I always love it when an innovative paddle design shakes things up. Too many paddles these days blend into the background, offering minor variations on familiar themes.
The Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy grabbed my attention for its unique elongated shape and thermoforming production methods. Its design promises to deliver something refreshing and disruptive to the category. I’d wanted to play pickleball for a while with a more tennis-feeling paddle with an extra-long handle. So, I’ve been pretty excited to try this one out.
In this review, I’ll analyze the Pro Line Energy’s tech specs and lay out my first-hand experience of its performance. You’ll get an unfiltered look at the good, the bad, and everything in between. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll know if this new paddle entry deserves a spot in your bag. You can also checkout my review of the new Pickleball Apes Pro Line Energy S paddle.
PB Apes Pro Line Energy Technical Specifications
$149.99($135 with Discount Code: DASHPB)
- Shape: Hybrid
- Core: Narrow-cell Honeycomb Poly
- Core thickness: 16.5mm
- Face: Dynamic Kevlar (blend of Kevlar & Carbon fiber)
- Grip length: 6.25″
- Grip circumference: 4.25″
- Average weight: 8.0 -8.2 oz
- Swingweight: 120
- Twistweight: 5.9
- Thermoformed: Yes
- Total length: 17″
- Width: 7″
The Pro Line Energy stands out in a crowded paddle market with its unique elongated shape, an extra long handle, and its first-to-market hybrid Kevlar-Carbon fiber face (Kevlar was just in paddle cores prior). I was immediately intrigued by its attractive price and unique shape when it was first announced.
Overall, I’ve found this paddle very pleasing to use once I passed through an initial adjustment period. The paddle has power, spin, control, and feel. I’m glad they used thermoforming tech for this, as the method improves sweet spot, power, responsiveness, and durability.
Along with the length and higher sweet spot, the Kevlar-carbon fiber face takes getting used. I don’t think Kevlar is just a gimmick. It does feel unique and responsive. More on that later.
While you can access good power due to its shape, I find the paddle skews more control-focused and performs quite well for a thermoformed paddle in the soft game on resets, dinks, and drop shots. It does slack a bit on pop and raw power output. It feels plush for a thermoform with its kevlar face and 16.5mm thickness, but it’s still firm compared to non-thermo paddles.
At $135 with discount, the Pro Line energy delivers impressive value, as it is comparable to more expensive paddles in the $200+ range. Its hybrid qualities and affordability make it a great choice for the right type of player.
Now, let’s dive deeper into specific traits and performance.
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The Pro Line Energy’s grip length of 6.25 inches is one of the longest available on the market. Most elongated handles are 5.5 inches. I really enjoy long handles, and this one is my favorite so far.
The leather grip itself feels comfortable and secure in hand, while the length provides excellent real estate for players who use two-handed backhands, as well as anyone who wants extra whip on their shots.
Weight & balance
At 8.1 oz average, the Pro Line Energy isn’t ultra-light or overly heavy. It’s also not head-heavy or unbalanced, which is impressive for a 17″ long paddle. It takes some adjustment to really lean into the higher sweet spot and slight hammer effect of the 17″ length.
How it feels to hit the ball with the Pro Line Energy
The Pro Line Energy is definitely on the controllable side of the thermoformed paddle spectrum. The hybrid Kevlar/Carbon fiber face of the Pro Line Energy produces a softer feel with above-average dwell time.
I really enjoy the unique, less rigid touch of this paddle. Hitting dinks feels great with the long reach and soft responsive feel. The impact distribution is very nice. The paddle face feels responsive and absorbs impact comfortably.
The 16.5mm thickness enhances the plusher feel. While still stiff due to the thermoformed production methods, this paddle reminded me more of my soft Hyperion CFS than other thermoform paddles.
Power is funny with this paddle. It doesn’t have the same raw power as some of the top power paddles that I’ve played with. It’s softer and more control-oriented than those paddles. But you can leverage its length/whip to drive the ball incredibly hard and fast when you use big strokes that max out plow through.
For example, my counters and more compact drives with the Pro Line Energy are not outstandingly powerful, but my serves and groundstrokes from the baseline have felt insanely fast and potent. The leverage you get from the high sweet spot really delivers the power when hit right. Overheads are super fun, too.
