The Best Pickleball Training Aids of 2023

Hey there, fellow pickleball fanatics! I know what you’re thinking – “Why on earth is a pickleball gear guru giving advice on training aids?” Well, let me tell you, my dear paddlers, I’ve been playing this magnificent game since before it was cool (yes, I’m an OG hipster of pickleball). Now, I’m here to spill the beans on the latest and greatest training aids that’ll have you smashing those pickleballs like a pro in no time.

So grab your paddles, strap on your goggles, and let’s dive into this action-packed roundup of the best training aids that’ll make you the envy of your pickle pals. And hey, if you end up dominating the court, don’t forget to give this humble pickleball whisperer a shoutout! Let’s get this pickle party started!


My Top Training Aid Picks


Best Overall Training Aid

1. The Official Dink Pad By Enhance Pickleball

Best For: Perfecting your dinks and volleys
Partner Required: No
Net Required: No
At Home Use: Yes
What We Like: An elegant solution for perfecting your shot without a partner, court, or even a net!
What We Don’t: You need a pretty hard surface to get a solid bounce off of.

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Oh, sweet dinking glory! Gather ’round, my fellow pickleballers, and let me tell you about a game-changer that’s got me dinkin’ around like nobody’s business – The Official Dink Pad by Enhance Pickleball. If you’ve ever dreamt of dinking like a pro without the hassle of setting up a net or lugging around extra equipment, then this little gem is your one-way ticket to dinktopia.

Let’s break it down. This compact and portable dink pad is designed to help you perfect your dinks, volleys, and groundstrokes, all in the comfort of your own home (or anywhere you fancy, really). With its non-slip surface and durable construction, this bad boy will have you dinking in style, come rain or shine.

I’ll admit, when I first got my hands on the Dink Pad, I was skeptical. I mean, can a training aid this simple really improve my game? But boy, did it prove me wrong! After just a few sessions, I could feel my dinks becoming more accurate, and my volleys as crisp as a fresh pickle.

The best part? The Dink Pad doubles up as a fantastic workout tool. I’ve been challenging myself to see how long I can keep a rally going, and let me tell you, it’s a heart-pumping, sweat-inducing, calorie-torching experience that’s left me in the best shape of my pickleball life.

So, if you’re looking to up your dinking game and want a fun, effective, and portable solution, The Official Dink Pad by Enhance Pickleball is your new best friend. Dink ’til you drop, my friends.

See the The Official Dink Pad By Enhance Pickleball

Best Training Paddle

2. Franklin Sports Sweet Spot Training Pickleball Paddle

Best For: Perfecting “sweet spot” contact on your swings
Paddle Material: Carbon fiber
Paddle Core: 16mm, same as high end paddles
Handle: Extra long, great for 2 handed shots
What We Like: This is an awesome tool for mastering getting to the sweet spot
What We Don’t: It’s tough! Volleys on a small training paddle take some getting used to

Let’s talk about what makes this training paddle so useful. The Franklin Sports Sweet Spot Training Paddle has a genius design that forces you to hit the ball right in the paddle’s sweet spot. With its undersized hitting surface and extra long handle, you’ll be mastering the perfect stroke in no time. You know what they say – practice makes perfect, and with this paddle, you’ll be a living testament to that!

The first time I took this bad boy for a spin, I’ll admit, I was a little thrown off. The smaller surface and unusual design had me questioning my life choices. But, lo and behold, after a few practice sessions, I found myself connecting with the sweet spot more consistently than ever before. Talk about a game changer!

See the Franklin Sports Sweet Spot Training Pickleball Paddle

Best Ball Launcher

3. Franklin Sports Automatic Pickleball Launcher Machine

Launching Speed: 1 ball every 8 seconds
Weight: 6 pounds
Dimensions: 11″ x 9″ x 14″
Ball Capacity: 15 balls
What We Like: This is a very compact and affordable ball launcher, compared to the ginormous ones you see at pro facilities
What We Don’t: It’s a little flimsy and doesn’t have a ton of “oomph” behind its launches

Introducing the Franklin Sports Automatic Pickleball Launcher Machine – your very own pickleball-firing sidekick that’s here to help you polish your skills and become the envy of the court.

