Last week, Major League Pickleball (MLP), the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA Tour), and USA Pickleball (USAPA) announced a partnership to create new equipment compliance testing standards in order to ensure that all regulations are upheld.
Specially-designed automated equipment will allow for viable on-site tournament testing. The organizations assure that all players will be subject to testing, and will be treated with both respect and dignity during the testing processes.
Players can expect testing to be implemented as early as the MLP’s tournament at Daytona Beach, which will take place March 23-26. This will officially be the first pro event where the technology will be enforced, and all subsequent PPA and MLP tournaments will also be subject to equipment testing.
According to USA Pickleball’s Equipment Standards Manual, USAPA created these regulations in order to make sure that all paddles, balls, and other equipment allow for fair competition and consistent performance.
While the recent press release didn’t confirm that USAPA will continue using National Testing Systems (NTS) equipment, they have previously worked with them to test over 1,000 paddles and 175 balls. The data gathered from these tests has allowed USAPA to create an expected standard from all equipment used at officially sanctioned events.
Since 2021, All equipment used in official USA Pickleball events must be on the USA Pickleball Approved or Certified for Competition lists. With the upcoming paddle testing enforcement, it appears that USAPA is cracking down even further to ensure that the game is played in a fair manner.
Paddles are typically tested for the following characteristics:
Material – The materials used in a paddle must be deemed safe to use and not strictly prohibited by the USAPA’s criteria.
Surface Roughness – Per Starrett SR160 Surface Roughness Testing Standards: A paddle’s hitting surface must average no greater than 30 micrometers in RZ and no greater than 40 micrometers in Rt readings.
Reflection – Paddles cannot be so reflective that they impact the vision of the opposing player. Surface Gloss meter testing should never exceed 80 GU.
Size – Combined length and width of the paddle, including edge guards and end caps can’t exceed 24 inches. The total paddle length must be 24 inches or less.
Weight – Interestingly enough, there’s no current restriction on a paddle’s weight.
Alterations – Players are able to alter their paddles within reason. Edge guard tape, lead tape, changes to grip size and tape, and grip decals are all acceptable as long as they comply with all other regulations. Aftermarket decals are prohibited from being on paddles, with the exception of handwritten markings.
We’ve already seen instances where untested equipment has proven to affect professional tournament play. CRBN paddles were banned at last year’s Minto US Open due to their paddles being over the limit for legal surface roughness.
Ideally, the new testing systems will be able to quickly and fairly analyze player paddles in a way that gives rules enforcers enough data to make informed decisions on each paddle submitted for tournament play. MLP Daytona Beach will be focused on collecting data and perfecting the testing process so that the organizations can implement “best in class” testing practices in future tournaments.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?