Best Pickleball Paddles for Intermediate Players | (Level 3.0 -3.5)

Beginners have control-oriented paddles and Pro players have upscaled power paddles for them. Where should the intermediate go? No one is talking about the paddles players should opt for when they’ve learned the basics but aren’t pro enough to go for high-power paddles. Well, say no more! Today is all about YOU—the average player. We’ll look into some of the best pickleball paddles for intermediate players that’ll match your skill level perfectly. 

Intermediate paddles are rare and underrated. When searching for them, we focused on the paddles with a perfect blend of power, control, and spin. Players intend to improve their game while learning advanced tactics, so a pickleball must provide accuracy and resist wear and abuse well. We tried several brands, Prolite, Selkirk, Gamma, Paddletek, etc and after 3 months of on-court testing and research, we found Gamma Needle to be the best pickleball paddle any intermediate could go for. It’s well-rounded and well-balanced in terms of power and finesse. The extra surface and handles help you learn and master the most intricate shots, and we bet this is the paddle that can take you to the pro level. 

comparison chart of Pickleball Paddles For Intermediate Players
Comparison Chart.

Gamma Needle has a lot more benefits with quite a limitation. It’s best for 90% which makes the 10% go question, what do we choose then? Relax Bunny! We got everyone covered here. The 5 intermediate paddles we chose here will complement all players, whether they prefer wide-body paddles or elongated, are injury-prone, or looking for a great power mechanism with accuracy. Let’s look in.

1. Gamma Needle – top pickleball paddle for intermediate players

9.5/10 – Our Score

Gamma Needle


  • Weight:
    7.6 ounces
  • Surface Material:
    Textured Graphite
  • Core Material:
    Sensa Poly Core
  • Grip Size:
  • Grip length:
    4 1/4″
  • Paddle Length:
    16 5/8”
  • Paddle Width:
    7 1/8″
  • Paddle Thickness:

Gamma Needle is a perfect paddle for players with a 3.0-4.5 rating and even for advanced players. It features a textured graphite surface for optimum ball-holding capability and constantly maintains accuracy across all shots. The texture on the surface fills up half the equation that makes it the best, the rest is the 12.375 inches gigantic surface area that won’t let any shot go missed. 

We must say gamma made the Needle Pickleball paddle to enter the elongated paddle zone, and they made it so classic that no paddle has ever come up to beat that. This is the largest paddle surface area, otherwise, elongated paddles mostly have large handles with approx 11” surface. Along with the length, the width is 7.125” which gives it a blade-style shape. The blade style also gives you an upper hand in irregular winds. You can always keep up the accuracy with the return of your lobs through its extra reach and stable response. 

The cushion and control are other top features of the paddle, thanks to the Sansa Poly Core. it’s a 13 mm paddle that has medium-sized cells that enables excellent power and feel. We simply love the combo of the core with the textured graphite surface for how the surface makes the ball stay longer and the core contributes to the pace. 

Weighing 7.6 oz, this is a medium-lightweight paddle with most of the weight on the paddle’s top. It keeps up the balance when you play dink shots diagonally or volley straight up. The length and the weight complement each other. It also keeps away the strain from your elbow and wrist and allows you to play longer. Once we played for 5 hours straight with the Needle and won 7 rallies, it’s super comfortable on the hand.

If you’re learning how to return a lob shot, overheads, and punch volleys, this paddle will surely be a big addition to your gear collection. The paddle also helps you in block shots when the pace is so high, so you can also master how to regulate the game according to your pace and alter it anytime you want.

Plus Points:

  • Extended length 
  • Tacky and sweat-absorbant grips 
  • Enables the best lob, overheads, and drop shots 
  • Sturdy core with textured surface 
  • Excellent blend of spin and finesse 


Small grip sizes can be a problem for players with a tennis elbow. Also, the sweet spot isn’t so generous. However, the elongated surface makes up for it. 


Gamma Needle is constructed keeping the intermediate-level players in mind, giving it an adequate weight range, surface area, and ideal shape. Through its power-filled core and spin-oriented gigantic surface, it enables the best touch and feel one could ever ask for!

