Best Pickleball Paddles For Control

Testing & Rating By Product Experts
Kris Maine
Written by

Kris Maine

   Pickleball paddles offer many features specific to the player’s play style. In this guide we will look at the best pickleball paddles for control. Control in pickleball refers to making precise precision shots controlling exactly where you want the ball to land.

   Control paddles are designed to absorb hits making it easier to execute softer shots. Attributes of a good control pickleball paddle includes feel, stability, weight, and forgiveness. Here are our top picks for control paddles:

Engage Encore Pro Pickleball Paddle

Price * Sold By
$109.99 Engage Shop
90 Overall Score
The 'Encore Pro' maintains the 'specialized skin' that maximizes the allowed limits of 'surface roughness'. The Encore line of paddles are about 'control' and 'ball placement’On the upper end of price for a beginners paddles.

Product Details


Weight : 7.5-7.8 oz (Lite) 7.9-8.3 (Standard) Length : 15.5”Width: 8.125"Thickness: 15.875 mmHandle Length: 5"Handle Shape: StandardGrip Size: 4.25"Face Material: 'Proprietary' fiberglassCore: Polyprophylene / Polymer honeycomb Grip: Perforated sweat absorbent Edge Guard: YesManufactured: USA


Sweet spotControl 7/10Power 7.5/10Optimized to Meet Stringent Noise Requirements-Green noise approvedHighly textured (USAPPA allowed)USAPA approvedVibration control


On the upper price point of a beginners paddle

Tangerine Pickleball Paddle

Price * Sold By
$85.00 Tangerine Shop
83 Overall Score
If your looking for a solid paddle for a good price Tangerine is the way to go. With over 15 different designs, Tangerine has the best selection for pickleball paddles. Their paddles are visually pleasing, have a nice sweat spot, and extremely comfy grip. Tangerine paddles are competitively priced for what you get with the added bonus of cool colors.

Product Details


Weight: 7.6 ozGrip Circumference: 4.25"Handle: 5"Thickness: 13mmSurface: FiberglassCore: Polypropylene honeycomb


LightweightUSAPA ApprovedGood power and accuracyOver 15 design options


Does not come with cover

Big Dill Original Carbon Fiber Pickleball Paddle

Price * Sold By
$89.99 Big Dill Shop
86 Overall Score
Tired of boring paddles? This company put the fun in functional, with awesome designs that bring a smile to your face with every game. But don't worry, the paddles are versatile, and balanced for many types of players and play.

Product Details


Weight: 7.8 ozLength: 15.6"Width: 7.8"Thickness: .5"Handle Length: 4.75"Grip Size: 4.5"Face Material: Carbon fiberCore: Polypropylene honeycombGrip: Padded, absorbentEdge Guard: Yes


Limited lifetime warrantyUSAPA approvedCover includedUSA based company


30 day return period if unusedFace is smooth (non textured)States the paddle is for all playing levels, but it is best for beginners to intermediate

Gearbox CX11Q Control Pickleball Paddle

Price * Sold By
$199.00 Gearbox Shop
90 Overall Score
The Gearbox CX11Q does not disappoint. Gearbox's patented solid span technology allows this paddle to be constructed in one solid piece. One downside to consider is the lack of edge guard. Where Gearbox makes up for this is in the core with an incredibly durable 3K woven carbon fiber on the face and perimeter of the paddle. The ribbed core also allows for extreme spin.

Product Details


Grip Size (circumference): 3 5/8"Material: 3K Woven Carbon FiberDimensions: 15.8"x8"Thickness: 11MMHandle Length: 4-3/4"


Large Sweet SpotUSAPA Approved



SLK Latitude Pickleball Paddle

Price * Sold By
$59.99 Selkirk Shop
83 Overall Score
The Selkirk Latitude Pickleball Paddle is a premium-grade paddle offered at an entry-level price. Selkirk is simply known for making great paddles and this is no exception. Its balance between power and control makes it an excellent choice for a wide range of players. The overall feel is very lightweight yet sturdy. Overall a great budget friendly paddle.

Product Details


Weight: 8ozGrip: CushionedFace material: GraphiteEdge Guard: YesDimensions: 17.36 x 12.52 x 1.73"


USAPA ApprovedGreat for powerLightweightVery affordable


More for beginners

Selkirk Halo Control XL

Price * Sold By
$140.00 Selkirk Shop
91 Overall Score
The Selkirk Halo line offer three paddles (power, control and signature) in 2 shapes (Max, XL (elongated)). For the price point it is a decent paddle. The handle is well constructed with covered polymer. You will find the spin to be adequate, around 1425-1450 Rpms. While not stellar, it is decent for comparable paddles within the same price point. Control felt natural and performed well while playing a soft game. This paddle will not provide the power you may desire in a battle round. Adding lead tape will increase the sweet spot, if hitting off center. This is a decent paddle for a beginner-intermediate player who enjoys playing a controlled game and for those who prefer a more modest price point.

