Pickleball noise is and always has been an issue. We read on numerous occasions about the proliferation of complaints regarding the paddle-on-ball noise emanating from outdoor courts situated close to residential areas, and this situation only gets worse when the game moves indoors.
Indoor Play Can Be Deafening
Indoor play can indeed be deafening. A Forbes reporter writes about an indoor facility where the noise was so overwhelming that even basic communication among players became challenging. This underscores a significant issue.
Our indoor operators are grappling with this challenge, striving to address sound-related issues without incurring exorbitant costs. Jon Laaser of Performance Pickleball succinctly captures the predicament, saying, “Look, these indoor facilities are usually steel ceilings and steel columns on top of a concrete floor; you’re playing inside of an echo chamber.”
In attempting to dampen the noise, Laaser resorted to wrapping steel surfaces with padding and adopted an unconventional solution: the strategic placement of large potted plants, recognized for their ability to absorb sound. This innovative approach demonstrates the lengths to which operators are going to mitigate these noise problems.
Sound Baffles Are Expensive!
Will Richards of Dill Dinkers encountered a substantial quote from sound engineers recommending costly sound baffles for his facility.
“They quoted me $200k of sound baffles in the ceilings to reduce sound 10% inside the facility,” he says.
However, he opted for more economical alternatives, such as meshed fencing and carpeting, to achieve similar results.
He also reported that the facility in his chain that has the fewest sound complaints is a converted tennis bubble, leading him to comment, “The main thing that mitigates sound inside is the height of the ceiling.”
Similarly, Bangers & Dinks in Richmond invested in noise-canceling panels and fully carpeted its premises, while Crush Yard installed more than 2,000 sound baffles, significantly reducing ambient noise levels at their Charleston facility.
Crush Yard’s Chief Marketing Officer, Andrew Ladden, said, “There’s still popping, but popping without echoes is another world. People hang out in the lounge a lot longer now, which leads to more food & beverage sales.”
Strategies vary across venues, with some focusing on specialized court construction and utilizing sound-absorbing materials.
Pickleball Kingdom, for instance, opted for custom-designed court surfaces engineered to optimize user experience while reducing noise. Its court separator technology reportedly reduces noise by 75%.
One of the easiest sound-deadening techniques is to use customized sound-absorbing fencing. This could be interwoven slats or plastic-encased fence wiring.
Heavy Wooden Furniture
Pickle Haus incorporates heavy wooden furniture as a natural way to dampen sound. However, Chicken N Pickle adopts an open-air design with massive garage doors, offering respite from noise pollution when the weather allows them to be opened.
Another noise mitigation measure that has proved effective is introducing a layer of rubberized gel between the underlying cement and the eventual court surface.
As competition among facilities intensifies, the adoption of advanced noise mitigation techniques is becoming increasingly commonplace.
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