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Paddle Testing

Anonymous Paddle Testing Results from MLP Daytona Show Some Infringement of Standards

by Adam Forziati on

Major League Pickleball (MLP) has announced that pickleball paddle testing results for their recent Daytona event have come in, and that they will keep them anonymous for the time being.

This is part of a joint paddle standardization and testing effort from MLP, Pro Pickleball Association, and USA Pickleball which kicked off at this event.

According to a press release, the decision to keep results private was made "for the sake of the game, the players, the paddle manufacturers, MLP and the PPA – and until proper guidelines, procedures and penalties are put in place by MLP and the PPA in the future."

If you're unaware of the recent paddle drama, here's a quick summary:

  • Delamination, an issue with newly-designed paddles which results in an unfair bounce advantage for its wielder, is becoming more prevalent in the pro pickleball scene.
  • Many pro pickleballers are concerned that some pros may be using these paddles knowing it gives them an advantage.
  • Pro Lea Jansen was demonstrably upset about this during one of her recent matches and took to Twitter with her thoughts on the issue.

(You can also watch a recap of these points given from the perspective of Lea Jansen here. #1 Men's player Ben Johns summarized delamination and potential issues with current paddle standards here).

What we DO know from the results

MLP did release some information about the results of the tests, conducted by Pickle Pro Labs (PPL).

PPL tested 240 paddles made up of 66 unique models from 24 manufacturers submitted for on-site testing at the event.

In testing deflection, the average force required to deflect the face of the paddle one-sixteenth of an inch (0.0625”) at the 5 inch location was 69.2 pounds, set as the Average Deflection Force.

"While some variation in deflection force existed amongst all paddle models and amongst all players’ paddles, it was noted that the average deflection force for all the paddles submitted by six (6) players was more than thirty percent (30%) below the Average Deflection Force."

MLP says in their release that they believe a conservative approach to setting a minimum Average Deflection Force threshold involves placing it far away from the group's Average Deflection Force, determined to be 69.2 pounds.

This way, only outliers will be removed from play.

In other words: "we believe that a paddle should be removed from play if its ADF from its 5” measurement location is lower than forty-nine pounds (49.0 lb)."

Players are cooperating

PPL contacted all players and manufacturers whose equipment was found to have deviations outside of the above guidelines.

According to the press release, all of the calls were "positively received" and PPL is confident that it can "work with all parties to establish standards and practices supporting fair play and the equitable administration of the rules."

MLP will conduct further testing later this month, which will likely bring further clarity to a very technical aspect of the pro pickleball scene.

"As we continue to garner data, we can make a further recommendation on the proper surface roughness/grit of a paddle. As we refine our data and study regarding surface roughness, we’ll make a further recommendation for MLP and the PPA to consider moving forward."

CEO of PPA Tour Connor Pardoe weighed-in on Twitter:

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Adam Forziati

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