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The New Paddle Testing Process Used by USA Pickleball, MLP and the PPA Tour

by The Dink Media Team on

In the past year, pickleball paddle regulation has taken some major blows. The testing process has simply not been able to keep up with paddle technology.

Today, Major League Pickleball, the PPA Tour and USA Pickleball announced a revised paddle testing process to address the issue.

The advent of the carbon fiber paddle face has turned the pickleball world upside down. Companies like Electrum and CRBN have pushed the legal limits of surface grit to try to give players an edge.

At last year's US Open, CRBN paddles were infamously found to be over the legal limit of surface roughness. Their paddles were recalled and consumers were given the option to have them replaced.

The company has recovered and is still one of the leading manufacturers in the game.

This year, there are multiple paddle elements that have USA Pickleball stymied.

  • Delamination
  • Dwell Time
  • Deflection
  • And, of course, surface roughness

The elements of paddle testing are talked about in-depth on the PicklePod.

The New Paddle Testing Process

So, where do we go from here? According to a press release (see the whole thing below), PPA, MLP, and USA Pickleball say they conduct joint testing in an act of collaboration to ensure "best in class equipment compliance testing standards."

The organizations will use "automated equipment specifically designed for the sport of pickleball" to conduct lab and on-site testing of paddles and balls.

Physical tests, as well as analysis of that data via a proprietary software, will be used to interpret and inform decisions regarding the sport's equipment moving forward, the release says.

We're curious to learn more about the machinery created to perform these tests, which end up being just as interesting and complex as the paddle issue itself.

Pickleball has reached a breaking point where the old way of testing paddles was no longer adequate. A major overhaul of the paddle testing process was needed and it sounds like that is exactly what we're going to get. More to come on this game-changing development.

Full press release from MLP:

The Carvana Professional Pickleball Association (PPA Tour), Major League Pickleball (MLP by Margaritaville), and USA Pickleball today announced a new collaboration and partnership to implement best in class equipment compliance testing standards, with the first full joint testing taking place at MLP's Daytona Beach event, March 23-26.

The three organizations are committed to creating an environment that showcases the speed, power, and skill of the sport while prioritizing player safety and a level playing field. To achieve these goals, the PPA, MLP, and USA Pickleball will work together with players and manufacturers to set standards and establish rules for game equipment used for in MLP and PPA events.

Automated equipment specifically designed for the sport of pickleball will be used to conduct laboratory and on-site testing of paddles and balls, ensuring that the testing is fair and equitable.

Data analysis – via a proprietary software package – will be used to interpret and make informed decisions regarding the equipment of the sport, to ensure all athletes compete within the same guidelines.

Players will be treated with respect and dignity, and the organizations will support the world- class athletes of the sport with rules and regulations that keep up with the evolution of the game.

The focus at MLP Daytona Beach will be on data collection and analysis of the current standards for compliance testing, in order to begin setting the protocols and policies for in-field testing.

The collaboration and partnership by USA Pickleball, MLP, and the PPA Tour represents a major step forward for the organizations and players. By implementing "best in class" equipment compliance testing standards, the organizations are demonstrating their commitment to the safety and fairness of the sport while also keeping up with the evolution of the game. More details about the process will be communicated to players and the pickleball community as soon as possible.

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