13mm vs 16mm Pickleball Paddle

Today’s post is all about thickness. In this case, we’re talking about the core thickness inside your pickleball paddle. 

This is the stuff in between the two faces of your paddle. The attributes of 13mm and 16mm pickleball paddles, their differences and how to choose one are all covered below. 

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Does thickness matter | 13mm pickleball paddles | 16mm pickleball paddles | 13mm vs 16mm paddles | Which is best for you?

Does pickleball paddle thickness matter?

pickleball paddle with core thickness highlighted

Yup, pickleball paddle thickness matters for beginner, intermediate and even expert players. Core material thickness complements your skill level and play style. 

Thicker paddles are more forgiving, while thinner paddles are less forgiving, but provide more power.

Most pickleball paddles have a core thickness ranging from 11mm to 18mm. Of these, the most common core thickness variants are 13mm and 16mm.

13mm pickleball paddles

two-pickleball-paddles-and-three-pickle-balls-on-wooden-bench

13mm pickleball paddles are on the lighter range of paddles. They have a thin core and it’s a more compact paddle. This compactness provides more power to the player when hitting a pickleball. However, the smaller sweet spot makes harder to execute an off-center hit.

Some of the most popular 13mm pickleball paddles are:

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Pros of a 13mm pickleball paddle

13mm pickleball paddles have many advantages that are usually adopted by the experienced or aggressive pickleball player

This paddle provides more pop (power) on shots. It’s super helpful in big swings and long drives. As such, the 13mm paddle is well suited to pickleball singles play. 

This paddle is for the player who has supreme confidence in their soft game as this is a less forgiving paddle in terms of shot placement. 

13mm pickleball paddles generally have a smaller sweet spot than their 16mm counterparts.

16mm pickleball paddles

two pickleball paddles on table

On the other side of the spectrum, 16mm pickleball paddles are on the heavier side (around 0.2 – 0.5 oz heavier than 13mm). They have a thick core and a larger sweet spot. 

As such, these paddles provide more control to the player when returning a pickleball. 

Some of the most popular 16mm pickleball paddles are:

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Pros of a 16mm pickleball paddle

This added thickness helps with shock absorption, giving a player more control on their shots. 

This added control means this paddle is more forgiving. 16mm pickleball paddles have a larger sweet spot, making them great for blocking, dinking and soft play at the kitchen. These paddles are well suited for pickleball doubles.

Because of this, 16mm paddles are the most popular paddles especially with beginner pickleball players. They are equally loved by the measured or conservative player.

Best pickleball paddles for beginners

Differences between 13mm vs 16mm pickleball paddles

There’s a long list of differences between 13mm vs 16mm pickleball paddles. These differences range from weight, core thickness, sweet spot, etc. 

However, for most people, price is an important comparison factor. The good news is usually there isn’t any price difference between 13mm vs 16mm paddles. So, all you should focus on is which paddle favors your pickleball experience and play style.

Here’s a summary of the differences between 13mm and 16mm pickleball paddles.  

Find out how long pickleball paddles last

13mm vs 16mm pickleball paddle comparison table

Attributes13mm16mm
Core ThicknessThinThick
WeightLighterHeavier
Sweet SpotSmallerLarger
Player ExperienceExpertBeginner
Pickleball GametypePickleball SinglesPickleball Doubles
HittingBlocking & Soft playBig swings & long drives
PopularityLess popularMost popular

Treat your paddle with care. Learn how to clean them properly

13mm vs 16mm pickleball paddle: Which one is right for you?

As discussed, the best choice for you depends on your playstyle and experience level. Your playstyle is more important than your experience level because there are 4.0 players that love 16mm paddle as well as 13mm paddles.

In general, I recommend beginners start with 16mm paddle because dinking, blocking and soft play are the most difficult skills to master as a novice pickleballer.

However, the player that is keen to have more power will generally prefer 13mm paddles while players that just love to have a more forgiving paddle favor 16mm paddles. 

The best way to know which paddle you prefer is to actually test them out. Try renting out pickleball paddles at your local court if that’s available. 
Another option is to try a pickleball paddle demo program.

After a few games on the court, you’ll know which paddle you favor. Then, you can return them and buy your preferred paddle.

13mm vs 16mm pickleball paddle: Spin

Side note: I know spin is also a major topic these days. Grittiness, stroke technique, and paddle contribute to ball spin.

The conventional wisdom in pickleball circles was that 16mm paddles provided more spin due to larger contact area, but some research from The Pickleball Studio should dispel that myth.

Pickleball paddle spin comparison

If anything, 13mm paddles provide more spin due to the extra power. However, from the rating, core thickness doesn’t seem to be the major factor affecting pickleball spin.

So, if you’re buying a pickleball paddle for the spin, thread carefully!

Got time? Check out our comparison between fiberglass and graphite paddles.

Last update on 2024-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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