2. ProKennex Pro Flight – for injury-prone intermediates

9.6/10 – Our Score

ProKennex Pro Flight


  • Weight:
    7.4 oz
  • Surface Material:
    Graphite with Diamond Frost Surfacing
  • Core Material:
    Cloud cell Polycore
  • Grip Size:
  • Grip length:
  • Paddle Length:
  • Paddle Width:
  • Paddle Thickness:
    13 mm

In the early stage, some players get so obsessed with playing for several hours (what to do, it’s pickleball that’s addictive), they develop pickleball elbow. ProKennex pro Flight is exactly made for those intermediates that want to continue the game but can’t stand the game. The entire lineup of Prokennex features pickleball paddles for tennis elbow players. While most of the ProKennex paddles are made for pro players only, Pro Flight is the only paddle ideal for any intermediate.


It’s backed with Kinetic Technology that reduces shock and vibration and favors you with extended hours of play. The best part about the paddle is its 7.4 oz weight. The lightweight also tunes the power of 13 mm Cloud Cell Polycore paired with the Graphite frosted surface. It takes down the pace and makes you master the art of controlling the speed with your own variety of shots. 

Besides being best for your health, it’s also an ideal paddle for 1o1 pickleball matches. The surface has a large and reactive sweet spot with the paddle length at 15.43” widened to 7.6”. The large cells make the surface soft and give the ball stays longer. Then comes the diamond frosting, taking your spin to the next level. The 5” handle also allows better control over the paddle’s surface with a comfortable grip.

Not only the techs and specs, but the shape is another worth-mentioning factor of the paddle. It has a half Air-O-Guard edging on the top that puts a slight weight on the top and enhances the feel of the paddle. Also, the edge guard protects the surface coating and increases the durability of the paddle

Plus Points:

  • Best shock and vibration absorption technology 
  • Feels super lightweight 
  • Large sweet spot 
  • Aerodynamic style 


It’s quite expensive. 


Pro Flight for its lightweight and thin core is best for 3rd shot drops and improving footwork, besides providing top-notch comfort for playing extra hours. You can become a pro in a variety of shots, including roll and punch volleys, cross-court dink, and spin.

3. Paddletek Bantam Ex. L – most well-rounded intermediate paddle

9.8/10 – Our Score

Paddletek Bantam Ex. L


  • Weight:
    7.8 – 8.4 OZ
  • Surface Material:
    Velvet-textured Polycarbonate
  • Core Material:
    Polymer Honeycomb
  • Grip Size:
    4 ¼ inches
  • Grip length:
    5 inches
  • Paddle Length:
    15.625 inches
  • Paddle Width:
    7.75 inches
  • Paddle Thickness:
    14 mm

Paddletek Bantam Ex L is for enthusiastic intermediates who can’t wait to see themselves on the top. The paddle provides more power than control with a lot of forgiveness. Those intermediate with a 3.5+ rating will love the speed, touch, and finesse of this paddle on every shot. Besides, for its USAPA approval, you’ll thank it for taking it to play tournaments. 

It has a proprietary velvet textured surface paired with a polycarbonate layer that enhances the ball-holding ability of the paddle. The paddle paired up the power of the polycarbonate surface with the 14 mm Bantam specialized core which results in an excellent blend of finesse and forgiveness while the textured velvet permits enough time to play the spin tactics. 

It has the best cushioned grips that provide optimum comfort while keeping the hand dry. The handle is incorporated with Paddletek’s very own Ultra Cushion High Tack Performance Grip that helps in backhand shots through its contour shape. You won’t feel your wrist rolling even a bit and you’ll be able to swing the paddle effortlessly. 

It’s one of the heaviest paddles on the market which further made it the premium choice of pro players who plays singles. Its spin, wider edges, and low-effort swing ability keep the players a step ahead in playing and winning single tournaments.

Plus Points:

  • Well-budgeted 
  • Incredible power and pace 
  • Easily maneuverable and comfortable 
  • Excellent touch and feel 


It’s a heavy paddle and not recommended for those with back and shoulder pain. 


Want to speed up? Get the Paddletek Bantam Ex. L and see how you get a whopping 5.0 rating from the 3.0. If you’re specifically learning to ace the volley battle and improve your pace and accuracy, Paddletek is a heaven-sent paddle to own.