Product Details


Face Material: T700 Raw carbon fiberCore: Rev-core control polymer Grip: SLK faux leather Handle Length: 4.85”/XL 5.75””Weight: 7.6-8.2 oz


USAPA approvedGreat Spin and Control1 year warrantyGood for double backhand shots (XL)Plush feel



Play Nettie Pro Control/Power Pickleball Paddle

Price * Sold By
$79.99 Nettie Shop
84 Overall Score
After using the Play Nettie Pro paddle extensively, I can confidently say that this paddle is a game-changer in the world of pickleball. The pro power uses 18k twilled raw carbon fiber, while the pro control uses 3k twilled. This is the leading technology in surface materials for pickleball paddles. The high-end carbon fiber surface is the most durable around. My personal favorite is their pro power paddle which is slightly less thick but allows for greater power and pop. Overall, the design is very clean, the handle feels smooth, and the performance is equivalent to a paddle in its price range.

Product Details


Weight: 7.9-8.1 ozLength: 15.75”Width: 7.75”Thickness: 13 mmFace Material: 18K Twilled Carbon FiberCore: Polymer HoneycombGrip: Vegan leather, Perforated Sweat Proof , CushionedColors: 4


USAPA ApprovedOption to purchase as a set of 2 (paddles, balls and headbands)Gift box for the set make a wonderful gift presentationComfortable grip




Pickleball paddles offer a wide variety of features for players with a range of different play styles, from the aggressive “power players” to the more careful and precise “control players.” 

In this guide, we highlight the best pickleball paddles on the market for the latter group—those seeking to maximize their control over the ball during gameplay.

Control paddles absorb hits, making it easier for pickleball players to execute softer and more precise shots. A control pickleball paddle will be light or midweight, and will have a thick and soft core, a high-grit face material, and a short handle, among other attributes.

What Does “Control” Mean in the Context of Pickleball?

Control-oriented pickleball players tend to make more calculated shots like dinks and drops to outmaneuver their opponents. Maintaining a high degree of control during gameplay enables you to keep rally’s going, exploit your opponent’s weaknesses, and even dictate the flow of games with finesse and accuracy. 

Power vs. Control in Pickleball

In general, as you search for the ideal pickleball paddle, you’ll see manufacturers and sellers talking about two main features:


  • Power: Players who prioritize power are looking to hit the ball hard and fast.
  • Control: Players who value control are more focused on being able to send the ball exactly where they want it to go. 


In other words, it’s a matter of strength vs. precision, and of finding a pickleball paddle that strikes a power/control balance that suits your particular play style.

If you’re not sure whether control, power, or a mixture of the two is a priority for you, start by reflecting on your own gameplay and what it tends to look like. Here’s an overview of each of these categories to help you assess your play style:

Power Player

If you’re the kind of player that’s always hitting strong, aggressive shots that are too fast for your opponent to consistently return, you’re more of a power player. This is sometimes also described as being a “banger”—a player who hits the ball hard and fast to try and get their opponent to miss the ball. 

If this describes you, the recommendations on this list probably won’t be an ideal fit. Instead, we’d suggest that you check out our list of the best pickleball paddles for power to find your perfect paddle.

Control Player

On the other hand, if your strategy is to hit softer, more precise shots that go exactly where you want them to go (ideally, out of reach of your opponent), then you’re more of a control player. Some people also refer to this more careful play style as being a “dinker.” If this describes you, you should seek out a control pickleball paddle like one of the products we’re recommending on the list below.

Mix of Power and Control

Maybe you’re somewhere in the middle, strategically switching between softer and harder shots depending on what the situation calls for. In that case, you’ll want to seek out a pickleball paddle that strikes a good balance between power and control.

Who Should Use a Control Pickleball Paddle?

Still not sure whether a control pickleball paddle is the right choice for you? Here are some additional factors to consider when deciding whether to use a control paddle:

  • Arm strength: If you don’t have very strong arms, you may not be able to execute power shots consistently, but a control paddle can help you compensate for this weakness by allowing you to focus on ball placement and accuracy. (If this is the case, we’re happy to report that as you play more pickleball, your physical fitness is likely to improve!)
  • Defensive or offensive play style: If you tend to focus on defensive strategies, like blocking and countering your opponents’ shots, a control paddle will help you do so more effectively.
  • Preference for longer rallies: Do you prefer the excitement of longer rallies over ending points early? A control paddle will help you keep the ball in play for longer periods.
  • Skill level: Control paddles aren’t just for one level of skill—they offer advantages for players at all skill levels. For instance, as the name suggests, beginners might find it easier to control their shots with a control paddle, while more advanced players can use control paddles to finesse their game and adapt to different opponents.

