I was super excited to do a Vatic Pro Flash review, a thermoformed paddle that costs just $140. Its cheaper cousin—the Vatic Pro PRISM Flash—was my favorite paddle under $100 this year, so I wanted to see how the Flash compared on the courts.
Read on to see why I chose this paddle as my favorite intermediate pick in my list of the best pickleball paddles in 2023.
My verdict4.5There are no gimmicks here. I believe what Vatic Pro is saying here: the Flash really is a top paddle to rival some of the best from JOOLA and CRBN. However, instead of spending over $230, this one is only $140, which is more suited to most intermediate players. If you're buying your first step-up paddle, I can't recommend this enough.
Buy or pass?
You're an intermediate player:
this is my top intermediate paddle in 2023—it's loaded with spin but is super soft for a thermoformed paddle.
You're on a budget:
if you want an elite paddle that costs under $150, this is a great option.
You want a forgiving paddle:
the Flash is one of the most forgiving paddles I've played with in 2023.
You're a hard hitter:
players who need maximum power should check out the Bread & Butter Filth.
You're not ready for a thermoformed paddle:
the Vatic Pro PRISM Flash is its more forgiving, non-thermoformed cousin.
You want something super stable:
this doesn't reach the level of a JOOLA Hyperion when it comes to that clean, solid feel on volleys.
7.8-8 oz (14 mm) / 8-8.2 oz (16 mm)
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Thermoformed paddles aren't usually known for their forgiveness, so I was really surprised by this paddle. It's got such a large sweet spot that is super consistent—even more so than the PRISM. I'd even say it's one of the most forgiving paddles I've ever used.
The feel helped me with my soft game too. This paddle felt a lot lighter than its 8.2 oz, and I felt confident in fast hands battles.
Watch my first thoughts on the Flash:
For me, the main area that's lacking is power. Control-oriented players won't mind so much, but I wanted a bit more zip in my shots. I especially felt this on volleys. Too many of them landed short, giving my opponents a chance to reset.
There were easy putaways that just didn't have enough zip to finish, so power players might have a hard time with the Flash.
Once I'd learned to swing hard with it, I was surprised by how much power I got. I hit a few third-shot drives that were hard and fast—clean winners. However, all that swinging left me a bit tired, so I can see power players who are prone to fatigue or injury struggling with this.
That said, this is still my favorite intermediate paddle in 2023. It offers enough of the power and durability benefits of a thermoformed paddle with a soft, forgiving feel that will help you win games and keep gaining confidence.
Softer than any thermoformed paddle I've played with
Plays much lighter than weight suggests
If you like to swing hard, you'll get plenty of power
May tire out players prone to injury or fatigue
Too soft on volleys
Less stable than many other 16 mm paddles
Let's take a deep dive into the build and makeup of this paddle and see how it compares to other top paddles.
Toray T700 carbon fiber
Vatic Pro has somehow managed to build this affordable paddle out of the same heat-pressed Toray T700 carbon fiber that premium brands like CRBN and Gearbox use. This is super exciting for the future of pickleball as it means top-quality paddles are becoming available for a lot cheaper.
T700 carbon fiber not only makes the paddle more durable, but it loads up a ton of spin off the face. I was impressed with the spin I could get with the Flash. It was honestly not far off my top spin paddle of 2023, the Legacy Pro.
Considering this has a thermoformed, unibody design, I expected more power but a stiffer feel. While the stiffness was there, the Flash did let me down on power.
Don't get me wrong—the power was decent. I was able to get what I needed from it, but it's nowhere near the levels of other thermoformed paddles like the Bread & Butter Filth and the Six Zero DBD Control.
That said, this only costs $140 and you're getting a really long-lasting and durable paddle for that price.
I'm excited to see this technology, which worked so well in the JOOLA Hyperion two years ago, now being used in a paddle that costs $140. Having foam injected in the walls is designed to expand the sweet spot, and my testing confirmed the Flash has a really large one.