4. Onix Z5 Graphite – provides the largest sweet spot

9.7/10 – Our Score

Onix Z5 Graphite


  • Weight:
    7.5-8.2 oz
  • Surface Material:
  • Core Material:
    Nomex Honeycomb Core
  • Grip Size:
  • Grip length:
  • Paddle Length:
  • Paddle Width:
  • Paddle Thickness:
    11 mm

Onix Z5 is a popular paddle among intermediates for its durability and manageable power. Its Composite paddle is for pro players due to its extra weight and power and the Graphite is for Intermediate–that’s what we’re reviewing here. Onix Z5 Graphite has the largest sweet spot. It has an 8.1” wider surface paired with a 10.5” surface area. We love the responsiveness of the paddle when we play ground strokes and long volleys. Its wider surface help in blocking overhead shots while using defensive tactics. 

Similar to other paddles on the list, it’s also a midweight paddle ranging between 7.5-8.2 oz. The paddle has the best swing ability. It has a sleek design with an 11 mm thin core, making it the best weapon for backhand shots. Plus, the aerodynamic design maintains stability and finesse. The handles are 5” elongated has contour-shaped cushion wrapping. Even if you play in warm weather, you won’t feel any strain on your hand.

Onix Z5 for its Nomex core has the best pop effect that most of the newer paddle with polymer honeycomb core miss. Playing aggressive shots with the Z5 is one of the best feelings for any intermediate player as the wide body also gives you the confidence to maintain the precision in each of your shots. It’s interesting to note the Onix Z5 Graphite is the best-selling paddle of the brand and received consecutive awards for its consistent performance and durability on the court. It has the least price point and the best features that can take any player up a notch!

Plus Points:

  • Wide-body 
  • Generous sweet spot 
  • Cushioned grips 
  • Power-oriented core 
  • Incredibly budgeted  


Can be a bit noisy due to its Nomex core 


Onix Z5 Graphite paddle is basically free at the price point it comes with, given that it gives off the most ideal features and specs any intermediate would be looking for in a paddle. If you’re working on accuracy by hitting shots from the sweet spot, this paddle will be a treat for you.

5. Head Radical Elite – best elongated intermediate players

9.4/10 – Our Score

Head Radical Elite


  • Weight:
    8.1 oz
  • Surface Material:
  • Core Material:
    Optimized Tabular Core
  • Grip Size:
    4 1/8 inches, 3 7/8 in
  • Grip length:
  • Paddle Length:
    16 inches
  • Paddle Width:
    7 7/8 inches
  • Paddle Thickness:
    15 mm

If Sarah Ansboury is your ideal pro player, you must be familiar with the Head Radical Elite. And guess what? It can be your best friend in taking you into the league of PROs. it’s one of the most responsive pickleball paddles with a unique mixture of power and finesse. It has a composite surface with a carbon fiber material which enhances the reactiveness and ball-holding ability of the paddle. 

The shape of the paddle takes the cake. It’s a 16” elongated paddle which allows better lob shots and blocking overheads. You can also have a great reach near the NVZ for playing drop shots and volleys without making foot faults. At 16”, it offers the widest body measuring 7.8”. So, while you’ve extra reach, you can also experience a great sweet spot and improve your precision. 

It has 5” handles, similar to the Onix Z5. Whereas Onix Z5 is a bit noisy paddle, Head Radical Elite solves the issue quite silently. It showcases a state-of-the-art Optimized Tabular Core that makes zero voice on the hardest volley striking. You won’t have any issues in public courts–no one can file a lawsuit against you! The 15 mm core enables an excellent feel and absorbs the vibration nicely.

Incorporated with the SofTac grip, it provides optimum comfort. The grip is also very low-effort, you don’t have to hold the paddle tightly for aggressive shots. Just a simple throw will take the ball to go overheads. This also keeps your wrist and hand strain-free. Also, the handles are elongated, you can play with both your hands involved.

Plus Points:

  • Forgiving surface
  • Thicker core for anti-shock and noise reduction
  • Dual grip size available
  • Elongated length


Not good for spin


If you’ve transitioned from tennis and want to ace pickleball, Head Radical Elite will give you a perfect tennis racket-like feel with enough power and accuracy that you can be the next Sarah Ansboury–or even better. It’s well-budgeted and provides excellent features.

How we chose the best pickleball paddles for intermediate players?

Did you wonder how we know which ones are the best pickleball paddles for intermediate players? Yes, you guessed it right. We played with these paddles and know they’re good on the court. That’s not all, however. We also conducted an internet survey, searched for several paddles, read customer reviews, and got the paddles that were popular on social media sites. We were still not done. Then we tested these paddles on the players of 2.5-4.0 ratings and then finalized the list. 