What To Look For in a Control Pickleball Paddle

The right pickleball paddle can be a significant factor in your performance on the court. In this section, we’ll outline the key features to consider when deciding on the ideal control pickleball paddle:


One of the most important attributes of a paddle offering good control is its weight. In general, a lighter paddle offers more control over your shots than a heavier paddle, but less power behind your shot. 

Let’s get more specific—how much should a control pickleball paddle weigh? It depends on how much control you’re looking for. The high maneuverability of lightweight paddles (under about 7.3 ounces) allows users to react more quickly, making them a great option for precise dinks around the kitchen. However, light paddles do offer less stability, which could limit your control of the ball.

If a lightweight paddle doesn’t sound like a good fit, a midweight paddle of about 7.3 to 8.3 ounces will strike a good balance between control, maneuverability, and power, with more stability than the lightest options.

Core Material

The core of a pickleball paddle can have a dramatic effect on your ability to control the ball. The denser the core material, the less control the paddle will offer. That’s why you’ll want to find a paddle with a soft core and less densely-packed “honeycomb” pattern that absorbs more energy. 

The vast majority of pickleball paddles feature a polymer core. Manufacturers may refer to this as “poly,” “polypropylene,” or “polycore,” but all of these are simply polymer under different names. You should also avoid paddles with Nomex cores if you’re focused on maximizing control, as this material is much harder and denser than polymer. 

Core Thickness

As important as core material is the thickness of the core. A thicker core (16 mm or more) provides more control, while a thinner core (about 10 to 13 mm thick) gives you more power behind your shots. This is because a paddle with a thick core absorbs more energy from the ball while it hits the paddle, while a thin core absorbs less of that energy and reflects more of it back onto the ball. 

Face Material and “Grit”

The face material of your paddle is another important factor in determining your level of control. The more energy the paddle’s face material absorbs, the more control it offers. 

In addition, a paddle with a textured or even slightly rough face—also known as a higher “grit”—will provide the user with more control over the ball. A paddle face with more grit also helps with getting more spin on the ball; if that’s also a priority for you, be sure to check out our list of the best pickleball paddles for spin.

Graphite (and, to a lesser extent, carbon fiber) dampens vibration and absorbs the greatest amount of energy during gameplay, which means that paddles with graphite faces tend to provide the most control. We’d advise that you avoid paddles with fiberglass faces, however, because the dynamic material provides more power than control.

Paddle Shape

The shorter the handle, the closer the paddle’s sweet spot is to your hand. A short paddle that is close to your hand will give you the most control over your shots. Look for a paddle under 16 inches, with a handle length under 5 inches. (However, a longer handle can provide better reach for two-handed backhand shots, so if those are a regular part of your play style you should keep this in mind.) 

In addition, a paddle with a slightly elongated shape (sometimes referred to as a “teardrop” or “oval” shape) means a larger sweet spot, and thus better control over the ball’s speed and trajectory. A paddle with a larger sweet spot is also more forgiving when you don’t hit the ball perfectly at the center of the paddle.

Grip Size

In general, a grip size that fits comfortably into your hand is always the best choice, but it’s also another factor to consider when you’re specifically in search of control paddles–a secure grip on your paddle means better control.

While all of these paddle features are important for players who prioritize finesse and shot placement over power, choosing the best paddle for you depends on your individual preferences. If possible, research paddles that appeal to you (starting by reading our list of recommendations below!), and experiment with a variety of different paddles by testing them out. 

Choose a paddle that not only checks many of the boxes on the list above, but also feels good to use. This will help you settle on a paddle that works perfectly with your unique pickleball play style.

Quick recap of factors in a control pickleball paddle:

  1. Weight: One of the most important attributes to a paddle featuring good control is its weight. If you are focusing on controlling your shots a lighter weight paddle is recommended. Lightweight paddles (under 7.3 ounces) allow for a quicker reaction time making it a great option for precise dinks around the kitchen. 
  2. Core material: The core of a pickleball paddle can have a dramatic affect on your ability to control the ball. The denser the core material the harder it is to control. You will want to find a paddle offering a soft core that absorbs energy. Most pickleball paddles feature a polymer core. Avoid Nomex cores if you intend to focus on control as the core is much harder than polymer. 
  3. Face material: The face material is an important factor in determining your control. Graphite and carbon fiber to an extent, will absorb the most amount of energy leading to the greatest control. Avoid fiberglass paddles as the dynamic material will give you more power than control. 
  4. Paddle shape: A short paddle that is close to your hand will give you the most control over your shots. Look for a paddle under 16” with a handle length under 5”

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