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  • Posted on
  • By Carl Lemelin
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Pickleball paddle technology is evolving at lightning speed, and a select few models are setting the standard for innovation.


Pickleball is a young sport that just happens to have been born during a wave of revolutionary innovation in the sports gear technological universe. Unprecedented research and development combined with the customers’ thirst for equipment that provides them with a competitive edge has pushed competing manufacturers to constantly upgrade their products at a dizzying pace.

Paddles represent the current pinnacle of this arms race in sports technology among the fast-growing pickleball manufacturers community. Pickleball being such a precision and feel-based sport, the type of paddle the player uses can make or break their whole game. No wonder our customers pay so much attention to their paddle selection process – not to mention, today’s paddles don’t come cheap!

Outsiders might think: “It’s just a pickleball paddle, why is it $300?”

Pickleball insiders know that so many factors can change how a paddle feels in the player’s hand or how the ball reacts off the face, therefore affecting how it performs on the court.

The paddle’s static weight, swing weight, sweet spot, face shape, edge concept, surface material, surface texture, balance point, twist weight, handle length, handle circumference, grip composition, core construction, and core material can all have an impact on a player’s appreciation and enjoyment of their playing experience.

That gives paddle manufacturers a lot to work with when contemplating ways to improve their product.



The very first paddles were made of wood or plastic materials. Those still exist today in entry level paddles, but experienced pickleball players know that the latest technology makes such a huge difference in their enjoyment of the game.

Therefore, we only carry paddles that are designed with fibre-based materials that can include any mix of fiberglass and/or carbon fiber composites, graphite, and polymer. These materials make for much lighter paddles that are easier to maneuver in kitchen exchanges that require quick hand reactions and precision.

Fiber materials also offer varying levels of texture to the face of the paddle, which helps impart more spin to the ball.

Combined with a honeycomb construction core, fiber-based face designs have vastly improved paddle performance, control, and durability.

Today, we seem to be embarking on a whole new age of the paddle technological revolution. Selkirk, Gamma, and Gearbox in particular are pushing the envelope with out-of-the-box concepts that aim to quell consumer concerns with conventional paddle designs.



Selkirk has long been recognized as the leader in innovation in the pickleball industry. They have the most complete line of paddles, and their mission has always been to offer some combination of power and control in all their paddles. For more on Selkirk’s paddle hierarchy and categorization, consult my previous blog titled Selkirk Paddles Explained.

Only a few years ago, the Vanguard 2.0 series was Selkirk’s most advanced paddle line, but in 2023, the company’s engineers introduced the LUXX series. Selkirk had already launched their edgeless Vanguard Control Air and Power Air series previously, but LUXX is the culmination of the leading manufacturer’s latest R&D project, originating from the now famous Selkirk Labs.

The first thing you notice when looking at Selkirk’s high-end paddles (Vanguard Control Air and Power Air, and LUXX Control Air) is that they look very different from conventional paddles. They are edgeless (Aero-DuraEdge) and have an open throat design (Air Dynamic Throat) – an empty, “U” shaped hole between the handle and face of the paddle.

The edgeless design has been around for a few years now, but Selkirk has aimed to constantly perfect it. Edgeless paddles present the advantage of a slightly increased hitting area but can be less durable for novice players since there is no plastic edge guard to protect them from the occasional rubbing against the court’s surface (especially on outdoor courts).

Since edgeless paddles carry less weight on the face’s periphery, they typically tend to be more subject to slight twisting on off-centre hits than edged paddles. Selkirk’s latest edgeless design adds a specially formulated foam (FlexFoam) into the entire perimeter of the paddle, which adds weight, helping to expand the sweet spot, increase forgiveness, and reduce vibrations.

As for the Air Dynamic Throat, its role is twofold. First, as the trademark suggests, this design offers better aerodynamics which translates to more speed and power on each shot. Second, the open throat allows for some flexibility between the handle and face (ThroatFlex), which in turn increases dwell time on the paddle, enhancing power play, for greater consistency.

The other aspect of the LUXX paddles that is easily noticed at first glance is their incredibly thick cores. All LUXX paddles have a 20mm core. Most control-based paddles feature 16mm cores, so this is quite a deviation from the norm.

A thicker core helps with control, as it increases dwell time of the ball on the paddle surface. LUXX cores are made of Selkirk’s proprietary X7 Thikset Honeycomb, a carbon fiber-based structure.

The open throat also allows for a thicker core without adding too much static weight to the paddle. LUXX paddles weigh anywhere between 7.8 to 8.5 ounces, which puts them in the midweight category.

Unlike the edgeless Vanguard series, LUXX paddles are currently only offered in the Control Air option, but they offer so many power-centric features – including the Air Dynamic Throat – that a Power Air version may not be necessary.

Another LUXX feature that can help the power game is the face composition. It combines Selkirk’s ProSpin+ NextGen Texture with a QuadFlex 4 Layer Hybrid Face. The first generates unparalleled spin, which allows the player to power through the ball while giving it maximum top spin. The latter blends two layers of FiberFlex with two layers of Quantum+ carbon for effortless power and control.

