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Test Drive Pickleball Paddles in Calgary

Our customers test drive more than 1000 racquets every year.

Racquet Network customers test drive more than 1000 racquets and pickleball paddles every year.

This try-before-you-buy program is a central focus of our business. It allow players an opportunity to try a variety of racquets and figure out which one fits them best before they commit to buying it.

This program — we call it our Try Before You Buy program — is open to all sports, including pickleball.

Most, but not all pickleball paddles that we carry are available for players to test drive. The only paddles that are excluded from our test drive program are low priced, low risk paddles and/or special order paddles that are only available from the warehouse. The vast majority of our core products, that is paddles that we typically carry in-store, are available for customers to test drive.

So come in to our store in southwest Calgary and talk to one of our experts. We can get you set up and test driving paddles today.

Test Drive Pickleball Paddles

Our try-before-you-buy program allows players an opportunity to try a variety of pickleball paddles and figure out which one fits them best before they commit to buying one.

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Choosing Racquets: Do Brands Matter?


Racquet Network has been helping customers choose racquets since 2004. Over the years, we have seen thousands of frames (and thousands of features) come and go. One year the, hot feature is a “flex point”. The next year it’s “titanium”. The year after that, it’s “recessed grommet technology”.

The truth is that some of these hot features are genuine technological innovations but most of them, unfortunately, are just marketing pitches. Every manufacturer wants you to believe that their frame is special. If you believe it is special, you will want to buy it. Therefore they are constantly tweaking their frames and adding features in order to swing more customers their way.

Sadly, too many customers fall for the marketing. Equally sad is the fact that so many customers buy particular racquets just because they are endorsed by celebrity athletes.

Racquets are like hammers. They are tools designed to accomplish specific tasks. If you are building a house, you want to use claw hammer. If you are shaping metal, you want a ball peen hammer. If you are breaking up concrete, you want a sledge hammer. But whether your hammer is made by Stanley, Craftsman or Dewalt is not really important. All three of these companies make all three of these hammers. Picking the right tool for the job matters much more than the brand.

The same is true for racquets. Wilson ™, Babolat ™, Head, Yonex ™ and Tecnifibre ™ all make tennis racquets. They make racquets for casual players, they make racquets for recreational players and they make racquets for professionals. All of these companies make racquets for doubles and racquets for singles. And they all make racquets that work for both.

At Racquet Network, we focus on carrying brands that are very well made. We avoid junk brands. We avoid brands who spend their money on celebrity endorsements and favor brands who spend their money on research and development. By doing this, we ensure a high level of satisfaction amongst our customers. In other words, we do this because we want happy customers who come back over and over again.

Just as hammers are tools, racquets are containers for string. Picking the right frame for the job (singles, doubles or both) is important, but it’s only half the battle. Once you have the right frame, you have to customize it to your playing style and frequency. Nothing breaks our hearts faster than watching a customer spend $300 on a racquet only to have it strung with $10.00 string. We would much rather see customers spend $200 on the frame and $40.00 on good string.

Brand, as we said earlier, is not the most important consideration in choosing a racquet. Nor is a celebrity endorsement. Our staff are trained to ask new customers a series of questions in order to narrow things down to the proper category in just few minutes. Once we have the category right, we find something in the right grip size. After that, we pick out a few frames to consider in detail.

Once the frame is in hand, we start the process of customizing it for our customers. First we ask a series of questions that help us figure out what the customer wants or needs the string to do. Once we have that information we pick out three strings at three different price points and consider them in more detail.

At the end of the process, we are certain that the customer has a frame suited to their general needs that is precisely customized for their particular needs as a player. This is true whether customers play tennis, squash, badminton or racquetball. And it is for this reason above all that we have the highest overall rate of customer satisfaction in Calgary.

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How Much to Spend on a Pickleball Paddle

The Wilson Tour BLX pickleball paddle is one of our top selling models.
In the past six years, we have watched the retail prices for pickleball paddles climb from an average of about $40 per paddle to $200.00 and more.

Does this make sense? Not really.

What you are seeing reflected in these price increases are poor choices made by pickleball paddle manufacturers. Rather than making their paddles in large numbers in factories, they are choosing to make them in small numbers locally. The result isn’t better paddles, it’s costlier paddles.

Paying $200 for a pickleball paddle doesn’t make anybody a better pickleball player. It just makes them poorer. The truth is that a good player is just as good with a $20.00 wooden paddle as he is with a $200.00 graphite paddle.

What has been driving pickleball paddle prices rapidly upward over the past few years is marketing. A tiny number of overpriced lifestyle brands have convinced some very gullible people that a few cosmetic changes make their paddles worth a lot more than they were charging just a year ago.

These manufacturers are now making paddles for less than they ever have while at the same time charging distributors more for each and every one of them. In order to sustain this unsustainable business model, these “lifestyle brands” have convinced a large group of retired people to peddle their paddles for little or no return. In other words, they are using cheap volunteer labour to put more money in their own pockets.

Capitalism is great, of course. We are big fans of it ourselves. However, there are times when things get completely out of hand and this is one of them.

Wilson Pickleball Paddles

Wilson makes reasonably priced pickleball paddles suitable for all levels of play.