On first glance, I think bangers and tennis players, in particular, will be able to make the most use of the power potential of this paddle out of the gate. But the paddle is well-rounded enough for advanced players who play a more finesse-focused game, as well.
Against expectations, the Pro Line Energy generated substantial pop and speed to attacks despite its length and plushness.
While not incredibly powerful, my counters and speed-ups really came off the paddle quick. This was surprising, given the above-average dwell time of the paddle, but I’m not complaining. The hybrid face likely assists in this regard, providing a trampoline effect off shots.
After adjusting to the elongated shape, the Pro Line proves a controllable thermoformed paddle. The hybrid Kevlar face and 16.5mm core thickness give the Pro Line Energy a nice plush feel with dwell time that enhances control, allowing for accurate placement.
I’m not a tall player, and the paddle’s length provides extra reach, enabling me to hit more flicks and grab more dinks out of the air at the kitchen, improving my NVZ game. I can get good rolls with it also due to the nice dwell time.
I was a bit concerned about the narrower width initially, but the sweet spot is really good on this paddle. The foam-injected edges really deliver. You do have to find the paddle’s sweet spot as it’s higher up than most paddles, but give it time. It’ll feel good once you do.
The Pro Line Energy is in the top of the heap for spin performance. The hybrid face has a nice grit and texture. My spin test numbers had it close to 2,000 RPM, which is very high.
I think the elongated length really helps add extra whip to spin shots, and the kevlar surface with its enhanced dwell time adds even more spin potency.
Related: Best Pickleball Paddles for Spin
While beneficial in many ways, the elongated shape does slow reaction time on close-range shots by inhibiting fast changes in direction. With a 120 swing weight, the Pro Line Energy isn’t going to feel sluggish like some elongated paddles. But it also isn’t going to break records for hand speed.
If you require a lightweight paddle that improves your reflexes at the kitchen, this paddle shouldn’t be your first choice. Reactive shots require more focus and user ability due to the extra length. One of the biggest challenges I had with this paddle was countering speed-ups.
That said, it’s not like this is a major Achilles’ heel of the paddle. It’s notable, but the long paddle length doesn’t obstruct maneuverability that much. Overall, the paddle maintains swift, fluid strokes despite its elongated frame. I found it maneuverable enough for most counters, hand-battles, and for taking advantage of speed-up opportunities at the net.
When you have more time, the Pro Line Energies agility is impressive, especially with deep shots from the baseline.
The Pro Line Energy has proven durable like most Gen. 2 thermoformed paddles after the manufacturers resolved the disbonding, delamination, and core crush issues.
Early on it was speculated that the Kevlar paddle surface would have more longevity than raw carbon fiber surfaces, but in my experience, they have about the same durability. This isn’t bad, it just means that the spin performance won’t last forever (same as any paddle on the market).
The Pro Line Energy is priced very well at
$149.99.$135 with code DASHPB.I appreciate that Pickleball Apes has over-delivered value-wise. The Pro Line Energy could have sold for over $200. This pushes larger companies to be more competitive, which is good for everyone.
It’s not uncommon for more specialized and unique paddles that meet or exceed high-priced competitors to cost more than the rest of the market, so again, I’m impressed by the price point and overall value of this paddle.
What type of player is the Pro Line Energy Best For?
If you like high-performing elongated paddles, then this one is definitely worth trying out. If you like square paddles with short handles, look elsewhere.
The elongated shape suits aggressive baseline players who prioritize power and topspin on drives and serves. Singles players and tennis converts come to mind. Its touch and control also appeal to all-around players who toggle between finesse and force. The only area it lacks in is lightning-quick reaction speedm though even there it’s not too bad of a performer.
I really like the balance of power, pop, and control. What is most surprising is the spin it generates and the control it affords on resets and dinking. The paddle isn’t jarring and is quite forgiving compared to most thermos.
It won’t be an elite performer in any one category, but it does everything well. For the right person, its unique blend of characteristics makes it an ideal choice.
This is currently my top paddle and go-to recommendation for singles players, shorter players, and converts coming over from tennis. I know a number of players who’ve made the transition from tennis and have been very happy with the paddle. They love it for powerful, full-extension groundstrokes.
I really like the high sweet spot, controllability, and extra reach to help me compensate for being a shorter player, especially for singles. I also really enjoy using this paddles sibling, the Pro Line Energy S Hybrid paddle, for some of my doubles matches.
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