While this is also meant to provide more stability, I did find this a bit lacking here. It was noticeably less stable than the gold-standard JOOLA Hyperion. So, while this tech is appearing more often now, not every paddle is able to match JOOLA's results.
Power is probably the Flash's weakest point. As long as you don't expect a power paddle, though, there's a lot to like. Since this paddle is so forgiving and soft, you can swing really hard and maintain your accuracy.
I could put almost any amount of swing on a serve and the ball would stay in, which I really liked. I could even play an aggressive game with hard drives. The one downside to this is that amping up my swing speed did tire me out after a long session.
The Flash is really good in the control department. Whether I was hitting a simple drop or a more advanced low topspin drop, my accuracy was great.
Third shot drops have always been the hardest shot for me, as with many players, but I could hit them consistently with this paddle.
With it being a thermoformed paddle, the Flash is a little less controlled than its non-thermoformed cousin, the PRISM. That said, the Flash is the softest thermoformed paddle I've played with, which really helped my touch game.
This paddle is a spin machine. I wasn't expecting this given its low price point, but I'd honestly put this right up there with the CRBN-1X and the Legacy Pro—two of the best spin paddles in 2023.
The Flash can deliver the kind of topspin that dips at your opponent's feet, even if the shot doesn't have the power behind it that those other paddles can deliver.
It's very rare for me to give a thermoformed paddle 10/10 for forgiveness, but this is the Flash's best attribute. Thanks to the hybrid shape, you get a nice, large sweet spot. I could go an entire 2-3 hour session without a single mishit.
It also didn't pop the ball up too much for me, which is usually one of my big complaints with thermoformed paddles. This paddle's forgiveness is perfect for advancing intermediates as it'll help them win more games compared to a poppier, more powerful paddle like the Six Zero DBD.
I tested a 16 mm paddle weighing 8.2 oz. It felt solid while also playing a lot lighter than I expected. This helped me to play fast, especially up at the kitchen. However, the lack of power had me wishing that the overall weight distribution was a bit better.
The grip was nothing fancy, but then I didn't expect it to be given the paddle's price point. It's more than sufficient for long play but I can see more advanced players customizing with overgrip.
Usually, a pickleball paddle that costs $140 would be a lot less durable than a paddle that costs $250. However, one of the great things about the Flash is that the materials don't appear cheaper than the JOOLA Perseus.
With its raw carbon build and edge guard, this paddle should last at least a couple of years. This is exciting news for the future of pickleball.
This is one of the most aerodynamic paddles I've played with, right up there with the JOOLA Perseus.
I liked how the hybrid shape and curved top helped it cut through the air, which I needed to offset the low power and softness of this paddle. It played a lot lighter than its static weight suggests.
While priced at just $140, the Flash is being compared to some of the best paddles in the game.
Value for money
There's no catch here as far as I can tell. The Vatic Pro Flash couldn't possibly score higher on value for money. It's arguably the best value in all of pickleball, alongside the $99 PRISM Flash.
So while the $140 price tag might be misleading, you're getting an elite paddle on par with the Six Zero DBD Control, the CRBN-1X, and the Bread & Butter Filth.
Who uses the Vatic Pro Flash?
Kevin Pham, silver medalist at the PPA Orange County Cup in San Clemente, plays with the 16 mm Flash. Sharon Lee plays with the 14 mm Flash, competing at level 5.0 in women's and mixed doubles.
The Vatic Pro Flash is an intermediate's dream. It gives you the power and performance benefits of a thermoformed paddle with the softness most intermediates need to consistently win games.
It has an intermediate-friendly price of $140, so it will appeal to anyone who doesn't want to pay over $200 for a paddle.
Be ready to adapt to a stiffer, thermoformed feel with more pop. If you think this will be too much for you, or you need help in your control game, I'd suggest the Vatic Pro PRISM Flash instead. You'll save $40 in the process and get an equally great bargain.
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