Luxury pickleball paddles are nice, but they are not necessary and using one certainly doesn’t make you a better player. Wilson, one of the world’s leading racquet manufacturers, offers a line of paddles that are perfectly fine for use at all levels.

The Wilson Profile and the Wilson Tour BLX are best for beginner to intermediate players, while the lightweight Wilson Energy and Wilson Surge paddles are suitable for intermediate to advanced players.

None of these four paddles are expensive. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices range from $80.00 to $120.00 but virtually every store who sells Wilson pickleball paddles sells them for less.

So consumers how have a choice. They can spend $200.00 on a luxury paddle or they can spend the same amount and get a perfectly suitable pickleball paddle AND a pair of court shoes.

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Best Pickleball Paddles?

Wilson Profile is our best selling paddle.
As Canada’s largest pickleball supplier, we answer a lot of questions about pickleball paddles. The question we hear most often is this: Which pickleball paddle should I buy?

There are certainly lots of choices out there. So this is a pretty general question. The way we answer it depends on whether the person to whom we are speaking is a recreational player or a competitive player.

Recreational pickleball players, we will explain, tend to expect their paddles to last forever while competitive players don’t. Competitive players understand that even the best paddles wear out and break down over time. So durability is not usually a major issue to them.

Recreation players, on the other hand, tend to care a great deal about durability. In fact, some of them seem to believe that a pickleball paddle is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase.

Racquet Selector For a full list of racquets in this category, please check out our ONLINE RACQUET SELECTOR. You can sort by sport, gender, brand, size, weight, balance and more.

For players in this category we usually recommend 2G pickleball paddles complete with edge guards. we also recommend that they choose a brand well-known for durability, such as Wilson.

Although they look a little old fashioned compared to sleek, modern, edgeless 3G pickleball paddles preferred by competitive players, the edge guards on 2G paddles perform an important function — they protect the most vulnerable part of the paddle from damage.

Are we saying that 2G paddles will last forever?

No, we’re not. Many of the 2G paddles made by US manufacturers have cardboard cores — sometimes call “composite” cores. If one of these “composite” paddles is in your bag when you have a major water bottle leak, the cardboard may suck up the water and permanently damage your pickleball paddle.

Sadly, no pickleball paddle will last forever. The best you can do is to go with trusted brands and to ask questions about warranties.

Racquet Selector For a full list of racquets in this category, please check out our ONLINE RACQUET SELECTOR. You can sort by sport, gender, brand, size, weight, balance and more.

Pickleball Paddle Warranties

Wilson, the largest sporting goods manufacturer in the world, offers a one-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects on its Xcel, Profile, Surge and BLX Tour paddles. Pickle-Ball Inc, the world’s oldest pickleball manufacturer offers at three month warranty on their whole line.

Ask the person you are buying the paddle from how they handle warranty issues. If you are buying paddles from some guy selling them out of his bag, chances are that you won’t get warranty protection when you need it most. However, if you are buying your paddles from a legitimate retailer, you can expect a higher level of service.

Here at Racquet Network, all Wilson warranty issues are dealt with right in our Calgary store. No shipping is necessary for local customer. However, with Pickle-ball Inc paddles, the customer has to ship the defective paddle back to the manufacturer in the US at their own expense.

That fact, combined with the polymer cores in all Wilson pickleball paddles, generally leads us to recommend Wilson paddles to recreational players for whom durability is a major concern.

Racquet Selector For a full list of racquets in this category, please check out our ONLINE RACQUET SELECTOR. You can sort by sport, gender, brand, size, weight, balance and more.
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2G Pickleball Paddles Get a Second Chance

Wilson Tour Pro is a standard 2G pickleball paddle with a polymer core
It seems hard to believe, but people have been making pickleball paddles since 1964.

The first generation of paddles — now known as 1G pickleball paddles — were carved out of wood in garages in the US Northwest. Paddle manufacturers were few and far between into the early 1980s, so many players who wanted them had to make their own.

The 1970s and 1980s saw the birth of a new generation of pickleball paddles (2G) made up of layers glued together and finished with a plastic edge guard that runs around the entire perimeter of the paddle. By the mid-1990s this format dominated the industry and virtually all pickleball paddles were made this way.

The early 2000s saw the development of 3G paddles which were similar to their 2G forerunners but which lacked the characteristic edge guards that distinguish 2G paddles from other generations. The problem with the earliest 3G paddles was a lack of durability. They were lighter and faster than their clunky 2G ancestors, but their exposed edges made them more susceptible to damage.

A further problem with early 3G paddle designs was that their light-weight and brittle foam cores deteriorated rather quickly. In some cases, brand new pickleball paddles sounded like mariachis just a few weeks out of the package. Fortunately for 3G fans, Wilson Sporting Goods solved those issues with the development of a nomex honeycomb core that stands up much longer than the foam cores in early 3G paddles.

Problems with some 3G paddles in the 2009-2013 period drove many 3G converts back, resulting in a resurgence in popularity for 2G paddles. For 2G paddle manufacturers like Pickle-Ball Inc. this offered a second chance to prepare for the massive changes that were about to take hold of the pickleball manufacturing industry.