increased spin for tricky serve and deceptive lobs that leave your opponents scrambling.

  • 13.5mm Response Honeycomb Polymer Core: This unique core offers the best of both worlds. It’s thin enough for outstanding maneuverability, allowing quick reflexes and lightning-fast volleys at the net. 

  • Elongated Paddle Shape: Reach is key in pickleball. The Hyperion’s extended design increases your reach and improves your follow-through for powerful strokes from baseline and net.

  • Sure-Grip Elongated Handle: Pickleball is a fast-paced game, and a secure grip is essential. The Hyperion’s perforated, anti-slip grip absorbs moisture and reduces hand fatigue, allowing you to maintain a confident hold throughout the match.

  • USAPA Approved: No worries about tournament play! The Hyperion is USAPA-approved, ensuring it adheres to official pickleball regulations.

Unpacking User Reviews of the JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CAS

Players who’ve tested the JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CAS highlight its:

  • Superb Control: Combining the CAS surface and the core thickness creates a sweet spot that prioritizes control. Players enjoy the accuracy they achieve with their shots, allowing them to place the ball strategically.

  • Maneuverability with a Punch: The lightweight design and thin core are praised for their speed and agility. However, users are also impressed with the paddle’s ability to generate power when needed for winning smashes.

  • Excellent Grip: The elongated handle and textured grip are consistent user favorites. Players appreciate the secure and comfortable hold, reducing hand fatigue during extended gameplay.

  • A Step Up for Control-Oriented Players: The Hyperion could be a perfect fit for intermediate players transitioning from a more forgiving paddle and prioritizing precise shot placement.

Finding Your Pickleball Perfect Match

The JOOLA Ben Johns Hyperion CAS might be your ideal intermediate paddle if you crave superior control and maneuverability without sacrificing power completely. However, if you prioritize maximum forgiveness on off-center hits, a thicker core paddle might be a better option.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Your Paddle

Finding the ideal intermediate paddle is like finding your pickleball soulmate – it’s all about compatibility! Here are some key factors to weigh in on:

Playing Style and Preferences (Power Player vs. Control-Oriented)

Are you an aggressive baseline player who craves booming smashes, or a finesse maestro at the net who lives for perfectly placed drop shots? Understanding your playing style will guide you towards paddles that complement your strengths.

Grip Size and Comfort

A secure and comfortable grip is essential for optimal control and preventing fatigue. Try out paddles with different grip sizes (typically 4″ to 4 ¾ “) and choose the one that feels natural and comfortable.

Paddle Weight and Maneuverability

A lighter paddle (around 7.5 to 8.5 oz) offers faster swings and superior maneuverability, perfect for quick reflexes at the net. However, heavier paddles (around 8.5 to 10 oz) can pack a bigger punch for powerful groundstrokes.

Core Thickness and Material

The core thickness significantly impacts a paddle’s performance. Thicker cores (14-16mm) offer more power and a larger sweet spot, while thinner cores (10-13mm) prioritize control and maneuverability. Core materials like polypropylene tend to be softer for comfort and feel, while carbon fiber offers a stiffer feel with more power potential.

Sweet Spot Size and Forgiveness

The sweet spot is the area on the paddle face that delivers optimal power and control. A larger sweet spot forgives off-center hits, while a smaller sweet spot rewards precise ball connection with exceptional control.

Trying Before You Buy: Demoing Paddles

With so many factors at play, how do you know which paddle is the one? Here’s a golden tip: try before you buy! Many pickleball shops and clubs offer demo programs allowing you to test different paddles. 

This is your chance to see how different paddles feel in your hand, how they respond to your swing style, and, ultimately, which one sparks your inner pickleball champion.

pickleball balls

Serve Up Success with the Perfect Paddle

Congratulations! You’ve taken a giant leap towards pickleball mastery by delving into the world of intermediate paddles. Remember, the perfect paddle isn’t a magic wand, but it can be a powerful tool to elevate your game.

Recap: Key Takeaways

As you embark on your paddle selection journey, keep these key takeaways in mind:

The Right Paddle Matters

An intermediate paddle complements your playing style, offering a balance of power and control to help you dominate the court.

Beyond the Top 3

There’s a whole world of paddles! Consider your playing style, preferences, and physical attributes to find your ideal match.

Factors to Consider

Grip size, weight, core thickness, and sweet spot size affect a paddle’s performance.

Demoing is Key

Don’t settle for guesswork! Try out different paddles before making your final decision.

Pickleball Resources and Next Steps

Now that you’re knowledgeable, it’s time to take action! Here are some resources to help you on your pickleball journey:

USAPA Pickleball

The official website of the USA Pickleball Association is a treasure trove of information, including paddle reviews, tournament listings, and official playing rules.

Online Pickleball Communities

Connect with other passionate players online through forums and social media groups. You can exchange tips, ask questions, and get recommendations on paddles and playing techniques.

Local Pickleball Shops and Clubs

Many shops and clubs offer demo programs and expert advice to help you choose the right paddle. They might also host clinics and lessons to refine your skills further.

Remember, pickleball is a journey of continuous learning and improvement. With the right paddle and a dedication to practice, you’ll be serving up aces and dominating the court in no time. So, grab your paddle, find your pickleball spirit, and get ready to have some fun!

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