How to Customize Paddle Weight: Results From 77 Tests

Author
PB Vision Team
January 2, 2024

In the vast realm of pickleball paddle choices, PB Vision community member David elevates customization. Wondered about adding weight to your paddle? David dove into 77 experiments, meticulously sharing his journey on Reddit. Join us as we explore the details and unveil unexpected insights from his extensive testing.

First, what does adding weight to your paddle do? Adding weight to your pickleball paddle, specifically considering swingweight and twistweight, can significantly impact your game. The increased weight contributes to faster ball speeds and enhances stability for more precise shots, influencing both aspects. Much like swinging a tennis racket, the distribution of weight along the racket influences how it feels when swung. Holding the handle versus the head of the racket can create a different sense of weight and impact your swing, similar to the concept of swingweight in pickleball paddles. 

Finding the perfect fit involves experimenting with different weights. Think swingweight for maneuverability, and twistweight for stability, to strike the right balance based on your playing style and comfort preferences on the court.

                                                                          📷 by Pickleball Central 

PB Vision: Can you share a bit about yourself and how you got into pickleball?

David: My pickleball addiction started when friends and I ran into a rudimentary pickleball setup on a half-size basketball court. Though it was way too small (we had no idea!), we quickly came to love the game. Our dog was also an instant fan, quickly learning that she could chase the (many) errant balls that shot off down the adjacent hillside.

PBV: What inspired you to conduct over 77+ tests on the impact of adding weight to a paddle?

David: After playing with an inexpensive set of paddles from Amazon for a few months, I learned about Chris Olsen's Discord from a pickleball friend. That opened my eyes to a mind-numbing array of paddles, and eventually to the realization that each paddle could be further customized by adding weight. I was inspired to experiment in order to better understand how adding weight would affect a paddle.

PBV: Can you elaborate on your process, especially regarding the measurements and configurations you used?

David: I started by placing some weights near the bottom of the paddle and measuring its impact on swingweight, twistweight, etc. Then I'd move the weights up a little bit and measure again, repeating until I got to the top. Then I'd do it all over with heavier weights. On the Ballista, I also experimented with weights in the hole.

PBV: What were the most surprising or unexpected findings from your experiments?

David: I was surprised by how much the distribution of weight matters. I also came across some great academic research (e.g., The dead spot of a tennis racket) which shed light on how weight distribution affects both paddle performance and the human body. It also taught me how to calculate the sweet spot location!

PBV: How do different amounts of weight in various locations affect paddle characteristics?

David: Weight closer to the head increases swingweight the most. Even edge tape, which seems really light, can change swingweight by a few points! Weight further from the middle of the paddle most increases twistweight (so weight on the handle or in the hole affects twistweight very little).

                                                                         📷 by David via Reddit

PBV: You mentioned a rule of thumb about increasing twistweight and swingweight. Can you explain this in more detail?

David: Adding weight to a paddle always increases the swingweight. On the paddles I tested, I found the "best" I could achieve was an increase in twistweight by roughly 1 unit for every 3 units I increased swingweight. This was achieved by placing weight at the bottom corner. Given the answer to the previous question, this is intuitive— the bottom corner is far from the center of the paddle (good for increasing twistweight) and far from the top of the paddle (good for minimizing the increase to swingweight).

PBV: Can you walk us through your process when adding weight to a paddle? What considerations do you prioritize?

David: Based on Braydon of Pickleball Effect's research, a higher twistweight is associated with a more stable paddle. So I generally add weight which maximizes the twistweight (i.e., right on or near the bottom corner), while not adding so much weight that the paddle becomes cumbersome to swing (i.e., swingweight too high).

PBV: In your Redddit thread, you mentioned the use of Wilson Tungsten Tuning tape and collaboration with Briffidi. How did these tools contribute to your measurements?

David: I use Briffidi devices to measure swingweight (using the 5cm adapter like Chris, etc.), twistweight and balance point. Wilson's tungsten tape is great for adding weight because it's non-toxic (unlike lead) and easily peels off, so it can be moved around the paddle (useful not only when running this experiment, but also when adjusting my paddle to feel right for me).

PBV: Any final thoughts you’d like to add or advice for pickleball enthusiasts looking to customize their paddle weight?

David: Ultimately, what matters most is how your paddle feels when you play with it. I encourage everyone to try a few different weight configurations to get a feel of what works best for you. I'd also encourage everyone to try adding weight because it's unlikely the factory default is perfect for you. Happy experimenting!

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