CJ Johnson Headshot
CJ Johnson
Tony Roig
Tony Roig

Diadem Icon Pickleball Paddle Review

The Diadem Icon Pickleball Paddle is the best paddle you haven’t heard of … yet. If you are looking for a paddle that offers perhaps the best overall playability; comfort, control, power, and feel of any paddle out there, read on.

And if you decide to go with the Diadem Icon paddle, make sure to use the code VIPickleball to get our discounted price – you won’t find a better price – if you do send me an email at Tony@wearepickleball.com. To use the code, simply order the paddle directly from Diadem here (copy this link in your browser if it does not automatically take you there: https://www.diadempickleball.com/pages/elevate-your-game).

Who is Diadem Pickleball?

Diadem has made a place for itself in the tennis world with a small but loyal following. Diadem wanted to provide pickleball players the same quality they do to tennis players and so the company spent the past 2 years designing their pickleball paddles. Rather than rebranding existing paddle technology with their name, they designed a whole new paddle from the ground up. It definitely shows in the resulting Icon paddle.

Jill and I received our Miami-Vice styled (more on this below) Diadem Icon paddle to test drive about 2 months ago (why was the paddle under wraps for so long before we told you about it? Well, we wanted to give it a thorough test drive before sharing it with you).

The first thing we noticed after opening the paddle was that it looked different than any paddle we have played with or even seen. And we have played with and tested lots (and lots) of paddles.

In design, the Icon is both sleek and elegant. Its edges taper, but just a bit. Its sunken edge guard has a few details, but not too many. The paddle’s graphics are interesting without being overbearing.

The paddle has a matte face – not reflective like many paddles. Unlike any other paddle I have ever played with or seen, the Icon’s face is a rubber surface (proprietary polyurethane Spin RP technology to be precise). That makes the plastic balls we use in pickleball “stick” to the paddle more so than on other paddles.

So far so good. The paddle was well constructed (solid-looking, you could say) and the weight felt good in the hand. It even had the paddle balance written on its face. Diadem is the only paddle manufacturer to publish this information about its paddles. If you want to know about paddle balance and why it is so important, check out this video (copy https://youtu.be/s02Z6v9CQTI into your browser if the link does not work).

The key takeaway on the weight of this paddle is that it feels balanced in your hand. That is 70% of the paddle decision-making process right there.

If you want to know about paddle balance and why it is so important, check out this video (copy https://youtu.be/s02Z6v9CQTI into your browser if the link does not work).

So how did the Diadem Icon paddle perform once we got on court with it?

In one word: awesome.

The paddle’s carbon fiber face and thin polypropylene honeycomb core provides a nice blend of stiffness and comfort. Shots come off the paddle firm – but not too firm. You have control, without sacrificing power. The paddle flows effortlessly from shot to shot.

I have played with the paddle several times and have enjoyed it immensely. The paddle has a high degree of playability – as much or more than any other paddle I have played with. The only reason I am not playing with the paddle right now is that Jill (my wife for those of you who do not know) tried it and liked it enough to commandeer it.

Jill has been hitting with different paddles for the last year or so trying to find a paddle that provided the playability she was looking for and at the same time did not hurt her arm. The Diadem Icon has not disappointed. As I mentioned above, Jill liked it so much that it has moved from my bag to hers.🤨

A few highlights about the Diadem Icon paddle:

  • Soft-touch – gives you the control you want out there without sacrificing much in the power department.
  • Maneuverable at the net – easy to get the paddle around and in position to hit your next shot.
  • Good shot feedback – you know what type of shot you hit as soon as the ball leaves the paddle.
  • Comfortable on the arm – Jill doesn’t need to ice her arm after every time she plays.
  • Grip to please different players – The Icon has worked great with Jill’s two-handed backhand. Grip length should not be an issue with this paddle. Both Jill and I, with our differing hand sizes, found the grip size to be comfortable.

What else should you know about the Diadem Icon?

Jill says she will likely take the next Diadem Icon coming our way – the white one. She is not as fond of the Miami Vice design on our paddle as I am. I did say there would be more about this. Diadem is based out of South Florida. Thus, in addition to their black and white Icon paddles, they offer it in an awesome art deco Miami Vice style with pink and all.