Now, don’t let its small stature fool you. This compact and lightweight ball launcher may not be the Incredible Hulk of pickleball machines, but it sure packs a punch for its size. The perfect training companion for those who prefer to keep things low-key and hassle-free, this launcher lets you practice your shots without breaking a sweat (well, almost).

As I unboxed this little wonder, I couldn’t help but feel like a kid on Christmas morning. Setting it up was a breeze, and within minutes, I was ready to get my pickle on. I’ll admit, the Franklin Sports Automatic Pickleball Launcher Machine isn’t going to fire balls at you like a cannon, but its moderate speed and consistency are perfect for fine-tuning your game and building your confidence.

One of the things I absolutely love about this launcher is its portability. I can easily toss it in my trunk and take it to the park, the gym, or even my buddy’s backyard for a pickleball party (yes, that’s a thing). And with its battery-powered operation, you won’t have to worry about finding an outlet or tripping over cords – just load it up with pickleballs, and you’re good to go! Don’t forget to pick up 4 D batteries, which are not included, if you’re going the battery operated route (it also has an A/C adapter).

Now, if you’re looking for a hardcore, lightning-fast ball machine, this might not be your jam. But if you’re after a compact, portable, and easy-to-use launcher that’ll help you practice at a comfortable pace, then the Franklin Sports Automatic Pickleball Launcher Machine is right up your alley. So go ahead, give it a whirl, and watch your pickleball skills soar to new heights!

See the Franklin Sports Automatic Pickleball Launcher Machine

4. Slam Master Pickleball Training Paddle

Best for: Small spaces, or soft walls that make for a poor volley surface
Paddle Material: Wood
What We Like: You’ll never lose your ball, since it’s attached to the training paddle
What We Don’t: It’s a little cheesy and toy feeling, but in a pinch you can can get some training work done with it

Imagine this: a wooden training paddle connected to a ball by an elastic cord, like a high-tech game of paddleball for the pickleball world. Sounds like a recipe for fun, right? Well, the Slam Master Pickleball Training Paddle offers just that – a unique twist on the classic game that could make your practice sessions a little more entertaining.

I gave this paddle a whirl, and while it’s not going to revolutionize your game, it does have some merits. The attached ball means you won’t be chasing after it every time you miss a shot, which is great for those of us who are, ahem, a little less coordinated. And the elastic cord does provide some decent resistance, helping you develop a bit of wrist strength and control.

Now, let’s talk about the downsides. First off, the paddle is made of wood, which isn’t exactly the gold standard in pickleball paddle materials. It’s a bit heavier and clunkier than your average paddle, so it might take some getting used to. And as for the usefulness of this contraption, well, let’s just say it’s a mixed bag. While it’s a fun way to practice on your own, it doesn’t quite replicate the real deal of playing a game with a partner.

In conclusion, the Slam Master Pickleball Training Paddle is a quirky, middle-of-the-road training aid that might bring a smile to your face, but it won’t necessarily take your game to the next level. If you’re looking for a casual, entertaining way to practice your shots, give it a go – but if you’re after serious training tools, you might want to look elsewhere.

See the Slam Master Pickleball Training Paddle

Best Training Ball

5. PCKL Optic Duotone Ball

Designed For: Outdoor play
Weight: 26g
Circumference: 74mm
Balls Per Pack: 4
What We Like:
Very unique 2-tone design helps you track the ball in the air.
What We Don’t: Would be cool if they offered it on other color schemes.

The PCKL Optic Duotone Ball brings a refreshing twist to the standard pickleball game. Designed with a standout two-tone color scheme, this ball is easy to track in flight, making it a valuable addition to any training session.