What factors are important to look for when shopping for an intermediate-level paddle:

important factors to look before buying pickleball paddles for intermediate player

Although you can’t spend months trying several paddles and deciding which one suits your skill the best, right? That’s why we made a list of factors one can consider to get the best pickleball paddle for intermediate players. Once your paddle passes the criteria mentioned below, you can easily purchase it with no doubts in your head. 

Power and Control Combo:

The paddle must have a unique combo of power and control. Power and control come from the paddle’s surface material and the core. Pure Graphite paddles are more control-oriented when built with a polymer honeycomb core inside. Raw Carbon fiber paddles are extreme in providing pace and power which also is too much for intermediate players. 

Textured graphite or carbon fiber paddles are the best for intermediate players because they provide an excellent combo of power and control. Besides, a graphite paddle with a non-polymer core can also generate enough power. The best example is the Onix z5. It’s a graphite paddle with a Nomex core which balances out the power and combo in the best manner. 


Taking the above factor, a textured surface will also help in generating spin, which will be your top priority after learning all the basics. Besides, you can’t spin with a double hand, a spin-oriented pickleball paddle is your last resort to stay a step ahead of your opponents and add a quality of variable shots to your arsenal. 

Large Sweet Spot:

The third most important factor is a larger sweet spot. It helps in working on your accuracy and improving your shots. Getting the ball on the sweet spot is the toughest skill in pickleball and one of the characteristics of the game pro players play. Even if you’re opting for an elongated paddle, you need the surface area to be enough large to tackle all the shots without losing the ball. This is an especially important factor if you’re learning the return of a lob shot. You need the surface to be wide and elongated to have the ball received on the paddle’s surface and return it accurately.   

The Shape of the Paddle:

This is more like a personal choice and here we’ll suggest sticking with the paddle shape that you’ve finalized in the beginning stage. In the early stage, you must have tried various paddle shapes, and you kind of know which shape type you enjoy the most playing with. Now, you only need to work on your tricks and be the best with the paddle shape you play with. 

Grip for the Backhand Shots:

Since you’re learning backhand shots, the grip size must be tackier and in contour shape so your wrist doesn’t roll much when you’re lifting it up. If the handles are longer, it’ll be a plus point. However, shorter handles, if you’re learning spin, will be the best best. Gamma Needle is, for the same reason, the best intermediate pickleball paddle because it has smaller handles that’ll help modify the short and get master at paddle-hand coordination. And yes, don’t forget to choose the same grip size as your hand. 

The Best Weight Range for Intermediates:

This is “an easy to remember” factor. You’re a mid-level player and the paddle you need must be in a mid-range of weight. Lightweight paddles don’t have much power and heavier paddles cause strain and aches for extended hours. That’s why paddles that range between 7.5-8.0 oz are the best for intermediates. In fact, many pro players choose mid-weight paddles instead of heavier ones for health benefits and optimized performance. 

Surface and Core Material:

Polymer honeycomb will be the priority, as you know already. This makes the paddle vibration-proof and soundproof. There are two types of polymer honeycomb core–that’s where most intermediates are confused. 13 mm core is power-oriented and the 16 mm core has control to offer. What you choose depends upon the other factors that plays role in deciding the power and control of the paddle.

Basically, you’re making a combination of power and balance so you can learn and grow. Anything missed out–boom! You’ll suffer on the court. For example, in a charged-up 13mm pickleball paddle, a carbon fiber surface is like destruction!!! You’ll feel immense pace and power radiating from the paddle and for a half-learned like you, it can be messy. So, make sure you match up a graphite surface if the core is 13 mm and choose carbon-fiber if you’re bringing a 16 mm paddle on the one side of the equation. 

Authentic Certification (Usapa-Approval):

For beginners, it doesn’t matter if the paddle is USAPA approved or not. They’re not going to play in tournaments. But, if you’re an intermediate player, you’ll compete against skilled people and might take part in leagues, and for that, you need a paddle that’s USAPA-approved, so you don’t stay back from utilizing opportunities. 

Which intermediate paddle are you going for to take your game to the next level?

This is your last shot so let’s make it count. You’re already halfway there, you just need a “well-balanced” paddle that matches your passion to grow further with a visible improvement. We’re done with our part, though. We provided you with the 5 best pickleball paddles for intermediate players and the top factors to consider when buying one. Now you’re to roll the dice. Play your shot and make your decision wise and useful. For any questions and queries feel free to reach out to us through comments. 

Have a nice day!

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