I also mentioned that we have had the paddle for a couple of months. This has allowed us to really play with the paddle. To toss it into our bags and head out to the courts. Play with it. And play with it again. Really test it out. We have not had an edge guard separate, corner crack, or other mishaps that some paddles exhibit. We have also noticed no drop in the playability of the paddle during these 2 months – key to our recommending the paddle.

If you are looking for a paddle with unmatched playability, the Diadem Icon paddle is definitely worth a serious look. If you are having any sort of arm, wrist, or hand pain from playing pickleball, the balance and softness of this paddle may just be what the doctor ordered.

A couple of final notes on the Diadem Icon.

The fact that we are reviewing the Icon is, in itself, evidence that we believe in the paddle. We are solicited all the time to review or endorse products. We only endorse products that we, ourselves, use or would use. The Diadem Icon paddle is a perfect example: it is the paddle Jill plays with and my paddle (to replace the one I “lost” to Jill) is on its way.

As we mentioned above, you can use the code VIPickleball to get our discounted price at checkout by visiting Diadem here (copy this link in your browser if it does not automatically take you there: https://www.diadempickleball.com/pages/elevate-your-game). We receive a small commission when you purchase with the link. The commission allows us to continue bringing you this information as well as the videos, podcasts, and other materials we publish on a regular basis.

Last, but certainly not least, here are the specifications for the Diadem Icon Lite and Mid weights. The only difference is 0.3 oz in total weight. Given the good weight balance of the paddle, I cannot see there is a difference between the two in action. You can always add weight with lead tape in any event. If you are not sure how to do it, send me an email at Tony@wearepickleball.com and I will send you a link to our paddle customization guide.

Icon Mid
Weight 7.7 oz 8.0oz
Length 16 in 16 in
Width 7.6 in 7.6 in
Thickness 0.45 in 0.45 in
Balance 237 mm 237 mm
Honeycomb Density 8mm PP 8mm PP
Handle Length 5 inch 5 inch
Grip Size 4 1/8″ 4 1/8″

We reviewed the Diadem Icon paddle. However, we have not played with the Wave paddle and express no opinion about it here.

If you’ve tried the Diadem Icon, we’d love to know what you think of it? Please put it in the comments below.

 

20 Comments

  1. Paula on August 27, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    Great article! Spot on! I absolutely love my diadem icon!!

    • Cathy Jo Johnson on August 28, 2021 at 8:09 am

      Glad to hear you’re loving it. Do you have the Miami Vice graphic?

  2. Stan Dsouza on August 28, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    Love to try Stan Phoenix

    • Cathy Jo Johnson on September 4, 2021 at 2:04 pm

      I believe that Pickleball Central carries the paddle and is part of their try it program. However the VIP discount only applies to paddles ordered direct from Diadem.

  3. Ann Maes on August 28, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    Can it be used for tournament play?? Where is it made?

    • Blake Wilson on August 28, 2021 at 6:55 pm

      Unfortunately this paddle is made in China. Don’t understand why a good domestic manufacturer could not be used.

  4. Bernadette Montgomery on August 29, 2021 at 4:13 am

    Has it been approved by the USA Pickleball ? I play a lot of Tournaments.

  5. J. on August 29, 2021 at 7:11 am

    Is this paddle better suited for more advanced players rather than beginners?

    • Cathy Jo Johnson on September 2, 2021 at 9:21 pm

      No. This paddle is suited for any level player. Prior racket-sports experience, the physical size of the player (ability to handle weight in the paddle), whether the player favors power or control, two-handed backhands, and similar characteristics may determine whether one paddle is better than another. But the level of play is generally not a determinant of paddle suitability.

  6. Marcia Hartman on August 30, 2021 at 9:12 am

    It was great to see your review on the Diadem Icon. I am a 4.0 player who purchased the Icon a couple months ago. I have purchased a lot of paddles and can usually decide whether or not I like the paddle fairly quickly. My friend first ordered the Icon. When he let me try it I was amazed by how much it fit my game. It had plenty of power and yet great feel on my drop shots and dinks. Love the ability to spin a d slice my shots. Love the paddle!

