A question that is often asked by newer players, as well as some not so new, is what type of paddle should I use?
The best answer is usually the one that FEELS good when you swing it.
Different paddles and different brands will all have various characteristics. There are different head sizes, core firmness, weights, and maybe the most important (but not often discussed) is the balance point.
The balance point quite simply is the mid point at which the weight is evenly distributed between the handle and the head. If you have two paddles of the same weight, and one is head weighted (balance point is closer to the head) and the other is handle weighted, they will feel VERY different. The head weighted one will feel much heavier to most people. The more a paddle is weighted towards the head usually makes it tougher for players to control drives, but also provides more power all things being equal as there is more mass at contact. They are also easier to control volleys at the net for the same reason. The closer the weight is to the handle, the more the player needs to swing their arm faster to create the power, but it should be easier to control drives because of this too. Most Xenon paddles are evenly balanced to try to get the best of both worlds, though some models lean a little towards handle heavy (Vortex Light and Vortex+).
When you combine a heavier weight along with a balance point towards the head so it feels heavier, that is one of the contributors to arm fatigue and pain, especially with a lot of play.
All the Xenon paddles have a soft core. This helps to provide more control and just a little extra "pop" from the trampoline effect. Firmer cores often times feel like you are hitting with a solid piece of wood, which makes it harder to control but provides more power.
Head size is also very subjective. With advances in technology for paddle design, more players are going to a mid size or oversize paddle head rather than the smaller traditional or "standard" head size. The Xenon Prime is an example of the standard size head, while all the Vortex models are more of an oversize head, though many have said they don't feel too big and play like a midsize. The larger head obviously gives more surface area to hit the ball along with a bigger sweet spot because of it. Though for some, optically, they like to see a smaller head size.
In the end, paddle selection is very subjective. What is right for one player might be completely wrong for another. The best bet is just to try different paddles at your local pro shop or from other players until you find one that fits YOU best. We hope that will be a Xenon paddle.
If you have any other questions or are wondering what in the Xenon line would be comparable to a paddle you are using from another company, just ask us. We'd be glad to help.