What is a thermoformed paddle? Unveiling the Secrets of Thermoformed Pickleball Paddles

What is a thermoformed paddle? Unveiling the Secrets of Thermoformed Pickleball Paddles

Pickleball has recently exploded onto the racquet sports scene. There were an estimated 36.5 million players last year and is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. With the rise in popularity, players are looking for an edge over their opponents. This has led to major technical advancements over the past few years with paddle technology. Thermoforming is one of these technologies that has become a game changer for pickleball paddles.

What is thermoforming?

Before diving into the specifics of thermoformed pickleball paddles, it's essential to grasp the concept of thermoforming. Often used interchangeably with hot press molding, thermoforming is a pivotal manufacturing process in paddle production. During this process, components of the paddle – facesheets, the core, and the carbon seam edge – are carefully arranged in a specialized mold. The application of both heat and pressure, combined with the use of epoxy resin, ensures that these individual pieces are effectively fused together. The result of this meticulous process is a seamlessly integrated, or "thermoformed", pickleball paddle.

What does the inside of a thermoformed paddle look like?

In the photo of our YSF paddle cut open, seen above, you can see the different components of a thermoformed paddle.

  1. Polypropylene honeycomb core
  2. Foam injected edges
  3. Carbon seam creating the unibody structure
  4. Carbon seam separating foam and core
  5. Edge guard


For comparison, here is a gen 1.5 style paddle which is not fully thermoformed. You can see the exposed foam which would be covered by an edge guard.

Inside a gen 1.5 style pickleball paddle

Thermoformed Pickleball Paddle Advantages

Consistency in Performance

Due to the controlled manufacturing process, these paddles offer consistent power and feel, which is crucial for players who value precision and predictability in their equipment.


Compared to traditional “sandwich paddles,” thermoformed paddles boast significantly greater durability. The unibody design, resulting from the thermoforming process, reinforces the paddle's structure, making it almost impossible to break. This durability ensures that players can rely on their paddles over extended periods, even under rigorous play conditions.

Larger sweet spot

Thermoforming, creates a unibody structure with seamless integration of the paddle components. This integrated structure leads to enhanced rigidity and stability across the entire paddle face. A more stable paddle face can absorb and redistribute the impact of the ball more efficiently, which expands the sweet spot compared to sandwich (gen 1) style paddles. This leads to more stability on off center hits.

More power

Due to the unibody construction, thermoformed paddles typically produce more power than gen 1 or gen 1.5 style paddles. The downside is that you may lose some control or “touch” at the net. 

Thermoformed Paddle Disadvantages


The advanced manufacturing process can make thermoformed paddles slightly more expensive than other types of pickleball paddles. Luckily, the costs have come down considerably over the past year. Companies like 11SIX24 produce thermoformed paddles such as the YSF and Hurache-X that are comparable in price to gen 1 style paddles.

Subject to core crush or corruption (sometimes referred to as delamination)

One of the biggest paddle controversies of 2023 was core crushed and delaminated paddles. A core crushed paddle will generate exponentially more power than a non core crushed paddle. This is due to a “trampoline effect” where the paddle pockets the ball on contact and then the ball launches off the paddle. This is due to the core being crushed which happens during the manufacturing process.  A majority of companies have refined their manufacturing process which has largely eliminated crushed cores.

Thermoformed pickleball paddles represent a blend of modern technology and sports equipment innovation. While they may not be for everyone, their durability, consistency, and balance of power/control make them a worthy consideration for players looking to enhance their game. As with any sports equipment, the best paddle is the one that feels right for you, so it's worth trying out different types to find your perfect match. You can check out our affordable thermoformed paddles here.

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