From the first glance, the Optic Duotone Ball catches your eye. Its unique color combination, unlike any other pickleball I’ve seen, immediately stands out. The contrast of the two colors significantly enhances visibility, especially when the ball is in motion. No longer do you need to strain your eyes trying to follow a single-toned ball against a bright sky or a busy background.

In terms of performance, the Optic Duotone Ball doesn’t disappoint. It offers a consistent bounce, excellent durability, and a good weight for a balanced feel in the hand. The high-visibility design has made a noticeable difference in my ability to react to and intercept shots, enabling more dynamic and engaging play.

As a training aid, this ball is superb. Its design encourages focus and improves tracking skills, which is especially useful when working on fast volleys or tricky spin shots. In drills and practice sessions, the ball’s visibility helped me to improve my reaction time and accuracy, essentially enhancing my overall performance.

See the PCKL Optic Duotone Ball

Best Paddle Tape

6. PIQL Lead Tape

What We Like: Customizable Weight Distribution. Easy Application, Long-Lasting Performance.
What We Don’t: Only available in one color.

The standout feature of PIQL’s lead tape is its customizable weight distribution. The tape allows users to cut and shape it to their specifications, enabling them to achieve the perfect paddle balance tailored to their unique playing style. This adjustability meant I could modify the paddle’s weight until it felt just right, allowing me to dominate on the court with a newfound precision.

The application process of the tape is deceptively simple. With its peel-and-stick design, I could swiftly secure it to my paddle, and its bond was remarkably durable. During several intense gameplay sessions, the tape didn’t show any signs of wear or coming off, a testament to its adhesive strength. Moreover, once I added the lead tape to my paddle, there was a noticeable uptick in my performance. It felt as though I had an edge, improving my volleys, smashes, and dinks. The tape also proved to be a wonderful gift idea. After sharing it with a few fellow pickleball enthusiasts, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, making it an excellent surprise for both casual players and competitive tournament participants.

However, there are a couple of considerations to keep in mind. Firstly, while the customizability is an advantage, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some players, especially beginners, may find the added weight a bit overwhelming or unnecessary. It’s essential to assess one’s gameplay needs before making the commitment. Secondly, there is a slight learning curve after applying the tape. I had to familiarize myself with the adjusted weight distribution during several games. This period of adjustment might be a bit longer for some players, particularly those firmly accustomed to a specific paddle weight.

For more information, read my in-depth review of the PIQL Lead Tape. See the PIQL Lead Tape

What to Look for in a Pickleball Training Aid

Buckle up, grab a snack (preferably something pickled), and let’s dive into the essential features you should look for in a top-notch training aid.

Purpose

First things first, figure out what aspect of your game needs the most work. Are your dinks a disaster? Is your volley vexing? Or is your serve simply sad? Pick a training aid that targets your specific pickleball pain points and watch your skills soar.

Portability

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a private pickleball court in your backyard (in which case, can we be friends?), you’ll want a training aid that’s easy to lug around. Look for lightweight, compact options that won’t break your back or take up too much space in your trunk.

Durability

Let’s be real – pickleball can be intense, and your training aid needs to keep up. Opt for high-quality materials and sturdy construction that can withstand the test of time (and the occasional frustrated paddle smash).

Ease of use

The best training aids are user-friendly and hassle-free. You don’t want to spend hours setting up and taking down your gear – you want to get straight to the good stuff: playing pickleball! Choose a training aid that’s quick and easy to set up so you can maximize your practice time.

Fun factor

Last but certainly not least, pick a training aid that makes practice enjoyable. The more you enjoy using it, the more likely you are to stick to your training routine, and the better your game will become.

Now, why should you invest in a training aid, you ask? Well, my pickleball protégés, the benefits are bountiful. A top-notch training aid can help you hone your skills, boost your confidence, and ultimately, level up your game. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to get in some extra practice, even when you don’t have a partner or can’t make it to the court. So, go forth, my friends, and embrace the power of the training aid. Your pickleball prowess awaits!

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