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USA Pickleball-approved paddles

USA Pickleball-approved paddles


By Jaclyn Brandt

On: 03/01/2024

paddles

usa pickleball

pickleball paddles

USA Pickleball and their Equipment Evaluation Committee (EEC) have created the standard for pickleball paddles to be used in official USA Pickleball play.
USA Pickleball and their Equipment Evaluation Committee (EEC) have created the standard for pickleball paddles to be used in official USA Pickleball play.

When you are looking for a new pickleball paddle, you should look for whether or not you will be able to play with it in tournaments or leagues. USA Pickleball and their Equipment Evaluation Committee (EEC) have created the standard for pickleball paddles to be used in official USA Pickleball play.

Here are some of the things you need to know about choosing a USA Pickleball-approved paddle.

USA Pickleball’s Equipment Evaluation Committee

USA Pickleball’s Equipment Evaluation Committee evaluates prototypes and new products from manufacturers, including new:

  • Shapes

  • Configurations

  • Surface treatments

“The compliance program ensures that once equipment enters the marketplace, it is still manufactured to the strict specifications needed to ensure a level playing field for players and manufacturers,” according to USA Pickleball. “The EEC is a review body that ensures these developments are consistent with maintaining the nature of the game and makes recommendations to USA Pickleball’s Board of Directors relating to equipment testing and the approval process.”

The EEC is made up of the managing director of USA Pickleball as well as others in the sports and engineering industries. USA Pickleball works with the NTS to develop and implement pickleball paddle standards.

When does your paddle have to be USA Pickleball approved?

Many pickleball paddles you find in stores will be USA Pickleball-approved, but you will want to make sure your paddle is approved because you will not be able to play in certain competitions if it is not. Here are some examples of where you will need a USA Pickleball-approved paddle:

  • Any tournament that is played according to USA Pickleball rules.

  • Any match that is played according to USA Pickleball rules.

  • USA Pickleball recommends approved paddles for ALL games, including recreational open or league play “to ensure the integrity of the sport.”

How do you know if your pickleball paddle is a USA Pickleball-approved paddle?

Once a pickleball paddle is approved by the EEC, it is added to their list of EEC-approved equipment. If you are considering a new pickleball paddle, you can search for the paddle on their list. There are currently more than 2,500 different paddles on the list of USA Pickleball-approved paddles.

USA Pickleball paddle standards

USA Pickleball’s paddle standards are set out in their equipment standards manual. Here are some of the specifications:

  • Material: Each paddle should be made of “rigid, non-compressible material” that is safe.

  • Hitting Surface: The hitting surface should not contain any holes, indentations, rough texturing, or any “objects or features that allow a player to impart excessive spin on the ball.”

  • Roughness & Friction: The paddles must fall within the USA Pickleball rules for roughness and friction.

    • These rules are pure science, so if you want to read more you can do so in the equipment standards manual.

  • Reflection: The hitting surface of the paddle should not be reflective or have any potential of affecting the vision of any opposing player.

  • Size: The combined length and width of any paddle should not exceed 24 inches (60.96 cm), and the length should not exceed 17 inches.

  • Thickness: There is no restriction on the thickness of the paddle.

  • Weight: There is no restriction on the weight of the paddle.

  • Alterations: Alterations may be made on any paddle as long as it stays within the specifications of the USA Pickleball standards. Alterations may include:

    • Edge guard tape/replacements.

    • Weighted tape.

    • Weights for an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) integrated weight system.

    • Changes to the grip via inserts, grip wraps, OEM interchangeable grips, OEM replacement paddle faces.

    • Name decals.

    • Other identification markings on the paddle face.

  • Decals & Tape: Decals and tape can only be 1 inch (2.54 cm) above the top of the grip, 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) inside the outer edge of the paddle, or 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) inside the edge guard, if an edge guard is in place.

  • Handwritten Markings: You are allowed to add handwritten markings on the playing surface if:

    • The markings do not impact the surface roughness.

    • The markings are in good taste.

    • All aftermarket markings must be handwritten pen markings only.

  • Prohibited Features: There are several items you cannot add to your paddle after it is approved by USA Pickleball:

    • Anti-skid paint or any paint textured with sand, rubber, or vinyl.

    • Any material that causes additional spin.

    • Rubber or synthetic rubber.

    • Any material with sandpaper characteristics.

    • Any moving parts that can increase momentum or force.

      • Vibration dampers are allowed.

    • Any removable parts, except:

      • Edge guard tape or replacements.

      • Weighted tape.

      • Weights for an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) integrated weight system.

      • Changes to the grip size via inserts.

      • Grip wraps.

      • OEM interchangeable grips.

      • OEM replacement paddle faces. 

    • Anything that causes a “trampoline effect,” including:

      • Springs.

      • Spring-like material.

      • Flexible membranes.

      • Any other compressible material that causes the trampoline effect.

    • Anything that causes mechanical, electrical, or electronic assistance.

Your pickleball paddle must also have a brand and model name or model number clearly marked on the paddle, as well as “USA Pickleball Approved,” in seal or text form. If a paddle has a different core material, surface material, or other “significant differences,” it must also have a unique name or number.

USA pickleball-approved paddles

Although many commercially available pickleball paddles are made to the standards of USA Pickleball, and subsequently approved, you will still want to make sure they meet all the standards. Even if you plan to only play in your backyard, you may one day sign up for a tournament that will require a USA Pickleball-approved paddle.

Because there are so many approved paddles, it’s easy to find one that meets your needs and is also approved by USA Pickleball. Because they have such an easy-to-search tool, you should spend the few minutes it will take to search any paddle you are planning to purchase.

You can find the full list here.

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