It’s not exactly a secret that the Double Black Diamond is really really good. It’s one of pickleball’s most popular paddles and keeps getting rave reviews from everyone who uses it. Along with paddles from Vatic, CRBN, and Legacy, the DBD is a thermoforming pioneer, and it’s also one of the first paddles to come in this unique hybrid shape.
One of our best-selling paddles — and a very popular paddle amongst our staff members — the Vatic Pro Flash is another paddle that features this shape, so we’ll naturally be making some comparisons throughout this review.
The Double Black Diamond’s hybrid length measures 16.3 inches, 0.2 inches shorter than elongated paddles and 0.3 inches longer than standard ones. It also weighs 8.1 ounces and has a Japanese Toray T700 carbon fibre top sheet.
Of course, SixZero also has a single Black Diamond, so to clear up any confusion between the two, the Black Diamond is made for advanced players, and the Double Black for experts. Just kidding… this isn’t a ski slope.
The real difference is that instead of carbon, the Black Diamond has a fibreglass top sheet. I’m usually a fan of fibreglass paddles, so I’m excited to take that out as well, but it’s no surprise that the carbon Double Black is much more popular. Nothing’s cooler than carbon!
At this point we’ve reviewed so many thermoformed paddles that it’s almost unnecessary to express just how good the technology is for spin. Thermoforming has revolutionized spin in pickleball, and it’s no different with the Double Black Diamond. But what’s interesting is how it compares to other paddles in this category.
The DBD’s hybrid shape is a game changer not only for how much spin you can put on the ball, but also for which type of shots you can add spin to.
The paddle is so quick and easy to whip through contact that you can produce more paddle head speed than with something extended at the same weight. Most players will be able to produce more spin with this paddle than on paddles like the Perseus, CRBN1X, V7, or the Filth simply because it’s easier to generate spin with.
That easy access to spin is also fantastic when points get out of hand.
If you get backed into an area where you don’t have time to set up and take a full cut of the ball, you can whip that paddle head quickly through contact and produce the same dipping passing shot you’d need more proper technique for with an extended paddle. The only time an extended paddle will produce more spin is when you do have time to set up a full, perfect groundstroke, and that’s because extended paddles have more leverage over the ball.
Comparing the DBD directly to the Flash, the difference in spin is tiny, but the Flash seems to produce ever so slightly more. That said, it’s such a marginal difference that you should not let this sway you one way or the other.
Manoeuvrability and Stability
I’ll say this right away: the most impressive thing about these hybrid paddles is their manoeuvrability to stability ratio. Before the introduction of hybrid paddles, players had to choose between the great manoeuvrability of a standard length paddle or the stability of an extended one. What you gained in one area, you lost a lot of in the other, but the DBD is somehow great at both.
It’s shorter than extended paddles, and you feel that with how quickly it moves through the air. As I mentioned earlier, it’s easier to whip through contact but also significantly quicker to react at the net. Hand battles are a dream with the paddle; it’s still slightly slower than standard-length paddles but much closer to them in hand speed than to extended ones.
On the flip side, it’s also closer in stability to extended paddles. Somehow, this hybrid shape strikes the perfect balance between the two, which makes it so impressive.
That being said, it’s not without its flaws.
Reach and Swing Pattern
If you’re coming from either a standard or extended paddle, it will take some time to adapt to the Double Black Diamond’s unique swing pattern. From a personal point of view, it took me a good couple of hours to feel comfortable with the paddle, and even now, I still feel more confident going for big shots with extended paddles.
Each player will adapt at their own pace, but once you’re used to the paddle, this will be a non-issue.
One area where I instantly appreciated the swing pattern was on roll volleys. Roll volleys are becoming extremely important in pickleball, and the DBD’s hybrid shape completes them perfectly. You can flick the paddle so easily; there were times when I was digging balls out that I never otherwise would have gotten to with my paddle of choice.
Reach is the only area where the Double Black Diamond will permanently suffer compared to something extended. Those 0.2 inches may not seem like a lot, but they certainly made a difference. Sometimes, I would reach for the ball, thinking I should be making clean contact, and instead, the ball would hit the edge guard. Of course, you’ll get more used to it in the long run, but there’s no denying that something longer will always have better reach.
Control and Feel
As a thermoformed unibody paddle, control isn’t exactly the Double Black Diamond’s forte, but because it is 16mm thick, it’s at least acceptable with an element of softness that thinner thermoformed paddles don’t have. Also, comparing it directly to the Vatic Pro Flash, it feels a bit more plush, so you gain in control what you lose in the spin potential mentioned earlier.
On dinking and resets, I preferred this hybrid shape to something elongated. The paddle face is slightly wider, so the sweet spot is more forgiving, and the shorter profile means the paddle is easier to manoeuvre through the dinking motion.
Where the Double Black Diamond really shines, though, is in feel and deception at the net. Because the shape is more manoeuvrable, it’s easy to feign one way and then very quickly change direction at the last second, so for cat and mouse player around the net, it’s fantastic.
It’s scientifically impossible for a shorter paddle to produce as much power as a longer paddle, so the Double Black Diamond suffers a little bit in power compared to thermoformed extended paddles, but this is still an extremely powerful paddle. In fact, I’ll say that 99% of people will feel more than happy with the amount of power they have here.
For you pickleball nerds who love to play around with different lead tape combinations, you’ll absolutely love the DBD. It is the perfect paddle to tailor exactly to your needs.
As I mentioned earlier, the swing pattern is slightly odd, coming from a longer paddle. If you feel that way you have two options: 1. Get used to it or 2. Try to make it swing more like an extended paddle.
The easiest way to accomplish that is by adding lead to the top of the paddle face.
Doing so will move the pivot point higher up the paddle and bring the swing weight closer to what you’d get with something extended. Of course, you can customize any paddle, but add too much weight to an extended one, and it will quickly become unmanoeuvreable and clunky. Because the DBD is so quick to begin with, you have more room to add lead without making it unplayable.
It’s also great that you can add so much lead because more weight means a plusher feel, making it that much better for dinking!
Who is it for?
It’s as simple as that. The fact that the DBD and Flash are so universally accessible sets them apart from other paddles and also why they’re selling like hotcakes.
For players who prefer standard paddles because of their great manoeuvrability and bigger sweet spots, the step up to this shape won’t be so radical that you are totally lost. For players who require the spin, power, and stability of extended paddles, it may take some time to get used to the Double Black Diamond, but once you do, the manoeuvrability benefits will make it so that you probably never want to go back.
Now this shape doesn’t render extended and standard paddles obsolete, but if you do want something that provides you with the best variety, it’s difficult to deny that this isn’t the best shape out there right now.
The Double Black Diamond is already one of the best sellers in pickleball, and I only see its sales numbers going up from here. It was gutsy of SixZero to develop such a radical new design, but it was clearly a winning gamble.
If you want to demo the Double Black Diamond or any other SixZero paddle, visit us in-store or check them out online.