If there were ever a sporting industry that typified the “adapt or die” phrase, it would be pickleball. Things are moving so quickly in this sport that even paddles that came out less than a year ago have become a little dated. Not necessarily dated in usability, but not as technically advanced as the latest and greatest.
The one playability characteristic where things are changing the fastest is spin.
Spin is cool, it’s sexy, it’s fun, and it’s often what separates good players from really, really good players. To generate spin, you must develop proper technique, and when you do, you can use it as a weapon to take control of points or as a defensive shot to get yourself out of trouble. Of course, some paddles are better for spin than others, and today, we’ve compiled a list of the five best we carry in-store.
With any Top 5, this list will stir up some controversy, so we must define a few criteria.
For one, we need to carry these paddles at the store. You can check out all the brands we carry by clicking here, but I can’t talk about a paddle’s spin if I haven’t played with it.
This ranking isn’t purely based on the total RPMs a paddle can produce but instead on a paddle’s overall spin performance. Obviously, the amount of spin it can produce is important in determining that, but other intangibles make up a paddle’s spin profile, including the ease of access to spin, the variety of spin shots, and consistency at accessing spin.
This list will discuss paddle lines rather than an individual thickness within each line. 14-millimetre paddles are generally more spin-friendly than 16s, but we know that already, and to open this up to a wider variety of paddles that might not have a thinner version, we won’t be emphasizing thickness.
That’s it for the criteria; let’s jump into the deep end with number five!
5. CRBN1X Power
The CRBN1X Power is the most spin-friendly CRBN paddle ever and one of the most spin-friendly paddles on the market, largely because it is thermoformed.
Thermoforming is the main driver behind the huge spin revolution in 2023. Thermoformed, unibody paddles are made from one piece of carbon fibre, unlike more traditionally molded paddles that are made from multiple pieces fused in some way. Because there are no cutoffs in the carbon, thermoformed paddles lose very little energy on contact, making them extremely rigid. That rigidity makes the transfer of energy from your stroke, through the paddle, and into the ball as one-to-one as we’ve ever had in this sport, which helps with power but, more impressively, with spin.
The CRBN Powers are a top performer in the thermoformed category—maybe a cut under some of the other paddles on this list—but with the recent release of the 3X, you may be wondering, why is the 1X more spin-friendly?
Spin comes from various factors, the moulding process being one, the quality of the top sheet another, and those things are identical on the two paddles. The 1X and 3X only differ in shape, and that’s crucial for spin because it has a significant effect on swing speed and swing pattern. Because the paddle face comes farther down on the 3X, you can’t swing it nearly as fast as the 1X. That extra paddle head speed means you can whip the 1X quicker through contact; that’s why it’s more spin-friendly than the 3X and any other CRBN paddle.
4. Bread & Butter Filth
The Bread & Butter Filth and CRBN1X Power are very similar, so choosing between the two was difficult, but ultimately, the Filth comes out on top. They are so similar that shape, weight, and core thickness are all identical, but every time I play the two back to back, I find the CRBN1X to be ever so slightly more muted, which negatively affects its spin.
Again, it’s a very marginal difference, and you’ll only notice it when directly comparing the two, but the Filth does have a more raw feel, so you get a little more purchase over the ball when going for big spin shots. It is worth noting that the muted response helps with control — I know this is a spin paddles article, but CRBN aren’t just muting their paddles for the fun of it; equal and opposite reaction and all…
Beyond that, though, everything I mentioned earlier about the CRBN1X Power’s shape applies to the Filth because they are identical, and that shape is one of the most spin-friendly out there.
3. Vatic Pro V7
Some of you may be a little surprised that the Vatic Pro V7 is coming in higher than the two previous paddles because, yes, the V7 does have a slightly longer paddle face. I know I just said a longer face makes the 3X less spin-friendly than the 1X, but it also doesn’t come down as low on the V7, and this paddle’s other spin-friendly properties override whatever slightly lower speed it has.
The Vatic Pro top sheet is probably the most spin-friendly one out there right now. All of these raw carbon top sheets are great, but each time I grab a Vatic paddle (even the Prisms), I’m astounded by just how much purchase they have over the ball. You get a poppy feel with these — much like on the Filth — but you feel the top sheet grab onto the ball for a split second longer, which makes it, at least, feel like it’s shooting out with more spin. Ultimately, this gives you a better sensation of control over the amount of spin you can put on the ball; you’ll never feel like its spin potential is capped.
I also appreciate the slightly longer face on the V7 because it helps make the paddle a little more consistent. The sweet spot is noticeably bigger than on the Filth and slightly bigger than on the CRBN1X power, so consistently accessing spin is easier. Of course, there are decreasing marginal returns to the relationship between consistency and paddle face length, and I think the V7 falls right in that sweet spot of great consistency at minimal cost to paddle-head-speed.
2. SixZero Double Black Diamond
This could be controversial because many people will have this paddle at number one, and we’ll talk about why it’s slightly under when we get there. For now, let’s discuss what makes the Double Black Diamond so darn good for spin.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that this paddle is not fully extended, which means that in terms of pure top end spin, it will scientifically be lower because of leverage, but here’s why I don’t care so much. Pickleball isn’t played in a lab; you’ll rarely be able to hit a perfectly set-up topspin shot, and that would be the only situation where you’ll feel this paddle’s spin is slightly lower than the last three.
This hybrid shape is so special because it’s top-notch for producing spin on any type of shot, which is not as true for the last three. The DBD is much more manoeuvrable, so you can flick the paddle through contact more quickly, which means you can generate spin in more randomized and sticky situations. If you have to react quickly at the net, you can efficiently move the paddle into place and still hit a whippy roll volley. If you’re scrambling to get to a ball and don’t have time to set up a perfect groundstroke, it’s easier to pop the face through contact quickly and still hit a dipping passing shot.
The DBD (and the next paddle on this list) perfectly represents why spin variety and ease of access to spin are so crucial in determining a paddle’s spin profile.
1. Vatic Pro Flash
This probably won’t come as much of a surprise after what I said about the Double Black Diamond, but the king of spin in November of 2023 is the Vatic Pro Flash. Take every good thing I said about the Double Black Diamond’s shape and combine that with everything I said about the V7’s top sheet and core, and you have the Flash; the perfect storm of everything that makes a quality spin paddle.
It’s honestly extremely close between the DBD and the Flash and, kind of like it was between the Filth and the CRBN1X. You’ll only notice it when comparing them side by side, but I did feel that I could consistently access spin a bit more easily with the Flash; they’ve nailed the top sheet and core combo over there.
One thing to note regarding consistency: I don’t think the hybrid shape is quite as good as fully extended paddles, but the benefits you’ll get in variety and ease of use do outweigh that slight loss in consistency, so they’re not perfect, but pretty darn close!
Knowing our luck, this list will be obsolete by Christmas and we’ll have to make a whole new article. But hey, you live by the sword, you die by the sword (I think that expression makes sense here). To be honest, I’m all for rapid developments in this industry; that’s part of what makes the sport so fun!