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ProDrive Ghost Pickleball Paddle Review

ProDrive started with the Drive, and now they're moving forward with the Ghost. Let's see what the Florida-based company has in store for us with this brand-new paddle!


ProDrive Ghost Pickleball Paddle Review Featured Image

A couple of months ago, we brought in our first ProDrive paddle: the Drive. After one shot, it was pretty clear this paddle wasn't like other extended, heavy paddles. At 19 millimetres thick, I was expecting a sponge, but the ball rocketed off the paddle like something much thinner. We would later find out that the Drive was unibody and thermoformed (the word hadn't generated any buzz when the marketing first came out, which is why they didn't advertise it), which wasn't surprising.

What separated the Drive from other thermoformed paddles was, of course, that 19-millimetre thickness, but also its unique Kevlar core. Not many brands have experimented with kevlar, and it only added to the Drive's rigid and powerful feel. It also got me thinking, "imagine if they went and made something thinner…"

Fast forward a couple of months, and that's exactly what ProDrive has done. Enter the Ghost.

The Ghost comes in at a slightly shorter 16.4 inches long, weighs only 8.0 ounces (compared to the Drive's 8.5), and has a thinner 16-millimetre core with the same Kevlar honeycomb design.

Some of you may recognize this shape because it's nearly (if not totally) identical to the Joola Hyperion CFS 16mm. Seeing it shaped so similarly got me pretty excited because I do love that paddle, so I could not wait to get out on court, and the results were astonishing.


Power and Feel

How much power do you want? Yes.

That's how much power you get with the Ghost. It's a remarkably powerful paddle, probably the most powerful paddle I've ever used. Think power of a typical thermoformed paddle, then crank it up about seventeen notches.

If the ball rocketed off the Drive's paddle face, then I don't even know what to say it does with the Ghost… it explodes? The pace and depth you can generate are unlike anything I've tried before, and it makes for one of the most unique sensations I've felt in a pickleball paddle.

Describing exactly how the Ghost "feels" is quite tricky, so bear with me as I get into excruciating detail, but it's also vital to understand before you go out and try it. To achieve these crazy amounts of power, ProDrive has designed the Ghost so that the ball would lose the least amount of energy during pocketing. Dwell time is almost non-existent as you barely feel the ball sink into the paddle.

It also has a unique sound that usually wouldn't be too important but fits in so well with the Ghost that I'll use to help explain the feel. Contact is reminiscent of a gunshot, making a very sharp, high-pitched crack. Check out minute 03:25 in the video below. (Then watch the whole thing after reading this review).



It's a bit ironic that the paddle is called the Ghost because it's not so Ghost-like with how loud and piercing it is, but I digress.

Although the feel is incredibly firm, it isn't harsh; it's actually relatively muted. You don't feel the raw vibrations make their way into your hand like with many other thermoformed paddles. It's a feel that is similar to the one on the Drive, so I can only assume that the Kevlar core has something to do with it.

Stability and Sweet Spot

When I first saw the Ghost's shape was so similar to the Hyperion, I was excited about the potential for excellent stability and a big sweet spot, but that excitement dwindled when I saw the weight specifications. It's not that the Ghost isn't stable; it's just not as stable as the Hyperion. 

Of course, it is still unibody and thermoformed, so it has that firm and rigid feel that holds up quite well around the edges, but the sweet spot itself is very small.

When you combine a low static and swing weight with such a firm feel, the sweet spot can get concentrated into one small area on the paddle face, which is the case with the Ghost. It's a paddle that is quite punishing and inconsistent on most shots, at least when you're not making perfect contact.

You can quickly solve this minor sweet spot issue by adding lead. I added plenty of lead to the bottom portion of the paddle face, and it instantly made a difference, expanding the sweet spot horizontally and making the whole paddle more forgiving. The lead also added an element of softness that I was pleasantly surprised with.


Look at the difference in playability "before lead" and "after lead" a bit like we look at time B.C. and A.D. Before I added lead tape, the Ghost was a tough paddle to control. The instantaneous feel means that if you want any softness, you have to bring it yourself, and the small sweet spot means that when you're not making perfect contact, the ball can go off anywhere. Even compared to other 16-millimetre thermoformed paddles, the control was a tier under. Those paddles have some element of softness, but the Ghost reminded me of older, Gearbox paddles that were very punishing in the soft game.

Adding lead, once again, changed everything and pushed the Ghost's control performance way higher than I was expecting. It's almost as if it just needs that extra mass to break through the Kevlar layer's initial rigidity, and then you can tap into that honeycomb core. Combine that softer feel "after lead" with the muted response that the Kevlar layer provides, and you have a paddle that's quite good for touch and control; not at all what I was expecting after my "before lead" hit. 


Manoeuvrability is probably this paddle's number one outstanding feature. Although it is technically .1 inches shorter than true extended paddles, it still performs like one. Still, it is noticeably quicker and I think that has more to do with this Hyperion-esque shape than the minimally shorter length.

It's much quicker through the air than paddles with a more squared-off top portion of the paddle face, and it remained very manoeuvrable even with the half-ounce of lead tape that I added. 


Spin is a similar story to control with the Ghost; not the best before adding lead and much better afterwards. Because the ball pops off the paddle face so instantaneously, it feels as though it doesn't spend enough time in there to benefit from the gritty top sheet — you don't feel the ball dig into the raw carbon before it shoots out. Adding lead helps increase dwell time because there is more mass to crush the ball, which also means that the top sheet can grab onto the ball and work that spinny magic.

Still, the spin potential is slightly lower than on some other thermoformed paddles, namely the Vatics, CRBN1X Powers, and Bread & Butter Filth, but it's higher than on the Perseus and Electrum Model E Elite. 

This quicker shape also complements a more spin-friendly swing pattern. It's a little bit more whippy, so easier to accelerate through contact, which is one of the best ways to quickly improve spin generation.

Who is the Ghost for?

I'd like to make one thing abundantly clear: the Ghost is a paddle that almost requires customization. If you like the idea of playing around with different weight distributions and combinations, it could be perfect for you. For me, its playability transformed with the right amount of lead, almost as if it just needed that little extra push to get into a specification sweet spot.

Still, it is primarily a singles paddle, as the only real playability benefit that lends itself to doubles is its manoeuvrability. Still, even with that, some far more manoeuvrable short paddles which also perform much better in the touch, feel and control game.

The Ghost's power is what really sets it apart from most other paddles, so if ultimate power is what you're after, then look no further. You'll sacrifice control in achieving that power, but if you can work on softening up your hands and are willing to add the necessary lead, it will perform adequately enough.

I really enjoyed my playtest with the Ghost because it was so unique, and I'm close to dialling it into a perfect ratio of spin to power to control.

To demo the Ghost, visit us in-store or check it out online.

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