It has been a momentous year for paddles and their construction at the pro pickleball level, with two of the major pro pickleball leagues cooperating with USA Pickleball's new advanced testing process.
Now, Major League Pickleball (MLP) has extended its regulations surrounding paddles and their colors.
According to an MLP press release, "it’s crystal clear from feedback given from the MLP Professional player community that the use of paddles that contain a significant amount of color/s that make it difficult for a player to see the ball coming off the face of the paddle are an unfair competitive advantage, and more importantly, a significant danger to player safety."
Ben Johns touched on the importance of color in a recent episode of PicklePod:
The new paddle color regulation
These new rules involve regulated colors in the chart below and will go into effect immediately at all MLP events.
Below are all the rules directly from the press release. But here's a summary:
- Paddle colors with insufficient contrast include various shades of yellow, green, gold and white.
- MLP guideline says a graphic design within any circular area that makes up more than 20% of a paddle face should not consist primarily of a Regulated Color or Colors
- Any paddles requiring review and approval prior to use in an MLP event must be submitted to MLP/PPL no later than 30 days before the event.
- Any paddle which fails to comply with the requirements of MLP1000 will be prohibited from usage in competition.
Players have indicated that certain paddle cosmetic designs impair their ability to visually pick up and track hit balls. The paddle faces of primary concern have cosmetic designs in which a large percentage of the face is covered with one or more colors that have insufficient contrast to the color of the ball
Paddle colors with insufficient contrast include various shades of yellow, green, gold and white. There is growing concern that the reduced ability to visually pick up and track hit balls increases the likelihood of injury and will result in unfair competition.
Paddle faces shall not be designed or decorated in a way which is likely to impair the vision of opposing players or distract opposing players from tracking the ball. For the purposes of this rule, a paddle face is defined as any area of the hitting surface above the top edge of the grip.
General Guidance: It is recommended that the graphic design within any circular area that makes up more than 20% of a paddle face not consist primarily of a Regulated Color or Colors (as identified in Appendix MLP1000A). It is also recommended that any Regulated Colors be distributed over the face of the paddle and not cover the central, or 'sweet spot,' area of the paddle face.
For any paddles not currently commercially available, manufacturers shall submit cosmetically correct sample paddles or high-resolution paddle artwork files for review and approval.
Any paddles requiring review and approval prior to use in an MLP event must be submitted to MLP/PPL no later than 30 days before the event. MLP/PPL shall complete each paddle review and shall provide manufacturers with results within 72 hours of receipt of the paddle or artwork files.
Once a paddle is approved under these rules, the paddle need not be resubmitted for approval in the future as long as the use of regulated colors remains the same in every way.
MLP shall identify paddles which are not in compliance with MLP1000 and will establish a database of non-compliant paddles. The non-compliant paddle database shall be continuously maintained and made available on Major League Pickleball’s official website.
Any paddle which fails to comply with the requirements of MLP1000 will be prohibited from usage in Competition.
All provisions of MLP1000 are subject to amendment, change or modification at the sole discretion of Major League Pickleball.
Appendix MLP1000A: Regulated Color Chart
Regulated Colors include any color which impairs an opponent from visually picking up or tracking a ball hit by players during competition.
The Regulated Color Chart identifies four color ranges which are considered likely to impair an opponent’s ability to visually pick up or track hit balls (white/gray, yellow/gold, yellow/green and neon yellow/neon green).
Specific Pantone colors are referenced in the chart, but these are not inclusive of all colors which will be Regulated. Rather, the specific Pantone references are intended to be illustrative and informative such that manufacturers can more readily identify color ranges that are likely to be Regulated.