  7. Ernie Medina on September 12, 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Been demo’ing for a couple of weeks, and now have played in some small local RR’s. Learned about it from a friend here who is sponsored by them. I wasn’t too interested in trying it because most of my past paddles (2 big companies and 1 smaller one) have been great paddles and also gifts!

    But after trying this one out, I was amazed at how it played. Like you said, I felt like I had extra grip on the ball, and I noticed it most when I do my forehand topspin drop from the BL. It felt like it “stuck” to my paddle a bit longer so I could be a lot more confident in my drop with the top spin.

    Also it felt so maneuverable at the NVZL that I felt I was winning more hand battles.

    I was a bit concerned of the thinned initially, like when hitting volleys from hard drives, or low volleys at my feet in the TZ when coming up and they drive it at me. But it handled it all without deflecting back! Felt solid without feeling heavy or sluggish.

    Impressed with the edge guard; had past paddles where the edge guard came loose and then I felt and heard dead spots near the loose section. So will be interesting to see how this edge guard holds up. (I did have once instance where I had to lunge to my right to get a shot, and I put my paddle down to balance myself from falling over, and when brought it back up, the screw at the very top of the paddle 12’o clock was a little bit raised up so I pushed it back in and it went back down. May need to contact them about that.)

    Other than that, love the play of it and hope it brings me to a golden ticket at West Regionals this week!

    Ernie Medina, JR
    Loma Linda, CA

    • Musashi Yamasaki on November 26, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      I am in Love with my new Diadem Warrior, have you had a chance to try it as well as the ICON?

      • Tony Roig on November 26, 2021 at 2:28 pm

        Hello Musashi. I have played with the Warrior. It seems like a fine thick-core paddle but did not dethrone the Icon as our preferred paddle. Glad you are having success with it.

  8. Peter O'Karma on September 28, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    Tony & CJ,

    I enjoy the instructional content that you put together and have incorporated a number of your techniques/strategies into my game. It’s helped a bunch. I especially enjoyed The Pickleball Summit and the great topics and speakers.

    I currently switch between a Prince Response Pro and Selkirk Vanguard Hybrid Invikta. I find the Prince adds a little more pop to my shots while the Selkirk feels softer and has more ‘feel’ over the Prince. I read your article a few weeks ago on the Diadem Icon paddle and decide to give one a try. It’s a home run! For me, it combines the pop of the Prince, with ‘feel’ of the Selkirk. Thanks for the Icon review and recommendation. Please keep producing great instructional and informative content and stay well.

    Cheers,
    Peter

  9. Rusty Linn on September 30, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    Reference was made about the face of the paddle in 2 different paragraphs. First it was identified as” Unlike any other paddle I have ever played with or seen, the Icon’s face is a rubber surface (proprietary polyurethane Spin RP technology to be precise)” next it’s stated” The paddle’s carbon fiber face and thin polypropylene honeycomb core ” so I’m confused as to face construction. Thanks for the review though i play the engage pursuit but would like to test drive the icon

    • Tony Roig on November 26, 2021 at 2:30 pm

      Hello Rusty. Paddle faces generally have several layers. The “rubber” layer is the outermost layer. The carbon fiber would be under it. Hope this helps. It is an amazing paddle.

  10. BOB BUTNARI on November 25, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    Best paddle I’ve ever played with!
    It has a rubbery surface which makes the soft game so easy…dinks, softening a hard volley, third ball drops.
    Yet it has the power to punch back that hard volley, smash a lob for a put away, serve and return serve deep…yes, a soft paddle with power, hard to believe, but very true.
    I’m a 4.5 player, and somewhat of a paddle geek…have tried a multitude of paddles from most manufacturers…buy and sell, buy and sell…this one isn’t going anywhere, in fact, I’ve bought a second.
    The 8 oz. is the perfect weight for me, I like how thin it is, and the traditional shape is what i was looking for.
    In my opinion, it’s the perfect paddle.

    • Tony Roig on November 26, 2021 at 2:29 pm

      Thanks for the comment Bob. Appreciate hearing your thoughts about the paddle.

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