Like all other Selkirk paddle series, the LUXX is offered in all three main face shapes, namely the Epic (standard), S2 (widest, with biggest sweet spot), and Invikta (elongated).



Adding lead tape to the edges of paddles has been a widespread practice among experienced and pro pickleball players for years. By adding weight to the head of the paddle, lead tape can add more power behind each drive.

Another added benefit of adding weight to the lateral edges – as previously discussed – is reduced twisting on off-center hits, which translates to better control (more forgiveness).

Some manufacturers have now started to incorporate weighting systems within their actual paddle designs. The latest such design is Gamma’s RCF Airbender 16 paddle.

The Airbender system offers a way to customize the player’s paddle by adding or subtracting weight on the vertical plane of the paddle, which is to say directly above or below the players hand, as opposed to the lead tape that serves mainly to adjusts lateral weight distribution.

The RCF Airbender 16 is a standard shaped, open throat paddle that features a Raw Carbon Fiber (RCF) face that provides dwell time, which allows the player to use the carbon’s natural texture to impart more spin, while also allowing for better control for strokes that require precision.

The Airbender’s edge is so discrete and seamless that it looks like an edgeless design. Similarly to LUXX paddles, the Airbender’s edge is foam injected to add stability, vibration dampening, and forgiveness to every shot.

As was the case with the LUXX series, the Airbender features a control centric core, but it comes in the more standard 16mm form. It is composed of polypropylene and is made of a durable and forgiving honeycomb structure.

Getting back to the Airbender weighting system, the paddle comes standard with a 7-gram (0.25oz) shock-absorbing weight which plugs the smallest of the two openings adorning the paddle’s throat. Gamma offers 3 more weight options in its RCF Airbender Shockbuster Weights Kit, sold separately. The kit includes three weighted plugs of 10g (.35oz), 13g (.45oz), and 16g (.55oz).

As for the counterweights (under the hand), they can be snapped on the bottom end of the handle and allow the player to customize their swing weight. Gamma’s RCF Paddle End Cap Weights Kit includes three counterweights of 3g (.1oz), 6g (.2oz), and 9g (.3oz).



Pickleball Town is constantly on the lookout for new trends in the pickleball industry. When we hear of an up-and-coming innovator, we want to investigate the possibility of carrying their products to benefit our customers.

Such an innovator is Gearbox, a California-based company that, like most pickleball manufacturers, got its start in other racquet sports. Like it did with racquetball, squash and paddleball, Gearbox is at the very cutting-edge of pickleball paddle technology and prides itself on thinking out of the box.

So, what is their latest contribution to pickleball? Its SST Core technology!

The SST Core represents a clear departure from the commonly used honeycomb pattern cores in most high-end paddles on the market today. Instead, Gearbox has introduced the Power Matrix Technology to their Pro Series cores.

The Power Matrix consists of a flexible under face (FlexPlay), a shock dampening contour (Smart Dampen), and – here comes the kicker – its secret weapon, the Precision Core Technology.

Precision Core is an elongated rectangular pod-based grid that serves as the paddle core’s skeleton. Where honeycomb cores react as a solid entity on contact with the ball, the Precision Core functions using individual rectangular pods. Each pod works independently from one another when impacted to absorb shock and transfer energy directly to the ball.

According to credible online reviews, this makes Gearbox’s Pro Series paddles the hottest hitting racquets currently available. The Precision Core’s pod design ensures a larger sweet spot than the traditional honeycomb core, and the fact that each pod reacts independently also provides much better forgiveness on off-center hits, conserving much of the intended power and precision of the player’s stroke.

Stay tuned for some Gearbox excitement coming soon to Pickleball Town!



Now that you are up to date with the latest advancements in pickleball paddle technology, the obvious question is: “What’s the next big thing?”

In a recent interview on a popular paddle review channel on YouTube, world number one Ben Johns – also a self-professed paddle nerd – said he would like paddle makers to experiment with the rubbers and glues that are used in the ping-pong industry.

For pickleball pros, the key to the game is creating spin. Imparting heavy rotation to the ball helps the power game – topspin helps power through the stroke while keeping the ball within the short court’s limits. It can also be an asset in the kitchen as different types of spin can make for a more difficult return for opponents.

Johns believes the recent focus on the power game in the industry has reached the tipping point for a game played on such a small court. Working on ways to help players spin the ball more should be the next frontier for pickleball manufacturers, in his opinion.

If you’ve ever watched a pro ping-pong match, you know that sport has maximized the art of spinning the ball with a paddle.

Currently, rubber is not allowed by the USAPA, pickleball’s governing body, but Johns has suggested working with different epoxies and resins to create a rubber-like effect on the ball.

Perhaps this will be the source of the next big wave to hit a fast-evolving pickleball industry. Only time will tell.

The one thing you know you can count on is that the staff at Pickleball Town will be there to help you navigate through all the jargon and new developments that come along.

Good shopping!


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